June 9, 2009

Arkham Horror: Innsmouth Horror Expansion

InnsmouthHorrorExpansion.jpg The H.P. Lovecraft themed horror board game series Arkahm Horror has just expanded, again, and it's another doozey. Arkham Horror: Innsmouth Horror Expansion [Amazon, Funagain] adds the sleepy coastal town of Innsmouth to your monster slaying adventures, including a new board extension, new monsters and 16 new cast members to a game that already has a surprising amount of depth.

The game can be used in conjunction with the other expansions, or can be mixed and matched with a subset of them as you see fit. Please note that you really don't have to play with all the expansions at once.. cause that's some serious time and table space. But sliding Innmouth in place of one the other jobbers, or using it to expand upon the original game, makes for some great gaming.

And of course Innsmouth isn't just a new board with purty pictures; it includes new gameplay elements on content up the wazzo. Most notable are the new character story cards (see preview article "Story Time") that include game mechanic hooks, not only for the new characters of Innsmouth, but for the main game and for characters from all past expansions to boot. Hows that for being thorough?

If you're thirsty for more speicifc details, Fantasy Flight Games have posted a series of preview articles regarding the new mechanics of the game, and a preview of some of the tentacly baddies that wait for you within:

  1. Story Time
  2. The Ancient Ones Rise from the Sea at Innsmouth
  3. Monstrous Awakenings
  4. Fresh Faces
  5. The Tide Is Rising


And of course, how could we forget the game's official details:


Innsmouth Horror introduces several new game concepts to the Arkham Horror board game, including Personal Stories unique to each investigator as well as the Innsmouth Look. The town of Innsmouth is hostile to the investigators, and they may well find themselves thrown in jail and fed to a Shoggoth while they search the town for evidence to call in the Feds. However, leaving Innsmouth to fester is a bad idea, since the Deep Ones will gather and rise, bringing with them the Ancient One.

Innsmouth Horror also adds 16 new investigators, eight new Ancient Ones, two new Heralds, Epic Battle cards for the new Ancient Ones, over 30 new monster markers, plenty of new encounters, and an expansion board featuring the town of Innsmouth. Over all, this expansion adds over 300 new cards to the base game.


Arkham Horror: Innsmouth Horror Expansion is now shipping from Amazon and Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

June 5, 2009

Warhammer Renters the Chaotic World of Board Games

WarhammerChaos.JPG
More great news from Fantasy Flight Games - their board game division is working to bring the flavor of the Warhammer tactical tabletop game to our world of less-than-die-hard gamers. You know, those of us who don't find it worthwhile to spend hours painting an army of goblins and chaos priests.

Wait, that came out wrong. We didn't mean to alienate anyone. If that's you're thing, then rock. However, we prefer the boxed games with easy setup and take down times, one up front cost, and not quite the money sink. We already have enough problems.

Anyway, the newly announced Chaos in the Old World puts each player in control of competing gods. What's great is that you're not actually in direct competition, each god is trying to spread chaos across the Old World, but each on does it in their own way. We're a huge fan of these disjointed goal type games - when done properly - because the flavor of the competition is pitched on an angle, nuancey, and just isn't as 'in your face!' . Each god is doing their own thing within its own theme, and that just makes things more interesting throughout an entire gaming session. Anyway, here's a great description of the gods:


"Chaos in the Old World makes you a god. Each god's distinctive powers and legion of followers grant you unique strengths and diabolical abilities with which to corrupt and enslave the Old World. Khorne, the Blood God, the Skulltaker, lusts for death and battle. Nurgle, the Plaguelord, the Father of Corruption, luxuriates in filth and disease. Tzeentch, the Changer of Ways, the Great Conspirator, plots the fate of the universe. Slaanesh, the Prince of Pleasure and Pain, the Lord of Temptations, lures even the most steadfast to his six deadly seductions."
- The Ruinous Powers Descend From The North

Details of the game are still a bit up in the air, but Fantasy Flight Games have posted 2 previews. The Ruinous Powers Descend From The North announces the game and introduces the theme as a whole, and Word of the Creator further breaks-down your roll as a god of Chaos. What could be finer?

Currently FuangainGames lists the title as shipping in October, but given Fantasy Flight's recent October missed targets, we'd expect 1Q 2010 release. We'll let you know as more details emerge.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

June 1, 2009

Critical Gamers' May 2009 Board Game Roundup

AASpring1942.jpgSpring is in the air, and in the board gaming world that means releases are about to slow through the summer months. That's cool though, because this past Winter has had a lot of great releases. Spring also means that publishers are revealing new titles meant for Holiday 2009.

We've already gotten world of the next baseline iteration of Axis & Allies: 1942, which is based on the rules and alternative setup of the A&A 50th Anniversary Edition, and will replace Axis & Allies Revised as the new mainstay of A&A gaming.

Also recently announced, and soon to be published, is the cooperative board game Space Alert, which challenges players to keep their spaceship alive throughout a series of astro crises. Each crisis is pulled from a variety of decks, and is queued from unique audio CD which sports atmospheric music on special tracks, each one with a different pacing of events and card draws. Initial reports of the game have Space Alert being one of the best games of the year, and has already made the Dice Tower's Game of the Year Nominee list (the game had limited availability at trade shows last year).

This month also saw other notable announcements, like a new Lord of the Rings game Middle-earth Quest, the announcement that Death Knights will be rolled into the next World of Warcraft TCG release, and release of the latest Memoir '44 expansion: Tigers in the Snow & Operation Market Garden.

Good Gaming Folks!

Board Games

Collectable Card Games

Gaming News

RPGs

World of Warcraft TCG

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

May 27, 2009

2009 Board Game of Year Award Nominees at The Dice Tower

WorldCup.jpgThe boys over at The Dice Tower are game review demigods. Their word is usually the moderate voice of the game community, and they play more games than any reviewer we know.

We'
ve said it before and we'll say it again: these guys seriously know what they're talking about.

So we're stoked to see that some of our favorite games from the last year, and a lot of the games we've focused our coverage upon, have been nominated for numerous categories. Games like Chicago Express, Argicola, Space Alert, and Pandemic, which we've covered. But also games we've fixated on, like Battlestar Galactica which has been nominated for Best Game of the Year, Most Innovative Game, and Best Game Artwork.

We like their criteria, too:


"The purpose of the awards is to:
  • Encourage new developments and innovations in the board game industry.
  • Promote board and card games to a larger audience
  • Award the best games in different categories released each year.
  • Present a slate of games with wide appeal from a variety of genres.
  • Point out games that are simply fun!"

Here's the full list of 2009 Dice Tower Board Game Award Nominees. We'll let you know when the awards are officially.. awarded.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

May 26, 2009

Middle-earth Quest Details Emerge

MIddleEarthQuestBox.jpgThis potential gem of a game was official announced by Fantasy Flight Games about 2 weeks ago. At the time we got the original overarching product info, but now Fantasy Flight has started to post preview articles detailing the title. The first steps through the abilities that makeup the each and every force of good:


"Over the coming weeks we will be diving into the world of Middle-earth Quest. Each preview will feature a new facet of this fantastic game. Starting us off, we focus on the attributes of the heroes facing down the schemes of Sauron. Each hero has much to prove, and will be forced to use every trick they can think of to overcome the evil machinations of Sauron."

The article steps through and describes the stats you'll find on the the unit cards in front of you. They sport the standard lot of fantasy themed dork stats like Strength, Wisdom, etc. What's interesting is that they seem to effect the amount of cards you draw, not just dice rolls.

It's obviously still too early to tell if this game will have the lasting appeal of the recent Fantasy Flight titles. So far, though, so good. It also seems the game will come in a large box, but it won't have mind numbing rules since it's targeting a 13+ audience.

Wait, scratch that. While War of the Ring wasn't over the top, it was pretty freakin' complicated, and that targeted a a 12+ audience. Sometimes Fantasy Flight is just flat our crazy. Not that we don't love them.

Middle-earth Quest is slated for release this Fall.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

May 18, 2009

Memoir '44 Bulges East and West

TigersInTheSnow.jpgThe expandable WWII board game franchise Memoir '44 has built-out the franchise's European theater of operations even further. Following the first Battlemap Expansion Hedgrow Hell, the second Battlemap Expansion Tigers in the Snow / Operation Market Garden [Amazon, Funagain] includes 4 new scenarios, 2 new board layouts, and 6 detailed Tiger Tanks pieces. The major scenarios are balanced for 2-8 players, which makes for some pretty sweet gaming night action.

Those mainstream Western Front fans will get the blundering Operation Market Garden scenario, which tasks allied forces in taking and holding a series of bridges in Holland. Somehow Days of Wonder have managed to squeeze all the Dutch bridges onto one map, which doesn't seem entirely accurate, but it looks like a challenging romp of paratroopers and tank convoys all the same.

Still, Western Europe has been done to death, and we're far more excited with the Eastern Front setup. The late war Russian push against Germany includes some of the most amazing armor battles that are sadly missing from a lot of mainstream WWII games, be they on a computer or a board. The Tigers in the Snow scenario has German troops digging in to resist a Russian advance in the Winter of 1944-45. Of course, digging in instead of retreating was Hitler's crazy idea, a decision that was made under protest by the German field commanders, so their forces are understrength and generally not in a good way.

There is some duality in these two scenarios. In Market Garden the allied forces were lacking the tools to take and secure territory on their surprise paratrooper attack. Meanwhile in the other scenario on the eastern front, the tough roll is rotated to the defender's side, where the German forces are on the brink of desertion and must pull themselves together to ward off a massive attack. This contrast could make for some interesting gaming sessions.

The expansion also includes two scenarios for the standard Memoir '44 set. These other scenarios require only one Memoir '44 box to play. Operation Market Garden and Tigers in the Snow both require Memoir '44 and the Operation Overlord expansion, or two copies of Memoir '44. If you want to use the correct Russian pieces, then you could substitue the Eastern Front Expansion as well.

More information can be found at the official Tigers in the Snow / Market Garden websitee. Memoir '44 Battlemap Expansion 2 is now shipping from Amazon and Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

May 14, 2009

Sauron to Throw Some Smackdown in Middle-earth Quest

MIddleEarthQuest.pngPublisher Fantasy Flight Games released the first information about the announced "Middle-earth Quest" adventure game today, expanding upon their suite of Lord of the Rings board game titles. In this latest adaptation of the franchise, players will control three heroes trying to scramble to conceal the truth of the ring during the time it hasn't even left the shire. They'll need help from a lot of the novel's characters, of course, which hasn't quite been detailed yet. Perhaps from character decks and ability cards. Pulling the strings on the other end will be a player controlling the antagonizing forces of dark, attempting to reveal the ring bearer with the powers of Sauron and squash him like the hairy footed ewok he is.

As we hinted at before : details are a bit sparse at this point. We'll keep you apprised of more information as this game begins to take shape. Until then check out the Middie-earth Quest official release announcement.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

May 11, 2009

Settlers of Catan Geographies: Germany Reviewed at BGN

CatanGeographiesGermany.jpg

There's a nice review with some great pictures posted over at BoardGameNews.com of Catan Geographies: Germany [Amazon, Funagain], the latest themed edition of the Settlers of Catan franchise.

Settlers of Catan was the gateway game of choice for years. Heck it might still be in some circles. Astute game aficionados will note that it's also the poster child for Eurogames, a movement that came out of Germany over the last few decades that makes for a lighter, more engaging gaming experience when compared to traditional American board games.

But that was years ago (Settlers came out in old school 1996). Catan Germany was published last year in its motherland in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the founding of Germany. In it players race to settle the major cities of the nation and construct historic / cultural landmarks to win victory points. Each of the landmarks is modeled after a true historic landmark in Germany, and list as one of the pluses by the review at BGN is that this installment teaches some Germany history and culture to its players. The game even ships with some supplemental descriptions of the significance of all of the landmarks.. something to read while it's not your turn. For us - as amateur historians - that's pretty cool.

The review at BGN also notes that the board in this installment is much tighter than your father's Catan, which makes for some urgent racing to quickly claim the best locals. Quite the different experience compared to the open ended beginnings of the traditional Settlers installments. Catan Histories:Struggle for Rome had this as well.

Read the rull review here: Geographies: Germany at BoardGameNews.com.

We wonder if these subtitles of "histories" and "geographies" will ever branch out into their own unique family lines of Catan games. Hopefully so, because we find them to be a bit more interesting than yet another round of Settlers. 'Rome' specifically brought a lot more interesting things to the table.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

May 6, 2009

Space Alert Board Game Preps for Launch

SpaceAlert.jpg
Fans of cooperative board games, in the strain of Pandemic, Battlestar Galatica and Shadows Over Camelot, have a new franchise to look forward to, and a very unique one at that. Space Alert [Amazon, Funagain] puts players in control of a space ship under a crazy string of disasters, and the players must survive the gamut in order to succeed. So far, sounds like Battlestar Galactica, right?

Well there are a considerable amount of difference. First off, trim the game down from 1-2 hours to about 10-30 minutes. Reluctantly, also remove the idea of a traitor character. There's no time for it anyway, because the game is not only about dealing with crises, but dealing with them fast. That's because the enitre pace of the game is driven by a CD soundtrack which tells you when crap hits the fan.

Yeah, pretty crazy. Each track of the CD has unique pacing and cadence, with its own timing of crises. And when one hits, the CD will tell your group which crisis deck to draw from. The combination of multiple tracks and multiple decks randomizes the game for repeat play. And if that's not enough for you then then are people already forming new MP3 audio tracks, splicing samples from the original CD, to keep things interesting over the long run.

With the CD driving the pace of the game, players must decide how to play the cards from their hand and delegate responsibility to quickly deal with each crisis before the next hit. The randomness of the crises, playing with the hand you're delt, cooperating with your friends to get the job done, and being driven by a randomized sound track, have made Space Alert one of the most anticipated cooperative board games for 2009.

And it's slated to ship this month. Joy.


"Space Alert is a team survival game. Players take on the role of a crew of space explorers sent out through hyperspace to survey a dangerous sector of the Galaxy.The spaceship automatically maps the sector in 10 minutes. The crew's task is to defend the ship until the mission is complete. If they succeed, the ship brings back valuable data. If they fail... it is time to train a new crew.

Space Alert is not a typical board game. Players do not compete against each other. Instead, they work together against the challenge presented by the game. The difficulty of this challenge can be chosen by the players themselves. Completing the most difficult missions requires close teamwork."


Space Alert is currently available for preorder from Amazon and Funagain Games. For more information also checkout the Space Alert page on BGG. We'll let you know as soon as it hits shelves this month.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

May 4, 2009

Axis & Allies Spring 1942 Announced

AASpring1942.jpgAxis & Allies fanatics who missed their chance at the gigantic monolith off Avalon Hill 50th Anniversary Edition goodness (its single printing sold out last month) may get a chance to redeem themselves, at least partially. The newly announced Axis & Allies 1942 edition incorporates new rules and pieces introduced by last year's Anniversary Edition, but reduced down to normal Axis & Allies size.

While the standard size means the game will clock-in at the reasonable ~$30 price tag, the scaling obliterates the intricate board layout of Anniversary. Instead the title will adopt 2004's Axis & Allies Revised board layout.

We understand why this happened -- you can't shrink an intricate board and expect the layout to remain the same, but it makes us sad all the same. Anniversary has some great nuanced territory layouts that does some amazing things in the Pacific theater with its new frontier battles in China, and the addition of Italy as a faction was a breath of fresh air as well.

It's said that the 1942 Edition will become the new de facto Axis & Allies much like Revised did half a decade ago. So, seemingly, the advancements of Anniversary might be lost forever. Try to get your hands a copy of that one if you can (check ebay), 'cause they certainly will be THE collectors item in a few short years. And if not, then be satiated by what will surely be another great experience.

Here are the board game details so far:


Axis & Allies celebrates it's 25th Anniversary in August of 2009 with a new and updated edition of it's original classic game. Axis & Allies 1942, designed and developed by Larry Harris, will utilize the updated rules established in A&A Anniversary Edition. Cruiser class ships will make their debut in A&A 1942, forever changing the naval line-up. Newly sculpted playing pieces and all new packaging will position this game as the cornerstone of the Axis & Allies game line for years to come. Decide the fate of a nation in a few short hours!

Axis & Allies: Spring 1942 details:

  • Rulebook updated by Larry Harris, creator of the Axis & Allies game system
  • Packaging, play components, and game board map feature updated art
  • 370 game pieces featuring refreshed sculpts plus new models for cruisers
  • Updated naval unit rules as debuted in Axis & Allies Anniversary Edition


Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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