June 28, 2007

Handoff! Football Card & Dice Game Enters Beta

Handoff! Enters BetaAttention football fans: training Camp is now in full swing, which means we simply have to manage the crucible of a few hot summer months before the autumnal battles of football echo in living rooms across America. Hard hits, coffee table throw downs, spicy wings and erratic heartbeats will follow. Consult your physician now.

Independent Gamers, Inc is preparing themselves, honing their upcoming Football Card & Dice Game - "Handoff!" - and is looking for a few good beta testers to give feedback on the title's gameplay. Interested parties should visit the Founder's Blog (the official website should launch soon) to learn how to apply for your own Official Handoff! Beta Tester Kit. The kit includes a mini version of the game, and a feedback form so your active participation can make the game go the distance.

We're working to get our own copy of the game in-house to run it through its paces. Keep your eyes peeled for more football gaming goodness coming your way soon.

Go on three. Ready -- break!

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June 27, 2007

Carcassonne on Xbox Live

Carcassonne for Xbox Live ArcadeMicrosoft today released the Xbox Live port of our favorite Eurogame: Carcassonne! The download is available through the Xbox Live Arcade Marketplace for 800 points (~ $10 ) and includes both the original Carcassonne game, and the popular 12-Tile Rivers expansion. The game sports single player support, online support for up to five players, and - for those family oriented gamers - hotseat support for four players on one machine.

The first Eurogame release of Catan Live has been quite a success, and we have high hopes for the Carcassonne treatment as well. We have a diffenret developer this time around in Sierra Online, but the change-up really doesn't concern us too much; Sierra has been responsible for a successfully string of online parlor games dating back to their Sierra Online service of the early 1990s.

But we are a bit disappointed to learn that the other Carcassonne expansions aren't included in this release. It would have been nice to mix up some multiplayer games with a mistmatch of the expansions. Yeah, sure that would have required Sierra to put more work into produce a larger set of art assets and the addition of some flexible AI code, but it would have paid off in spades with any Carcassonne lover.
Carcassonne Looks Pretty Sweet in Semi 3D
Also we're a bit concerned about the flow of gameplay in Carcassonne, too. Online matches might succumb to analysis paralysis, and become quite the snoozefest. Hopefully there's a mechanism for players to reach out across the virtual table and smack opponents out of their brain loop. We hope Sierra has figured out a dynamic warning/penalty system rather than the stock, overzealous and utilitarian turn time limit which usually makes the whole gaming experience so cold. Of course, that's probably what we'll get.

Anyway, we still have high hopes for Carcassonne Live. We'll check back in with our impressions once we have a few games under our belt. It's going to torturous work.

Read on for the official details.

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June 25, 2007

Zooloretto

ZoolorettoZooloretto [Amazon, Funagain] is a family-friendly board game title from Rio Grande Games where players compete to expand zoos and their respective collection of colorful animals contained within. The game is approachable and easy to pickup, while also remaining strong in the gameplay department. Zooloretoo strikes a balance of being fun for broad spectrum of gamers, from youngins who love fluffy zoo animals, to more serious gamers who'll find enough substance here to massage their brain between sessions of more complex board game titles.

The fact that the title hits the mark with such a large audience has led it to win the Spiel des Jahres (German Board Game of the Year) award for 2007, joining quite a prestigious list of historic favorites such as the Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, and Carcassonne.

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June 22, 2007

WoW TCG Molten Core Raid Deck Hands On Part 2

Molten Core Raid begins on May 30thWhen sat down and talked about running through the World of Warcraft TCG Molten Core Raid Deck [Amazon,Shopzilla], with a party of five heroes, we unanimously decided to make a true challenge of it and go for the entire raid experience. That meant downing each of the raid's 10 bosses in a row, without rest, or heals, or reshuffling of decks. We were going to tackle this thing like a Forza 2 Endurance Race.

But the first night [part one] went much slower than anticipated. We were thinking the whole raid would be a three hour affair. But with five of us playing heroes, and a sixth pulling the strings of the Molten Core bosses and cannon fodder, the night stretched, and stretched, and stretched on and on, until we decided to call it quits 3.5 hours at 11:00pm. So we packed things up on the fifth boss - Baron Geddon.

We reconvened a week later for the final push. The group sat down, cracked some beers, setup the board as it was before, and in forced march sitting we put our heads down and pushed through the five remaining bosses: Shazzrah, Sulfuron Harbringer, Golemagg, Majordomo Executus, and the king of the first pits Ragnaros. Here's how evening two went down from th e perspective of Russ - the Critical Gamer who we placed in charge of running the Molten Core raid experience.

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June 20, 2007

Gleemax Gaming Community Website Launches

Gleemax Knows ALL about gamingWizards of the Coast announced that their new gaming community hub website Gleemax launched last week. The site will serve as a social hub for for all gaming audiences to come together and post their own user articles, discussions, etc, And its not meant for just Wizard of the Coast games, but all games under the Sun - from Axis & Allies to Zombies!, and every RPG, board game, and CCG in between.

The shotgun aim for such a broad audience scares us a bit - we fear that the generic theme will breed generic content. Usually it's the case that new community sites require some sort of special focused catalyst before a large audience flocks in for meaningful discussions, and due to these concerns we decided to wait a week before we passed our initial judgment on the true potential of this new social gaming megasite.

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June 18, 2007

Tannhäuser Preview Trailer Released

Tannhauser: Yes PleaseThis fantastic four minute trailer from Fantasy Flight Games just put us in the mood for some Tannhauser [Amazon, Funagain] action, but then again we’re always ready and willing for a well-themed strategy board game full of machine guns, demons, and ticking time bombs.

In case you missed our original story in February, Tannhauser is a strategy board game set 30 years into World War One where German occult agents race against the American commandos to open a door to hell and end the war once and for all. If your society can’t build an atomic bomb, then opening a portal to hell seems like the next best thing.

This preview trailer does a great job of presenting the game’s art style, and it excites s how well the title seems to instill the creepiness of the game’s setting and characters. The trailer switches into a gameplay preview about half way through, presenting various parts of the game,Tannhauser - HermonHietzinger including the ability for players to customize their characters and commandos with various pieces of equipment from flamethrowers to time bombs and machine guns. The movie wraps up with a presentation the new “Pathfinding” system which aims to uses subtle colors in the outlines of spaces on the board to depict line of sight in a seemingly streamlined way. No more accidentally knocking over half the board with rulers and pieces of string.

Taunnhauser originally shipped to a French audience in 2006, and it’s been so well-received that Fantasy Flight Games has decided to translate and deliver the game to the masses of English speaking gamers. Expect to be battling as the forces of good and evil in a Great War demonic throw down of the century when the English language version of Tannhauser [Amazon, Funagain] ships in time for Halloween this September.

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June 15, 2007

Star Wars Pocketmodel TCG

Han SoloWhen we were 25 years younger Star Wars was everything. We had our parents take us to see the movie time nad time again, watching giddily with excited eyes as Han and Luke swatted down pesky TIE Fighters from the Falcon's turrets. We slept in Star Wars sheets, ate from our Star Wars lunch box, and even sat in attention whenever R2 and 3P0 appeared on TV to help fight the war against big tobacco.

The best part of our lazy childhoodod of the early 80''s was on Saturdays, when we'd all convene at the basement of the mother who drew the shortest straw, and reenact the battles of the movie with Kenner Action Figures and giant vehicles. We could barely lift the Faclon and the AT-AT was out of control - and that's exactly what made it so freakin' cool.

Fast forward two and half decades, and the Star Wars the Pocketmodel TCG arrives on the scene. The title isn't shipping with a starter deck, but it comes in two offerings: Star Wars Pocketmodel TCG Boosters [Amazon,Funagain] , and Pocketmodel TCG Powerup Pack [Shopzilla,Funagain] which includes a preconstructed Imperial Star Destroyer.

Now, we to be a bit critical here: the rules and the game system aren't quite as deep as we would have hoped for in a Star Wars strategic space battle offering, and the models are a 'tad small. But that isn't giong to stop us from designing our own large mass battles of Rebel fleets on hit and run raids against Star Destroyers, or pulling Crazy Wookies to spin around our YT-1300 and line up a run between the gun arcs on a Corellian Corvette. wARRnung!

Punch it.

Here are the official details:

Star Wars Pocket TCG is shipping to stores

"The Star Wars PocketModel TCG combines the best features of classic TCGs with those of constructible strategy games (CSGs), a category that WizKids pioneered for kids. This TCG innovation allows players to use characters and action scenes from the movies on their cards to help control their fleets of PocketModel ships as they attempt to destroy each other's objectives. This exciting, easy-to-learn game derives its content from all six Star Wars movies, making it possible for fans of all generations to enjoy battling for control of the galaxy!

Following in the tradition of WizKids' successful Pirates CSG, no Starter is required for game play.

The Power Up Pack includes a pre-constructed Imperial Star Destroyer (not available in the booster pack). The card distribution includes 3 other ships not available in the booster packs."

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June 13, 2007

WoW TCG Molten Core Raid Deck Hands On Part 1

Molten Core Raid begins on May 30thAfter a week of prep work and rules research, a pesky bachelor or two, and some inevitable schedule juggling, we finally sat down last night to put the World of Warcraft TCG Molten Core Raid Deck [Amazon,Shopzilla] through its paces.

We were eager to see how Upper Deck handled this second raid deck installment -- we had some problems with the Onyxia deck which seemed far too easy for five of our finely tuned veteran solo decks. This time around we decided to switch things up by adding a few alternate characters to the mix . Our classic Fire Mage was benched for an alternate Frost Mage (which seemed more appropriate for running the fiery chasms of the Molten Core, anyway), and our main rogue was swapped out for a Holy Paladin with the in hopes of adding that extra healing oomph that we’d need to survive the upcoming marathon of ten major boss battles.

MCFireLord.jpgWe put Critical Gamer Russ – our WoW expert - in charge of pulling the strings of the Molten Core Bosses. Last night for two hours our flock of Heroes danced around and smacked Russ in the face as we downed the raid’s first five bosses. In the following article he recounts the night’s battle from the eyes of the antagonist, and comments on the Molten Core Raid Deck’s success and failures of adapting the 40-man online raid into a card game for the WoW TCG.

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June 11, 2007

"Epic BattleLore" Expansion Released

Epic BattleLoreDays of Wonder has released a boxed version of Epic BattleLore [Amazon,Funagain], an expansion alters the game to allow for more than the standard 1 v 1 battles of the original BattleLore board game system. Now, with these rules, players convert their sets to create large-scale battles of 3v3.

You may recall that rules to the Epic: BattleLore were published a while back on the official Days of Wonder website, so wary readers may be wondering why you'd want to shell-out 15 bucks for it. The hitch is this: To work the multplayer magic of Epic BattleLore you'll need to shove two game boards together before you can DDT your "friends" in some 3v3 wargaming mayhem. But some of us don't pull in the big bucks, and throwing down $150 MSRP for 2 sets of BattleLore seems like steep way to expand the game into multiplayer goodnes.

This boxed expansion solves that problem - it includes everything you need to get going with on BattleLore set, including the required second board! What's that? Someone isn't trying to milk consumers of their money? How thoughtful.

Here's the official word:

"This expansion gives you the opportunity to conduct battles on a grand scale, by combining the back side of two game boards to form a single, unified, giant battlefield.

This supplement also gives you a chance to adventure in the company of friends (up to 3 to a side), making it the format of choice to introduce new players to the game."

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June 7, 2007

Randy Gallegos: Dreaming in Black and White

DreamingIng in Black and WhiteAcclaimed artist Randy Gallegos has compiled and bound a selection of his art fantastic creations commissioned for the World of Warcraft TCG, Magic the Gathering, and D&D source materials for your viewing pleasure. The first book of his collection The Art of Gallegos: Dreaming in Black and White is slated to ship in July, and even dons Randy Gallegos signature!

Here are the juicy details:

"Daydream Graphics is pleased to announce the publication of The Art of Gallegos: Dreaming in Black and White, a 64-page perfect-bound softcover book featuring over 100 drawings and sketches from Magic: the Gathering, World of Warcraft, Dungeons & Dragons, and many other venues, even including artwork appearing in this summer's MtG Tenth Edition and recent WoW sets Dark Portal and Molten Core.

This is the first collection of Randy Gallegos' artwork, and retails for $19.95, signed by the artist. For a limited time, orders placed prior to the book's release on 7/26 will have the option of including an original sketch inside.

More information can be found at the artist's website: http://gallegosart.com"


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June 6, 2007

Ran: The Board Game

Akira Kurosawa's RAN All you film buffs out there just perked up your ears, didn't you? Ever since our group experimented in college, with niche movies that is, we've noted that Ran was a classic. It had it all for a feudal war film: large of armies of spearmen, swordsmen, and early gunpowder units all sporting colorful distinguishing flags (probably made with toxic Red Dye #5), and also those Daimyo in slick armor shouting, gesturing with swords, and leading armies in into battles of massive sieges of Japanese fortresses - it was enough to blow the mind of we few curious college students just introducing themselves to the history of Feudal Japan.

To those of you who have no idea what we're talking about: check out this clip from the movie that we've entitled "Good Morning!". As soon as it sparks your curiosity then do yourself a favor and don't ruin the rest of the movie by watching the whole clip. Instead - shut it off and briskly walk - for the sake of a horrible pun - and rent Ran from you local video store. If the store has any class, then they'll have it in stock somewhere in the back. If their copy is in VHS then uh, rent it from somewhere else that has the DVD version. While audiophiles could claim that analog vinyl records have a "warmer sound" than CD pressings, only the legally blind videophiles argue the same of the visual qualities of old VHS tapes.

And when the lights close on the final scene and you find yourself craving more, then checkout this new war game release of Ran [Funagain] from GMT games to see if it fits your fancy. We have to be honest here, we don't know much about the game other than the product literature from the official website. We don't have a copy of the game in-house yet, nor have we played any of the other games from GMT's historic war game series, so we can only arm you with enough knowledge to to make your own call on whether or not this Feudal Japan game release of hexes and chits is worth your gaming time. But hey, at least your saw a Kurosawa Classic in the process.

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June 4, 2007

Tide of Iron Tactical WWII Board Game System Ships

TideOfIron

Oh yes, very very nice. After a few delays Fantasy Fight Games has finally shipped the Big Box strategy WWII wargame system Tide of Iron [Amazon, Funagain]! It's a little late for Memorial Day, but just in time for D-Day, which - we suppose - is more fitting anyway.

Our copy arrived direct from Fantasy Flight over the weekend, but we've only just had enough time to oggle the pieces so far. But we're WWII nuts here, so we already have some serious designs on how to put this title through its paces. Until then, this user review remains our favorite overview of the game. Those of you looking for some more official notes should also checkout Tom Vasel's Review over at the The Dice Tower, who wears his gaming heart on his sleeve and does a beautiful job as he breaks down the game bit by bit.

Here's the official sitrep:

"Word War II was the greatest mobilization of fighting men and machines that the world has ever seen; tanks and soldiers combined into a veritable tide of iron that changed the world. Now the largest and deadliest conflict in history comes to your tabletop in Fantasy Flight's game of World War II squad-level tactics!

Tide of Iron feature hundreds of detailed plastic figures, including soldiers, tanks, and other combat vehicles. The game rules focus on realistically simulating squad-level combat, but are streamlined enough to appeal to casual board gamers. Tide of Iron features a modular game board on which up to 6 players (divided into 2 teams) can test their tactical prowess in dozens of scenarios.

Tide of Iron joins the ranks of Fantasy Flight's runaway hits Twilight Imperium, Descent, and World of Warcraft in the epic sized box. With a box two feet wide and over ten pounds you know its full of World War II action!"

The Tide of Iron system is now shipping from Amazon and Funagain Games, or can be ordered directly from Fantasy Flight Games.

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June 1, 2007

May '07 Roundup

Roundup2.jpgWow, anyone else notice the mad congo line of releases during this post Memorial Day Week? And with there being only four days, we didn't even get a chance to report that two more titles - Notre Dame and Age of Discovery - have both been released.

We also hear that Tide of Iron should be washing up on our doorsteps sometime in the next few days! And the WoW TCG Molten Core Raid Deck just arrived. Oh boy, what a sweet week for gaming.

So hopefully we'll have some good reviews for you in June, including a review of the WoW TCG expansion Through the Dark Portal, and the intergalactic space opera game of diplomacy and warfare in the upcoming Galactic Destiny board game from Golden Laurel.

And at some point in June we plan to sleep, too.

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