Axis & Allies Anniversary Board Game Hits Shelves

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The first major board game release to kick off the 2008 holiday shopping season is here, and it just hit the table like the triumphant bang of an airlifted crate of a frozen K Rations plummeting through a Bastogne church rooftop on Christmas morning.

This year the publisher turned 50, and decided to roll out remakes of their most popular titles. The goal of the Axis and Allies team was to make the Axis & Allies Avalon Hill 50th Anniversary edition [Amazon, Funagain] bigger in every way... and the publisher has succeeded at doing just that. We've check and we've noted that this giant installment is at least 5 hogs' heads bigger than the A&A 2004 Revised Edition. That's 5 hogs' heads of larger boards, more territories, new factions, new refined rules choice-pulled from the latest A&A releases, and 600 pieces of wargaming goodness all under one box cover.

The board is now 2 feet x 4 feet - the biggest yet in an A&A game. It's also gorgeous; instead of the drab and flat-shaded territories of editions past, the board now sports full-colored topographical terrain, faded in just the right way as be interesting but not at all distracting. And now the Cruiser unit has bee introduced to the global A&A cast of military units - A&A aficionados will note this has been pulled from the recent and highly successful Axis & Allies Guadalcanal Edition. Finally, the expansionist nation of Italy has joined the the Axis nations, and China now has it's own turn under USA control.

Very interesting indeed. First Risk is reimagined, and now its natural next step in wargaming evolution leaks from the 20th century and lands smack dab into the 21st. What a fantastic year for gaming.

For more information checkout Axis&Allies.org's coverage of the details, or the official Axis and Allies Anniversary Edition website.

Or, even easier, here are the official details:


Axis & Allies celebrates 50 years of Avalon Hill games with this Anniversary Edition of the classic World War II strategy board game. Designed by Larry Harris, A&A Anniversary Edition will utilize the standard D6 combat system found in Axis & Allies Revised, Europe, & Pacific. Italy will debut as the third Axis nation, China will be operated by the US player, and cruiser class ships will join the naval line-up for the first time. The largest board ever produced for an A&A game, along with deluxe components will ensure this is the granddaddy of all Axis & Allies board games. Deploy your forces and prepare for battle!

Axis & Allies: Anniversary Edition details:

  • Designed by Larry Harris, creator of Axis & Allies
  • Italy introduced as the third Axis nation
  • Two set-up options: Spring 1941 and Spring 1942
  • Cruiser class ships join the naval unit line-up
  • China included as US controlled ally
  • New sculpts for Italy, China, and others
  • Game board measures ~ 24" x 46"
  • Over 600 game pieces
  • 48 page rulebook


AAAnnivBoardAndPieces.jpg


The Axis & Allies Anniversary Edition is now shipping from Amazon and Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

November 18, 2008

Tide of Iron Map Pack Announced for Spring 2009

TideofIronBox.jpgHow odd. Just this Saturday we were slugging it out over the custom Tide or Iron scenario "Blitz" - which we highly recommend for its balanced tank battle slugfest - and now today the ever-vigilant Board Game News has word that Fantasy Flight Games will shortly announce a new Tide of Iron expansion slated for release next March. This new expansion comes hot on the heals of the recent Desert Fox expansion from earlier this year, and the upcoming Tide of Iron: Designer Series [Amazon, Funagain] slated for release in December.

The expansion is the first of what will probably be a series: a Tide of Iron Map Pack. It'll incorporate 'more colorful' replacement pieces for the the set of customizable boards. This will not only replace the base set of boards for standard play - which were quite alright already - but also expands upon the tile set so you can really create some wonderful sprawling battles.

Here's their word:


" Tide of Iron puts players in thick of WWII. The Tide of Iron Map Upgrade Pack lets players update their original map boards with brand new artwork and enhanced colors. Players can also use these with their existing Tide of Iron boards to create epic level battles.

Also included is the cardboard from the base game with upgraded obstacles such as tank traps, bunkers, and hills, giving players much more flexibility when creating custom scenarios and recreating famous battles."


Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

November 17, 2008

Le Havre Board Game - A Destined Classic

LeHavre.jpgIt seems Lookout Games has another hit on their hands just in time for the fall.

The board game La Havre [Funagain] follows the same theme of its award winning cousin Agricola [Amazon, Funagain], but instead of pulling the strings on an small agricultural farm players serve as tycoons working their strategic magic in the major port city of Normandy, France.

Players will purchase goods, push them through their own processing plants & ships, or pay to use another player's, and attempt to sell their goods for cold hard francs. Players are then evaluated and ranked on their shipping, manufacturing and cash assets at the end of the game, and with random draws and setup there are quite few different avenues and styles to play to get you to the top.

The game is very dynamic, plays fast, is elbow deep in the strategy, and yet pretty darn easy to pickup considering the amount of content. And though it's recommended for 12 & UP, it'd probably work best in the family environment if you have kids in the early-teens at least. Otherwise, this is AAA title for adult gamers and gaming groups.

If you want to read more about the game then we highly recommend this fantastic BGG User Review. You can also read the rules [pdf], and finally here are Le Havre's official details:


"About the Game

Le Havre is a French city, containing France's second largest harbour (after Marseilles). The city is notable not only for its size but also for its unusual name. The Dutch word "Havre", meaning "Harbour", was adopted into French in the 12th century, but these days it is considered archaic and "le port" is used instead.

The principle of the game is simple. A player's turn consists of two parts: First, distribute newly supplied goods onto the Offer spaces; then take an action. As an action, players may choose either to take all goods of one type from an Offer space or to use one of the available buildings. Building actions allow players to upgrade goods, sell them or use them to build their own buildings and ships. Buildings are both an investment opportunity and a revenue stream, as players must pay an entry fee to use buildings that they do not own. Ships, on the other hand, are primarily used to provide the food that is needed to feed the workers.

After every seven turns, the round ends: a Harvest increases players' grain and cattle reserves, and players must feed their workers.After a fixed number of rounds, each player may carry out one final action, and then the game ends. Players add the value of their buildings and ships to their cash reserves. The player who has amassed the largest fortune is the winner." - Le Havre's Official Rules


Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

November 10, 2008

Zooloretto & Aquaretto Expand to XXL Weightclass

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The award winning family oriented collection game Zooloretto, and its expansion Aquaretto, have achieved extra-extra large status with one expansions release. Zooloretto XXL [Amazon, Funagain] includes new animal offspring created from some *elbow elbow* animal zoo animal loving, new animal tiles, vending stalls and the new option to send animals to fictitious off-table zoos. This, of course, nets you more points at the end of the game.

This new animal lending mechanic can be done as a standard turn action and is explained quite clearly in the Zooloretto XXL rules [pdf].

In all the expansion seems to be a nice little spice-up to a family standard. Here is the official info:


  • Number of players: 2-5
  • Age of players: 10++
  • Length: 45-60 minutes

"The zoo grows and prospers: new animals are added regularly and the animals provide offspring from time to time. Once a zoo is full and few new animals are added, it can become boring and customers want something new.
Also, zoo managers find it useful to share their animals by sending them to other zoos. Of course, the new zoos like the additions and reward those who sent them.
Two extra delivery trucks are added for the game for two and bonus material is included for Aquaretto.
This is just what is needed for those who cannot get enough Zooloretto."



Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

November 7, 2008

Journey to the Center of the Earth Board Game

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We've been covering some pretty heavy board games recently geared toward young adults and adults like oursevles. Oh how we love them so.

We'll now here's one that entire family can enjoy. Journey To the Center of the Earth [Amazon, Funagain] challenges explorers to make the epic quest down a dormant volcano, then board a raft across to cross a subterranean ocean and ride the eruptive lavaflow of an active volcano to the 'safety' of the surface. Along the way players score points by unearthing treasures found within the deep, but they most ensure they keep control of them even through the violent shimmy shake of the lava escape.

The game is on the light side which makes it great for kids - the game says it's for ages 10&Up but you could probably get things rolling even earlier for that. Don't wait too much longer though 'cause the game isn't high on the complexity scale, and there are other games out there that may keep your family more entertained. This isn't a masterpiece like Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne or Settlers of Catan, for instance, but it's definitely a stepping stone for younger kids to get to games of that complexity.

Here are the official details:


Descend deep into the interior of the earth, as you lead the three adventurers from Jules Vernes classic novel: Professor Lidenbrock, his nephew Axel and their guide Hans. Begin your amazing journey with entry through the crater of the dormant Icelandic volcano Snaefells. Explore a dense forest of giant mushrooms, traverse a turbulent underground ocean, before you are hurled out of an Italian volcano to return to the earth's surface. On your journey, collect fossils both small and large, collect gold and overcome obstacles through the prudent acquisition and use of select equipment. Explore the many parts of the subterranean cavern; using equipment and luck are critical to overcoming the obstacles within your path. The player who can escape with the best collection of artifacts is the winner. Will you direct our heroes on a journey of danger, discovery and fortune?

Info:

  • Players: 2-4
  • Ages: 10+
  • Playing Time: 60-75 minutes
  • Designer: Rüdiger Dorn

Contains:

  • 1 game board
  • 3 adventurer figures
  • 1 raft
  • 20 water stones
  • 80 small cards
  • 120 large cards
  • 1 rulebook

Have a good weekend!

Edit: It looks like Tom Vassal of The Dice Tower fame recently reviewed Journey to the Center of the Earth, along with his 8 year old daughter. It's nice to hear opinions from both sides of the age cusp. Another great review from Tom once again:

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

November 3, 2008

Dominion - A Standalone Collectibe Card Game in a Box

Dominion.jpgThose of you looking to get your hands on a TCG or CCG that doesn't require you plop down gobs of cash, then you might have found just what you've been looking for. The new card game Dominion [Amazon, Funagain] has often been lovingly described as a collectible card game in a box, and a good one at that.

The game is being published by Rio Grande Games and designed by Hans im Glück, a pairing that has brought us the delicious Carcassonne series.

Dominion is an entirely card-based game that is played in short spurts ( < 30 minutes ), which is a fantastic amount of time since the game is all about building up a small kingdom from virtual nothing, and doing it in new, unique ways every sessions.

Throughout each round players draw cards from their basic deck to both act against other players, and to aid in the purchase of even more cards to add their deck. Dominion empowers players to construct their own custom dominion (deck) throughout play. A player's decision of which cards to purchase from a set of randomly drawn cards each turn is based on many different factors -the collection of cards that are currently available for purchase (using in game cash), how do the cards complement what the player's current deck is tailored to do, what are your opponents trying to do and how can you stop them, etc. Your deck starts small, and when it's exhausted the discard is shuffled back together into a deck along with all the cards you've purchased, and play continues. Think of it as a snowballing effect - your dominion becomes more powerful as you slide new resources and prized possessions into the fold as play progresses.

The game has been received extraordinarily well by gaming community. For more information checkout this great Dominion user review on BGG. And - as always - here are the game's official details:


" You are a monarch, like your parents before you, a ruler of a small pleasant kingdom of rivers and evergreens. Unlike your parents, however, you have hopes and dreams! You want a bigger and more pleasant kingdom, with more rivers and a wider variety of trees. You want a Dominion! In all directions lie fiefs, freeholds, and feodums. All are small bits of land, controlled by petty lords and verging on anarchy. You will bring civilization to these people, uniting them under your banner. But wait! It must be something in the air; several other monarchs have had the exact same idea. You must race to get as much of the unclaimed land as possible, fending them off along the way. To do this you will hire minions, construct buildings, spruce up your castle, and fill the coffers of your treasury. Your parents wouldn't be proud, but your grandparents, would be delighted. Dominion is not a CCG, but the play of the game is similar to the construction and play of a CCG deck. The game comes complete with roughly 500 cards. You select 10 of the 20+ Kingdom card types to include in any given play -- leading to immense variety."

Dominion is now shipping and available from Amazon and Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 31, 2008

Battlestar Galactica Board Game Previews

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The cool month of November starts tomorrow, and that means the upcoming Battlestar Galactica board game [Funagain] slated for a November release so close that we can almost taste it. Detecting our hunger for more information Fantasy Flight Games has continued its prerelease roll out, first by posting the rules, and now following-up with a series of preview articles detailing some new, interesting dynamics of the game.

Those of you who missed the prior announcements, the Battlestar Galactica board game is based on a wide audience property but it's being pushed into an exciting small-niche: cooperative board games. Players control characters from the show, protecting the Galactica and its rag tag fleet from Cylon Attacks in social and political unrest. The goal is to survive enough jumps to make it to Earth.

But there's a monkey in the wrench: one of the players has been secretly assigned the role of cylon agent, and through acts of subterfuge will attempt to prevent the others from achieving their goal. Additionally, half way through the game there will be another cylon activation, where one other human player may, or may not, also become a cylon. Paranoia and a series of false accusations ensues.

And now onto the new stuff:

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  • Preview #2: When Cylons Attack! [link] steps through the dynamics and mechanics of the unfortunate event of a Cylon Basestar attack, and the other passive ways the Cylons can hope to win.
  • Preview #3: Divided Loyalty [link]: discusses strategies on how Cylons may sabotage the Heroes while still not drawing too much attention to themselves. And on the other side of the fence, Heroes may want to keep the ship on the verge of disaster just in case they later discover they're actually a Cylon Agent during the game's Sleeper Agent draw phase. Interesting stuff that could definitely keep the game pretty tense.

In all it's looking good for Fantasy Flight Games to chalk-up another hit in their board game adapation column. Battlestar Galactica is slated to ship this November, and we'll certainly let you know just as soon as it does.

Have a good weekend.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 23, 2008

Memoir '44 Expands into the Mediterranean Theater

Memoir44MedTheater.jpgNovember is just around the corner, and that means it's holiday release time. First up: the outstanding WWII tactical war game franchise Memoir '44 expands into the north African deserts. The Memoir '44 Mediterranean Theater [Amazon, Funagain] pits Italian forces and Rommel's Afrikakorps against the new-to-Memoir British faction of Lieutenant-General Montgomery's 8th Army: the Desert Rats.

The expansion isn't just a faction addition, but includes quite a few different elements that add to the game mechanics. For one there are new Anti Tank guns and Infantry weapons, which nicely balances against the massive amounts of armor that toured through North Africa. There are of course new terrain tiles matching the barren setting, and new Combat Engineer units to help clear roadblocks and mines.

Finally Memoir '44 Mediterranean Theater ships with 8 new scenarios pulled straight from history. Some are famous battles, others lesser known engagements and smaller actions, but each includes a page of Historical Background so you know what's at stake, even they're completely new to you. They include:

  1. Hellfire Pass (June 15-17, 1941)
  2. Sidi Rezegh Airfield (November 22, 1941)
  3. Dug in at Sidi Omar (November 25, 1941)
  4. Flanking Maneuver at Bir Hakeim (May 27, 1942)
  5. Panzers versus Grants (May 27, 1942)
  6. 1st Armoured to the rescue (May 27, 1942)
  7. Into the Cauldron (June 05, 1942)
  8. and Escape via the Coastal Road (June 14, 1942)

Memoir '44 Mediterranean Theater is out now and is available to purchase from both Funagain Games and from Amazon. Here are the expansion's official details:


"On the day war broke out, few nations imagined they would soon be forced to conduct land warfare outside of Europe. As a result, when the war reached North Africa, both men and machines were ill-prepared for the harsh demands of a desert campaign.

But history is a testament to the caliber of leadership, ingenuity and resolve of those who fought under such harsh conditions. Thanks in part to its long-established presence in far-flung corners of the globe, no army would display these qualities better than the British Commonwealth Forces.

  • A complete British Army set including: 42 British infantrymen, 24 Crusader tanks, 6 25-pounder guns and 3 anti-tank weapons
  • New rules including: the "Stiff Upper Lip" so common to the British Commonwealth Forces, the Motorized Divisions and "Artillery Bravery" of the Italian Royal Army, and a new class of embedded equipment pieces - the Special Weapon Assets!
  • 44 new double-sided Terrain tiles including: escarpments, ergs & ridges, coastlines, desert airstrips, HQ & supply tents, oasis, wadis...
  • 10 Round Markers: British medals, minefield tokens and "Exit" markers
  • 4 Obstacles including: desert bunkers and roadblocks
  • 14 new Special Forces badges including: including the British SAS, Royal Engineers, and an assortment of Italian badges
  • 8 Historical Scenarios: from the tank disaster of Operation Battleaxe at Halfaya Pass to the relief of the Siege of Tobruk in Operation Crusader; 5 scenarios cover the drawn-out engagement of the Battle of Gazala!"

More information - including the expansion's full set of instructions - can be found on the Memoir '44 Official Website.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 21, 2008

Cosmic Encounter Returns December 2008

CosmicEncounter.JPGOne of our favorite publishers Fantasy Flight Games - makers of Tide of Iron and the upcoming Battlestar Galactica board game - have announced a remake of the classic Cosmic Encounter for a late 2008 release. Even better, they've launched an Cosmic Encounter website.

Cosmic Encounter has traditionally been one of those games from the late 70s who's gameplay today still doesn't seem antiquated and cumbersome like some other hit titles from that period. The base rules are quite simple - use your armies to conquer five different planets outside of your home system. Each turn your randomly assigned another player to attack. You can persuade other players to lend their strength to help you defeat the other player. while your opponent can also lobby the player base to come to his or her own aid. The game is a mix of empire building, diplomacy, and luck.

But the game really shines in the powers that you're assigned. While the rules are simple, these alien powers go out of the way to break the standard rules of play in some very interesting ways, and extending the game by mixing and matching multiple cards can really make each game entirely different and incredibly enjoyable.

And while the launch of the Cosmic Encounter Website contains very little information, it does preview the first of these abilities: "Mind." Here the ability is fairly straight forward - peer into anyone's hand of cards before allies are invited into a battle. Foreknowledge of your enemies' capabilities is essential, but is it not just as important to know if your potential ally is a dud? Why commit forces to a conflict and diplomatically align yourself in process when your 'friend' may shoot corks instead of bullets? The Mind is a wonderful thing, especially when it can reach out and evaluate and predict the resolution of conflicts before they transpire. Plans within plans.

We'll have more information about what's in this version compared to the latest version of Cosmic Encounter as this new version gets closer to release, currently slated for December. Here are the official details so far:


"One of the classic science fiction board games returns from the warp in a brand new edition from Fantasy Flight Games!

A game that has endured for over 30 years, Cosmic Encounter has players take on the role of one of 50 different alien races in a struggle for cosmic supremacy, each armed with a unique and game-changing special power. No matter which alien they play, the players must use force, cunning, and diplomacy to ensure their victory."


Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 17, 2008

Risk 2008 Edition IS Risk: Black Ops

Risk2008Edition.jpgWe've recently had some questions thrown our way about if Risk Black Ops is ever coming out, so let's put this one to bed: the latest Risk release
Risk 2008 Edition [Amazon, Funagain] is the store shelf incarnate of the underground prototype Risk Black Ops. Its the same game everyone has talked about minus the slick packaging and the cool name. In other words, what are you still doing here - go play it. Now.

You're still here. Well then that must mean you need a primer:

Black Ops was a promotional beta release from Hasbro Games, and was slated to be the next evolution of Risk in terms of gameplay design. It included new randomly assigned capital cities to each player, randomly drawn objectives for players to fight over, and randomly assigned rewards to entice players out of a standard Risk Turtle strategy. The game was a cult-hit for both its killer gameplay, slick name, and for it being nigh-impossible to actually find a copy to throw down.

Last month Avalon Hill released the sleepy Risk 2008 Edition.. With a dull name like that it was almost ensure that everyone would toss it aside, 'just another Risk iteration? Boring! Where's our darn beloved Risk Black Ops? I've heard great things about it!'

Well this is it. Risk 2008 is Risk Black Ops. Yes, now you won't need to seek out the seedy underground of Providence, pound out a yodling password to get access to a dark underground bunker where Risk Black Ops silently awaits your commanding presence beneath a downturned floodlight. That's 'cause it's actually on store shelves now.

Here are the game's official details:


"Can you accomplish the military objectives before your opponents? With an updated map and all-new playing pieces, increased rewards for bold moves, and easy to learn rules, you'll be ready to take on whatever lies ahead. Test your nerve with the Basic Training game--a quick and easy way to play. Or, see if you have what it takes to dominate in the fast-paced and strategic Command Room game. Finally prove your courage in World Contest-an updated edition of the classic Risk game. The decision is yours. The time is now. Do you have what it takes to win? Bottom line: Three ways to play, faster game play, and updated map and playing pieces. Includes game board, 7 dice, deck of 42 cards, 5 sets of colored units, 5 capitals, 15 cities, parts sheet and instructions. For 3 to 5 players ages 12 and up.

This classic game of global domination has led the world in military strategy games since 1959. Each player competes to capture all 42 territories in an effort to dominate the globe. All-new features include multiple gameplay options and two different levels - Bootcamp and Officer's Club. Includes 360 military miniatures. For 3 to 5 players."




Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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