September 28, 2007

WoW TCG: UDE Point Crafting First Look

Upper Deck has lifted the lid off the new World of Warcraft item crafting side-plot to their World of Warcraft TCG with their first preview article on the subject: Crafting Redemption Preview: Black Felsteel Bracers. We have to admit, those are some pretty slick bracers right there.

The system itself is a pretty interesting concept, mirroring the tradeskill theme from the WoW MMORPG, and putting some destiny in a player's ability to direct the randomness of TCG collecting. But we can't help to feel that this also fuels the greedy collectible arms-race mechanic that already causes players to buy gobs of cards. Is this really for the player's benefit?

Here's how it works: each booster pack contains a UDE card which sports a code. The code can be entered into a website to unlock UDE points, a currency used on the Upper Deck Entertainment webstore. Points are exchanged for schwaggy goods aimed at making you feel good about playing the WoW TCG, including playmats, desktops, and items that be given to your character(s) in the computer-based World of Warcraft MMORPG. This is a system which has been in place for some time - since the launch of the game - so nothing new here for the avid WoW TCG fan.. But now the UDE cards also contain an additional symbol which matches one of twelve trade goods from the Worldcraft universe. Collect enough symbols to complete a tradeskill formula and you, too, are just one postage stamp away from crafting yourself some really nice epic cards to fill out your Heroes.

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September 26, 2007

Last Night On Earth:The Zombie Game

LastNightOnEarth.jpg
Last Night on Earth [Amazon, Funagain] Zombies scare the living crap out of us to the point of fascination. There’s obliviously something scary about being eaten to death by a dead man - anyone who says otherwise is walking bravado - but then also to become one of the shuffling masses of brain eaters by simply being bitten once by them is terrifying kicked up to the level of absurd. Anyone who’s played rugby or fought back a sea of aggressive children after ice cream night know just how easily it is to be bitten in hand to hand combat. And that’s all it takes.

For a long time we’ve had a very rough time of trying to let our Zombie fascination bleed into our gaming lives. There have been a few games out there including the somewhat entertaining Zombies!!! series, but even that can be somewhat dry for fans who aren’t quite as die hard for the genre as we are.

But now publisher Flying Frog is aiming to change all of that with Last Night on Earth. This zombie romp has some of the highest production values we’ve seen in the zombie game they’ve hired actors to fulfill roles of the characters that you can play and they appear everywhere in the games content, and the game ships with an ambient zombie sound track to set the mood. The game itself includes high quality plastic bits, glossy cards printed in full color, and a scenario book and a componentized board layout scheme to keep things fresh on repeat plays.

The general main goal: stay alive throughout the night and kill as many zombies as possible by sunrise. One player pulls the strings on the zombie horde while everyone else loots weapons and searches for material to keep themselves alive and to hack down the undead. The game strikes a nice balance of intensity – players have to slow down and burn time in order to scavenge for useful bits throughout the town. Meanwhile the zombie player is rolling dice – if they roll a number greater than the number of zombies in play, then they roll again to add that many more new zombies. Things can get harry fast, and just when you thought your character could catch a breath another wave is knocking on your barricade.

The best part about all of this: Halloween is only a month away. Sweet Zombie Crap.

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September 24, 2007

Kill the Hippies Card Game Released

A while ago we received a prerelease copy of Kill the Hippies [Amazon] for our internal review, and we must say we quite enjoyed this satirical card game. Obviously anything entitled “Kill the Hippies” must be taken with a grain of salt, and with an open mind it really tickles the dark side of our funny bones.

The players act as religious fundamentalist who are attempting to convert a series of Hippies from their pagan ways. At their disposal are a set of cards which convert the hippies either through enticing peaceful means, or through cleansing them with fire (read: blunt weapons, guns, and hand grenades).

The humor stems from the combinations of characters and weapons. For instance the Open Mic girl hippie is immune to thrown-bottle and can weapons, and the King James Bible deals more physical damage than its power to convert people.

There are event cards as well which make certain conversions impossible, or protects the Hippy from successful conversion. In the end, the person who lands the most “killing-blows” wins the hippy, and the player with the most hippies at the end wins the game.

In the preview release that we played the game sported a few too many game-breaking cards. For instance some cards would cause players to lose some of their converted hippies, putting them back into the deck and making the game last for far longer than intended. Other cards kept Hippies alive for far too long. We offered our beta feedback to Golden Laurel, but we’re not yet sure if this is fixed in the release.

Therefore we have to recommend this as a good bar-game; a setting where the resulting gameplay isn’t as important as talking over a game and having drinks while humorous things happen on the tabletop below. Those looking to sit down for a serious / balanced game will probably be disappointed after so many wins occur out of left field over a few sessions. But the humor is fantastic, and uh, not a game for kids.

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September 21, 2007

Battlestar Galactica RPG Appears on DRADIS

Battlestar Galactica CorebookFall is here which means we’re entering the new season of Television, and glaringly absent from the season's lineup is one of our favorite: Battlestar Galactica. With its final season postponed until January we won’t get any BS:G goodness until after the holidays. Boo.

But lucky for us the Battlestar Galactica role playing game is slated for release in just a week’s time.

Loyal readers will already know that BS:G RPG is produced by Margaret Weiss Productions, the author behind the Dragonlance Chronicles and the company behind the Serenity RPG. Serenity was a quiet yet well-received release. It had some problems, yes -- given that it was Margaret Weiss Productions’ first RPG product it sported a somewhat independent / low-production level feel the game materials had some flaws like spelling errors, lacked well-rounded components like character sheets, etc. But in the end the source material and gameplay shined-through strong enough to entertain most gaming fans of the Firefly series.

Now Margaret Weiss Productions hopes to follow-up with the BS:G RPG, and to an even large base audience. With only a week away it’s now crunch time for the BS:G RPG publicists to lure in the droves of hungry Galactica fans, yet the small production house is stumbling and currently lacks a publicity blitz. Someone there needs to work more on marketing, we thinks. So consider this our blitz on their behalf.

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September 19, 2007

Galaxy Trucker - Hauling A' Your Way October 2007


Dennis Hopper not included

Despite its clumsy name "Galaxy Trucker" looks to be a very entertaining release for the fall. In a near-perfect gaming sessions of 60 minutes GT attempts to straddle the large broad line that separates the light gaming audience from the strategy gaming audience - it's got the Reese's feeling of "you spilled fun into my strategy game" and "you got strategy in my light entertainment". Prerelease sessions paint a pretty picture - and a very successful game - that might be a 2007 award winner. Nice.

Here's the elevator pitch:
1-4 Players begin pulling colorful starship component tiles from a pile, and quickly design their own spaceship. The first person finished flips a sand timer - which makes the last homestretch for everyone else a frantic tile toss instead of another boring installment of analysis paralysis. The main underlying goal is to make deliveries of goods to the outer stretches of space each round, but then a narrative is developed with event / adventure cards which are drawn as sidetrack treks with which to earn more money.

Depending on which tiles you've drawn and placed on your board, the resulting ship could have different strengths and weakness. A ship with a larger crew quarters will be able to take on a mission where they capture an derelict spacecraft and pilot it home. Ships with gigundo lasers will have a better shot at tackling missions against Ice Pirates.

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September 17, 2007

The Settlers of Catan Relaunches in Fall 2007

CatanRelaunches.JPG
Settlers of Catan 4th Edition is Out! Checkout our Release Story for more details

The Setters of Catan is about to receive an overhaul just before the Holidays - and it's about time that we've received some good Eurogame news. Mayfair Games has decided to produce another release of the cult classic Catan with higher quality materials and new art - including a unique illustration for each individual tile with the goal of breathing a bit of life into the island. Also included is a slick little board bracket system that clamps down on the board making set-up much easier, and decreasing the older version's aptitude to scramble chaotically with the slightest table bump.

The initial release of titles includes the standard Settlers of Catan and two expansions: Catan: Seafarers, Catan: Cities & Knights. And from the Mayfair verbiage, it sounds as though the rest of the Catan expansions are slated to receive a similar overhaul in the near future.

This newest incarnation of Catan: Seafarers, and Cities & Knights are set for a November release, just in time for the gift giving season. You can find out more at "Mayfair Re-launches the Catan Line!" on the Mayfair Games official website.

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September 14, 2007

Starcraft the Board Game Review from GenCon

Starcraft The Board Game

We weren't at Gen Con this year so we couldn't lay our own hands on the prerelease copy of Starcraft from Fantasy Flight Games. But now that the dust of the show has settled there's this great Starcraft Board Game User Review on Board Game Geek.

Starcraft aims to be another Big Box game from Fantasy Flight - like Twilight Imperium and World of Warcraft - which means a lot of rules, a lot of pieces, and some pretty epic gameplay: 3-4 hours of a planet hopping strategery. The game has taken some flak for not emulating the planet-battle theme of the computer RTS, instead abstracting the gameplay into a war over multiple planets - but it seems to us that it's an a-ok way to do it. We just wonder why it takes so long in a game session considering a standard Starcraft RTS fight usually only lasts an hour. We also hope this interstellar theme doesn't overlap with Twilight Imperium - a game that we already own, and have paid for, and we don't really want to pay for it again for a Starcraft face lift. And the review suggests that the instruction book is a bit hard to reference and that's a major pet peeve of ours.

The review, and the resulting comments that fall out of it, also suggests that Starcraft plays a lot like Nexus Ops. So maybe the Twilgiht Imperium overlap concern is being overly cautious. And a 3-4 hour game might not be so bad now that we're entering into the dark Fall - Winter months.

W'e're currently conflicted.

Starcraft is slated for release this October and you can checkout more info from the game's official website. We'll keep you posted of any other prerelease and release news as we approach its release.

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September 12, 2007

Murdero Review

We don’t usually review many card games so we weren’t quite sure what to expect when the title Murdero [Official, Amazon UK] - a murder mystery themed game from D'Avekki Studios – showed up on our doorstep in its bright white box. Our immediate concern was that we’d all be wearing funny hats, drinking scotch, and pointing Deringers at each other across the table. And then the night would end with us talking with old-timey accents as we accused the woman with the purple boa of the premeditated murder of her rich, drunken, and estranged twin brother / husband.

But then we cracked it open and played a few rounds and lo and behold! Murdero is actually a really entertaining card game, and there’s absolutely no roleplay nor feather boas required. Sorry Russell... sorta. Checkout this brief preview movie from the game's designers, then read-on for our impressions.

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September 10, 2007

Tannhäuser Launch Links

Tannhauser: Yes PleaseFinally, the English translation of the French tactical wargame Tannhäuser [Amazon, Funagain] has been released by Fantasy Flight Games, and we're pretty darn excited.

The game takes place in an alternate history of W.W.I. in 1949. Yes World War I is still raging strong even after decades of costly and bloody battles, and deep inside Central Europe the forces of the Reich stumble upon an ancient Relic. As it churns out this glowing shard-thing is the key to opening the door to Hell and all the evil powers within. Bummer. Why isn't there ever a key to Heaven?

Tannhauser sounds right up our alley. Let's see: the game takes place during the 1940's as the Germans and Allies fight over war torn Europe: Check. The game has heroes with special skills like demolitions and heavy weapons, all of which you can customize: Check & Check. It scales from 2 to 10 players for all sorts of game night turn-outs: Check. Oh, and there's a gate to hell, and experimental weapons tied to the alternate reality history of World War One and the demony unknown: yeah, that's a big old check and a half.

But this isn't the end-all game of the century; there have been some critiques of the game floating around prior to release. Though the game offers some depth in character design, the combat gameplay itself is pretty light and simplified for a tactical war game. Also, some people feel as though the components are bit too dark to read, and that the game is weighted in the German Sides' favor. In all though, the game seems to be "fun" given these considerations and quirks.

Check it out for yourself. Here are some links to fill you in on all things Tannhauser for the game's launch:

  • Tannhäuser Preview Trailer [link]: A great 4 minute preview movie produced by Fantasy Flight Games. Covers the setting of the game and some of the title's gameplay elements, including the new "Pathfinding" system that allows for line of sight calculations at a glance.

  • The Rulebook [link]: What better way to get to know the game than to download a pdf version of the game's rulebook from the official website?

  • A Biting User Review [link]:
    We're not going to lie to you: the game has received mixed feedback. Here's a review that's critical of the game's components and the Pathfinding System. It also calls the rulebook "confusing" - a big pet peeve of our own - and the combat game mechanics a bit simplified.

  • A Praising User Review [link]:
    A review posted on BoardGameGeek which breaks down the game's elements including the gameplay, the Pathfinder system, the gaming modes, and the title's components.

So judge for yourself, and we'll attempt to get a review copy of the game so we can offer our own opinions as well. We'll also keep you posted about the other upcoming Tannhauser products including a new Russian setting and some new expansion characters scheduled for release in December.

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September 6, 2007

WoW TCG Fires of Outland Review

Fires Of Outland Booster BoxThe World of Warcraft Trading Card Game set expansion Fires of Outland [Amazon, Funagain] was released a few weeks ago, and after the hangover of opening boxes upon boxes of new cards we’ve had ample time to put the release through its paces.

To sum it up: it’s fun, but how well does the game stack up against the other sets? And does Fires of Outland introduce enough new elements to the Heroes of Azeroth and Through the Dark Portal framework to warrant your hard-earned gaming cash?

Truth is that we’ve had some mixed feelings about it all. Read on to find are conclusions on the Fires of Outland’s Art, Gameplay, and the thoughts on the future of the WoW TCG in general.

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September 4, 2007

August '07 Roundup: Starcraft, D&D 4th ED, and Fires of Outland

Roundup2.jpgSome big news went down this month. Things kicked off strong when the next installment in the A&A franchise - Axis and Allies Guadalcanal - began to take shape. Next, Margaret Weiss Productions awoke from their slumber an kicked off the covers for their upcoming retail release of the Battlestar Galactica RPG, and it's looking like it could be a solid title later this month. Then Fantasy Flight Games released a treatment on the upcoming Starcraft board game, which followed shortly after with fantastic news that the Fourth Edition of D&D will be released in Spring 2008. Holey Moley, talk about a tasty stew of news for some huge upcoming games!

This month also saw some great releases, the biggest two were Age of Empires III - which has some great community praise who are already whispering of a new classic - and the third edition to the WoW TCG: Fires of Outland. The Condottiere 3rd Edition card game of waring city states was also released, and we cannot stress enough that this little game truly shines for groups of 3-5 players.

Here’s the rest of the gaming news from August, from head to toe:

Board Games and Party Games


Collectible Card Games


RPGs

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