October 31, 2006

Eurogames Article from AimlessWords

Europe.10.31.06.jpgThe blog Aimless Words has published a great article "Eurogames - Join the Boardgaming Revolution" describing why every gamer and their mother should take notice about the emergence of Eurogames in the American market. The article also does a nice job explaining why all of these great family-games are coming out of Germany:

"It seems the Germans have a long and exciting history of gaming within the family; a practice that died a horrible death in United States in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Today, the true heart and spirit of boardgaming exists not within the hollow facade of Hasbro but inside the halls of dozens of much smaller companies in the U.S. and Europe such as Rio Grande Games and Mayfair Games. Rio Grande is an American company that was formed by Jay Tummelson for the purpose of publishing English language versions of German or Euro-games. Jay has experienced great success with Rio Grande and several other American companies have been founded recently to focus on this sector of the games market." - From: "Eurogames - Join the Boardgaming Revolution"

It's true that Rio Grande Games and Mayfair Games are both great Eurogaming publishers, but there are some also fantastically polished games coming out of American Companies, too. Most notable of which is Days of Wonder - those guys have a great line of titles, and their releases can stand toe-to-toe with anything that comes out of the German import market.

We're not nit-picking - we love both Rio Grande and Mayfair - we're just adding another to the list of the great modern American game publishers in right now.

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October 31, 2006

Halloween Safety Tip #12

EvilPumpkin.10.31.06.jpgIt's Halloween. Tonight the entire nation will be out roaming the countryside and groping around in the black for free candy. Darkness is dark, and stumbling around could be a bit on the dangerous side, so here's some advice for staying safe:

Halloween Safety Tip #12: If you're driving around tonight and see the Angel of Death walking down the street, then don't mow him down with your car. Nine times out of ten that'll be a prize winning Home Ec student in a well-tailored costume sailing over your hood. Trust us - you really don't want that to happen. It's a crap load of paper work, and it'll dent your car up good. Besides, if it turns-out that you roll that 10% chance that it is the Angel of Death, then do you truly believe that throwing a four-door sedan into him is going do anything other than piss him off? This is the guy who snuffed such greats as Genghis Khan and Jack the Ripper for his job, and you don't want him unwinding his day on your civilized, sedan-driving tuccus.

Just keep driving.

The more you know. Happy Halloween folks!

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October 31, 2006

World of Warcraft TCG: Exactly What You'll Need to Get Started Playing

WoWStarter.7.3.06.jpg

Want to get started playing the WoW TCG? Then pick up a Starter Deck and a few booster packs. Also check-out Our Review.

If you've heard good things about the WoW TCG and you're looking to break into the game but don't yet know how, then look no further. We've had numerous questions from our readers regarding 'how do I get my foot in the door?' in what is chalking-up to be one of the biggest gaming releases of the year. After you read over these three things you should be good to go!

1: First things first, get your hands on a World of Warcraft TCG Starter Deck [Amazon]. Each deck contains everything you'll need to start playing the WoW TCG out of the box, including: a Hero card that cements the foundation and focus of your deck; a basic deck of 33 cards that includes select equipment, abilities, and quests designed specifically for your Hero; two booster packs containing 15 random cards each (more info below); and an instruction booklet with rules to get you into the game quickly. There are nine varieties of Starer Decks at launch, covering the spectrum of classes from the World of Warcraft Massively-Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game.

2: You should also pick up two extra Heroes of Azeroth Booster Packs [Amazon]. Why? Well although the Starter Deck has everything you need, the individual cards that makeup the prepackaged decks aren't of the highest caliber. The Starter Decks are simply that: a start. However, every WoW TCG Booster contains a fair number of powerful cards which could replace some of the lackluster cards in the starter pack. Each booster also contains a wide variety of other common cards that could change the way you focus your deck, and it includes a new hero card which might inspire you to completely branch out and try something new with your collection.

Customization is an important aspect of the game - there are a lot of different ways to play the WoW TCG: at least nine classes to build decks for, and then you can toy-around with the internal designs and focuses for each of the classes, too!

3: Counters. You'll need something to represent the damage accrued to your hero and his henchmen. Sure - you could use stacks of pennies, but one of the game's heroes can accumulate 30+ points of damage before going down. That's a lot of pennies. Our favorite solution: grab a number of six-sided dice. If those Rush t-shirts in the back of your closet veil an dusty copy of Axis and Allies, then you're golden.

Enjoy!

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October 30, 2006

Top Ten 2-Player Games

Number 1: Lost CitiesGame players from all corners are submiting their picks for their favorite two player games in a very popular forum thread at BGG. This is a perfect time to check the pulse of what's popular in gaming right now -- you know, in case you're tired of playing Mastermind with Uncle John.

Here's the top ten games from the list right now.

-- Players' Choice of Top 2-Player Games --

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October 27, 2006

World of Warcraft TCG: Launch Links

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Want to get started playing the WoW TCG? Then pick up a Starter Deck and a few booster packs. Also check-out Our Review.

It's official: The World of Warcraft TCG is now in stores, and actually, should be in your living room right now. If you've cracked open your Starter Deck and sifted through a few boosters, and wonder if there are other cards in the Heroes of Azeroth Set that might be useful in flushing-out your deck, then we have a few links that might fit your fancy.

Card Databases
Wev'e found two great sites where you can browse the entire first set of WoW TCG Heroes of Azeroth cards. WowCards.org is our database of choice because it's got a slick site layout, and a nice card zoom-in feature. Meanwhile WowTCGdb is a bit bland on the eyes in comparison - with stronger empathises on a textual layout - but it let's you poke through all of the cards in each of the nine starter decks. Very nice.

Official Feature Articles
This week also marks the first in what we're sure will be a long-line of weekly feature articles from the designers of the game. Wizards of the Coast does a similar thing with its Magic the Gathering design staff, and it's created one heck of an online resource over the years. We hope the World of Warcraft team from Upper Deck keeps up what seems to be a very good first round of info:

  • Ryan O'Connor starts off the new series with "One Card at a Time: Parvink" which investigates the weight of card advantage on WoW TCG gameplay.
  • Then William Brinkman gives us the skinny on some cards you should always keep on your Heroes of Azeroth collection radar. "Lazy Peon's Perspective: Release Celebration Top 10 Commons and Uncommons" pretty much says it all.
  • Finally Jason Grabher-Meyer lays-down the foundation of WoW TCG ideology with "Starting from Scratch: What’s a TCG?", covering the enticing elements of a TCG: Customization, Collecting, and Social Gaming. This might sound trite to some CCG veterans, but we're starting a TCG system from scratch here, and it's great to hear these things from the horse's mouth.

Onyxia.10.27.06.jpgOnyxia's Raid Deck
This last bit of news isn't a link but it's exciting all the same. Upper Deck recently sent-out release emails that detail the upcoming Onyxia's Lair Raid Deck for the TCG. For those of you unfamiliar with the World of Warcraft MMORPG: Onyxia is a very, very mean Black Dragon who acts as one of the first bosses in the gamem and takes takes nearly fourty players to kill. She acts as the gateway to raid organization, cooperation, and is a stepping-stone to even more difficult battles.

Onyxia will also be the first raid boss in the WoW TCG. You and your friends can purchase an Onyxia raid deck, and instead of bashing each other's heads in the standard Player vesus Player gameplay, you can team up and bring down Onyxia together. The reward for your efforts: a special cold foiled loot deck that comes with the Onyxia boss set, which contains some powerful and rare cards. Here are the details:

The Company Line: In the charred, desolate Wyrmbog, deep in Dustwallow Marsh, lies the lair of the black dragon Onyxia. Many bands of heroes have journeyed there, only to fall under the dragon's claw. Now take on the role of Onyxia and face the latest group of heroes brave enough to challenge the Black Dragonflight. Open up a whole new facet to the World of Warcraft® Trading Card Game (TCG).

One player takes on the role of an epic foe that only multiple heroes working together can even hope to challenge. With a successful raid on Onyxia, the heroes can win the chance to crack open the enclosed "Treasure Pack" and reap spoils not found anywhere else.

Each deck includes 110 Onyxia Game Cards plus one 10-card "Treasure Pack" and three oversized Onyxia raid boss cards. This limited edition raid deck requires players to build their raid parties by using cards from the World of Warcraft® TCG: Heroes of AzerothTM.

Available to ship: Nov. 22, 2006!

That's less than a month away. Start practicing those heals!

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October 26, 2006

"Leonardo da Vinci" Released

DaVinci1.10.12.06.jpgPainter, sculptor, anatomist, engineer of both civil machines and war machines, lover, fighter, not a meat biter (vegetarian), Da Vinci was the MacGyver of Renaissance Florence. And now Mayfair Games has released a board game inspired by the man who invented a paper bag to invent himself out of - "Leonardo Da Vinci" [Funagain].

Mayfair games is the publisher responsible for some major smash-titles such as the Settlers of Catan, and Tigris & Euphrates, but let's be honest - that doesn't mean that Da Vinci is going to match those standards.

But the initial word paints a picture of the game that's pretty freakin' good. As of right now there are two reviews on BoardGameGeek.com, one is authored by a play tester of the game, and the other is from a gamer who's tired of all board game web-hype. (hey!) The game also has a rating of 7.9, which is definitely noteworthy.

Here's the official description from Mayfair Games.

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The Company Line: Compete to be known as the most ingenious inventor in Leonardo Da Vinci, the new exciting game from Mayfair and daVinci Games. In Leonardo Da Vinci, players must gather materials to complete inventions for the lord of the city in exchange for florins as payment. The lord of the city gives rewards for the rapid completion of a project. The player with the most florins at the end will be crowned winner by Leonardo Da Vinci! If you are excited to try this new game, which emphasizes hand management, please stop by your local retailer and ask them about, Leonardo Da Vinci

Product Description: As an ingenious Renaissance inventor in 15th century city of Florence. Construct amazing machines for the lord of the city. Become a protagonist of this age of unbelievable discoveries, by building your inventions! Can you marshal your workers in the most advantageous laboratories, workshops, and in palace plots? Only the best can complete with the great Leonardo!

Compete to be known as the most ingenious. The lord of the city gives rewards for the rapid completion of a project. The player with the most Florins at the end will be crowned winner by Leonardo daVinci!

"Leonardo Da Vinci" is now shipping from Funagain Games.

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October 25, 2006

Review: "Ticket to Ride: Marklin"

TicketToRideCover.10.25.06.jpg
Ticket to Ride: Marklin [Amazon,Funagain] is hands-down fantastic. Days of Wonder once again shows that they can produce a well balanced, high-quality title with staying power. Don't let the happy train model cover fool you - although this is a game chalk-full of content geared toward train enthusiasts (Marklin is gigantic train hobbyist company out of Germany), it is absolutely not a niche game. Ticket to Ride: Marklin has enough depth and replayability for the strategy gamer in you, and yet is light and simple enough that families shouldn't feel at all nervous about throwing its board down onto the dining room table to play a round with their kids.

In Marklin players collect and play train cards of various colors to construct a strong rail network connecting the towns of Germany. Then, once their empire is established, players can send passengers along their network, collecting points for each city they visit on their way. The turns are fast. The game is colorful, dynamic, and most importantly - a blast to play. Here's why:

ArrowContinue reading: "Review: "Ticket to Ride: Marklin""

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October 24, 2006

Blogpire Podcast - Liquor Snob - All The News that's Fit to Drink 10.24.06

Blogpire 144 Our special guest Jake Jamieson from Liquorsnob.com teaches us about Tequila, and we taste test P.I.N.K. caffeinated Vodka. And of course, we have the latest news and views from around the 'pire. We also answer your questions from the past couple of weeks so keep sending them in to podcast at blogpire dot com.

[iTunes]Subscribe to the Podcast directly in iTunes (MP3).
[RSS] Add the BlogPire Podcast feed to your RSS aggregator and have the show delivered automatically (MP3).
[MP3] Download the show (MP3).
[LISTEN] Listen to the show in your browser.

With Hosts: Russell Miner and Jay Brewer and guest Jake Jamieson

ArrowContinue reading: "Blogpire Podcast - Liquor Snob - All The News that's Fit to Drink 10.24.06"

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October 23, 2006

"Battlelore" Primer

BattleLore.9.11.06.jpgIt's been a while since we first checked-in on this upcoming wargame, rpg, card game hybrid, and it looks as though the folks at Days of Wonder are molding their preeminent fall franchise into one heck of a battle system. The game's producers are taking their final steps toward release very carefully, pulling resources away from other Days of Wonder product lines in order make Battlelore the most polished title possible. They seem to think they have a huge hit on their hands - and even though the system is only in the prerelease phase - we tend to agree with 'em.

But don't take our word for it, check it out for yourself: the Battlelore Primer has been published and is available for your perusal on the game's new official website. It details everything from the game's various inspirations, to the colorful units, art, morale system, etc.

There's a lot going-on in any one scenario of Battlelore (the base set will ship with 10), but every rule is very simple to remember and more importantly, simple to resolve. The morale system promotes the clumping of units into formations so that they might withstand a full-on attack without running for their lives, so battle lines will march across the field much like those famous engagements of medieval history. The colorful unit banners are more than just eye candy - the can be swapped between unit figures to customize the attack and morale values for all units in that space. And to keep things fresh, the spirit of the game shifts from a Hundred Years War wargame into a fantasy combat game as more complexity is added - from various creature units to loremasters that acts as powerful generals effecting the entire battleground.

The guys at 2d6 Feet in a Random Direction recently had a hands-on session with the game, and they've included some juicy details in their latest podcast. Fast forward to 14:26 to hear their opinions and specific remarks, all of which paint the game in a very positive light.

Here's one cool bit from them: we learn bits about the game's Epic Battles which are played by friends flipping over two ore more Battlelore boards and locking them together, making an even larger battleground. Hells yeah.

Battlelore is now available to preorder from Funagain Games and from the Battlelore Official Website. The game is set to ship in late November.

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October 20, 2006

World of Warcraft TCG Hands On Product Details

WoWStarter.7.3.06.jpg

Want to get started playing the WoW TCG? Then pick up a Starter Deck and a few booster packs. Also check-out Our Review.

The World of Warcraft Trading Card Game is still one week from it's official World Wide Release. Somehow, somewhere, a few lucky people have already received their preorder shipments and they're laying down PvP smack down even as we speak.

Thankfully one of these lucky ducks posted a video of himself sifting through the TCG packaging, opening the starter decks and posting images of some of their booster cards - a lot of these cards haven't yet been detailed by the official website's card previews, nor anywhere else on the net for the matter.

We recommend skipping ahead to 2:40, which is when Mr X pulls apart the WoW TCG Starter Deck packaging. The stuff looks like it's made of high quality materials, and acts as a deck transport box to boot. Very, very nice.

There are also some great image uploads of other 'new' booster cards at zyeye.com.

Finally - we did some sifting of our own and found one of the better preorder deals online. As usual we found that IconUsa.com has the best prices on starter decks, boosters, and Onyxia's Lair raid deck preorders. The box of 24 boosters is nearly 40% off MSRP, which is nothing to sneeze at.

The World of Warcraft Trading Card Game officially launches next Friday.

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October 19, 2006

Now Shipping: "Pop 5"

Pop5.10.18.06.jpg

Cranium, Inc, creators and publishers of the hit party game Cranium, have released their latest gaming creation onto the world. Pop5 [Amazon,Funagain] is a party game that includes the fun activities of acting, drawing, humming, and sculpting, but with a twist that seems to nicely differentiate the game from its older brother Cranium [Amazon,Funagain].

Each turn the opposing team looks at the one clue on the drawn card, and assigns points - ranging from one point to five - to each of the five activities. Some things might be hard to draw with a pencil, while others might be difficult to hum, etc. Based upon the point assignments it's up to the current team to decide if they want t go for big points inspite of the potentially difficult task, or play it safe and try for the easier, yet less rewarding way to solve the clue.

We have played Cranium a bunch, and after a few parties it became apparently that certain categories contain questions that far easier than others. A true/false Datahead question is at least a 50/50 shot, for instance, while sculpting a glob of clay into a visible resemblance of Michael J Fox is.. uh, not. Looks like Pop 5 avoids these inconsistencies by providing a customized weighting mechanic, and on a question-to-question basis to boot. Good stuff!

The Company Line:
  • Guess and perform hilarious pop culture clues
  • Opponents rank activity difficulty each roundFun pop culture theme makes it a party must
  • Reminisce, laugh out loud, and compete
  • Everyone plays every turn, for maximum fun

Hilarious pop culture fun gets a Cranium spin! From Madonna and mullets to moonwalks and Monday Night Football, this party game isn't about what you know, but how you show it.

Here's how it works: Each turn, the opposing team draws a clue card and assigns points to each of the five activity choices, according to how hard they think each one will be. If they pull the "Red Bull" card, they may think drawing it is easy, so they'd give it one point. But acting? Hard. Five points! Now it's up to you to decide: Will you go for the easy points and draw, or go for the big points (and glory) by acting it out?

Each turn you get to choose to act, draw, hum, sculpt, or use letter cubes to get your team to guess the clue. With songs, celebrities, fads, fashions, TV shows, movies, and more, Pop 5 cards include all kinds of fun pop culture clues that span the decades -- and every turn, you get to choose how to get your team to guess!

  • Would you act out Iron Chef or draw it?
  • Would you rather hum a Spice Girls song or roll the letter cubes to give clues that start with the letters that come up?
  • Would you choose to sculpt a Chia Pet out of clay or hum the jingle?
Pop 5 is now shipping from Amazon and Funagain Games.
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October 17, 2006

Halloween Game Buyer's Guide: Arkham to Werewolves

The sweet smell of rotting leaves is in the air, both 'Thriller' and (regrettably) 'Monster Mash' are making their annual run up the charts, and costume shops are sweeping druggies out of empty store lots normally vacant ten months out of twelve. Yes, Halloween is coming, and we thought it was high time to go through a list of our favorite monster smashing games.

Most of these titles have seen a few fall seasons but they still stand strong against the test of time. We've also noted if a game has any noteworthy expansions - so even if you own the original there might be something new lurking in the darkness that spices it up.

And without further ado:

ArkhamHorro.10.17.06.jpgArkham Horror [Amazon, Funagain]

The town of Arkham, Massachusetts is in a panic. Horrific and bizarre events have begun to occur with increasing frequency -- all seeming to point towards some cataclysmic event in the near future that may spell disaster for everyone. Only one small band of investigators can save Arkham from the Great Old Ones and destruction!

Arkham Horror was originally published by Chaosium, Inc. almost two decades ago. This new, updated edition features stunning new artwork and graphical design as well as revised and expanded rules! No fan of the Cthulhu Mythos will want to miss this opportunity to acquire this classic Call of Cthulhu boardgame!


We should note that Arkham Horror is currently on schedule for a reprint, which should hit store shelves before Halloween. So if this title is currently out of stock, then check back at your store daily!

Expansions: "Arkham Horror: Curse of the Dark Pharaoh (2006)"[Amazon,Funagain]


Betrayal.10.17.06.jpgBetrayal at House on the Hill [Amazon,Funagain]

Build a House of Terror. Tile by Tile.

It's never the same game twice. As one of twelve mysterious characters, you'll explore a house filled with deadly secrets. As you play, you'll build the house. But beware! One of your fellow players will betray you. The traitor will test your sanity as you use all your skills to survive.

With fifty fiendish scenarios, Betrayal at House on the Hill puts you face-to-face with legendary monsters, modern nightmares ... and your friends.

There have been some considerable changes that the publisher has made to patch this title, so make sure you check out the Official FAQ and Updated Rules Errata to make the game a smoother and more enjoyable experience.


FearsomeFloors.10.17.06.jpg
Fearsom Floors [Amazon,Funagain]

It was fabulous! Fearlessly, you found the 3 fetishes in the Finnish fjord. With light-footed and foxy feints you ferry the fetishes to prince Fieso in France to free the fascinating faerie Fabula. But Fieso is not fond of foreigners, what a fiasco! You land freezing and foolishly find yourself trapped in a frightful fortress with sinister corridors. Now you must flee Fiesos trap. Furunkulus, the monster, is a frightening freak, especially fond of foolish foreigners. He will feed on you if he is able. So you want to fool Furunkulus and flee to freedom.

Fearsome Floors is a race game in which the players must move through a dungeon as fast as possible - or at least within 14 turns - before it crumbles over their heads. This could be done in 7 turns if everything was peaceful and quiet, but unfortunately is the dungeon also the home of a very hungry monster! Players must maneuver their disks through the dungeon trying to manipulate the movement of a monster who is always after fresh prey. Players can try and lead the monster to their opponents' pieces, but may find themselves eaten instead! Pieces might slide along blood slicks, or be crushed between a boulder and a wall. You can even try to get the monster to teleport to another part of the board, where he will fall upon his next victim. This family strategy board game is for 2-7 players and takes about an hour to play, and it can be learned in 10-20 minutes.


Werewolves.10.17.06.jpgWerewolf [Amazon,Funagain]

For some time, the village of Millers Hollow has been afflicted by werewolves who attack each night. The village inhabitants must find out who among them are werewolves before they all fall victim to the evil creatures...

Werewolf or villager?
You draw a card which determines your secret identity. You play out your role under the direction of the game leader.

You are a werewolf.
Your goal: To eat a villager each night. During the day you are an honorable citizen.

You are a villager.
Your goal: To discover the werewolves and to convince the other players to take them out (and make sure you don't get mistaken for a werewolf). No easy task. But fortunately there are a few villagers with special abilities: The old seer, the hunter, the witch... They will be helpful in defeating the werewolves

This is a great party game classic for 8+ players. In fact the more people, the better. Simple rules, and no board nor confusing pieces, so just about anyone get pick it up and start playing - even the usual non gamer!

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October 13, 2006

World of Warcraft TCG Prelease Deals at wowtcgstore.com

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Want to get started playing the WoW TCG? Then pick up a Starter Deck and a few booster packs. Also check-out Our Review.

Upper Deck's World of Warcraft TCG is only two weeks away from release. Holy smokes, time flies, huh?

If you're scratching your head regarding where to pick up your cards for release, then put down the topical cream because wowtcgstore.com just sent us word of some prerelease specials and a contest that might net you gobs of free cards.

The Company Line: wowtcgstore.com is giving away a whole box of boosters (24 booster packs) for the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game to one lucky customer! To enter this contest, add the coupon code "BOXCONTEST" at checkout to any pre-order, or send an email to contest@wowtcgstore.com and include in your message any other coupon code listed on our site. Only one entry per customer, please.

The site also has some other great mass purchase prerelease deals posted on their front page in case your entire group or office is thinking of playing:

  • NINESTART: Buy eight Starter Sets, get a ninth FREE!
  • NINEBOOST: Buy eight 15-Card Booster Packs, get a ninth FREE!
  • NINEBOXES: Buy eight 24-Pack Booster Boxes, get a ninth free! (A $71.99 value!)
  • FIVESTART: Buy four Starter Sets, get a fifth at 50% OFF!
  • FIVEBOOST: Buy four Booster Packs, get a fifth at 50% OFF!
  • FIVEBOXES: Buy four Booster Boxes, get a fifth at 50% OFF! (A $36.00 value!)
  • THREEBOXES: Buy two Booster Boxes, get a third at 25% OFF! (An $18.00 value!)

The cynic in us feels that we should say: we won't get a dime for any subsequent referrals from our site. These are simply good deals that we thought you should know about!

We'll keep an eye out for any more good online deals for the WoW TCG, and we'll let you know as soon as we find them.

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October 12, 2006

November Games Quarterly Magazine Details

GamesQuarterly.7.28.06.jpgGames Quarterly Magazine has announced the final meat and potato details of their next issue scheduled to hit magazine racks this November. The magazine will ship with a twelve tile expansion to Carcassonne, and include an exclusive premier of a so far unannounced title from Days of Wonder (publisher of Memoir '44 and Ticket to Ride).

The Company Line: Games Quarterly is marking numerous milestones as a leading magazine for games. In the coming issue we begin a three-issue exclusive serialization of a new fantasy story by New York Times best-selling author Ed Greenwood, titled Castlemourn. Castlemourn is a new post-apocalyptic fantasy role playing game setting coming from Margaret Weis Productions, Ltd.

Games Quarterly #11 includes a brand new 12-piece expansion for Rio Grande Game's award winning game Carcassonne™, polybagged in each copy.

Games Quarterly has great coverage of all types of non-electronic games. With fantastic extras like The Great River of Catan™ in GQM10 and the Carcassonne™ Expansion in GQM11 it’s worth far more than cover price. The ensuing three issues already have game expansions planned, alternating between Mayfair Games in issues 12 and 14 and Rio Grande Games in issue 13.

Also in GQM11:

  • Interviews with NPR’s Puzzlemaster & NY Times Crossword Editor Will Shortz and TV’s CSI Creator Anthony Zuiker on his new CSI: SENSES The Game by Specialty Board Games.
  • Wizards of the Coast Expands Dreamblade
  • Detailed plans for the huge Games Expo 2007
  • Days of Wonder unveils their next incredible game
  • Front Porch Classics’ Word Count
  • Bruce Whitehill's The European Scene
  • A preview of Mongoose Publishing's Battlefield Evolution
  • Profiles of National Games Week Sponsors
  • Word Up!– Games to build vocabulary in the classroom
  • Coverage of all kinds of non-electronic games.
  • All your favorite columns plus a few surprises we’ve cooked up.

Games Quarterly #11 will reach game stores, book stores and newsstands worldwide in the second week of November, cover price $4.95, $5.95 Canadian. Release date is November 8. Ask your local store for every issue. Subscriptions are available by phone.

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"Leonardo Da Vinci" Details

DaVinci1.10.12.06.jpgPublisher Mayfair Games (Settlers of Catan, Tigris & Euphrates) has posted their official product page for the upcoming title "Leonardo Da Vinci" [Funagain], a game for 2-5 players.

Players of Da Vinici race to setup shop in the city's workshops in an attempt to gather resources and manpower required to complete the various inventions requested by the lord of the city (a set of face-up invention cards). Those players who are the first to invent something gain a patent on that device, and thus are awarded more points. Subsequent devices for the patent holder are cheaper to produce, which promotes specialization. However, at the end of the game, points are assigned to players for each unique patent, which rewards
long term diversification!

One of the game's playtesters has posted a great Leonardo Di Vinci review in the BoardGameGeek forums. Here's the official word:

DaVinci2.10.12.06.jpg

The Company Line: In Leonardo Da Vinci, you are an ingenious renaissance inventor in 15th century city of Florence. Construct amazing machines for the lord of the city. Become a protagonist of this age of unbelievable discoveries, by building your inventions!

Can you marshal your workers in the most advantageous laboratories, workshops, and in palace plots? Only the best can compete with the great Leonardo!

Compete to be known as the most ingenious inventor. The lord of the city gives rewards for the rapid completion of a project. The player with the most Florins at the end will be crowned winner by Leonardo Da Vinci!

Leonardo Di Vinci should be shipping any day now, and is available to preorder from FunagaGames.com.

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October 11, 2006

"Medieval II: Total War" Demo Released

Medieval2TotalWar1.jpgObviously this isn't a computer gaming website. For the most part we like the socially rewarding boxed variety of strategy games more than the cold disconnected feeling you get from staring into a monitor's warm glow for hours on end. But every once in a while a computer strategy game comes along that's so absolutely chalk-full of board game-esque entertainment that it makes those hours on end in solitude not only tolerable, but something that we thirst after.

Enter Medieval II: Total War [official website], a game that simulates the military conquests and technological evolution of 1000AD-1500 AD Europe, within a map that spans from the west coast of Portugal into the deserts of Asia Minor, and all the varying terrain types in between.

At the start of every game you pick a nation from a list of about 20 historically accurate factions, and the game gives you a kingdom of only a handful of cities to cultivate your empire. Your technology starts in the early Medieval period when towns were mostly surrounded by wooden walls. From there you can set out in a turn based mode to make good (or bad) relations with your neighbors, fight wars, convert enemies to your religion, antagonize or support the Pope, pump out new units to outfit your armies, build infrastructure, and discover new technologies, weapons and units. And when we say new units, we really mean it - the game contains over 100 detailed unit types with special abilities, weapon types, tactics -- the works.

Medieval2TotalWar2.jpgWhen your armies clash on the world map the game enters into a detailed battle view. Here you will control the formations of your troops - lining up spearmen to block cavalry charges, charging in your swordsmen to break up enemy lines, launch arrow barrages, and batter castles with siege equipment or pepper them with flaming arrows.

If you've ever been a fan of block war games, then this one animates that type of game into living color. The battle mode of Medieval 2 features fully detailed units who march under flowing banners, hack off limbs, send heads flying, and who suffer to (or are bolstered by) morale effects.

This game is a complex, but the series has been in-place for years so they have a very refined and entertaining tutorial system. The final game ships this November, but the demo was just released! Download it now (for Windows Only) from any of these various gaming download websites:

Medieval II: Total War Demo:

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October 10, 2006

"Galactic Destiny" Announced

GalacticDestiny.10.9.06.jpgSometimes good things arrive unexpectedly from out of the void.

We were recently contacted by Golden Laurel Entertainment about their first game to hit the presses in January, "Galactic Destiny". As we poked around their website we found that their 'Destiny could be a title that we've been thirsting-over for years. In fact, many of the elements in Galactic Destiny have been shot around our very own game table over a few beers after game night.

At its core Galactic Destiny is a space strategy game with both political and military themes. The game has a variable board augmented by a deck of sector cards, each detailing the planets, special abilities, and flavor text of the sector. Then there are the in-game personalities of the Senator cards which act as the player's hands in the game world. Event cards are flipped over three at a time, keeping each turn unique and dynamic as their effects wax and wane the players' abilities throughout the game. And each player's hand of Action cards can provide them that extra bit of oomph just when they need it most.

Perhaps the most intriguing thing about Galactic Destiny is the game's Senate phase. While players are fighting military campaigns for sectors of space, they're also pushing and shoving their political hands into various cookie jars within the galactic Senate. Every turn includes a phase when players convene to propose and vote on new polices (crafted from the top of their head) that affect the game across the board. In this way, a diplomactic strategy could be just as important as the game's motions of military conquest.

Speaking of military conquest, feuding players will sometimes have to trust each other and work together to push back an alien infestation of the Ke’Ras - a demonic race enslaving sectors of space, spreading from one zone to the next. Yum.

We're going to keep our eyes on this one as the title gets closer to shipping (in January, after the holidays ). Until then, ogle the website, mull over the game's rulebook, and check out Galactic Destiny's official press release:

ArrowContinue reading: ""Galactic Destiny" Announced"

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Now Shipping "Catan Event Cards"

CatanEventCards.8.29.06.jpgThe latest expansion to Settlers has hit store shelves, and it comes in a bit of a different format than you're probably used to. A deck of the Catan Event Cards [Amazon,Funagain] expands upon the classic Settlers of Catan [Amazon,Funagain] board game by adding random events to the game's turns (for complete details check out our story Coming Soon: "Catan Event Cards").

The cards also replace the standard dice used to determine random resource production in the normal game of Settlers, with a new system that eliminates the starvation potential of random dice rolls. Those who've built on a '10' space and waited for twenty frustrating rounds for it to produce anything know what we're talking about.

Here's the official skinny:

The Company Line: Drop the dice and spice up your Settler's of Catan or Cities and Knights games with this new set of cards. The Catan Event Cards feature thirty-six cards that act as a deck of dice, replacing the need for dice in your Catan game. Special events are triggered by these cards each time they are turned over, adding an exciting new element to your Catan play. Also included are 6 scorekeeping cards, the rules card, and a reshuffle card.

Catan Event Cards are shipping now from both Amazon and FunagainGames.

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October 9, 2006

BlogPire Podcast - Autumnal Festival Episode - Fun Fall Products 10.09.06

Blogpire 144We feature all the things you need to get your Fall spirit rolling. Recipes and products from TheCookingNews.com and KitchenContraptions.com. Hear about all the latest natural products at ReallyNatural.com, and find out why we're excited about the Magic the Gathering card game expansion.

[iTunes]Subscribe to the Podcast directly in iTunes (MP3).
[RSS] Add the BlogPire Podcast feed to your RSS aggregator and have the show delivered automatically (MP3).
[MP3] Download the show (MP3).
[LISTEN] Listen to the show in your browser.

With Hosts: Russell Miner and Jay Brewer

Program details after the jump...

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Warhammer Online on The Escapist

WarhammerOnline.Escapist.jpgThe gaming web magazine The Escapist has a good story regarding the history of the Warhammer Online franchise. It details who the major designers are, how their individual ducks fell into place, and the general outlook of where the design team aims to steer the Warhammer Online franchise. Here's a snip:

"The major challenge for a company taking something with a built-in audience and converting it to a videogame is deciding where to draw the line when it comes to strictly sticking to the existing property. I asked Paul for his thoughts on that, whether they are trying to get a complete, exact replication of the tabletop game, or if they are looking to capture the "spirit" of Warhammer itself. "[That question] has a very long answer that I really can’t do justice to here. But if I had to try and explain it, I would say it’s important to understand that we are not making a game based on the tabletop war game. We are taking the idea of Warhammer — the idea, concept, theories and feeling — and making the best Realm versus Realm MMOG we can." He adds, "Warhammer is Batman," meaning no matter what form Batman is in — be it comics, movies or LEGO — there is always a central theme, a sort of spirit of Batman's character running through it." -From "The Idea of Warhammer" on The Escapist

Well, here's hoping they don't insert any superfluous ice skating super villains, ala Joel Schumacher.

Warhammer Online is set to ship in the Fourth Quarter of 2007.

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October 6, 2006

Timespiral's Release and Theme Decks

TimeSpiral.jpgToday marks the world wide release of Magic the Gathering's latest block, Time Spiral. If you're not already sifting through tournament and booster packs, then you might want to give a quick look at the block's four prearranged theme decks.

We're excited to see that the collective organisms known as Slivers (a creature type where each sliver buffs every other sliver in the game) have not only made a strong reemergence in Time Spiral, but they also get their own theme deck! You know what htey say, the only bad Sliver is a dead Sliver (especially when it pours out of the box into your breakfast cereal).

SliverEvolution.jpgSliver Evolution

Slivers share a hive mind. Whatever one thinks, they all think. Whatever one can do, they can all do. Slivers have mutated over the years, and the “Sliver Evolution” deck shows off their new, deadlier skills. But they still think the same thing they always did: “Smash anything that’s not a Sliver.”
As soon as the game begins, start building your Sliver collective. Gemhide Sliver is especially good early since its mana ability helps you play other Slivers. Don’t take any risks in combat with your first few Slivers. If they’re still in play a few turns later when their friends show up, even the most mild-mannered Sliver will turn into a ferocious attacker.

FunWithFungus.jpgFun With Fungus

Fungus doesn’t think or sleep—it just spreads and devours. The “Fun with Fungus” deck lets you take the reins of a post-apocalyptic rampage of Thallids, and these freaky fungus fiends won’t take “Eeeeewww!” for an answer.

In the early going, play as many Thallids as possible so they can start building up spore counters. Waiting three turns for enough spore counters to make a single Saproling might seem slow, but when you have three or four Thallids budding at once, you’ll soon have more creatures than you know what to do with.


ArrowContinue reading: "Timespiral's Release and Theme Decks"

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October 4, 2006

Axis and Allies: Battle of the Bulge

BattleOfTheBulge1.jpgAxis and Allies was a coming of age game for us, acting as a big brother to the Risk. Where as the Parker Brothers game (Risk) is that of global domination, a vary mature subject, it had some serious tantrum issues. Games started with sporadic armies littered across the landscape in somewhat random locations, and the brute force of army movement and combat was a bit one dimensional. Axis and Allies brought us into the world of color: multiple unit types, political starting lines, long term planning and growth, weapons development, and money management, which seriously tickled our fancy.

The game has expanded three times over the years. Axis & Allies Europe came out in 2000, followed a year later by Axis & Allies Pacific. Both titles introduced new unit types and a more focused look at the war's two theaters. Then the series into the Operation-level in 2004 with Axis and Allies D-Day. And in 2005 the series successfully launched into the miniatures gaming market with Axis and Allies Miniatures.

Avalon Hill will continue it's march towards Berlin this November with Axis and Allies: Battle of the Bulge, which will simulate the last major European operation of World War Two.

A wounded Third Reich flails its arms in one last attempt to break the Allied lines. The Allies are outnumbered, outgunned, and without air cover. Can they hold strong until the German's desperate advance literally runs out of gas? Historically, the answer is "yes", but that outcome wasn't inevitable. Will the same result unfold when the plastic boots hit the ground and the treads start rolling across your dining room table?

BattleOfTheBulge2.jpg

The Company Line: German tanks thunder into the snow-covered Ardennes forest, opposed only by a few unsuspecting divisions of exhausted American troops. As Axis forces plunge into the countryside, Allied troops must struggle to hold the front line in order to repel the all-out offensive. Axis & Allies: Battle of the Bulge challenges you to control territory and contend with supply shortages, while directing infantry, artillery, tanks, and aircraft in one of the most decisive conflicts of World War II.
...
One player controls Germany, whose massive build up of forces have gone undetected by the Allies and are poised to unleash all their fury on the Allies. The other player controls the forces of the United Kingdom and the United States and they must stem the tide of German armor and hold their positions until reinforcements arrive.

Axis & Allies Battle of the Bulge is designed for two players and can be played in three to four hours. Axis & Allies Battle of the Bulge is the fourth Axis & Allies variant, following the successful Axis & Allies D-Day, Axis & Allies Europe and Axis & Allies Pacific versions. Axis & Allies Battle of the Bulge is available on November 17th, 2006.

Read more about Axis & Allies: Battle of the Bulge on the game's official website. The game is now available to preorder at Funagain Games, and will ship November 17th.

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October 2, 2006

September '06 Roundup

Roundup2.jpgWe can sum up September with two words: Sucker Punch. In high hopes of something stellar, we trusted some preview news that Lost the Game would be a release that bridges the gap between mainstream media and board gaming goodness. Unfortunately we found the game was lacking in just about every way. Our guess: Lost was rushed into production so that it would ship before the new season starts. That's a shame, too, because the title has potential on all fronts, but also has a general lack of polish to the game's key mechanics and content.

But on a lighter note, September was a nice little ramp-up to two huge Collectable Card Game releases. That's right - October marks the release of both Magic: the Gathering Time Spiral, and the World of Warcraft TCG. And starting late October and early November, we should start to see some fresh releases just in time for the Holidays.

Hold on to your butts!

Board Games & Party Games


Collectable Card Games

Gaming Culture


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