September 28, 2010

WoW TCG Icecrown in Stores Now

IcecrownKingYmiron.jpgFall is officially here and that means only one thing: it's WoW TCG season!

We have to admit that we let the WoW TCG coverage fall a bit to the wayside during the offseason summer months. It's ok though, it's not from lack of interest. In fact it's because there's a metric crap ton of awesome board game releases this year. Now that WoW TCG Icecrown [Amazon] is finally here, though, it's time to get a bit more egotistical with our gaming. Toss out the cooperative board games -- it's mano e mano time and we're giddy with what this set means for our collection.

Aside from the standard new class cards, new allies and equipment the big kicker for Icecrown is the new Scourge heroes. Like the Traitor hero of the old school Burning Crusade sets, the Scourge Heroes allow you to put in cards from all corners of your collection. Some allow you to use both your Alliance or Horde allies. Have you been itching to use one of those awesome Alliance allies but you hate the faction's overall 'goody gum drops we're happy to be alive' lifestyle? Well now you can and you wont have to get cotton candy all over your deck box. Plus there are some powerful Scourge Hero allies to fill out your ranks, too.

Moreover, these Scourge Heroes are really something special. For the first time some heroes can mix abilities from one class with equipment from another. ... You And What Army? has details a Scourge Mage who uses Rogue Equipment, for example. Awesome.

Here's a nice index of all the Cyrptozoic preview articles:

And, of course, here's the official details:


"As you gaze out over the frozen wasteland of Icecrown, you now realize that your victory at the Wrathgate was a shallow one. Behind the great black walls, the Lich King has been building an army unlike anything the world has even known. The Frozen Throne is almost within your sight, and you must do whatever it takes to reach the Lich King's seat of power.Icecrown is a 220-card set that includes 80 commons, 55 uncommons, 15 heroes, 60 rares, and 10 epics. Loot Cards:*Rare: Wooly Rhino Mount*Uncommon: Ethereal Portal (Alternate Hearthstone Portal)*Common: Paint BombEach pack includes 20 cards (19 game cards and 1 crafting card). Loot cards are randomly inserted and replace hero cards. There are 3 different loot cards (1 common, 1 uncommon, and 1 rare). The set includes a full complement of Scourge heroes and allies including the Lich King, dual-class heroes, and Argent Crusade heroes. A new master hero, Metamorphosis, is introduced, as well as iconic characters and locations such as Jaina Proudmoore, Warchief Thrall, Ogrim's hammer, and the Skybreaker. The Hunter, Mage, and Shaman classes are featured. "
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September 23, 2010

FFG Announces The Hobbit Board Game

TheHobbit.JPGFantasy Flight Games has placed another Middle Earth board game installment in the hands of Reiner Knizia, famed designer who also produced the original Lord of the Rings cooperative board game way back in 2000.

The board and components have a similar vibe as The Lord of the Rings, actually -- a game which has scored high marks in many circles. To us, though the game is a bit boring and has some really straightforward and mundane gameplay. Our tastes rest are a few notches higher on the complexity scale, we fear. Thankfully it seems that The Hobbit might layer on some more interested dynamics to spice up the gameplay. Players ditch the cooperative elements and will take on the roles of the various dwarfs who escort Bilbo on his trip to the Lonely Mountain. Players will manage skills in multiple disciplines, sort of training up on multiple fronts to defeat various types of adventures that transpire during the journey.

Details are still sparse, but our interest is somewhat piqued. Here's an interesting bit lifted from the game's official announcement.


"Designed by Reiner Knizia, The Hobbit is a game of strategic bidding and chance. Taking on the roles of the stoic dwarves, players need to guide Bilbo Baggins from the Shire to the Lonely Mountain and end the game with the most treasure. During their journey they will fight goblins, battle wargs, escape the Mirkwood elves, and eventually reach Laketown. Players must plan their journey wisely, bidding for their turn sequence to move Bilbo Baggins further along the game path.

In order to face the challenges that await them, players can increase their stats by using their numbered Dwarf Cards to bid for upgrades. Player stats include Cunning, Strength, and Initiative, and each of these can be raised whenever the active player moves Bilbo onto an appropriate space along the path. But be wary, there are also spaces on the path that will reduce your stats. Bid wisely!"


We'll keep you posted of any interesting new information as it's released.

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September 21, 2010

Civilization 5 is Out, Productivity Nosedives

Civilization5.jpgOh sweet day of days Civilization 5 [Amazon] is out. Sure the line of Civilization games by Sid Meier aren't technically board games but the franchise lineage is everything a board game on PC should be, and more. Strategic depth, tactical combat, developing technology, disparate cultures, military and diplomacy engines, dynamic terrain environments, fog of war, random events, space races, atom bombs and green energy *gasp*... Civilization incorporates every cool facet of growing an empire from stone age to space age and animates it on your computermatrix.

And now a new Fifth Installment is here. Upgrades from the amazing 4th edition include a new graphics engine with varying tilesets based on different continents, a hex based map, combat with new tactical depth (no more unit stacking), new elements in the mechanics of culture and ethics, new AI and more intriguing options when it comes to diplomacy, city states, new tech trees.... oh man. The list goes on and on.

And you know whats even better? It's 5:00 which means it's officially quitting time. The night will be filled with Just-On-More-Turn-itis, and a pot of coffee is already brewing. See you tomorrow (maybe).

Here's a great Civilization 5 Video Review by GameTrailers. And, as always, here are the game's official details:


Sid Meier's Civilization® V is the fifth offering in the multi-award winning Civilization strategy game series featuring the famous "just one more turn" addictive gameplay that has made it one of the greatest game series of all time. Become Ruler of the World by establishing and leading a civilization from the dawn of man into the space age: Wage war, conduct diplomacy, discover new technologies, go head-to-head with some of history's greatest leaders and build the most powerful empire the world has ever known.
  • Successful diplomacy will depend on players carefully managing relationships with other leaders, trading items and land, plying them with gold, and deciding if they are friend or foe
  • Expanded visuals and immersive audio invite would-be kings to take up the reigns of power and forge a mighty empire. Civilization V offers a limitless variety of vast, realistic and diverse landscapes for players
  • An intuitive interface eases both new players and Civ veterans into the game. Guided by a set of trusted advisors who will explain game functionality and provide counsel for significant decisions
  • The addition of ranged bombardment allows players to fire weapons from behind the front lines, challenging players to develop clever new strategies to guarantee victory on the battlefield
  • Write your own epic story each time you play. Choose one of eighteen historical civilizations to lead from the stone-age to the space age on your quest to build the world's most powerful empire

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September 20, 2010

BGN Reviews Space Hulk: Death Angel Card Game

SpaceHulkDeathAngel.jpgSpace Hulk is a Warhammer 40k game with a far reaching dire-straits in space theme. It's all about you and your buddies staying alive in a ghost relic, working via squad coordination, focusing on overlapping lines of fire and moving into and out of offensive and defensive positions. Meanwhile genestealers are coming out of the wood work. Vile, wrathful aliens that pop their heads out of air ducts, lockers, door hatches and toilet bowls, each and brainlessly charging their way toward you to rip your squad apart.

And that's exactly whats going on in Space Hulk Death Angel [Amazon]. It's up to you and your friends to control a group of space marines on your table. Cards are placed to spawn new genestealers, to face your troops, and to lay down lines of fire or support your squaddies as they deal the hurt themselves. It's all about coordinating with each other to stay alive and deal some damage.

And Board Game News has a great review of the game. It combs through the game mechanics, citing some inconsistently difficult random elements that may ruin the fun of the game if drawn. It also does well to talk about the level of cooperation. Certain mechanics are in place to prevent one player from becoming the "Alpha Gamer", directing everyone to do this or that. We've noticed this to be true in previous cooperative board games like Pandemic, and we're glad to see someone's thinking of a way to solve these problems.

One of the best reviews we've read in a while. Nice job Mr Thrower.

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September 14, 2010

The Dice Tower Holds a Torch to DungeonQuest

Tom Vasel really leans into this Fantasy Flight Games' remake of the classic DungeonQuest, citing numerous problems. His qualms include the potential to die on any given turn - like turn two for instance - leaving the player to sort Doritos in ascending order based on the number of black specks on each. Other beefs include wasting your turns on exploring completely empty rooms, an overly complex combat system with very little payoff, and an unrequited turn limit despite the fact that you're almost always going to die. Well your character is anyway.

You know, it's 2010 people. When games are remade you have to question why the designers don't fold in some of the more recently developed and prized elements of the gaming genre. Like, you know, accommodating every player until the end of the game or streamlining combat mechanics instead of complicating them. You could still have the old school DungeonQuest feel with these important things. It's a bummer that they were left on the wayside.

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September 13, 2010

Constantinopolis Board Game Hits Shelves

Constantinopolis.JPGFantasy Flight Games released Constantinopolis [Amazon, Funagain] to the uber gamer masses who attended GenCon a few short weeks ago, and now it's shipping from stores for the rest of us.

The game centers around the ancient trading city as players coordinate the purchase of production buildings and then selling the goods they produce for cash money or fame, and then parlaying their money into bigger and better production buildings. Think of the best elements of the title Pillars of the Earth mixed with production, trading and theme of the award winning Le Havre and you have a basic fundamental of whats going on.

The city itself is dynamic, and the set of buildings that are available for purchase scales with the number of players at the table. Buildings are gone once they've been purchased by a player so the state of the board shifts and develops based upon player interaction. Special delivery requests can be fulfilled from a deck of cards similar to route cards in Ticket to Ride, so the demanded goods - and therefore the types of buildings that players use - might shift a bit between plays.

Finally, there's also a tech tree of sorts for building purchases. Each building belongs to a class, A,B, C, or D, and a player cannot purchase a building of more powerful class until he owns a building of the previous class (All players start with class A buildings). It's not all about who has the most money, but who has built out the strongest infrastructure.

Simple, streamlined, easy to learn and great on repeat plays, Consantinopolis is our dark horse for economic game of the year. For more information check-out this excellent video preview of the game, or visit the game's official website at Fantasy Flight Games. Here's the product information:


Can you become the most famous trader in Constantinopolis? Effectively build up your trade district to produce goods, generate money, and earn fame points to ensure that your name stands above the rest!

Constantinopolis is a board game of economy and trade for 2-5 players. With light rules and a moderate play time of 1-2 hours, Constantinopolis is the perfect game for aspiring 7th century merchants.

Constantinopolis features a colorful game board and five detailed player sheets to immerse you in the intriguing world of Byzantine trade. With over 125 tiles and tokens, as well as more than 150 cards and 125 wooden pieces, Constantinopolis is an engaging and accessible entry into the world of European-style board games." - Fantasy Flight Games


Constantinopolis is now shipping from Amazon and Funagain Games.

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September 10, 2010

Small World Expansion "Be Not Afraid" Announced

SmallWorldBeNotAfraid.jpgThe award winning Small World board game from Days of Wonder was a smash hit last year. Not only was the original release a top notch 1v1 board game, but game quickly shipped some new expansions to make the game even deeper and interesting than before.

Now we're getting some new goodness. Be Not Afraid will include 5 new races, and a new storage case to organize all of the previous expansions. Here's the details:


There are many frightening inhabitants of Small World, but to survive you must Be Not Afraid...! This expansion for Small World includes a nasty lot of five new Races including Barbarians, Homunculi, Pixies, Pygmies, and greedy little Leprechauns. You'll also get five new Special Powers among which Catapult which allows you to leap over regions to conquer new lands.

Contains

  • 5 new Race banners and tokens (Barbarians, Homunculi, Leprechauns, Pixies & Pygmies)
  • 5 new Special Power badges (Barricade, Catapult, Corrupt, Imperial & Mercenary)
  • 1 spare Race Banner & 1 spare Special Power badge
  • A tray to store the tokens from all expansions released to date

Small World's Be Not Afraid expansion should ship to stores in October.

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September 8, 2010

Ascension Deck Building Card Game is Now Shipping!

AscensionChronicleOfTheGodslayer.jpgWhen it comes to deck building games then you're got two mainstay choices: Dominion and Thunderstone. Both have the perks, both have their drawbacks. Ascension Chronicle of the Godslayer hopes to bring enough new things to the table that it'll be the next deck building card game of choice.

So what's does Ascension address? Easier setup, a dynamic tableau of cards to purchase and monsters to attack, permanent cards that sit out to give you constant buffs, and a fantasy theme and gameplay designed by Magic the Gathering tournament players. Don't let that last bit scare you -- the game is quick to learn and start playing.

The main deck that serves up the items you buy or monsters you kill has 100 different cards types (redundant cards bring the deck up to 200 cards). There are multiple avenue's to 'score points' so players can focus on different overall strategies like killing beasties, beefing their economy, etc. Therefore while players are in pitched head to head contest as they race for victory they might have different paths to their own specific victory, butting heads orthogonally instead of grinding it out head-on.

Plus your tactical move on your turn will be guided by the current 10 face up cards in the common area (when a card is purchased from the 10 face up cards then its replaced with another drawn randomly from the deck of 200 cards). No two turns are alike, and no two games are alike.

The endgame is dictated by a pool of crystals that players pick up as rewards. When the last crystal is removed, the game is over. Count up your little gems, and the points of certain cards in your constructed deck to determine the winner. Easy Peasy.

We picked up our copy and the game is honestly looking pretty sweet. Check out Bored to Death TV's video review and Game Salutes Overview for more details on the game.

Here's Ascension's nitty gritty official details.


Ascension is a fast paced deck building game designed by Magic the Gathering Pro Tour champions Justin Gary, Rob Dougherty, and Brian Kibler, with artwork by Eric Sabee. Ascension is a deck-building game where players spend Runes to acquire more powerful cards for their deck. It offers a dynamic play experience where players have to react and adjust their strategy accordingly. Each player starts the game with a 10-card deck comprised of eight Apprentices and two Militias. Apprentices provide Runes when played, which can be used to recruit Hero and Construct cards during the game. Militias provide another type of resource, Power, when played, which is used to defeat Monsters. The game revolves around the Center Deck that contains Heroes, Constructs, and Monsters.

Contents: 200 cards, game board, storage tray, 50 deluxe honor tokens, and rulebook.



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September 3, 2010

Civilization 5 Shakey Cam Previews

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Part 1
Part 2

Civilization 5 - the PC Game not the Board Game - is slated to ship to stores later this month. Now, if you're not already a Civlization fan then you're in for a treat... but the above movie is probably not for you. Instead checkout our previous story Civilization 5 Preview Debuts at E3 for a nice introduction about what to expect from a game int his venerable series.

So with the utter flop of the recently released turn based strategy game Elemental War of Magic, CIV 5 has become our bright shining hope for strategy games on the PC. Shoveled in behind the standard hype machine facade of any PC game releases is the fact that every installment of the Civilization franchise has soaked up at least a hundred hours of our time. Now throw in the potential for multiplayer (which Civ 4 had but we had horrible problems with it) and we have our strategy game fix for probably the next six months.

And This new Civ installment looks fantastic. Everyone makes note of the lack of unit stacking and the new hex setup that sprawls armies across the country side. That surely will add depth to the tactical aspects of the military game, but other aspects of the strategic game look amazing as well. You can now further customize your nation beyond the standard leader selection with the new Social Projects feature. These are elements that you can pursue that add even more traits to the various military, cultural and economic aspects that steer your civilization. Ever installment provides 'a new, dynamic diplomacy system' and for once Firaxis might have nailed it. Autonomous City States will be scattered throughout the world, each adding narrative elements to the map by requesting help from other civilizations, or via trade requests, etc. It's a sort of quest/reward system that compliments your nations epic journey and adds sideshow, short term goals to your overarching strategy.

Checkout the videos above for more information. They're shakeycam but they're so worth the muted sound and unstable bounciness. And if the graphics of the living world look this good here then they should be stunning when you're playing the game in full 1900x1200 detail in just a few weeks.

Enjoy the weekend!

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September 1, 2010

Critical Gamers' Board Game Roundup August 2010

AnAEurope1940.jpgAugust was an interesting month. It was a mix of upcoming and new releases. First up the game announcements which we're few but pretty big. Civilization the Board Game was released to the public for scrutiny. The title looks pretty complicated, lots of bits and dynamically randomized setup, but if it captures the feeling of the Civilization line of PC games then we're all aboard.

Also filed under major preview news is the new Dominion expansion Prosperity. This installment is a large format box of 20+ cards and turns the series' theme toward the bean counters of yesteryear. Cards will be focus on snowballing your personal wealth, which, of course, allows you to buy more and more powerful cards. It would be interesting to see how this balances with the traditional sets when random cards are selected across the full breadth of Dominion, especially since some of the Prosperity cards cost an arm and a leaper to purchase.

As for the releases? Oh boy. We've pined over the idea of shoving Axis & Allies Europe 1940 into Axis & Allies Pacific 1940 and then blacking out for a weekend-long WWII fest -- and now we can. Europe came out just over a week ago. Also hitting the shelves is a cooperative board game that's one part Pandemic and one part Fantasy. Shake vigorously and hold on because Defenders of the Realm is a swank title in a big box. Finally, after delays and misleading promises, the deck building game Thunderstone got its first expansion Wrath of the Elements. We'll put putting it through its paces on Tuesday. Can't wait.

Here are all the stories for September, in neat order:

Board Games

Card Games

Gaming News

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