October 15, 2008

Axis & Allies Annivesary Edition Slated for November '08

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Avalon Hill has announced a release date for this years Axis & Allies installment November 18th, 2008. This year
they're taking a step back, not visiting one of the major theaters or specific battles as we have in recent memory (Guadalcanal, Battle of the Bulge).

Nope, this time Avalon Hill is consolidating its gains. The new Axis and Allies Anniversary Edition will be a large step up from the standard Axis & Allies title in just about every dimension. It'll include new pieces, new units, and new mechanics gleaned from past few years of releases. And if that's not enough: there will be two new playable factions in China for the Allies and Italy for the Axis. Oh, and the game will be physically larger than ever, too, with a board that dwarfs all others at 2' x 4'. That's a good 6" sub larger than the Revised Edition, in both directions.

Expect the mammoth Axis & Allies Anniversary Edition in stores in just a few weeks. Looks like the long Thanksgiving homecoming weekend might include a few rounds of large scale world domination.

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


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October 9, 2008

Battlestar Galactica Board Game Preview

BattlestarGalacticaBoardGame.jpgPublisher Fantasy Flight Games has begun its prerelease blitz of the Battlestar Galactica Board Game [Funagain] slated for release in early November. As you may recall, the game has players sit down as compatriots trying to save each other's butts in life and death struggle for survival?. Is that redundant? Probably - wait - well yes it is.

Things aren't quite so straightforward in the lovely, elegant, simplistic, savage, stinky, recycled -air int this mother f'er of an everlasting convoy that won't freaking end as it probes its way through the dark reaches of space. Apparently Earth is way over there - like four regular seasons away - and those pesky Cylons are a constant threat looming on the periphery the whole voyage. Not only do they periodically pounce upon your rag take fleet with their shoomlike nuke-carrying basetars, but they've also planted a decoy in your human ranks of players.

Yep - thats right - your best friend could be a Cylon. And you thought he was just after your sister. Nope, turns out that he wants you all dead, and has designs on blowing the Galactica and its hangers on to kingdom come.

Mechanically the secret Cylon player is determined randomly at the beginning of the game, so don't go for your baseball bat or golf clubs just yet. His or her job is to ensure that the rest of the players don't make it to Earth, either via subterfuge and physical or political/social sabotage. And if the paranoia weren't already as thick as a the fishbowl smoke in a volkswagen bus cursing the California desert, then here's even more for you to take in: halfway through the game another player could - or could not - become a secretly activated cylon. Ok.... exhale.

Now, the first of of what will surely be a series of Fantasy Flight Games preview articles goes over the character skills, which are randomly dealt from a character deck each session.

BStarBGCard1.jpgConsidering the mass appeal of BStar among a desperate population of friends, we were hoping things would kept relatively simple in this Fantasy Flight release. But, of course not. Thanks to some ingenious tinkering in the Fantasy Flight labs, it appears that we have gobs of decks, and draw states, and ... stuff to keep track of. When will they learn that sometimes keeping things simple might equate to some fun? For instance:


"Each player is dealt a hand of skill cards at the start of his turn, based on his character. Take Kara "Starbuck" Thrace as an example. Starbuck is dealt 2 Tactics skill cards, 2 Piloting skill cards, and her choice of either 1 Leadership or 1 Engineering card. If another player gets Leadership cards already, Starbuck may choose to take 1 Engineering card, thus giving the crew a good cross-section of skill cards."
- Preview #1: Skills at Fantasy Flight Games

Woah. That was pretty complicated. Naptime. No no no, get your own carpet square.

But we have a feeling Fantasy Flight can still make this one a classic. If not , it's back to Shadows Over Camelot [Amazon, Funagain] for our cooperative board gaming goodness, and that ain't bad. In fact, gaming life is good.

Battlestar Galactica the Board Game is slated to ship in Novermber, and is now available to predorder from Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 6, 2008

New World: A Carcassonne Game

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Rio Grande Games has brought an entirely new Carcassonne title to our North American shores. The New World: A Carcassonne Game [Amazon, Funagain] is set on the Eastern Coast of the unexplored Americas, but instead of constructing a series of cities and towns throughout a Medieval Countryside as play progresses, players lay down tiles to build and explore the New World.

The game's new collection of tiles sport a nice new facelift, and includes trade routes, cities, and farms, the latter of which behave much like the monasteries of the original game. The old-school farm mechanic has been simplified or even replaced entirely with new Fur tile pieces - a Trapper Meeple placed in a plain will score points for the number of furry creatures that populate their controlled land mass.

Finally a new Surveyor mechanic represents the settlements establishing themselves in the wild territory When a project is completed, a Surveyor piece marches west one column, blowing away all meeples currently working on projects both in the column of his new position, and eastwards to the coast. The race to complete projects is on!

Here are the game's official details:


"In this Carcassonne game, players begin as the early settlers of the United States did on the east coast of America. As they explore westward, they build towns, farms, paths, and compete to score more points than the others players. As exploration moves to the west, players who are slow to complete the features they have started will find themselves left behind - with no points! "
"The New World has been discovered! Now it is time to explore and settle it. The players explore and develop the New World beginning on the East Coast and moving westward, and deploy their settlers on the trails, in the town, in the farms, and on the plains. The skills of the players to develop the area and use their robbers, shopkeepers, trappers, and farmers will determine who is victorious. The players place land tiles turn by turn. As they do so, the trails, towns, plains, and farms emerge and grow. On these, the players can deploy their settlers to earn points. Players score points during the game and at the end. The player with the most points after the final scoring is the winner."
- Amazon.com
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September 30, 2008

A Touch of Evil Board Game Just in Time For Halloween

ATouchOfEvil.jpg

The folks over at Flying Frog Productions rocked our world last year with the incredible Zombie board game Last Night on Earth, and now they've come back with another monster braining goodness. This time it's A Touch of Evil [Amazon, Funagain] gracing our Halloween playing tables. IT includes a new series of evil archetypes that hit the dark streets of Shadowbrook, 'causing mayhem and giving the town a bad AAA rating. It's not just about lopping off the heads of zombies anymore, with the major cast of villains including Vampires, Werewolves, and maybe a headless horseman or two for good measure.

As with the previous Last Night on Earth, players will take control of a characters pulled from a B-Horror Movie. Each sports their own special powers and abilities. The characters either play cooperatively to take down a boss villain and his minions, or play against one other to the the first hero to take down a specific villain. Meanwhile other players pull the strings of the bad guys, ensuring that darkness enshrouds the village and everyone inside becomes food for your pets.

And, once again, actors were hired to pose in costume bring some humanity to the gaming materials. And it's executing in a brilliant tongue in cheek fashion.

Here are the official details.

ATOE_BoxBack.jpg


Tis the dawn of the 19th century; an age of science, superstition, and witchcraft. Howling fills the night as a full moon rises over the small, secluded village of Shadowbrook. Gruesome murders have become a daily occurrence and terror haunts the streets at night. An evil creature has taken up residence here and the countryside is engulfed by a tide of darkness. But all is not lost...not yet. A small group of heroic individuals, with the courage and strength to fight, have arrived in town. Some just passing through while others have come with a purpose; but all will be put to the test as they race to save this cursed town from falling into darkness. It will take a cunning mind and strength of spirit to determine who is friend and who is foe... to solve the mysteries and hunt the beast to its lair. But the secrets of Shadowbrook run deep. Gossip and rumors run rampant and these few Heroes may soon discover that they are outsiders here and this town is already so rotten from within there is little left to save.

In this fast-paced game of fiendish creatures, dashing Heroes, and high-adventure, each player takes on the role of a unique monster-hunting Hero, racing against time to stop the forces of darkness from claiming another foothold in the world of man. Players can race competitively to be the first to defeat the Villain and save the town, or work together cooperatively to defeat a much stronger Villain.

A Touch of Evil features a gameboard map of Shadowbrook and its surrounding countryside, eight Heroes to choose from, and four different Supernatural Villains to hunt, each with its own host of unique Minions and powers to drastically change the game.


Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

September 19, 2008

Battlestar Galactica Board Game Rules

BattlestarGalacticaBoardGame.jpg

Publisher Fantasy Flight Games have released a pdf copy of the Battlestar Galactica Board Game [Funagain] that's slated to release this fall.

Similar to the hit Shadows Over Camelot, the Battlestar Galactica board game puts players in control of the cannon's tier-one characters as they struggle to survive on the run as the life of the last human colony . Each character has a suite of abilities that could come in handy in political situations, or in combat situations whenever a Cylon base star warps-in to hose everyone down with nukes. Certain characters will also need to position themselves to repair any and all damage done to Galactica to ensure its survival until the convoy finds Earth.

Although the players will be striving together for a common goal, things aren't always so warm and fuzzy in post apocalyptic space. At the start of the game one player is secretly made a Cylon agent, and must work to sabotage the player's goals without giving away his/her true identity. Then, later in the game a player controlling a human character may also find out he's a Cylon who has just be activated, too, which means you could have two double agents running around your ship. Paranoia will ensue, and trust will become a major factor in the game.

For more information checkout the official rules which can be found here [pdf].

BSGBoardGame.jpgHere are the game's official details:


"Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game is an exciting game of mistrust, intrigue, and the struggle for survival which places each player in the role of one of ten of their favorite characters from the show. Each playable character has their own abilities and weaknesses, and all must work together in order for humanity to have any hope of survival. However, one or more players in every game secretly is secretly a Cylon, and wants the humans to perish."

The Battlestar Galactica Board Game is slated to ship this November 2008, and is now available for preorder from Funagain Games.


Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

September 16, 2008

Ticket to Ride the Dice Game Expansion Details

TicketToRideDiceGame.jpgWe really weren't expecting this. After releasing both the Ticket to Ride the Card Game, which sometimes gives us a headache after repeat plays with all it's state memorization, and the worldwide release of Ticket to Ride Nordic Countries just a few months ago, publisher Days of Wonder is throwing another Ticket to Ride title at us: Ticket to Ride the Dice Game [Funagain].

We think we may have one more Ticket to Ride sideshow in us, but if another looms on the horizon shortly afterward, then we may raise the white flag and declare the franchise has fully run it's course.

Thankfully the Dice Game doesn't seem nearly as dry as the Ticket to Ride Card Game. Instead of reinventing the Ticket to Ride formula we've all grown to love with a card based solitare / gin abstraction, Ticket to Ride the Dice Game simply replaces the standard turn mechanic of each of the Ticket to Ride Board Games with a little random spice. Oh, and it's compatible with all Ticket to Ride board game releases (original, Europe, Marklin and Nordic), which is actually quite nice.

Here's the general gist of how it works: Players will toss 5 dice instead of drawing train cards. The players may spend his/her dice result to claim routes, claim route tokens (which you'll need to collect in order to 'afford' the longer routes), collect route cards, etc. Other wildcard dice will permit players to use the special option specific to each of the major releases, like build tunnels in Europe / Nordic, build stations, or move passengers, etc.

You can find the full details here, including a PDF of the Rulebook.

At first glance it may seem that the dice completely strip the critical suite of decisions a Ticket to Ride player would make: Should I draw another set of cards or play a route before that captain claims it for his own? And we're not quite sure we like the idea of completely removing the colorful train cards. Oh we like them so; collecting them is half the fun!

Here's the upside though: The randomness of trying to draw the right color of train card to complete your collection has been replaced with the randomness of rolling the correct series of dice to claim a route. Any route. Things could get pretty cutthroat.

We'll have a better understanding and our thoughts when the game releases in October. Here are the official details to tide you over until then:

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"In this expansion, players still attempt to complete their Destination Tickets and claim routes and block each other on the map. But rather than draw and collect Train cards, they roll five custom Train dice each turn.

Depending on the outcome they can reroll some or all, then use the dice to claim routes on the board; grab Route Tokens for future use; or draw more Destination Tickets.

For board maps that feature Tunnel routes, such as Ticket to Ride Europe, 3 Tunnel dice are also included.

This expansion requires trains, Destination Tickets and a board map from any of the Ticket to Ride series.

The Dice Game Expansion is multi-lingual with rules in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Finnish, Danish, Swedish and Norwegian."



Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

September 9, 2008

The Fate of BattleLore Q&A with Fantasy Flight Games

BattleLore.jpgAfter taking control of the Days of Wonder fantasy warfare board game franchise BattleLore two weeks ago, Publisher Fantasy Flight Games has posted a FAQ regarding the fate of the BattleLore [Amazon, Funagain] franchise.

The FAQ includes 7 questions in all, but here are the select important parts:


Q. Will Richard Borg be involved in the development of new content?

A. Yes, we are very excited to be working with Richard on creating new content and products for BattleLore.


Q. Is FFG planning to release the BattleLore expansions that DOW already had in the works?

A. Yes, we will be releasing the expansions which were already being manufactured by DOW. These are the Heroes expansion and For Troll and Country, which we hope to ship sometime this Fall.


Q. When will FFG announce their future plans for BattleLore?

A.We intend to have more details on our support and release plans for BattleLore around the time of the Essen Game Fair (towards the end of October.) Around that time, please stay tuned to the FFG website for more information. " - Fantasy Flight Games


Fantasy Flight also recognizes that the online BattleLore community that's well integrated in the Days of Wonder website may take some time to migrate to Fantasy Flight's side. Not only will they have to bring over the scenario editing tools, but also migrate a database full of existing scenarios, which is something that could be pretty darn tricky if they don't have the staff on-hand to do the work for them.

In the end, though, we like what we see. New Content, no new re envisioning of the series, and the original designer Richard Borg is on board to lead the franchise through the transition.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

September 5, 2008

Memoir '44: Mediterranean Theater Announced

Memoir44MedTheater.jpgThis fall the British are coming, WWII Style. Yes for the first time ever the approachable Memoir '44 tactical war from Days of Wonder will include the British, and this October its 8th Army will hit the sands of North Africa on a table top near you to fight the good fight against Rommel and his Afrika Korps.

Here are the official details for Memoir '44 Mediterranean Theater:


"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!"

The Mediterranean Theater will be the 4th WWII campaign visited by the franchise: The D-Day setting was depicted in the original Memoir '44 release, followed by the Eastern Frontand Pacific Campaign expansions. Last year the series also took to the air with the Memoir '44 Air Pack.

More information can be found on the Memoir '44 Official Website, and we'll keep you posted on more details as we get closer to release. The Memoir '44 Mediterranean Theater is slated to ship this October,and is now available for preorder from Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

September 3, 2008

Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) 2008

LostCitiesBoardGame.jpgEvery year we take stock in two major game awards groups. One is the International Gamers Awards, while the other is the coveted Spiel des Jahres, or the Germany Game of the Year.

And the 2008 winner is: Lost Cities the Board Game! We must admit, this one took us off guard, seeing that it's a derivative of the original card game [Amazon, Funagain] of the same name. And as you know, sometimes derivatives - no mater what the medium - don't compare well against their predecessor than - say - other fresher titles that inject fresh gameplay elements into the genre.

It seems that isn't the case, as the Lost Cities board game [Lost Cities Boardgame">Funagain] adaptation continues to shine bright.

As you may know EuroGames - the genre of board games Spiel de Jahres tends to cover - are the leading edge of Family Friendly and most importantly well balanced and fun games that were spearheaded by a German movement nearly two decades ago. These games include such classics as Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, Puerto Rico, and countless others. If you have any titles from Rio Grande or Mayfair games, then chances are you're a Eurograme fan.

So when the panel of gaming critics convenes in Germany to announce the best games of 2008, we stand up and take notice. Our friends over at Funagain Games say it best:


"The German Spiel des Jahres is perhaps the world's most prestigious game award. Founded in 1978 by a group of German game critics to promote awareness and to increase the cultural value of games, the award recognizes outstanding games based on originality, playability, and educational value of the game idea; organization, clarity and understandability of rules; packing and layout of the gameboard and the game rules; and functionality and overall quality of the game materials included. " - Funagain Games

Here are a majority of the runners up and recommend titles from this year's award ceremony that are currently available stateside:


The complete list of winners, and descriptions of the titles, can be found on FunagainGame's Spiel des Jahres 2008 page.


Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

September 1, 2008

Crtical Gamers' August 2008 Gaming Roundup

RoundUp.jpg It's crazy to think that the Summer is officially unofficially over. Its sad to look over our shoulder and wave goodbye to the crazy nice weather, but there is a bright sight waiting for us just a few paces onward: with Fall comes the holiday release season where gobs of games race to be published before shopping commences! That includes a the new Battlestar Galactica board game, more D&D 4th Edition goodness, and a new WoW TCG set release, Raid Deck, and a new line of World of Warcraft Miniatures. Thats on top of the standard Eurogame releases from Rio Grande and Mayfair, and the Days of Wonder updates to both BattleLore and Memoir '44. We need to take a nap just thinking about the major publishers and the amount of titles they're pushing out this year. And then hopefully a dark horse will emerge and surprise us as well, and freshen things up from offstage. But before we start chomping at the bit, lets first wipe the drool away and slowly digest the interesting month that was August 2008:

Board Games

Collectable Card Games

Gaming Culture

Gaming News

Party Games

RPGs

Variants

World of Warcraft TCG

OK, now that's over. Let the drooling commence.
Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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