Milton Bradley Board Games - A Blast from the Past
Here’s a blast form the past for all you old-school board game players. Elbow patches and Geritol not included.
Now We don’t quite go this far back ‘cause we’re all pretty young in the whole scheme of things (early to mid 30’s) and that’s why it’s even more unfathomable that most of these old school American games from Springfield Massachusetts are still on the market. We still prefer the more evolved gameplay design of modern family-friendly Eurogames and American Strategy / Party games, but sometimes it’s nice to go back to the American classics with the younger generations.
Here are all the games mentioned in their modern American glory (where applicable):
Sure, we've heard of and played almost all of these games, but we had no idea that they all went back that far. The 1950's were literally a completely different age! Today there are some timeless modern classics like Carcassonne, Settlers of Catan, and maybe now Pillars of the Earth, but in 60 years will they all still be around, too?
Here's one from TerrorBull Games for all you tongue-in-cheek cynics out there (nothing to be ashamed about -- we're with you). War on Terror [Amazon, Funagain] is a strategy board game that fits together many games we love, and themes it with modern day troubles.
The game nicely combines elements of Risk, with a simplified resource production similar to Settlers of Catan, and stuffs a bit of Diplomacy into it as well. Dark? Yes. Well executed? Definitely, though sometimes theres such a strong balance between two sides that games may last for longer than their expected two hour duration. One thing we really like though: there is a Hidden Message pad that players may use to communicate/conspire with each other, but watch out! Some cards allow players to read the secret messages allowed. Oh boy howdy, that's good stuff -- it reminds us of the communication vouchers from so many days playing the diplomatic game in A Line in the Sand.
The next WoW TCG set was released over the weekend, and with it come some new keywords and new rules. Yes, just over a year after the original Heroes of Azeroth set release we finally see not just a injection of new content, but new mechanics which should add another level of interesting complexity to deck-building, and should make the gameplay a bit more dynamic than it was before.
This is definitely a good thing, because we started to get concerned that game might have stagnated otherwise. However, as of now these new rules are divided on faction lines of the new Blood Elf Scryer order versus the Aldor consisting entirely of Draenei (though these sides are neutral so Blood Elves could appear in Alliance decks and vice versa). Our concern is that these new gameplay elements will never mix, which could limit the gameiness of deck building more than it would have otherwise. We'll have more of our thoughts in a review once we've been able to put the set through its paces.
Read on for a description of the new rules, and links to every official March of the Legion feature article:
Critical Gamers 2007 Holiday Gift Guide - Board Games and Card Games Galore
Welcome to the one-stop index page for all of our Holiday Gift Guides for 2007!
We know how important it is to find the right game for the right person and so we're kicking things up a notch this year by crafting up individual guides centered around particular genres of gaming. Here you'll find links to all of our artilcles, so rest assured that you'll find the right game for the right person for some unwrapping goodness in December.
If you haven't found exactly what you're looking for then please also check out our 2006 Holiday Gift Guide. It's also chalk-full of great game ideas with staying power, many are still being played on our gaming nights even late into this year.
Cyber Monday and Holiday Board Game Sale: BoardGameUSA.com Free Shipping
The online game site BoardGameUSA is offering free shipping on all orders over $99.00. They're also offering extended discounts off nearly 50% off a rotating Game of The Day.
We have to be honest, BoardGameUSA has quite the selection going on. They have your American classics like Monopoly, Sorry!, Life!, etc, which you could find just about anywhere. But they also have an extensive collection of Eurogames. There are 4 pages of games from Mayfair, including titles like Settlers of Catan, Domaine, Bang!, and Tigris & Euphrates. If you're more a Rio Grande Gamer then their Rio Grande collection includes 10% off on: Carcassonne, San Juan, Shadow of the Emperor, and Puerto Rico.
Cyber Monday and Holiday Board Game Discounts: Buy.com
The online mega store Buy.com is running a sale on select board games and toys, with some titles up to 60% off.
The sale includes nearly 150 items, including new games and old American classics like Monopoly, Scene It?, Sorry, Life, and titles from the Cranium Series. No Eurogames for dinner parties and the elder generations (except for Scene It?), but some great discounts for those classic family games we all grew up with.
Cyber Monday and Holiday Puzzle Game Discounts: Bits and Pieces
The puzzle and game store Bits and Pieces has a 25% coupon deal running through Cyber Monday (November 26th, 2007), and other holiday deals on shipping and games through the rest of the year. They have quite the extensive selection of jigsaw puzzles, including wooden, 3D and glow in the dark puzzles (you heard us!), but also other sorts of gamin accessories. Their Outlet section has up to 75% off gaming items straight out of Spencer Gifts.
Here are the online coupon codes for the 2007 Holidays:
25% off any order - W201250 Expires 11/26/07
15% Off Any Order - W702060 Expires 11/30/07
Free Jigsaw Puzzle with any Order - 14-W9914
Free shipping on any $50.00+ order - W702070 Expires 12/31/07
The online store also also hosts their very own Bits and Pieces 2007 Holiday Gift Guide which has gift suggestions for Him, Her, Kids and favorites. It even breaks down each of those gift categories by price, too Sure makes life simple!
This year's installment of the long running strategy game series that lifted us out of the Risk dark ages has now shipped to stores. Axis & Allies Guadalcanal [Amazon, Funagain] continues the line of focused battles, but this time heading to the waves in the first major engagement of American Naval and Marine forces against the Japanese Imperial army and navy just north of Australia in the Spring of 1942.
A&A Guadalcanal includes many gaming elements new to the franchise. Players will now be able to construct destructable airfields on the various islands in the island chain, and a new dice box mechanic assigns hits and simulates the choas of combat. But don't worry, the girth and commanding presence of your major units factores into it all, so your battleship won't be sunk by a sleepy fishing trawler's harpoon gun.
Check out our other stories for more information on Axis & Allies Guadalcanal, or read on for the official game details:
We cap off our series of Holiday Gift ideas for 2007 with probably our most focused list: one tailored specifically for the World of Warcraft Trading Card Player.
Since you're reading this chances are you know someone who plays World of Warcraft on the computer, or you know someone into collectible card games. Either way you probably know a candidate for a World of Warcraft TCG fanatic, or someone who is one already. In this list we explore the latest and greatest WoW TCG products coming out just in time for the Holiday gift giving season, and lucky for you almost all of them fit into a stocking!
We kick off our series of Board Game Holiday Shopper guides with probably the most difficult of gaming archetypes: The Family Gamer. Our goal was to compile a list of fun games where each in the list spans the interest levels of younger players, and teens, and even become challenging and interesting for the elder folks playing them, too.
Our shortlist of criteria for the best Holiday Gift Family Games:
Games that are interesting for adults, too. We play all of these games without any kids present because they're fun, and we're manly in our 30's.
Games that are simple to learn - but yet interesting and offer a quite a few levels of depth. They have to be rewarding for everyone who comes to the table.
Games that keep everyone involved from the first turn to the last, unlike the traditional family games from our past - like Monopoly.
The games come to a conclusion in about an hour so they're easy to budget time for, and you won't feel that board game hangover as you burn the midnight oil.
There's no surprise that this list jives with many characteristics of Eurogames which came out of Germany in the 1990's - since they were designed for exactly this type of gaming. Also, these games listed here would be great for non families, too, like any social board game group looking to get together a few times a month to play games and just hang out.
And here's our list of Family Games for the 2007 Holiday Season without further ado:
Sometimes a gamer only shows their true colors in a group. These are the exhibitionist folks who like the social elements of gaming far more than the cerebral head game of strategy games and wargames. And sometimes the night dynamic doesn't present itself well to static boards, either, so even the social elements of family board games seem too dull and mundane for the midnight oil.
In our continuing series of 2007 Holiday Gift Guides we dive into the world of party games and arm you with the best suggestions for giving that party gamer the best gift this December. And for those of you who are also looking to host a bitchin' Holiday / New Years Party: we also have something for you, too.
We have to warn you though: even though we're mainly a board game site, some - but not all - of these party games require electricity from the magic wall holes.
The WoW TCG has just sent out a sweet little stocking stuffer for the Holidays. The Feast of Winter Veil [Amazon, Funagain] is somewhat of a first in the line of World of Warcraft Trading Card Game releases. It’s not a set, nor a raid, but instead a mini set themed release. It includes: ten rare holiday themed cards, a booster from each of the standard set releases of Heroes of Azeroth, Through the Dark Portal, and Fires of Outland, and it’s all packaged in a slick little deck box with which to lug around your favorite decks.
A very nice release we might say. In fact we do say. The cards are play dynamic on the gameplay front and are very well themed for both the World of Warcraft MMORPG Feast of Winter Veil content and for the true holiday season - which makes them fun – but they’re also quite useful, too. Going down the list we've all nod our heads in appreciation of how well these things fit into all of our decks. Plus a deck box carrying case to boot? Sign us up!
Catan 4th Edition Expansions: Seafarers and Cities & Knights
Following hot on the heels of the new release of Settlers of Catan 4th Edition these two classic expansions have new 4th edition treatments as well, shipping with all the new bells and whistles including new art and better materials than the all prior releases of the game.
In Catan:Seafarers [Amazon, Funagain] players compete to explore the islands surrounding Catan in order to reign in their resources and become the most powerful empire. Things take a progressive step forward in Catan: Cities & Knights [Amazon, Funagain] as players attempt to build-up their Settlements out of the dark ages; defending cities from ravenous barbarians while the market grows over more refined resources such as gold, paper and cloth.
If you haven’t played either of these fantastic expansions before then it’s new to you! Veterans will find that the rules of the new editions haven’t changed at all, and to you we have to be honest here: we don’t know if it’s worth throwing down the cash for a materials upgrade. But lucky for you – and for us - Mayfair has scheduled their 4th edition releases just in time for the Holiday gift giving / wish list extravaganza, and copies of the updated titles might somehow sneak their way onto our Holiday Wish List!
Games Magazine has released their choices for the 100 Best games of 2007, which has been named "2008 Games of the Year and Other Awards". That seems a bit odd since none of the games came out in 2008, and the top games of 2007 can't yet be settled since the year isn't over. But hey, we can’t really complain because Games Magazaine has been doing this for so many years we can hardly say they're misguided, and we won't.
Especially since they’ve given Game of the Year to The Pillars of the Earth, which is easily one of our favorite games of this year, too. Maybe cross media adaptations ( in this case book->boardgame) aren't so bad afterall.
The main selections listed below are just the tip of the iceberg. FunagainGames.com has been kind enough to list all of Games Magazine’s selections from 1->100 including brief snippets of the games descriptions, which can be found on this page here. It’s the one-stop top 100 game shop for 2007/2008/Last 365 days.
Fantasy Flight Games has produced a great board game overview of their latest big box title: Starcraft the Board Game [Amazon, Funagain]. This video does a fantastic job of going over the basic gameplay and rules, and depicting the pace of the game. This movie differs from the Starcraft Trailer released in October which was more about flashy images of the board and pieces.
Yep, Fantasy Flight sure is making good use of their movie studio.
Here’s a slick two player strategy card game has been very well received since its release in October. Cold War: CIA vs KGB [Amazon, Funagain] pits the major cold war spy networks against each other in the cold war that fell out of the WWII.
In a series of rounds the players’ reveal an objective card, then chose one of their CIA or KGB agents to deploy to the field. Agents cannot be deployed in two objectives in a row, so strategic choices must be made to determine who to deploy and when. The Player’s agents are played face down and only revealed at the end of the round (which we’ll get into in a second). Some Agents have special abilities like Assassination who can take out competing agents, or double agents who allow the controlling player to peek at the opposition’s face down agent.
Then the main gameplay starts. The overturned objective card has a target stability number on it. Players take turns pulling group cards off the top of the deck - each with an influence value - to place the group under their control. The goal is to sum up the influence to reach the target stability number of the objective without going over. The group cards also have a faction associated with them, and a player can use their turn top tap their group to influence the game in varying ways, either removing cards (especially those that increase your influence total beyond the target stability), peaking ahead in the group deck, etc.
In our third installment of our series of 2007 Holiday Gift Guides we take a look into the titles the wargamers will eat-up this December. 2007 has a been a great year for some blockbuster wargame releases, and as usually they're centered around the great WWII. One - Tide of Iron - is our latest favorite wargames becuase it's a complete system, so its the gift that keeps on giving.
But we realize that it - and other war games - are more complicated than others, and a player usually is interested in a particular level of complexity when they sit down to capture that hill. So to that end we made our selections ascend a ladder of complexity. Titles at the top of list will fit those interested in the lighter side of war gaming - like Risk fans - and those at the bottom of the list have no qualms about slapping down a ruler to determine unit line of site, or checking for artillery hit effects in a 2d6 dice chart.
Enough talk, here are our selections for Best Wargming gifts for the 2007 Holidays:
It's true - the Holidays are coming - and in our ongoing series of 2007 Holiday Shoppers Guides we hope to arm you with the knowledge you'll need to buy that killer game for your friends or loved ones.
In part two of our Holiday Shopper Guides we look into gifts for the Strategy Gamer. These are the folks who grew up playing Chess, Stratego, and the classic Diplomacy, and are now ready for evolved games with better themes and potentially deeper gameplay.
Most of these games are for the more serious gamer who in their mid-teens and up. If you're looking for a title to fit the younger generation or pickup a mainstream game then you should checkout our 2007 Family Games Holiday Gift Guide, which lists some greats games that are more relaxed and interest a wide range of player types. For those of you looking for strategy war games:we ask you to wait until next week when we run down our list of the best war gaming gifts for this year.
But those who want some great standup strategy games then look no further. We've got quite a list here, including many award winners which should satisfy any strategy gamer when they tear off the wrapping paper come late December.
Mayfair Games has released the next edition of probably the most popular gateway Eurogame of all time: Settlers of Catan [Amazon, Funagain]. This Fourth Edition doesn't change the mechanics of the game, but is manly a face lift with new materials and a lot more art great for upgrading anyone's worn copy with something fresh. Each tile now sports a unique illustration, which should go quite a ways to making the entire island for that much more alive. Also released is the 5-6 player Expansion [Amazon, Funagain] with sports similar art and pieces for those who like the play the game in larger groups.
If you're new the whole Settlers of Catan thing then you're in for a treat. Check out this great online introduction from Mayfair Games' official website. It's a nice and quick visual introduction to the rules and mechanics of the game that has inspired a gaming revolution in the states, both on the designer and player front.
As a perk to the 4th edition release Mayfair Games has thrown in a nice little trinket that we'll especially appreciate. We are usually pretty jittery on game nights, or potentially a bit clumsy if playing a round of Settlers after a few glass of wine at a dinner party. Inside the 4th edition box is a locking mechanism that cradles the board and ensures that the tiles don't fall out of place with a clumsy hand movement bumps the board, or a roving dog knocks against the table. It's the little things in life.
Axis & Allies Guadalcanal: Near Release Preview Blitz
We’re are beginning to get more details on this year’s installment of the Axis and Allies franchise: Axis & Allies Guadalcanal [Funagain] as we march closer to its release on November 16th. First a new feature article has been written by the A&A lead designer Larry Harris, and then some news follows that with AxisandAllies.org who has gotten their lucky hands on a review copy of the game and started releasing some preview articles of their own..
The Larry Harris feature article A Guadalcanal Diary sets the mood on the Avalon Hill official website website This isn't a standard developer's release diary, but instead 'diary' refers to his father’s war diary which was written when he served in the navy during World War II and includes notes and reflections on his experiences of the true battle of Guadacanal. Mr Harris (out of respect) has created a great series of Axis & Allies games reaching far into our early years of gaming, but this latest installment - which includes the first major American Marine action in the Pacific - strikes home for him more than any other to date.
At that time the American forces were only just starting out on their strike-back campaign against the Japanese Empire, who had all the momentum and combat experience heading into the fight. Moreover, at this point in thime the conclusion of the war was far from inevitable, and this first major land, air and navy coordinated offense pitted the green American forces against a very balanced and tough Japanese defense. The table was set for a for a difficult struggle from both sides.
Of course this lends itself perfectly to the opening of a classic strategy board game. And our friends over at AxisandAllies.org have started churning out the preview articles of the game itself. We've reported on Part 1 before, so don't do a double take. Part 3 is where we think things become really interesting. Here they are to date:
WoW TCG Release Dates Shift: Feast of Winter Veil and March of the Legion in November, Maghteridon's Lair Delayed
Upper Deck has reshuffled some release dates for their upcoming products. Once again another Raid Deck is delayed as Magtheridon’s Lair silently slips it’s scheduled release until January 2008.
It’s a bummer for sure - not the end of the world but our eyelid still twitches in frustration. This “announcement” comes buried in the Upper Deck forums with no news on the official website news page, nor an article or a press release. So, last night we begrudgingly dusted off The Molten Core and attempted to rerun it with our alternates. We got smoked, so we have set a goal for ourselves to accomplish and that should keep us busy for the next few months.
We’re sorry to say that some stores don’t know the raid has been delayed and still list the expansion as either an October 2007 / November 2007 release, probably because they don't read the forums. And why should they? Upper Deck should be responsible and let the anxious gaming public know what's what. Blizzard doesn't pull this stuff with their original World of Warcraft franchise, nor does Fantasy Flight games with their Warcraft board game franchise. Upper Deck - once again - looks like it needs more staff in their PR department.
Anyway, the short of it: don’t be fooled by any November release dates!
Starcraft the board game is out! Published by Fantasy Flight games, Starcraft[Amazon, Funagain] extends the collection of deep strategy titles of the publishers big box series of well-themed strategy war games. Supporting up to 6, players of Starcraft the board game take on the role of Human space marines, the zealous and high tech alien race of the Protoss , and the brooding insect-like Zerg as they fight over a board comprised of dynamically placed planetary systems. Players build up their faction’s tech level, construct units and conquer planets, wresting control of resources and coveted victory points from their competitors. The player who stockpiles the most victory points wins, but a few faction-specific victory conditions keeps the game from becoming straight forward and predictable.
This is a top notch title with high quality pieces, solid rules, and gobs of gameplay. It’s also a pretty serious game for some pretty serious strategy game fans, or for those who love the Starcraft Universe. Don’t get us wrong, this isn’t quite the die hard chit wargame with all the fixings of heads-down calculations, slide rules, and line of sight calculation, but a good Starcraft session could have a lot of ebb and flow and take around 3-4 hours to complete. And considering the fact that the dynamic board means that no two games will be the same, this is a lot of gaming in one box.