August 30, 2007

Our Top 5 Games for Labor Day Weekend '07

Narragansett Beach, Rhode Island

We’re about all packed and ready to head out to the beach house for Labor Day weekend, including our bag o’ games in tow. Yes life is tough. And hopefully you, too, will be take a nice relaxing weekend break.

Here is our selection of party games from gaming stack this year. Its a lighter set keeping in mind a we're trying to reminisce the lazy days of Summer with friends who aren't quite a group of heavy gamers:

  • Apples to Apples

    Can’t go wrong with this party game classic. Everyone and their mom like’s Apples to Apples after chilling on the beach – it’s light, funny, social, and easy to get into. This all adds up to an easy first selection from the the middle of the game stack.

  • Condottiere
    Before the boys withdraw to the withdrawing room for their late night poker tournament, this card game should be a great warm up for everyone. It lacks the chip gambling mechanics which makes it "nice" for those without the gambling fever, but there’s enough gameplay decisions and risks to make it attractive even for veteran poker fans. It walks that thin line so well.

  • Ticket to Ride Marklin
    When we're actually craving a game with a board, Ticket to Ride really delivers. This one supplants the classic Settlers of Catan, which has been played almost to detail. Marklin also remains our favorite of the Ticket to Ride series, even though the stock Ticket to Ride has been brought up to date with similar mechanics via the 1910 Expansion.

  • Celebrity
    We're not actually packing our favorite party game, 'cause there's nothing to pack! Celebrity is the perfect ice breaker for our friends who've just gathered again for the first time in a year. Funny, inventive, laid back; contains the greatest of things to get the weekend started.

Have a good weekend folks. See you on the other side when we enter the Fall season of games, and football season! Woot!

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August 29, 2007

The Simpsons Duff Dice

Beer Goes In Here
Before you roll your eyes at a cheap commercial dice game, know that The Simpsons Duff Dice [Amazon, Funagain] is based on the proven classic Liar's Dice. If you haven't heard it before then it goes a little something like this:

Everyone rolls Dice in a hidden cup, slapping the cup upside down onto the table like a drunken four-fingered pirate. Then each player growls at the other, sneaking a hidden peak at their dice to see how many common numbers came up in their cup. The round continues as players take turns estimating - or bluffing - how many dice across the entire table have a particular number.

Given a result of four "2"s in your cup, you might predict that there are eight two's in your five player game. The next player either calls your bluff, or increases the bid to beyond eight, using any dice result number he/she wishes.

If your bluff is called, then everyone lifts their cups. If you were found-out to be dead wrong, then chug your Duff. Otherwise the skeptic kicks back his own beer in frothy humility.

A simple, elegant, and proven party game (7.2/10 BGG) with a Simpson's motif. What could go wrong?

The Company Line:

The dice don't lie but you might have to in this fast-paced game of lyin' and guessin'. Do you have what it takes? To stay alive in Duff Dice, you must bluff -- or be bluffed. To win in Duff Dice you must lie, lie, lie your way to victory. Woo hoo!

Packaged as a four-pack of beer, this classic liar's dice game includes 4 collectible Duff Beer Cans, 20 custom dice featuring your favorite characters from Moe's Tavern and a Duff Beer shopping bag for easy storage.

Contents:

  • 4 beer-can dice cups
  • 20 custom dice
  • Rules

The Simpsons Duff Dice is now shipping from Amazon and Funagain Games.

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August 27, 2007

Dune Board Game Remake - Pretty Please?

Just about everyone Critical Gamer has read Dune – sometimes more than once - and all of us have marked it down as one of the top ten sci fi novels period. Hands down. Pencils down. Baron Vladimir Harkonnen is down. If you like science fiction and you haven’t picked it up, then do so now.

For those who are already fans of Dune, you will want to perk your ears up. Last week at GenCon publisher Fantasy Flight Games noted that they were working on a remake of the classic board game Dune. The original Dune is also heralded as one of the better games from gaming history, and closely tied to the setting from Frank Herbert’s masterpiece novel. As a testament to its greatness and longevity, the game - originally published in 1979 - still holds rank #44 on Board Game Geek, and can be found passing through gaming hands via Ebay for upwards of $150-$200.

There is one problem, however. The rights to the Dune board game are locked-up by franchise owner Kim Herbert. And currently she’s not offering it up for sale, to anyone. Not even Kyle MacLachlan.

Due to this passive stonewalling, Fantasy Flight Games has decided to circumvent the Dune tie-ins. Instead they’re going to take the Dune gameplay and vaccum seal their Twilight Imperium universe around it. Hrm, we love T.I. and all, but this just isn’t going to cut it. We want the spice fields of Dune, and we want them now.

If you’re with us - then there is a glimmer of hope. An online petition has been formed in hopes that Fantasy Flight Games and Kim Herbert might at least talk about the idea of a Dune board game remake. After all, as of now, it seems like they haven’t even spoken to each other.

And that’s a pretty darn big shame.

Via BoardGameNews

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August 24, 2007

WoW TCG Fires of Outland Launch Links

Fires Of Outland Booster BoxFires of Outland [Amazon] was released to the masses on Wednesday, which means you should be passed-out in a sea of WoW TCG gaming cards by the time you read this. But the fun is only beginning when your post unwrapping marathon hang-over kicks in - your collection might be missing a few key cards that you didn’t even know existed, or you might be lacking some strategic ideas on how to tune your new collection to make a strong showing at the table.

Well let’s solve some of that. Here are some links for you to help you get going:

  • Our Fires of Outland Review - how could we recommend that you start out anywhere else?
  • The WoWTCG Database has already populated their Fires of Outland section. It includes an index of the 246 cards in the set, and is sortable in every fashion known to man. This is a great place to research what fashion of strength Fires brings-out of the games various classes. It’s also a great place research combos, and determine if you’re missing that One key card to round out a particular deck.
  • Our Fires of Outland: WoW TCG Expansion Previews story links to a slew of Featured Preview articles from the WoW TCG main site, sorted by class and card, and summarily analyzed for your previewing pleasure.
  • Check out the new series of Loot Cards included in this set – which has two definite keepers. Dibs on the Spectral Tiger epic mount. Seriously, hand it over.
  • Official Decklists Forum When you’re all set and finished with your new deck, post it here. Or peruse it beforehand to get some clever ideas for your favorite class, which will certainly crush your unexpecting friends on the next game night.

Fires of Outland - A Short Primer
Following the release of the original Heroes of Azeroth set, and the expansion Through the Dark Portal, the Fires of Outland installment continues to fill-out the standard WoW TCG classes, races, quests and equipment. There still aren’t any major gameplay or mechanic changes in this latest installment; hopefully that will come when the next set hits the shelves this Fall.

Outland refers to the rugged terrain which lies beyond the infamous Dark Portal - the setting of The Burning Crusade expansion released in early 2007 for the World of Warcraft Massively Online RPG. The new WoW MMORPG expansion "Wrath of the Lich King" will bring players to a new continent set in what seems to flavored with Midgard and Vikings with a mix the Undead Infestation that is the World of Warcraft plaguelands. Could be very interesting stuff, and we hope this is what's also in store for the WoW TCG themes as we roll on into next year.

Fires of Outland is now shipping from Amazon, ToyWiz, and Funagain Games.

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August 22, 2007

Dungeon and Dragons 4th Edition Announced

D&D Has Come a Long WayWizards of the Coast held onto a surprise announcement until just before Gen Con Indy commenced last week – the release of a new Dungeon and Dragons 4th Edition for the Summer of 2008.

Yes, D&D 3rd Edition hasn’t been out for yet a decade and already the 4th edition is heading our way. In many ways this shorter lifespan leaves a bad taste in the mouth of gamers who feel as though Wizards of the Coast is pushing a new sea of source materials that gamers will have to purchase all over again. In some ways, we feel for those folks, but in many, many ways we’re really happy with that changes slated for the game that we grew up with for thirty years.

The good news is that D&D 4th Edition has been within the WotC design and development workshop for nearly two years already, which has given WotC plenty of time to pull apart the game and mull over which facets of the game require the most redesign. The major goal seems be cemented in two major shifts in the way D&D works. First and foremost, is the streamline of play and preparation; this goal actually reaches its fingers across almost all facets of the game from class design and character progression, to combat rules based around new class/racial abilities. Second – but just as noteworthy – is the integration of the game sources with both online DM and character tools, and the social gaming community of Gleemax (who told us to expect some major announcements at GenCon, but honestly – we didn’t expect this to be it).

So let’s pop the hood and look at we so far...

ArrowContinue reading: "Dungeon and Dragons 4th Edition Announced"

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August 20, 2007

Battlestar Galactica RPG Quickstart Previews

Battlestar Galactica CorebookFaithful readers should know that the Battlestar Galactica RPG has been on our Gaming Radar for quite some time. But since publisher Margaret Weiss Productions first announced the BS:G RPG nearly a year ago by, they’ve been tight lipped on any and all development news about the game. In fact, their own website has donned a makeshift "under construction" page for almost a year now, with nothing changing over a dry spell eight months except for a few dust bunnies slinking about in the background. We started mumbling amongst ourselves that that the BS:G RPG had gone the way of the dodo.

Then a few weeks ago Margaret Weiss Productions trickled some news that the BS:G RPG would appear at GenCon (last week), and gave some details about the two feature products: The Quickstart Guide and The Core Rulebook [our story].

Now that Gen Con has come and passed, some attendees are beginning to write about their experiences with the game. First and foremost a great preview/review read of the Battlestar Galactica RPG Quick Start Guide on RPG.NET [story]. This article seems to be the most detailed about what you should expect from the game, including the Quick Start rules about character abilities, combat, and some impressions on the game’s use of story mechanics. Also there are quite a few details about the first adventure that ships with the game, with careful thought not to include any spoilers.

ArrowContinue reading: "Battlestar Galactica RPG Quickstart Previews"

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August 17, 2007

Condottiere 3rd Edition War Cardgame Released

Condottiere_Cards.gif
Condottiere [Amazon, Funagain] is a title that successfully strips the randomness off the boring classic War card game - adding gobs of flavor, strategy, card gaming elements, and a meta-map of the warring city states of Renaissance Italy. It other words: it makes War fun.

And though we know this sounds stupid, we're going to say it anyway: we seriously love meta maps. Like a kid drooling over an oversized lollipop, we stare at meta maps with widened eyes. All that territory to conquer and dynamically provide narrative to battles. It’s great, great stuff.

There are some card game elements that keep you on your toes, too, such as cards that suddenly weaken certain types of forces with adverse weather affects, or morale boosters which double the strength of other card types. With these tools you can show weak for numerous rounds, only to show strong at the end of the battle. Choosing when to play these cards in a round, and mastering the art of coaxing your opponent into over extending themselves in one battle, only to kick their butt in another, is all part of the game. This game is indeed, pretty deep.

ArrowContinue reading: "Condottiere 3rd Edition War Cardgame Released"

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August 15, 2007

WoW TCG Damage Dice

WoW TCG TreasureChestFor all you World of Warcraft TCG enthusiasts Upper Deck has released a sideshow item in the form of a sleek Treasure Chest [Amazon, Funagain] modeled after those that appear in the online game. Cracking open the chest reveals Damage Dice which - of course - can be used to assign damage to heroes and their party members in TCG play.

It's a nicely stylized, snazzy dice carrier companion piece for a game that’s already steeping in artistic content. And when you’re not using the Treasure Chest to carry dice you can give it to your kids for bath time, or entombing their teeth for their nighttime passage to the Tooth Fairy. Other alternative uses include - but aren't limited to:

  • Transporting your RPG Dice
  • Using at as an RPG prop
  • Putting in Your Fish Tank
  • Swear Jar
  • Storing your dip (but that’s disgusting)

ArrowContinue reading: "WoW TCG Damage Dice"

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August 13, 2007

Starcraft The Board Game Official Details Released

Starcraft The Board Game

Fantasy Flight Games has launched the official Starcraft The Board Game website for its upcoming adpation of the world renouned Blizzard Real Time Strategy Game of the same name. The website includes a great overall preview article about the game, and also a link to a PDF file of the official rules [link].

Starcraft looks be another mammoth release from Fantasy Flight Games, with gobs of pieces, a dynamic game board, and some complex / deep rules. There’s plenty to game here.

Players take on the roll of either Human space marines, the brooding alien scourge of the Zerg, or the zealous alien race of the Protoss, who attempt to "cleanse" with fire anything the Zerg has touched. The game has support for up to six players and should take around three hours to complete a session. Yes, three hours - like we said, mammoth - but what else should we expect from another Fantasy Flight Game's big box release?

Those strategy game folks who are familiar with the other FFG epic board game Twilight Imperium ( and if you’re not then do yourself the favor) will be quite at home with a lot of the core style of play. Starcraft will ship with a modular board where individual star systems – containing resource piles of crystals and gas - are placed on the table in a player-draft system during setup. Each adjacent system is then linked by a nice space lane piece which locks the board into place. Players then expand across the “galaxy” to mine resources and accumulate victory command points as they build bases to cement control of their core systems. The first player to 15 command points wins. Easy Peasy.

And of course the vast array of Starcraft military equipment and tech trees means that conflicts will certainly erupt as players move out in all directions to control these systems for themselves. In a move that might slow the game, but increase gameplay, Fantasy Flight has done away with dice combat for this title. Instead players assign combat cards to each unit to augment its base combat effectiveness. Some combat cards simply modify the unit’s combat strength, while others give the unit in edge in specific matchups – such as increasing the damage the unit does to air units. Knowing where and when to play these cards could definitely add some extra depth and oomph to Fantasy Flight’s normally dice-heavy combat.

This preview article on the official website goes into some more of the juicy details, and includes quite a few other great elements coming down the pipe when Starcraft finally ships to retailers. Currently, we’re looking at a potential 2007 release date, and Starcraft is looking pretty darn impressive thus far.

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Win Prizes from MvixUSA and Our New Site NetworkingAudioVideo.com!

mx760c_contest.jpg

If you didn't know, this site is part of a larger network of sites from Blogpire Productions and we'd like to tell you about a new site that's part of the Blogpire - NetworkingAudioVideo.com. If you want to learn how to stream music, movies, and TV around your house - NetworkingAudioVideo.com is for you. We're excited about NetworkingAudioVideo.com, and we're really excited about giving away lots of cool high tech prizes!

We've teamed up with MvixUSA to giveaway some T-Shirts and if enough people sign up - some Mvix Media Centers. The type of prize you can win depends on how many people sign up for our newsletter at NetworkAudioVideo.com. This giveaway will be a tiered giveaway, so the more users that sign up, the bigger the prizes. If more than 500 ( U.S.) users sign up, Mvix will give away All of the following prizes. All winners will be chosen by the end of the giveaway, and be chosen via random drawing.

  • (10) MvixUSA T-shirts - 100 signups or more
  • (1) Mvix MV-4000U Media Center - 250 signups or more
  • (1) Mvix MX-760HD Media Center - 500 signups or more

This giveaway is open to U.S. participants only and ends August 31st, 2007.

To be eligible to win, all you have to do to win is be part of the Networking Audio Video mailing list. Click here to be part of the mailing list or sign up by using the form below.

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August 10, 2007

Fires of Outland: WoW TCG Expansion Previews

Fires Of Outland Booster Box

Fires of Outland is out! Check out our Review

It’s hard to believe that we’re already on deck for a new World of Warcraft TCG release. We gotta hand it to Upper Deck one thing: they know how to space their releases so there’s always something coming down the pipe in the near future. And now the Official WoW TCG website has started to post their series of WoW TCG Fires Of Outland set preview articles.

Outland is - of course - the lands which lay beyond the Dark Portal, and which served as the setting for the first World of Warcraft Expansion release: The Burning Crusade. We’ve included the first 10 Fires of Outland preview articles here for your reading enjoyment. However, we do have a couple of beefs with where it seems Fires is going.

First and foremost, it feels as though the WoW TCG isn’t really changing at all. New cards means new equipment, new abilities and new allies, but the game’s mechanics seem to be stuck in the mud. Sure, there’s some variety between how you construct decks for each set, for example there's some emphasis on ability removal in some sets more than others, but where are the new keywords and game mechanics? We’re on entering into the third major set of the game, and given these card previews and we’re beginning to worry that all future sets will just be a generic shotgun of new content instead an attempt to evolving gameplay with various themes.

ArrowContinue reading: "Fires of Outland: WoW TCG Expansion Previews"

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August 8, 2007

Battlestar Galactica RPG Details Released

Battlestar Galactica CorebookMargaret Weis Productions has finally lifted the veil on the upcoming Battlestar Galactica Role Playing Game, a title that was scheduled to launch back in July of this year. But don't let the schedule slip cause you to fret too much B Star Fans, the game isn't in a state of perpetual delay: both the Battlestar Galactica RPG Core Rule Book and Quick Start Guide are slated for a release at the mammoth Gen Con Game Fair in Indianapolis on August 16th [source: GamingReport.com]. That’s only two short weeks away. Following the conference, the Battlestar Galactica RPG will ship to stores in September.

Besides the affirmation of a release date, we’re excited for a plethora of other reasons:

  1. The Battlestar Galactica RPG is being created by the same group who made the Serenity RPG. We’re big Firefly / Serenity fans here, and though we’ve never played the Serenity RPG, we’ve heard some good things.
  2. Winter is coming, and that's RPG season.
  3. We’ve grown to love the BS:G television series like a raving lunatic loves shiny things.
  4. Due to expenses, the upcoming season of B:SG starting in January 2008 will be the show’s final season. Yes, it’s true. This stinks.
  5. The prequel show “Caprica”, which was supposed to take place leading up to the first Cylon War, has been tabled indefinitely. Probably for the fear that it, too, will have a ginormous budget.

That means that – as of right now - the only thing carrying the BS:G torch is this RPG. Honestly, that tickles our fancy – to be placed in control of the modern science fiction’s evolving plot lines just as the show ends. It’ll be fresh in our minds, and we’ll be craving for more, and here we have our outlet.

You can preorder and read more about the Core Rulebook and Quickstart Guide at the Margaret Weis Productions' webstore [link]. And of course we’ll have an update with any news that comes from the floor at Gen Con in a few weeks.

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August 6, 2007

Age of Empires III: The Board Game

Age of Empires III Cover

The board game adaptation to the Ensemble Studios' Real Time Strategy computer game "Age of Empires III" has been released. In Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery [Amazon, Funagain] players take on the role of 15th century colonialists laying claim to the resources and lands of the New World. By assigning colonists and a few specialists - including merchants and soldiers - to various colonizing tasks each colonial power vies against one another to open up new territory in the Americas, wresting control of the territories from the native inhabitants.

Once conquered the new territories return goods and riches back the players' home capital city which - in a neat mechanic - can the be built-up and evolved to help their colonial power score more victory points, send more colonists to the new world, and beef up colonial defenses against rival powers (other players).

The game is more about smart moves in the allocation of resources than it is a war game of conquering territory with troops. The battles between players serve an important role in the game, but there are no dice and a quick resolution. Also, most of the fighting against the natives is glossed over. Colonies win new territories with a large mass of colonists (probably carrying the plague) and not with muskets, horsemen and big cannons.

ArrowContinue reading: "Age of Empires III: The Board Game"

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August 2, 2007

Axis & Allies: Guadalcanal - The Fog Lifts

Axis and Allies GuadalcanalAxis and Allies.org sends updated news about the next installment in the Axis & Allies line of games: the Japanese vs USA Naval and Marine battles of Guadalcanal. It looks like many things are going to follow the evolution of mechanics from the Battle of the Bulge, including the dice box, supply tokens, and the random hit assignment mechanic (however it appears the later has been changed a bit). The game will also incorporate what looks to be air strips –with some wonder if they’ll be dynamically built - and the allocation of reinforcements at the cost of Victory Points.

Axis and Allies .org has all the info up until now, including a CG rendering of both the prototype board and pieces, and a breakdown of the game’s rules and general thoughts from the knowledgeable A&A critics in the Axis and Allies.org forums.

Axis & Allies Guadalcanal is slated to ship in November 2007.

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