March 31, 2008

New World: A Carcassonne Game - Coming Soon

CarcassonneNewWorld.jpgAh, how we love Rio Grande Game's Carcassonne and it's 72 different flavors. It looks like someone spilled Mayflower on the latest incarnation entitled New World [Funagain], which has players exploring and settling the North American east coast frontier. Slated for June this installment couldn't have come at a better time as we ride our John Adams HBO miniseries fanaticism (we're suckers for historical dramas). The game also seems to sport some snappy tiles, at least in comparison to the drab Carcassonne title The Discovery, which really didn't do it for us esthetically.

The company line:

"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, roads, 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!"

New World is slated for a release in June 2008, and is available for preorder from Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 26, 2008

Descent: Road to Legend Released, players See the Light

Descent Road to Legend.jpgFans of the epic adventure series Descent: Journeys in the Dark [Amazon, Funagain] are really in for a shock: someone leaned on the epic lever and pushed it from a stout '9' to and inconceivable '50'. Descent: Road to Legend [Amazon, Funagain] lays a topographical map over a series of dungeons, adds lieutenants who sack cities and cause mayhem under the evil players control, and potentially extends campaign sessions to weeks at a time.

Yes weeks. The game ships with a set of rules and boxes that aid players who need to store the state of the game. Truly some epic adventuring going on here.

We won't talk your ear off by regurgitating too many details. For a full list of features, and links to various preview articles from Fantasy Flight Games, please see our story from early march: Descent: Road to Legend Previews Galore. Its definitely worth checking out.

Here's the company line:

"In the darkest of night burns the glimmer of hope. When foul Overlords rise up to blot out the sun and enslave all living things to their infernal will, great heroes always rise up to oppose them... and now, you must be those heroes.

Venture forth from the peaceful town of Tamalir and journey into the darkness beneath the earth. Search for clues in the twilight beneath the trees in forgotten forests. Brave the horrors of treacherous swamps. Uncover new treasures, learn powerful new skills, and rise to dizzying heights of power.

But beware... the Overlord will not sit idle...

Descent: the Road to Legend includes:

  • New campaign rules for your Descent adventure!
  • New terrors to explore and new adventures to be had! Swinging ropes, nourishing fountains, outdoor maps, sheltering trees, and more!
  • Deadly new powers and plots for the Overlord, including terrible new Lieutenants!
  • Exciting storylines -- save the world, or fall to darkness.
  • New silver and gold power dice for heroes and monsters of incredible power.
  • Fighting the Overlord in person with new Avatar rules!"

Descent: Road to Legend is now shipping from Amazon and Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 25, 2008

Lost Cities Card Game Coming to Xbox Live

LostCities.JPG

Update: Team Xbox has also posted a hands-on preview of Lost Cities for Xbox Live

Ask just about any crazy-eyed gamer what their suggested 2-player game is, and they'll quickly respond "Lost Cities" and shove a copy of the game in your hands and as you to give it a go. Seriously, there's a cult following behind this way, and no because it's some obscure unapproachable piece of culture like the Rocky Horror PIcture Show. Nope, instead people enjoy lauding this game because it's good. It's really, really good.

And now Shacknews reports that Lost Cities is coming to Xbox Live.

When released, it will be part of an extensive library of Xbox Live board game and card game titles, including the slated Talisman, Wits &Wagers, Puerto Rico, Magic the Gathering (recently suggested), and the already released Carcassonne, Settlers of Catan, and, well - Uno. Yes Uno, which you may shrug-at, but whos success inspired this new-aged Xbox Live board/card gaming craze.

We're excited about the explosion of these types of games on a digital / social platform. However, as we watch our gaming stack digitizes before our eyes, it would be also nice to see new titles come to this medium as well. There has been a lot of backwards-porting work, but some new content that isn't revisions of games past would really make our day. Culdcept Saga was a nice step, but we want more like the greedy game consumers we are.

No word yet on when Lost Cities is due to be released. We'll let you know as soon as we know. Until then feel free to drool over the screenshots.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 24, 2008

Thurn & Taxis Expands Twice with All Roads Lead to Rome

TnTRoadToRome.jpgAfter a long drought of eurogame goodness the second boxed expansion to Rio Grand Games 2006 award winning Eurogame title Thurn and Taxis hits stores today! Following the successful first expansion Power and Glory, Thurn & Taxis: All Roads Lead to Rome [Amazon, Funagain] actually includes two new games in one box.

In the new scenario "The Audience", players compete to deliver their 5 clergymen to Rome for an audience with the Pope in St Peter's Basillica. This of course requires a new board which paths a trip starting in Germany, passes through the Alps, and on into the many cities of northern Italy. The second "Offices of Honor" optional scenario adds new gameplay mechanics around office holders in the game, and can be combined with the game's prior scenarios.

The official details are below. Those looking for further info can check out the Thurn & Taxis: All Roads Lead to Rome instructions [pdf] on the Rio Grande Game's website. The instructions are somewhat confusing, they include some typos, and a few mistranslations at points (from German), but you should get the overall feel of the game.

Here's The Company Line:

This 2nd expansion for Thurn and Taxis is actually two in one!
In Audience, each player sends 5 clergyman to attend an audience with the Pope in Rome. The players endeavor to make certain the carriages with the clergyman arrive, but not too early! A player who arranges for his cardinal to arrive at just the right time will score more points than the player who manages the same with a simple priest.

In Offices of Honor, the players try to use the office holders as evenly as possible, in order to receive different office tiles. The more different tiles a player can return at one time, the greater benefits he receives.

Whether you play Audience or Offices of Honor or both together with Thurn and Taxis, they will take you and the game to a new dimension.

Contents:

  • 1 game board
  • 5 wooden carriages
  • 26 office tiles
  • 4 summary tiles
  • 12 victory point chips
  • 20 audience tiles
  • 1 rule booklet

Thurn & Taxis: All Roads Lead to Rome is available now from Amazon and Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 19, 2008

Wits & Wagers: the next Xbox 360 Arcade Party Game

WWBox.jpgNorth Star Games today announced that their award winning triiva game Wtis and Wagers [Amazon, Funagain] is getting Xbox Live Arcade adaptation. Dubbed " the first trivia game can you can win without knowing any trivia", the Wits and Wagers gameplay centers around a player's ability to wager on which player suggested answer lands closest to the true answer to an outlandish obscure trivia question. The game is a cross between the opening bid round of the Price is Right and seven rounds of archaic Jeopardy questions, like "In what year were Boston Baked Beans first canned?" for instance. 700 of these questions are included, and chances are you don't know the answer to any of them, unless your some sort of obscure trivia Rainman.

The Xbox Live installment of Wits & Wagers has been marked as "Coming Soon." More information can be found on the Hidden Path Entertainment website, which is the company behind this console adaptation of W&W.

Overall we liked Wits & Wagers [our review] but felt the bits and pieces lacked luster. In fact they seemed downright cheap. The Xbox Live version of the game might fix this issue, but we fear the interface - which we haven't seen - could be somewhat cumbersome compared to the physical baseline. The joy of Holding and toying with poker chips and felt betting mats is always more fun in real life than in a simulated Xbox Live world, and for this overall simple title there really isn't anything gained by a computer overseeing the correct placement of the pieces and rules.

The product description includes notes about Xbox Big Button Pad support, which we believe is the same controller that shipped with the Xbox Adaptation of Scene It? trivia. A nice touch to keep up support with what seemed like a one-shot chincy item. Perhaps it will rise from the ashes and be the controller of choice for party games for hte next few years (until the next Xbox comes out in 2009..?)

Wits & Wagers is the fun trivia party game where you don't need the right answers to win! For each question, bet on the answer you think is closest to the truth, whether or not that answer is your own.

With up to 25 hours of unique questions, local and online play, plus the ability to link one group of local users to another group via "couch-to-couch" multiplayer, Wits & Wagers is a party waiting to happen.

Get 700 questions, great character costumes and dance moves, catchy music, achievements, leaderboards, support for the Xbox LIVE Vision camera, the Xbox Big Button Pad, and more.

Based on the award-winning board game of the same name, Wits & Wagers brings trivia and party fun to Xbox LIVE Arcade on your Xbox 360.

Key features:

  • Supports 4 local players or a total of 6 players online
  • Supports "couch-to-couch" multiplayer with more than one person in an online game per console
  • Supports the Xbox LIVE Vision camera
  • Supports the Xbox Big Button pad

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 13, 2008

Board Game Help for those Estranged by Risk Addicts

Riskitus.jpgWe received a letter of help from a friend, who we'll anonymously name Beth. Beth is soon heading on ski weekend getaway with her husband and his school friends, and every year the gentlemen carve up the world over a table of of Risk while the women sit there and roll their eyes.

She recently asked if we had any game suggestions that both Risk addicts and non Risk advocates would enjoy. We came up with the following five games that hopefully span the interests of warmonger and their spouses, or at least are should serve as a stepping stone game toward a halfway point.

Now we know that Risk players can seriously hardcore in their quest for world domination, especially if they have a ceremonial tradition of a game every year. So with our selection we wanted to ensure that our suggested games were quick to learn, and either Risk-esque, or have a conquest theme involved. Game selections which are furthest removed from Risk's themes will be quick to play, letting Risk fanatics slap down a board and get their fix afterwards.

ArrowContinue reading: "Board Game Help for those Estranged by Risk Addicts"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 11, 2008

Descent: Road to Legend Previews Galore

Descent Road to Legend.jpgPublisher Fantasy Flight Games is getting ready to ship its latest addition to the popular Descent: Journeys into the Dark [Amazon, Funagain] fantasy adventure board game. In all other earlier installments, the adventures have dug deep, down into the earth to explore dangerous dungeons filled with all sorts of baddies, pitting themselves against the evil player-controlled overlord. In Descent: Road to Legend [Funagain], things will go above ground for the first time, interconnecting many dungeons in an epic battle of heroes versus evil.

Games will take weeks. Yes, we're talking epic weeks. Thankfully the game will ship with mechanics and tools that you can use to set aside the state of the game to play later, including boxes for each player to store their cards, character sheets, etc, and a worksheet that should allow groups to easily record and reproduce the state of the game.

In true stellar pre-release news fashion, Fantasy Flight Games has released 7 lengthy preview articles, and recently just published the expansion's instruction booklet (pdf). Here they are with a topical description of each:

  1. The Quest for Adventure: Kicks things off with a descriptoin of the new random dungeon elements, and how players can pursue various kinds of quests across the world.
  2. Talon Man: The Overseer - a player who pulls the strings of the bad guy - now has some new hands in the world: his lieutenants. These guys can chase down the heroes on the overland map, and even lay siege to towns - something the players have to fight against to ensure the Overseer doesn't become too powerful to handle.
  3. Home Sweet Home: Information on what the adventurers can do when they head back to town for refueling, training, and beers.
  4. Lord it Over the Heroes: Introduces the expansion's plot cards, showcased specifically around the Beastman Lord Overlord. It seems his father didn't hug him enough when he was younger. Or maybe too much - it's hard to say.
  5. Mordrog Lord-Smasher, Champion of Terrinoth: Gets into the meat and bones of hero advancement, using an axe-happy Orc as an example. As a special note the designers have decided to keep the starting out heroes weaker than in prior Descent installments, but open the door for more growth than before.
  6. Packing for the Road to Legend: Details packing up the game to play for later sessions. This title can lasts weeks, so getting this right is very important and FFG seems to have put a considerable amount of thought into the process. The game ships with boxes to store player sheets and cards, as well as a sheet that does a quick inventory of the state of the board (which you can then dump back into the main box). Very nice stuff, considering many people don't have a table they can just set aside and leave alone for weeks at a time.
  7. From the Bat-Cave - introduce new monster elements such as monster types and four new level grades. And the monsters have been overvhauled to boot. The article uses the bat-tastic Razorwing as an example for these mechanics that will affect 20 monsters in total. A hint is also made that this expansion will be required for all future expansions, as the new monster mechanics will be used in so far un-announced expansions.
To say the Descent: The Road to Legend is huge doesn't quite put it into perspective. This expansion should not only shake the foundation of the agame, but create an epic adventure that could last weeks at a time, and then beyond that it's replayable! Oh my.

Unfortunatley looking over the rules we fear this game may have hit the 11 on the complexity scale just like the World of Warcraft board game, but if Fantasy Flight Games can pull it off with high fun factor then they could have the first monumental release of 2008.

The Descent: The Road to Legend [Funagain] expansion will require the Descent: Journeys into the Dark base set [Amazon, Funagain] . The Road to Legend is currently slated to ship in March, 2008. We'll let you know as soon as it hits the shelves!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 7, 2008

Horus Board Game Coming Soon from Mayfair Games

Horus.jpgThe publisher Mayfair Games has had some hits on their hands recently. As we've noted The Pillars of the Earth was one of our favorite titles from last year, and the recently released Settlers of Catan 4th Edition seems to have been pretty well-executed reemergence, too. And now the most recent Lascaux card game was applauded by one of the gaming industry's most noteworthy critics.

Soon Mayfair plans to release Horus, another casual (read interesting and family friendly) game set in ancient Egypt. Details so far are light:

Can you seize your destiny and reign supreme over the land of Egypt? Discover your inner Pharaoh with Horus™, designed by H. Jean Vanaise and coming soon from Mayfair Games.

Horus uses a unique combination of tile and card play to create a delightfully casual yet engaging game with surprising strategic and tactical depth. Beautifully designed tiles feature ancient hieroglyphics, and the playing pieces evoke the deities of this fascinating culture. Horus is easy to learn and play, but is full of intrigue and player interaction. Ever changing, always different, you will find mastery of the Nile delightfully elusive.

Be on the lookout for Horus to hit stores soon in March.

Yes - Mayfair says March, but the latest from Funagain Games places this new board game release somewhere in the April timeframe. We'll keep you posted as more details emerge.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 28, 2008

Last Night On Earth - Avioid The Mansion Scenario

LastNightOnEarth.jpgLast night we sat down to play the Last Night on Earth - our favorite zombie board game to date - and something bad happened: we didn't have fun. Why? We had the unfortunate event of randomly drawing the Manor House scenario, something that we'll ensure won't happen again.

This scenario pits 4 nimble axe toting heroes against 16 shuffling zombies. The goal: prevent the sea of zombies appearing on the cusp of the board from reaching the mansion in the middle. If 9 zombies set foot indoors before the sun rises (some 15 turns) then it's lights out. Game over. You lose.

It all boils down to this: there are just too many zombies to fight, and there ain't no way to kill 'em all. As soon as one dies, another appears on the edge of the board, walking in the dead Z's footsteps. While this is great for theme, it stinks for balance. Due to the combat mechanics of the game - a hero has to roll doubles on two dice to kill a zombie - the heroes quickly become flooded with beaten zombies, but not killed zombies. Their only chance is to pick up some key weapons drawn from a random deck, but they have to reach the fringes of the map to successfully search for weapons, knives, and supplies. Spending the time moving and searching means even more zombies make their way to the Mansion, setting up forts with kitchen tables and couch cushions.

Sure the heroes can use their bodies to attract zombies away from the Mansion (zombies have to move towards adjacent heroes), but they soon fall due to the mass mob and the nature of the fight dice. And once it's down to three heroes things just start falling apart fast. Even the Zombie player was having a pretty lame experience , and felt sorrowful as he tore the intestines out of the heroes and wore them as hats.

It got to the point that we thought we had done something wrong, or played the game in some stupid way, so our group played it again; the heroes lost 7 turns in the second time around, too.

We've had lots of great times with Last Night on Earth, and we hope it remains a mainstay in future, including the Growing Hunger Expansion coming in the next few months. But we'll be sure to ditch the Mansion House scenario when it comes around next time.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 26, 2008

Ticket to Ride: The Card Game Preview at BGN

TicketToRideCardGame.jpgThe Ticket to Ride Card Game [Funagain] was officially announced by Days of Wonder yesterday. Intended for a smaller group of 2-4 players when compared to the original Ticket to Ride games, this card game variety ditches the board - which makes it perfect for gaming on the go - while still maintaining the enjoyable route building and color matching theme.

Players draw route cards and collect train cars of specific colors, and play them in a similar draw-two or play-route turn mechanic that should keep things steaming along quite nicely.

The game will also sport new gameplay mechanics which match the card game motif and offer what could be some surprising depth. Colors that players use to lay tracks may solidify them as a current color leader, and make it difficult for another player to claim routes requiring the same color. Its a land grab of colors and routes that could have players weighing the benefits of laying may smaller routes earlier in the game instead of saving up for the big ones at the end. This mechanic is balanced by a train robbing effect where a player can aggressively attack and dismantle routes that other players have left unprotected.

How's this done? Welll Check-out the Game Preview: Ticket to Ride Card Game on Boardgame News [link]. It explains it all, and more, and includes some great shots of the art of the cards.

The Ticket to Ride: Card Game is slated to ship in May, and is available to preorder from Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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