I have played every edition of Talisman except 3rd. This has been one of my all time favorite boardgames, at least as I look back nostalgically to the 80's. Some of my favorite gaming memories were the games of Talisman played at my friend Gregg's house after I graduated High School, GNR's Appetite for Destruction usually playing in the background (that would not have been my choice, but it helps paint the picture).
So I was delighted to see FF pick this franchise up after BI went good-bye. Especially since this happened just after I received it as a Christmas gift last year. This year I got the Upgrade Pack and the Reaper Expansion.
Re: Upgrade: Call me a fanboi, but I thought this was a great thing FF did. They could have made all the previous edition owners buy the full new FF game, but for a scant $20 US you get all the minis, all the cards, etc. Sure, there's no rulebook, but print it out and you're set. I have one request of FF: please make the cone counters available for separate purchase. The ones from the BI edition are difficult to handle and the numbers are a pain. I can't fault FF for the old artwork on the character sheets, but some of the character portraits are just silly looking. Case in point: is the warrior in pain, or perhaps constipated? Also, nice pink shirt Mr. Thief. I bet you can really hide in the shadows with that ensemble
I figured to get the game out in a reasonable amount of time they couldn't completely revamp the art. No harm no foul. Overall I was very pleased with the Upgrade Pack.
Re: Expansion: Wow, that's a whole lot of new cards. Components were great, better artwork on the character cards. Nice job.
Re: New gameplay: Even with the new rules, the game still played like Talisman, which is a plus. There were 3 of us, I was the warrior, then there was the Knight and the Dark Cultist. At first we anticipated the Cultist to be overpowered given the potential for gains after every kill. This could be the case if that player drew many creature cards. Luckily he didn't The fate points were a lovely addition and added a fun new aspect to the game. Overall gameplay was fun, but we were disappointed in the Reaper. He only landed on another player once and was essentially a non-factor. I understand the reaper is not to be the focus of the game, but it was almost unnecessary to have him in at all. IMO the rules for his involvement could use some tweaking. IIRC there is no consequence when someone lands on him, perhaps that may be changed through a house rule. Please correct me if I'm wrong about the latter rule.
To summarize, great components, flavor of Talisman was still there with improvements. Most importantly this was a great purchase. For FF: very nice job, please sell the cones separately, and start cranking out the expansions like GW did in the 80's