December 10, 2008

World of Warcraft Minis Deluxe Edition Hits Shelves

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It's been a month since the release of WoW Minis. As a group this was our first dive into the world of miniature games, and we're absolutely loving this initial release. It's fast, it's fun, each of the nearly 70 characters is very different from the rest - which is saying something - and best of all its expandable enough to add our own inventive custom game modes.

This week Upper Deck has rintroduced the game with new World of Warcraft Miniatures Deluxe Starter Set [Amazon, Funagain] which has good stuff for both the WoW Mini newcomer and veteran alike.

It sports everything you & a friend need to get playing, including six characters (3 from two factions), with two guaranteed rares or epics for both faction. The set also ships with one of three new maps on board stock: Ashenvale, Tanaris, or Winterspring, which is a definite upgrade from the flimsy board of the standard starter set. So much so that we feel slightly ... slighted. This is also the best way to get your hands on the new Monster Faction UBases.

Alternatively if you're short on cash and only looking for new maps, then you can also print the Ashenvale Map yourself, as Upper Deck's publicity department was nice enough to post its map kit on their website. You sacrifice the level of quality of the Deluxe Starer's new board stock, but hey - free is free.

All in all this seems that this new starter set should be the best way to introduce yourself to the game if you haven't already. Fans like us will find enough good things in it to add to both their miniature collection, and the enough UBases and maps to make the Deluxe Set more than worth the while.

The official product information can be found on the Upper Deck Website, here.

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December 7, 2008

Age of Conan Board Game Rulebook Hits Net

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Age of Conan
[Funagain] is the largest blip on our radar for that normally sad time between the Holidays and the Spring releases. One reason - of course - is that it's Conan, and bashing heads in Crom's name is more fun than a barrel of monkeys playing poker. But more importantly, Age of Conan is under development by Nexus Games, and is slated to be published by the Fantasy Flight Games, which is in our shortlist for best publishers of the early 2000s in terms of quality and pieces.

These two companies teamed up before when they brought us the epic Lord of the Rings strategy board game War of the Ring series. We loved those games, but thankfully it appears that Age of Conan will be a bit easier to setup and play. Heck, not that this game is a fluffy bunny, but the rulebook is only around 25 pages long! Sweet.

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December 2, 2008

Battlestar Galactica Board Game is Frakking Awesome

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This nugget of goodness comes just in time for the Holidays, and just to work yourself up in a frenzy for the show's final season in Winter 2009. Yes, the Battlestar Galactica Board Game [Amazon, Funagain] not only succeeds as a TV -> Board Game crossover, but it does so very, very convincingly.

Battlestar fills the under populated niche of cooperative board games, and has usurped the previous crowned champion Shadows of Camelot (another great game worth your time btw). In BStar each player fills the role of one of the major characters of the show, like Admiral Adama, Starbuck, or the Chief Engineer.. Chief. Through numerous random crises the characters must use their individual skills and traits, as well as smart player sense, to pull together and keep the Galactica (displayed beautifully on the game's board) humming along on its epic journey to the Kobolian promise land.

But life isn't so easy. Somewhere in your mists is another player (or two) controlling their character just as you, but fulfilling the role of a secret Cylon agent. Throughout the game they'll attempt to sabotage your journey while remaining your closest friend and buddy. Thanfkully Fantasy Flgiht has done some masterful work to keep the game's mechanics dynamic yet easy enough, and enjoyable, for players to play the antagonist's role in a fun and intense expereince.

For instance, each turn two cards are flipped over from a Good Event Deck, and a Bad Event deck. The bad deck could force a player to make a horrible ethical and strategic choice that will harm the Galactica or a fellow player in some pretty nasty ways. The dilemmas here are fantastic, but for now lets just simplify things - instead a horrendous decision let's simply thing with this very concrete and specific example: you and your friends are eating your morning tastey wheat and all of a sudden your compatriot Lee Adama does a spit take and bolts out the door. You look over and see that Cylon Base Star has set up camp off of starboard and you see that some nukes have begun trickling toward colonial convoy, and your face.

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December 1, 2008

Cyber Monday Board Game Sales on Amazon

CyberMondayJackson.jpgThe everything superstore Amazon has been growing in the world of board gaming the last few years. Not only have they been stocking titles of their own, but the third party suppliers have shown up in force this year.

And for Cyber Monday they have a special deal: Each of the Discounted Virtual Storefronts in Amazon's Toys & Games section has Free Shipping on orders of $50 or more.

We dug into the storefronts to find which have the best board gaming titles up for grabs:


There is some fine print: You'll have to check for items in the stores that state the $50 free shipping offer (check for the "Special Offers Available" link near the product image). Also, the deal doesn't count across stores, so you'll need to have at least 50 bucks in one store for that store to ship to you for free. Seems reasonable. Finally, the order has to ship all to the same address.. and that, too, seems like a no brainer.

That's basically it. You can checkout the full terms of the holiday shopping deal at the Main Holiday Shopping Toystore Index

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November 27, 2008

Critical Gamers 2008 Holiday Gift Guide - Board Games, Strategy Games, and Card Games Galore

HolidayBuyersGuide.11.15.06.jpgWe know how important it is to find the right game for the right person - it's hard work. And so once again we've lovingly crafted individual guides chalk full of selections tailored for various specific of gaming styles and genres.

Rest assured that you'll find the right game for the right person for some unwrapping goodness come December. Your anchor is this page. Everything you'll need to shop for a gamer spirals out from here, linking to all of our selections for best-bet titles to gift wrap this holiday season.

And here they are:

Critical Gamers 2008 Holiday Shopping Guides:

If you haven't found exactly what you're looking for then please also check out our 2006 Holiday Gift Guide and our 2007 Holiday Gift Guide. They're both also chalk-full of great game ideas with staying power - we still play many of these games even years later!

Happy Holidays folks!

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Carcassonne Catapult Expansion Lobs One Over The Fence

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We've always felt Carcassonne was fun. The only thing that needed spicing-up through expansions were new mechanics that kept the game fun while adding interesting depths to the already fantastically balanced strategy.

Unfortunately unless you're trying to make Caracassonne more approachable for kids, this expansion easily manages to ruin both of those things. Caracssonne: The Catapult [Amazon, Funagain] includes new Fair pieces to mix in with your stock landscape tiles. If a Fair is drawn the player gets to put his meeple on a relatively shodding tiddily winks launcher which tosses him in a tight arc. If any meeple breaks his fall on his way down, the that meeple is carted off board into to the local medieval infirmary. There are a few different modes, too, including one where you shoot chits at each other and score points on catches, or where your meeple replaces the flatted victim on the board.

That's it. It's a randomized aggressive potshot that's fun for the first few random launches, but then gets as tiring as watching Steve Wiebe try to get the kill screen in Circus Atari. Moreover, this expansion flies directly in the face of the interesting - yet light - strategy placement of Carcassonne & expansions that we hold in the highest of regards.

Let's hope this new direction is a short stint. Here's the official word:


It's fair time in Carcassonne. A‚Äątraveling salesman arrives and brings his newest invention: a wondrous catapult!

His demonstrations amaze the crowds and inspire the creative to find many uses for this new contraption. Of course, not every planned use is well thought out or successful...

Contains:

  • 12 landscape tiles
  • 24 catapult tokens
  • 1 wooden catapult
  • 1 measuring board


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November 24, 2008

Critical Gamers 2008 Holiday Gift Guide - Party Games

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For more great gift ideas across all genres of games please see our
Holiday Gift Guide Index.

Now while we love a board and some strategy in most of our games, they're not the right fit for a social evening. That's where party games come in - they tickle the exhibitionist side of everyone, and promote social elements of gaming in a far stronger light than the cerebral mind-game of positioning and placement. Most importantly, they make us laugh our buttocks off.

We're not going to lie to you; the releases in 2008 weren't very friendly to the party gamer. Sure, you could suck it up and buy the heavily commercialized PartiniTravolta.jpg, but it's just the rehashed/ reboiled essence of decade-old Cranium repackaged under a new publisher, and we simply can't suggest that to anyone.

So for this year's guide we revisit our favorite Party Games. These titles still top our table even after numerous repeat plays, some over the span of years, and that's saying something. So as much as this is a Holiday Shoppers List, also consider these choices our Best of Party Games Eva' list, too.

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November 23, 2008

Critical Gamers 2008 Holiday Gift Guide - Wargame Board Games

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For more great gift ideas across all genres of games please see our
Holiday Gift Guide Index.


In our third volume of our 2008 Holiday Gift Guides we present three substantial wargaming releases that hit store shelves this fall. Not only are these AAA titles, but they spread three levels of complexity and they're so new that not many folks have gotten their grubby mits on them yet.

Let us also say this: 2008 was a great year for revisiting Wargames from our past. Patton.jpgThere are numerous titles that were long lost and forgotten, including two of our selections this year. But now they've not only been reprinted, but in many cases the baseline of the game has deconstructed, revised and rebuilt. While this is often dangerous and sometimes the end product is mired in filth, the titles released in 2008 have been bright shining stars and very successful.

Enough talk, here are our selections for Best Wargming gifts for the 2008 Holidays:

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November 22, 2008

Critical Gamers 2008 Holiday Gift Guide - Strategy Board Games

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For more great gift ideas across all genres of games please see our
Holiday Gift Guide Index.

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 2008 Family Games Holiday Gift Guide, which lists some greats games that are more relaxed and interest a wide range of player types. For Rodin.jpgthose of you looking for strategy war games: we ask you to checkout our War Game Holiday Gift Guide for 2008 which runs down our list of the best war gaming gifts for this year.

But those who want some great stand up strategy games then look no further. We've got quite a list here, including many critically acclaimed award winners that'll satisfy any strategy gamer when they tear off the wrapping paper come late December.

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November 20, 2008

Critical Gamers 2008 Holiday Gift Guide - Family Games

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For more great gift ideas across all genres of games please see our
Holiday Gift Guide Index.

We once again kick off our annual 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 that span the disparate interest levels of younger players, teens, and adults where challenge and creativity is more interesting than following the rules.

Here's our most important criteria for the choosing games for our Holiday Board Games Guide for Families:

  1. Games that are interesting for adults, too. Even though we recommend these games to families, we still want play any and all of these games because they're fun for us despite the fact that we're in our 30's.
  2. 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.CatanMap.jpg
  3. Games that keep everyone involved from the first turn to the last, unlike the traditional family games from our past - like Monopoly.
  4. 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 any further ado:

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