I tried to give this game a fair hearing. I bought it to play with my 8 and 10 yo sons, after all. But it does have some fundamental flaws.
These are the 3 changes that we have made to the game to provide a little more choice and challenge. They have been play tested.
1.0 Vikings. On a Viking space a number of experience cards equal to the number of talisman symbols are drawn and placed face up. The player must match or exceed the cards played from his own hand in the same colour. For example: 1 red experience card drawn for the Vikings - at least 1 red movement card must be played from the player's hand.
1.1 If the player cannot match the colour he loses one talisman piece.
1.2 If the player matches the Vikings nothing happens.
1.3 If the player exceeds the number of cards of the same colour as the Vikings he wins that many talismans from the pool. For example, Vikings have 2 Brown and player plays 3 brown: player wins 1 talisman piece.
1.4 Where the Vikings are drawing multiple cards, the largest number of the same colour is what the player must match or exceed. If the Vikings draw different cards then the player may combat against any one of his choice.
Example 1: the Viking draws 3 black cards. The player must play at least 3 black cards or lose as many talismans as the difference.
Example 2: Viking draws 1 red, 1 white and 1 grey. The player may choose which of these colours to play against, ignoring the other two colours.
Example 3: Viking draws 2 white and 1 red. The player must play against white.
1.5 Regardless of how many cards the player plays in a challenge he/she only ever refills their hand up to 5. Refer rule 2, below.
* Experience cards are then discarded. They have no other effect on play.
* The purpose of this rule is to give more choice through the option of combat. Vikings are no longer automatically bad. The player has the incentive to land on the Vikings rather than simply avoid them to test himself. The player has an added dimension of what cards to play and what to hold in his hand in readiness for a battle. Moreover, little boys love a battle metaphor.
* Power is used up in battle.
2.0 Places of Power give the player an additional movement card. The card is taken into the hand and may be played at any time, in any combination. In this way the player's hand grows.
2.1 There is no limit to the size a hand may grow to.
* This rule works with the preceding one. It is advantageous to have more cards as it gives the player more options, and more confidence as the Druids progress around the board. The Vikings draw more cards further around the board, thus it is to the players' advantage to seek out Places of Power to build their power.
* This balances against the Vikings who consume the surplus power built up when the player chooses to challenge them. refer rule 1, above.
3.0 The game ends when the last Druid reaches the end zone.
3.1 Experience cards are not collected so they have no relevance.
* This rule is necessary because the behaviour of the Experience cards have changed. It also seemed, in play testing, to make the game feel more satisfyingly complete.
Hope you find these variations are useful. Celtica is an 'almost there' game. I would be interested to hear its design genesis.