July 18, 2006

Official World of Warcraft TCG Website Launches

WoWStarter.7.3.06.jpgThe hub for all things World of Warcraft has launched. The official World of Warcraft Trading Card Game website already has four feature articles from the game's designers. Here's where things kicked off:

"Basically, we want to give you as elegant an introduction to the TCG as possible. We’re going to do this by providing you with designer and developer interviews, art features, and preview articles each and every week until the game hits the shelves. After release, WoW TCG Online will be your hub for everything about the game. We’ll have info about new sets, strategy articles, and tournament reports." ~ From "The World of Warcraft TCG Website is Online!", by Anand Khare

There's more release content alongside Anand's opening pleasantries. A lot has been said about Upper Deck's ability to attract high quality artistic talent for the WoW TCG, and the website celebrates this instead of diving into game mechanics right away. The feature section includes interviews with WoW card artists Matt Dixon, and Jeremy Mohler. Also, the art gallery hosts four images of their card art, including: "Barman Shanker", portraying an orc with a broken bottle shoved in his face; "Vanquished" depicts a human protection warrior / paladin standing on a hillside littered with fallen combatants; "Seal of Wisdom" has s dwarven Paladin shocking the monkey out of a Troll priest; and we want some of what "Lorekeeper" is smoking.

Bringing up the rear, lead designer Brian Kibler has written his inaugural feature article about who he is, where he comes from, and what the plans are for the WoW TCG release.

"We have a tremendous supporting cast helping us out, all of whom are WoW players with a wide range of experience. It’s not just those of us in R&D who are WoW fanatics, either—people at every level of the process play the online game, from our customer service reps, to the product and brand managers, all the way to the head of the game development group. I get as many emails about Hunter talent builds and Raid boss strategies as I do about my actual work, and the morning water cooler conversations lean more toward stories about the previous night’s battleground games than whatever might have been on television."~ From "Welcome to World of Warcraft - TCG!!", by Brian Kibler

Yikes. We thought we were addicts, but imagine playing WoW and calling it your job! We can't decide if that's a blessing or a curse that feeds a ravenous addiction. Hopefully they'll take some time to pop their heads out of the MMORPG goodness to create a high quality and entertaining TCG, too. Our fingers are crossed.

We'll keep you posted of any good updates on the WoW site as they're published.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

July 11, 2006

World of Warcraft TCG: InQuest Magazine Feature Preview

WoWStarter.7.3.06.jpgWoWcards.org has posted scans of a recent WoW Trading Card Game preview article published in the latest issue of InQuest magazine. The scanned images contain all of the article's images and text from the story on magazine shelves now. There's a ton of content in here, including info on the various character classes, gaining loot, versus combat, expansions, and cooperative raid combat.

This last bit, the raid combat, stands to differentiate the WoW TCG from other popular collectable card games. Beyond the normal One vs One character deck building, players will be able to buy sealed raid decks which will include special challenges and difficult boss fights. One player will pull the strings of the bad guys, while all of the others players in your group work together to defeat the raid. If successful then the players may open a special Loot deck that comes sealed in gold foil with the raid. The loot will includes top of the line equipment to split amongst the group, used to outfit characters to make them even more powerful than before.

The article paints a rather complicated picture of the game -- there's so much content in this system (which closely mimics the World of Warcraft massively online RPG) that the final card game might be too complicated for for the faint of heart. But that's just a generalization; we haven't seen the rules yet, and the appearance of familiar content from the computer game might drive rabid fans right-on up and over any steep learning curves.

We'll keep an eye out for more World of Warcaft TCG news as we get closer to the games' October release.

Also see:

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

July 3, 2006

World of Warcraft CCG Box Art Released

WoWStarter.7.3.06.jpgA lot has been said about Upper Deck's ability to draw some major artistic talent for their upcoming (October) release of the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game. Images of the game's vibrant packaging have began to surface across the Internet in the last few days. The starter box (clickable to the right -->) is looking pretty sweet, and it acts as the basis for the art on the two booster packs. One focuses on the Horde while the other on the Alliance, both are branded with the initial release name "The Heroes of Azeroth".

So there you have it. Looks like they're sparing no expense on materials -- that starter box DVD-like case is looking pretty sturdy. Also, we expected that the WoW CCG would be smothered with cool artwork, and that's what we got. The facial expressions of the two character's is especially good.

Now if we could just see some more of the cards...

For more information on how the WoW TCG game will play (including the cooperative raids), check out our "World of Warcraft TCG Interview" story.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

July 2, 2006

June '06 Roundup

Roundup2.jpgWow, what a month. Not only did the long-awaited Battlestar Galactica CCG finally ship to stores, but there was a good-deal of board game release news. Shots of the Age of Empires board art were 'leaked' in the game's official forums, and Fantasy Flight Games kept us busy with War of the Ring: Battles of the Third Age and preview details of their upcoming Marvel Heroes board game release.

More importantly, we've been in the news for most of the second half of June, and it's been a big month for increases in our readership. For those of you new to the site - welcome! For those of you who've been with us for a while - thank you, and expect more product reviews that ever before as we roll into the lazy-gaming days of July.

Board Games

Party Games

Collectable Card Games

Gaming Culture


Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

June 28, 2006

Magic: The Gathering Online Coldsnap Beta Signup

Wizards of the Coast has opened up their sign up page for the upcoming Magic Online's Coldsnap beta program. Coldsnap is the next set (due in July) in the Magic: The Gathering release cycle, returning the CCG to the Ice Age block from 1995 / 1996. The cards of Coldsnap should work off the existing cards from the Ice Age Set and Alliances expansion. Although that doesn't really help you with the Online Beta (since participants will probably only play with Coldsnap cards ), it is good news for those who haven't thrown away the box of old Magic cards hiding-out under the hat-pile in their attic.

The beta sign up includes a 10 question quiz which is pretty tough. We recommend using the Magic card database "Gatherer" as a reference for those nitpicky rules the devs throw at ya. Also, the beta asks if you have a 3D card, which probably means that the Coldsnap beta will include the beta test of much-delayed Magic Online Client v3.0. Here's hoping, anyway.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

June 23, 2006

Hands On: Battlestar Galactica Collectabe Card Game

BattlestarGalactica.3.21.06a.jpgWe had a chance to sit down with our new Battlestar Galactica Collectible Card Game Starter Sets [IconUSA]. First impression, right away - cool packaging. The starter sets come in an elongated rectangular box, with the edges cut off to make the trimming octoganal (just like all of the paper in the show). The box holds two mini decks of 31 cards. One deck is themed with the militaristic Commander Adama, who faces-off against President Roslin who leads the other mini-deck (we'll get into more details about how these themes play in a minute). The game also has a tutorial that walks you through a deliberate sample game of mini-deck versus mini-deck. The tutorial assumes the cards are straight out of the package and in their orignial order, but if you've shuffled them around in excitement then the game comes with directions on how to put them back in their original order. Too nice.

Okay, so the enjoyment and usefulness of the packaging and instructions is fleeting in the whole scheme of things. The cards are what make this game, and if they don't hold up then there really isn't a point? With that - we have some good news, and some bad news.

ArrowContinue reading: "Hands On: Battlestar Galactica Collectabe Card Game"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

June 20, 2006

Dreamblade Demo from Wizards of the Coast

Unspeakable FreakWe have to be honest with you - the collectible miniatures game Dreamblade was announced quite a while ago by Wizards of the Coast, but we haven't covered it much here. The main reason is becuase Wizards of the Coast hasn't released many beefy yet specific details about the game, but instead released images of their miniatures. They look great, but that's the catch - was this game just going to be eyecandy?

When Dreamblade was first announced we heard reports that the game plays like chess , and then not a few days later we get reports that those people are insane, and the game plays more like Magic: The Gathering meets the tactical Anachronism CCG. Turns out that these later people seem to have their head screwed-on straighter. You can see for yourself. This online demo walks you through a few turns of gameplay. Dreamblade is shaping up into something pretty unique.

Now, although the demo is a positive step forward from Wizards, it does have some faults. For instance, when you hover your mouse over a unit the demo provides details about the unit's casting cost, attack values, etc, but these values are denoted by icons instead of text. If you don't know a thing about the game, then you certainly haven't a clue what each of the icons means (a spiral squiggly means my brainchomper has a 17 what?). The demo also asks you to select units with a casting cost of 9, yet none of these icons have a 9 next to them, and none of the icons scream "casting cost" symbology, either. It's a bit frustrating, but if you guess wrong the demo will push you in the right direction.

There are other things, too, like the lack of an explanation of defense values, special combat dice, etc. So for a tutorial, the demo falls short in some areas, and we hope that Wizard of the Coast doesn't treat the final product so carelessly. But in the end, the demo shows the game board in all its tactical glory, which is something we've been looking forward to for quite a while.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

June 6, 2006

Now Shipping: Axis & Allies Miniatures D-Day Boosters

AAM_DDayBooster.6.6.06.JPGAvalon Hill has released their latest installment to the Axis and Allies Miniatures tactical board game Axis & Allies D-Day. The new expansion adds 45 new units including: 25 Allied units, 16 Axis, new airplanes, heroes, and 4 new battlefield obstacles.

The Official Line: The assault on Fortress Europe begins with D-Day. Highlighting units and nations involved in Operation Overlord – including the debut of Canadian troops – D-Day features the introduction of battlefield obstacles: immobile, non nation-specific units like pillboxes and tank traps that add to the realism of game play. Fan requested favorites like the Supermarine Spitfire and Jagdtiger also roar into action.

The D-Day Booster Pack Contains:

  • 9 randomized, prepainted, durable plastic miniatures
  • Full-color game stat cards
  • Set Checklist
  • Rules not included.

You can grab the D-Day expansion miniatures in the form of booster packs, which are in stores now. Each booster includes 9 random models from the Rare, Uncommon and Common model distribution. The rares in D-Day are mainly new fighter planes, ground attack aircraft , and Allied armored vehicles. Axis mech forces lie mainly in the "Uncommon" rarity type, except for two rare variants of the Tiger tank.

AAM_DDayBooster.6.6.06b.JPGIf you're drooling for some multimedia then check-out the Axis & Allies Miniatures D-Day Gallery for individual images of every one of the fourty-five new units.

More information about Axis and Allies Miniatures game [Funagain], and its D-Day Booster Expansion [Funagain], can be found at Avalon Hill's official A&A Miniatures website.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

June 5, 2006

IconUSA's Lord of the Rings CCG Blowout Sale

LOTR_CCG_BlackRider.jpgA quick heads up for any of you Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game players. IconUSA is clearing their inventory and they have booster packs hitting insanely low prices of 99 cents per pack to 29 cents per pack. Starter decks for each of the blocks are also on sale for the cheap. If you're looking to expand your collection before the game goes into obscurity then now is the time to act.

The following sets are at discounted prices at IconUSA:

  • LOTR: "Realms Of The Elf-Lords" Boosters
  • "The Fellowship Of The Ring" Boosters
  • "Mines Of Moria" Boosters
  • "The Two Towers" Starter Decks and Boosters
  • "Battle Of Helm's Deep" Boosters
  • "Ents of Fangorn" Starter Decks and Boosters
  • "The Return of the King" Boosters
  • "The Two Towers Anthology"
  • "Reflections"
  • "Siege of Gondor" Starter Decks and Boosters
  • "Mount Doom" Starter Decks and Boosters
  • "Shadows" Starter Decks and Boosters
  • "Black Rider" Starter Decks and Boosters
  • "Bloodlines" Starter Decks and Boosters
  • "The Hunters" Starter Decks and Boosters
  • "Expanded Middle-earth" (Set of 3) Draft Boxes

Okay, that's quite the big clearance sale that they've got going-on. It's made us tired from typing, and that's never a good sign. Sheesh!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

June 2, 2006

Battlestar Galactica CCG Released

BBSG_starterdeck.6.1.06.jpg

Ah yes, traditionally Fridays have been our BS:G CCG days because - well, BS:G usually airs on Fridays. Tricksy, huh? This Friday we're happy to report that the Battlestar Galactica Collectable Card Game has shipped and is now available in stores!

The Company Line: The Battlestar Galactica collectable card game (CCG) brings the tension and excitement of the hit television show to your table top, where the fate of humanity is in your hands! Protect the refugee fleet from Cylon attacks while dealing with internal politics and strife. Players face off against one another as they attempt to increase their influence over the fleet, and the ever-present Cylons threaten all players!

The Two Player Starter Deck contains everything two people need to learn the game easily and quickly. Two 31 card fixed decks provide players with an exciting introductory game. The cards can be combined to build a complete 61 card deck as well. Each starter contains 10 cards exclusive to the Starter (including 5 foil cards).

Starter Contents:

  • 10 exclusive fixed cards including 5 exclusive foil cards.
  • 52 fixed cards
  • Quick start rules
  • Rule book

We've done some fishing around to find the best launch prices online for the Starter Deck and Booster packs. IconUSA.com makes life easy for us - they seem to have the cheapest price for everything, including $6.99 starter decks (36 cards), $2.25 booster packs (15 cards), and $71.60 booster display boxes of 36 booster packs. The display box's MSRP is $125.64, so that's 43% off. We hereby label IconUSA - insane. Congrats.

If they sell-out then check TrollandToad.com. They're listing the Starter Decks at $9.49 a pop (with limited stock) If Toad's sells out and you don't mind paying the full $10.99 price, then Gamestop will surely have a ton of in stock.

While you wait for your shipment to arrive you could read-up on the game's design elements. Here's a list of the game's Official Feature Articles (for your enjoyment we've pruned the articles not related to BSG CCG gameplay):

Enjoy!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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