May 5, 2008

Age of Conan Board Game Fall 2008

Conan.jpgBack in 2006 we reported that the upcoming MMORPG Age of Conan was getting a board game adaptation from Nexus games (Marvel Heroes, War of the Ring, Descent ) in late 2007. Well, unfortunately the online game's schedule has slipped - now scheduled for a Summer 2008 release - and so has the subsequent board game adaptation. But fear not, you'll still be able to smash heads in Crom's name, you'll just have to do it later than expected.

The new targeted release date: Late 2008.

Gaming Report has the full story on the release schedule and product info, as well as these other juicy game details.

Here are the updated game details, which have changed somewhat since the game's first announcement:

"In Age of Conan: The Board Game, 2-4 players control the lands of Aquilonia, Hyperborea, Turan, and Stygia, trying to increase power and influence in the Hyborian Age, while trying to influence the mighty Conan to side with them -- or at least against their enemies! Age of Conan: The Board Game will be released by FFG in late 2008."

For more of the evolving game details, checkout this great story on BoardGameNews. We'll keep you posted of the official details of the game as they're released.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

May 2, 2008

A Touch of Evil Board Game - Hunting Monsters in Fall '08

ATouchOfEvil.jpgThe team behind The Last Night on Earth - a fantastic zombie hunting board game that was one of our favorite releases last year - has announced another monster braining title for Fall 2008. A Touch of Evil looks to put zombies to rest and open the door to a variety of evil monsters types. Gameplay centers around a cast B-Movie stereotypical monster hunting heroes slaying a variety of different monster types. We picture Van Helsing, but good.

Players can play in two modes : cooperative against a difficult uber monster boss, or a players can compete in a race to be the first to slay a more benign beastie.

Reading over the official details makes us reminisce about the amazing Buffy the Vampire board game, which had such fantastically balanced cooperative gameplay. In that title from decades past, players took on the roles of the show's heroes to battle one of the arch villains from various seasons of the show. Settlers of Catan made our game group officially organized, but it was Buffy that drew us back into board gaming in the first place.

Though we truly love Flying Frogs Productions' previous title Last Night on Earth and what it did for the zombie board game genre, the zombie romp has some balancing issues that make some of the few included scenarios more a chore than fun braining experience. That's ok, though, because there really are only a handful of Zombie board games out there, and Last Night On Earth stands heads and shoulders above the rest even with these flaws. But with there being such a strong presence of good, well balanced, cooperative games in the general monster hunt Halloween gaming collection, including Buffy, Arkham Horror, etc. we hope Flying Flog puts A Touch of Evil through a well-designed gauntlet of playability and balancing tests. We might not be as forgiving given since the established library of high quality monster hunting games has set the bar pretty high.

Enough prerelease critiquing. Here are the official details:

"A Touch of Evil, The Supernatural Game is a 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. Only by investigating the town and building your Hero's strength can you hope to hunt down the Supernatural Villain to his Lair and defeat him in an epic Showdown. Players can race Competitively to be the first to defeat the Villain and save the town, or they can work together Cooperatively to defeat a much stronger Villain. Featuring 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. A Touch of Evil is designed to create an adventurous cinematic feel as the story and game unfolds.

So grab up your Wooden Stake, stuff some shot in that Musket, and hold onto your Tri-corn Hat; no one is safe from the creatures of the night and no one can be trusted...for inside everyone lies A Touch of Evil."

A Touch of Evil is currently scheduled for a Fall 2008 release. We'll check back in with details of the game later this summer.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 25, 2008

Gears of War Board Game Announced

GearsOfWar.jpgAccording to a story on IC2V.com, the Xbox 360 Gears of War [Amazon] third person shooter franchise is slated to get a board game treatment this fall. Fantasy Flight Games will publish the title, with initial details stating that the players will take control of the Marcus Fenix and the squad of marines as they struggle to plant the Lightmass bomb to exterminate the Locust hordes infesting the underdark of planet Sera. Fans of the franchise will immediately recognize that this is the story of the the original Gears of War title.

The Gears of War franchise video gaming has a sequel scheduled for September of this year. With the board game installment focused on the first Gears of War title, we can assume that this first release will kick-off a entire franchise line of other Gears of War board game expansions. We would speculate that an expansion will also release sometime next Summer with content from the second Gears of War Xbox 360 title.

GearsOfWarImage2.jpgThe board game publisher Fantasy Flight Games is one of the most top notch publishers in the strategy board game market, and has been responsible for some pretty successfully computer game crossovers. They've brought the popular board game titles like Starcraft and World of Warcraft to the kitchen table top, and have also recently purchased rights to publish the Warhammer franchise. These are some beefy titles that take hours to play, and we really hope that they tone-down the complexity scale for the third person shooter Gears of War. But with the FFG lineage weren't holding our breath that Gears of War will have quick and streamlined gameplay.

This news comes during a week of other cross-platform gaming announcements and news: Upper Deck announced a Call of Duty TCG over the weekend, and the award wining Lost Cities launched on Xbox Live . It looks like board games and video games are making a stronger bridge than Hollywood could have ever done between video games and movies. Though, scary as it may be, they're still trying to bust down the doors into both genres, with a World of Warcraft, Halo and - get this - a Monopoly movie in the works. Oy.

We like the board game cross adaptations a heck-of-a-lot much more.

For more information please see the ICv2.com announcement. No official word yet from no the Gears of War Board Game from Fantasy Flight Games, but we'll let you know as soon as the release details.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 18, 2008

Merlin's Company - A Shadows Over Camelot Expansion Announced!

MerlinsCompany.jpgDays of Wonder has announced that the fantastic cooperative board game Shadows over Camelot [Amazon, Funagain] will grow considerable with an expansion this summer.

The original game had players draw to see which of them is a secret traitor, who strives to secretly sabotage the efforts of the group throughout the game. The new expansion includes a second traitor card for twice the backstabbing fun, and increases the number of potential players from 7 to 8. The game also ships with 7 new knight characters, a Merlin character - which we're not sure how he'll affect gameplay - and some enemy witch agents for added flavor.

There's a lot going on here. And considering Days of Wonder lineage of polished, high quality, and and fun games (Ticket to Ride anyone?) - oh baby, Merlin's Company should be good.

Here's the company line:

"Merlin's Company is an expansion for the popular Shadows over Camelot board game. It introduces a host of new characters - including 7 new knights and Merlin himself - to the Shadows over Camelot epic. The wise old wizard is now a full-blown independent character in the game, complete with his own figure. He travels the board lending guidance and a helping hand to the embattled knights.

Merlin's Company also introduces 63 new cards: the all new Travel cards - events that may occur as you move from Quest to Quest; additional Black cards, including 7 witches allied with Morgan; and additional White cards that will help you and your fellow knights in your battles against the forces of evil.

The Merlin's Company expansion, supports up to 8 players, including 2 possible Traitors, assuring that even the most innocuous Shadows over Camelot Quest will be filled with grave peril."

For more information please see the official Merlin's Company website.


Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 17, 2008

Mensa Selects Top 5 Games for 2008

HomerBrain.jpgEvery year the smartacular organization Mensa puts a slew of creative games to the test. They look for games that are fun, approachable, and that knock the cobwebs off the neglected corners of your brain unit.

Yesterday they released a list of the prize winners for 2008. From the press release:

"Mensa Select games are chosen based upon several criteria including aesthetics, instructions, originality, play appeal and play value. You don't have to be a genius to enjoy these games but you should be ready to have a great time!"

Not to taint the all happy-happy rhetoric, but as our apt friends at BoardGameNews have observed, the contestants had to pay for a fee to enter, which doesn't quite make it an open contest. Still, these top 5 have bubbled up from a list of 54 creative games meant to tickle your noggin, and that's saying something.

If you'd like more information about the selection process, or the games in general, checkout the press release.

And without further ado, the Top 5 games for 2008 as described by Mensa Mindgames:

  • AmuseAmaze [Amazon] HL Games A spell-binding word race in a letter maze, where even little words are winners. The board changes each time the game is played, as it's played, so it's never the same game twice!

  • Eye Know [Amazon] Wiggles 3D
    A board game featuring trivia with a poker twist. Players identify images, answer compelling trivia related to the image and collect cards while placing strategic bets.

  • Jumbulaya Platypus Games
    Players build new words, rearrange tiles and claim lines while simultaneously searching for a Jumbulaya.
  • Pixel [Amazon, Funagain] Educational Insights
    Don't let the situation slide out of control in this fun strategy game of slide, point, align, and win. The first player with three in a row wins!

  • Tiki Topple [Funagain] Gamewright
    A fast-paced strategy game. Players try to maneuver their secret tikis to the top of the line by playing the right combination of action cards. The player with the most points wins!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 14, 2008

Growing Hunger - the Last Night On Earth Expansion

LastNightGrowingHunger.jpgThe first expansion to our favorite zombie mash the Last Night On Earth [Amazon, Funagain] has shipped to stores. Growing Hunger Expansion [ Funagain] includes 3 new scenarios, new board segments for the customizable board, and new pieces, some of which act as a anchor for even more upcoming expansions.

Here's the deal though - the expansion has been released with some flak. The game only comes with 3 scenarios and 2 new board components, the impact of which doesn't shake the very foundation of the game. Additionally the backs of the cards don't quite match the colors on the originals, so by looking at the top of the deck you'll know if new card is about to be drawn. Players won't know WHICH card it is - of course - but for the price tag of Growing Hunger we would have expected more from Flying Frog Productions' quality control division.

For more information about Last Night on Earth's Growing Hunger Expansion please see our original preview story. Here are the official details:

"As the living nightmare of the Zombie attack continues, the bitter struggle for survival grows increasingly deadly. Desperate for flesh, Zombies swarm over the town of Woodinvale, leaving a gruesome wake of death and destruction in their path. With nowhere to hide and a renewed determination, the remaining Heroes add more survivors to their ranks and find new weapons to fight back the growing hunger of the dead.

The Growing Hunger Expansion introduces new game mechanics and three exciting new Scenarios to challenge players as well as a two-player mini-game. Take control of four new Heroes, each with a highly-detailed plastic miniature as well as seven new Red Zombies for use as Plague Carriers, Grave Dead, or to increase the Zombie Horde. New modular game board sections expand the town and feature unique buildings such as the Supermarket, Library, and Antique Shop. New game cards give Zombies a chance to steal weapons from the Heroes and add powerful Double-Handed weapons to the Heroes' arsenal, such as Garden Shears and the Fence Post.

Also included are two new full color, die-cut counter sheets adding Free Search Markers for the Heroes as well as many more fun ideas to the Last Night on Earth toolbox for limitless use with official web content or creating your own new Scenarios."

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 11, 2008

Risk: Black Ops Board Game Giveaway on GWJ

RiskBlackOps.jpgYesterday the guys over at Gamers with Jobs kicked a Risk Black Ops giveaway contest . It's a piece of cake to enter - all you need is a camera, a board game, and a dream (see details below). The game isn't even out yet so this is a pretty sweet opportunity - get off your lazzy duff and enter!

As you may recall GamersWithJobs is the group who gotten their lucky hands on a Risk Black Ops preview release, and then posted a preview of the game back in January. They liked it, a lot, and from what we've heard Risk Black Ops is going to be a fantastic update to the classic but aging wargame system.

Some of the contest details are part of the latest GamersWithJobs episode (#79) notes:

"We called and you answered! We got so many emails this week we're dedicating the whole show to them. Not only do we have new GWJ contributer Michael Zenke joining us, he was kind enough to offer a limited edition of Risk: Black Ops (the upcoming Hasbro board game) for a glorious new contest! All you have to do is send in a funny picture that involves a board game of some kind to contest@gamerswithjobs.com! What could be easier!?"

The official rules can be heard in the podcast itself at 1H 46M. Some notes: The photographs should be related to board games in some way, and the use of photoshop is legal. Have fun folks and go get 'em!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 10, 2008

Sen So Ninja Combat Board Game Arrives for Review

SenSoCover.JPGWe received TwinBlade Games' Sen So Ninja Combat Board Game in the mail in slick little dvd sized case, and we haven't been this excited to play a tactical fighting game since we first took the wrapping off Battle Tech back in the day. In Sen So, players plan their moves two turns ahead an attempt to bring their swords, throwing stars, and arching nunchucks to bear on the opposing player, who is concurrently trying to smash you're head in. Think of it as Anachronism, but with more options, and more dynamic and longer lasting gameplay. In other words, think of Anachromism but fun.

But the game doesn't just sport dueling Ninjas. Expansion packs bring Zombies, Robots and Aliens (the H.R. Giger-esque incarnations) to the table top pit of death. All of them sport their own fighting and artistic styles.

Now TwinBlade just needs to add a Bloodthirsty Clown to the mix and they'll have completed the Pentamerate of R rated movie icons from our childhood glory days. And like some sort twisted 1980's Hanna Barbara cross-over show gone wrong, they meet to fight each other like Gladiators in sandy pits for our gaming pleasure.

Here's a bit of How-To Preview we lifted from the game's official website. Feel free to mull it over while we work out a few unfinished vendettas in the arena:

And Part 2

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 8, 2008

Gisborne: a Eurogame Board Game to Avoid

Gisborne.jpgWe tend to ignore the bad releases, and as 'Critical Gamers' one could superficially complain that we're doing our readers a disservice. In reality we cull all of the crappy games you shouldn't play, silently dismissing them to the bottom of the stack.

\We hope to start talking a more proactive approach to steering you way from games.

We haven't played Gisborne (Clementoni, 3-5 players, 40 minutes) ourselves, but we can smell a frustrating and unimpressive experience when we see it coming. We've done some research and what we've found just ain't up to snuff to win moneys from our gaming budget. And we thought we should warn you.

Gisborne is a game in which players explore New Zealand during the colonial age, and though isn't necessarily a game you should completely avoid, it sports some glaring faults. The over engineered components - once sloppily assembled - don't easily fit back into their box without a heavy sigh of dismantling, and the rules take a few gaming runs to go through to fully understand. Finally, the game is only a slight advancement on the innovation scale. In the end, this is not the most approachable Eurogame - a genre of games that are meant to be approachable - so we highly suggest that you spend your money elsewhere. It seems that this game can only be recommended to Eurogame fanatics who want to stay on top of the genre.

Here's an entertaining critical look from a Board Game News' review, specifically about the game's pieces and woefully inferior packaging techniques:

"Ideally, you'll convince a mortal enemy to open the game box. You'll invite him over under the pretense that you want to settle your differences, that you want to limit future confrontation to family board games and not acid-filled scarfs and showers booby-trapped with razor wire. You'll wave towards the box in a friendly manner, inviting him to open it, while you fetch him a drink from the kitchen. Will a Merlot be good? Whatever he asks for, though, you can put it out of mind and pour a celebratory glass for yourself since his doom is near thanks to this lethal chunk of cardboard... " - W. Eric Martin's Review on BGN

Overly critical? Perhaps. In the hopes of being somewhat impartial (despite this article's name), we'll end this story with some links for you to research the game for yourself:

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 7, 2008

GamesByEmail clones classic Diplomacy with "Politics"

GBEMPolitics.JPG

The gaming site GamesByEmail has been running browser based games for years. They first hooked us with their Risk clone Gambit, which made us huge fans of the site. We hadn't had a Risk stomp like that in while. Then we were totally addicted to WWII, and played nearly 70 rounds of Axis & Allies games. Yes 70. We became A&A crack addicts almost overnight.

We've had innumerable killer 80's flashbacks on GBE without all the mess of a) having a real flash back, and b) setting up and playing the original board games. We love those original titles, but they're a cursed turbulent sea of precarious pieces which sometimes make us just wanna SMASH stuff when the dice, or elbows, or falling scarfs hit the stacks of chips and pieces like a giant deus ex machina doomsday device.

Thankfully GamesByEmail exists completely within a browser friendly environment. No downloads, no connecting emails, or running Unix listservs to auto judge gaming sessions. And over the last year the GamesByEmail labs have been working on their latest title Politics, this time brining a clone of the social backstabbing granddaddy of strategy war boardgames Diplomacy to the virtual table. And though it was just released, it's looking pretty darn sweet.

Players can either sign up to the existing games that pit strangers against strangers, or create their own amongst their group of friends. The game works entirely in a browser, which completely rocks. Not only is the map functional and colorful (and colored like a classic map from StrangeMaps), but you don't have to worry about emailing turn orders, or having an anxious panic attack while trying to formatting them properly for an auto judge. Gaming session also sport private chat options for you luring in enemies with a man hug, and then showing them just how good your letter opener is at shivving backs.

The games themselves has configurable turn length keep things timely, and includes an auto judge for detecting collisions and determining bounce back rules. It's a complete Internet based point and click Diplomacy package that runs on any machine!


Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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