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

August 1, 2008

Critical Gamers' July 2008 Gaming News Roundup

RoundUp.jpgAnother month of gaming down and five more to go. This month was pretty busy on the release front. The Settlers of Catan 4th Edition expanded with Catan: Traders & Barbarians, the new World of Warcraft Adventure Board Game was released, and the Merlin's Company Expansion finally ratcheted Shadows Over Camelot to eleven.

Meanwhile we're still ga-ga over the release of D&D 4th Edition last month. The first module was longer than we expected, which is good in many ways but we're lagging a bit behind on our progress through the second module Thunderspire Labyrinth. The third one is just around the corner, too -- the whole thing seems like more D&D content than we ever imagined, and if they keep on publishing top notch materials liek these, then D&D 4th edition should have some staying power in our group.

That's the bright side of the issue, now here's the dark: with the Closing of Gleemax, it seems as though Wizards of the Coast's digital department has fallen on hard times, and now the D&D Insider tools may be in jeopardy, too.

In other dark news we're still awaiting the release of Ticket to Ride Europe for Xbox Live Arcade, that was slated to ship on Wednesday. That's last Wednesday. Here's hoping it comes out sometime this month... though we probably shouldn't cross our fingers.

What We're Playing

Board Games

Card Games

Collectable Card Games

Gaming Culture

Gaming News

Party Games

RPGs

Variants

World of Warcraft TCG

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

July 11, 2008

WoW TCG: A Brief Look Back on Two Years of Gaming

HeroesOfAzerothStarter.jpgThe Hunt for Illidan is the third and final installment which completes the Burning Crusade Block. We can only assume the next block starts up in the Fall with three new expansions, which we assume mirror the new Frozen Throne expansion Block to release alongside the MMORPG expansion slated sometime near the end of 2008 (all things willing).

But today is now, and with this second year of the WoW TCG coming to an end Upper Deck has started to flex it's tournament muscles. Starting with the North American Continental Championship, Upper Deck will introduce a new WoW TCG Constructed Tournament Type: Block Constructed, in which only the cards released in Burning Crusade Block's are allowed. For the record that's March of the Legion, Servants of the Betrayer, and the new Hunt for Illidan.

We're not huge on the Tournament play ourselves. Too much stress, too far away, and we like to spread our gaming attention around to different titles rather than go die-hard and torso deep into just one title.

But that doesn't mean we're not paying attention. Upper Deck feature writer Jeremy Blair has written a great article "The Burning Crusade Block" that takes a look at the themes of the two different blocks. It serves as a great review of the intention of each block, the state of the game today, and where the game might be going in the future.

It's a hefty article that's definitely worth your time for a relaxing read over the weekend.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

June 27, 2008

WoW TCG: Hunt for Illidan Preview

HuntForIllidan.gifThe final set release in the second World of Warcraft TCG cycle is slated to hit stores next week, and Upper Deck has once again given us a nice introduction to the key cards that will set the theme of The Hunt for Illidan.

The following official feature articles were rolled out over the last few weeks, and though these are mainly Rare Blues which are supposed to be hard hitting and slightly over powered, we have to say we like what we see. Most of us participated in last week's Hunt for Illidan sneak peak event, and this set should take the game to some exciting new places without burning any bridges. Best yet, it's going to be here in our hands next week!

Until then take the a nice relaxing weekend and mull over the nitty details of these few select cards from the set of 250+:

ArrowContinue reading: "WoW TCG: Hunt for Illidan Preview"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

May 21, 2008

WoW TCG Official Card Sleeves Review

WoWTCGDeckSleevesAlliance.jpg

Flash in the pan gamers might not care about material things, but Collectors love to keep their cards in tip top shape. True die-hards shuffle their cards without bending them to ensure lasting value, or precisely position their fingers to pickup each card without peeling back or wearing corners. But still - the normal dealings of collectible card game gameplay devalues their babies no matter how careful players and collectors are.

We're somewhat with these obsessive folks, and we originally tried Ultra Pro Deck Protectors to our disappointment. They were cheap, see-through pieces of .. plastic. Sure, they protected our cards, but they were wrapped in a frictionless, floppy baggy that made shuffling a trial of dexterity. Even worse, cards tended to rotate with the slightest vibration in the floor, or fly off tables with a simple toss from the hand. The cards were near impregnable, will give them that, but as they arched through the air in their protective pouch, onwards down into the dog dish, we wondered: is all this really worth the trouble?

Protecting our investment became a chore more than feeling of pride. Isn't gaming supposed to be fun? Then Upper Deck released these bad boys.

The official World of Warcraft TCG Deck Sleeves [Horde, Alliance, Neutral] come in 75 a pack - not 40 sleeves like the leading brand. That means one pack of these things will cover your entire deck and side deck. Quite nice. And though they're slathered with a pretty slick Alliance or Horde emblem on one side, that's not the best part.

The best feature of these cards is that the back is textured. It makes shuffling a snap, and it keeps the cards from hitting mach 3 when they land on the table.

ThumbsUp.jpgConclusion
What seemed like a token sell-out product from Upper Deck churns out to be a killer hit. Sure the deck sleeves seem like a little thing, but isn't it hte little things in life that we're supposed to stop an appreciate?

Darn right.

Edit: These used to be available at the Upper Deck Store, but no longer. You can find them at Amazon.com. If they hit the Upper Deck store again then we'll let you know!

Rating: 4 out of 5 (our rating system)

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 21, 2008

Call of Duty Trading Card Game Revealed

CallOfDuty3.jpgWe were shocked over the weekend when we heard the first details on Upper Deck's latest TCG line: Call of Duty due out this fall. We're some serious WWII buffs, and we've been playing Call of Duty computer / console games since they first immersive installment

The Call of Duty TCG has been dubbed a "Real-Time Card Game", which has players throwing down cards from officially preconstructed decks to maneuver and fire three soldiers in a player's squad. Soldier types include regular infantry, commandos and snipers, with each of the 8 prepackaged squad decks containing soldiers \from various national forces of the WWII.

The game has been designed so that matches last around 30 minutes, and every so often during a game a player can throw down a card that pauses the combat and forces the players to stop their real time to play to resolve an event of some sort. However it seems like most of the time players will play cards in real time, without the stuffiness of standard turn / interrupt mechanics, which could keep games chugging along nicely.

We're a bit put off that Call of Duty seeming shuns the idea of booster packs (see below.) Sure, for some a title truly shines as one-time investment in gaming materials with the purchase and play of predesigned decks . But we absolutely love the theme of customizing decks with your own collection of cards, and this could seriously harm the longevity of this title in our eyes.

The official details can be read on the Call of Duty TCG official webpage, which includes a FAQ. We've lifted a few of the more important questions from there page and place them below for your reading pleasure:

Do I need to purchase booster packs or other random items to play the game?

Call of Duty® Real-Time Card Game premade Squad Decks include everything you need to play the game right out of the box. To get the full playing experience, you may want to get all eight Squad Decks and the Deluxe Set.

Want to play a high-quality card game, but don't want to buy booster packs? This is the game for you!

...

How does the game work?

Each player starts with a squad of three soldiers in play. Each soldier has a different role. When a soldier dies, it can periodically respawn.

Players use "move" cards to ideally position their troops around the board: snipers like to hang in the back, commandos want to get up close for some melee action or to use grenades, medics want to help out with their rifles from covered positions until they're needed, and so on.

"Fire" cards are the main method of attacking. Snipers have a long-range attack, while others have various ranges that are based on their primary weapons. "Cover" cards can help avoid fire.
Examples of different soldier types are:

  • American Commando
  • British Paratrooper
  • French Resistance Medic
  • German Sniper
  • Italian Radioman

The Call of Duty TCG is slated for a Fall 2008 Release.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 3, 2008

WoW TCG Servants of the Betrayer

ServantsOfBetrayerBoosterBox.jpg
Servants of the Betrayer Booster Boxes
Box of 24 Boosters [Amazon, Toywiz, Troll n'Toad]

Servants of the Betrayer Boosters
Individual Packs [Amazon, Funagain, ToyWiz]
Packs of 3 [Amazon]


The second set in the Outland series of WoW TCG releases is now in stores! WoW TCG: Servants of the Betrayer introduces a new hero type to the mix: The Traitors. Playing a betrayer unlocks some pretty powerful and aggressive cards, but heroes lose all other trait abilities. Thankfully this set includes some pretty exciting replacements, and should bring quite the interesting twist to deck building potential.

Additionally the Aldor and Scryer factions with their Inspire and Sabotage abilities continue where they left off in March of the Legion. You'll have even more interesting possibilities on that front, too. With so many options the WoW TCG is really opening up for a variety different play styles. It's hard not to get excited. Seriously. If you're not then check your pulse, cause you might be dead.

Please see our other stories for more Servants of the Betrayer information:

Upon release we've found stores packed with booster packs (19 cards), and boxes of boosters, and preorder boxes of starters (Starters slated to ship April 15th) for sale in various places and in various forms. But no Starter Decks at release? Maybe they really don't exist.

We'll keep the list at the top updated as much as we can for the next few weeks. Enjoy!

The Company Line:

"Prince Kael'thas Sunstrider and Lady Vashj grow in strength, extending their reach across Outland as they corrupt the land. They twist the energies of the Nether and drain the waters of the Zangarmarsh. Who dares to confront the might of the Sunfury, or face the wrath of the naga?
Will you stand against them or betray your allies? Decide quickly-before your fate is sealed! You are not prepared!
New changes are taking place in the 5th Expansion titled Servants of the Betrayer. New Configuration! Find 4 additional cards in each pack for the same price! that's a total of 19 Cards Per Pack!! Along with this a New Consumable Loot item will be randomly inserted into booster packs providing better chances of upgrading your Online WoW Toon!

Fans will enjoy a once again Art-Filled Set of Rich and Detailed Illustrations from the WoW Universe as they have come to enjoy with each set thus far. UDE Point Cards will also be found 1 per pack that can be used at the UDE Rewards site in exchange for Special TCG Cards, Promo Materials, and Online Upgrades only available through this redemption."


Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 28, 2008

WoW TCG Servants of the Betrayer Previews Wrapup

ServantsOfBetrayerBoosterBox.jpg
The Servants of the Betrayer Preview Weekend is upon us, and so the exciting conclusion of the class preview articles from Upper Deck's official website comes to a close. And we really like what we see. The new standard heroes look pretty sweet in this set, sporting some pretty slick flip abilities. But even more interesting is that they contrasted by the new traitor heroes, who do similar things but more aggressively. Overall the traitor abilities look pretty darn powerful, and they should be since Tratior Heroes lack any other specializations, and their abilities are a flash-in-the pan release and they may not be expanded up on any time soon.

Some people might see that as a drawback - a waste of cards that might sit dusty in their collection. We welcome it. After the first three set releases we began to become wary of a lack of specific themes in the sets. Things seem to be improving, though. The Aldor & Scryer lineage which started in March of the Legion, continues on in Betrayer. And now we have some focused Traitor content that can be very, very interesting and unexpected ways.

And the game hasn't even touched the foundation of the heroes' tradeskill abilities yet.

Here are this week's feature articles. For information about the Druid, Hunter and Mage, checkout WoW TCG Servants of the Betrayer Previews Week 1.

Class Articles:

Paladin

  • Wrath of Turalyon: Commander Michael Goodchilde, Lelora Sunlancer, Wrath of Turalyon
  • Seal of Betrayal: Crusader Michael Goodchilde (traitor), Lelora the Dawnslayer (traitor), Seal of Betrayal
Priest
Rogue
  • Evasion: Resssa Shadespine, Jonas White, Evasion
  • Gut Shot: Ressa the Leper Queen (t), Jonas the Red (t), Gut Shot

Shaman
  • Totemic Recovery: Ixamos the Redeemed, Kil'zin of the Darkspear, Totemic Recovery
  • Totem of Decay: Ixamos the Corrupted (t), Kil'zin of the Bloodscalp (t), Totem of Decay

WarlockWarrior
  • Shield Slam: Fallingstar, Lionar, Unbound, Shield Slam
  • Bloodbath: Fallenstar (t), Lionar the Blood Cursed (t), Bloodbath

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 10, 2008

Eye of Judgement Sale at Amazon

TheEyeOfJudgement.jpgMost of you should be familiar with the The Eye of Judgement [Amazon] when we wrote about the game a few weeks ago, but here's a quick referesher incase you forgot. The Eye of Judgement is a PS3 Trading Card Game that uses "Augmentented Reality" technology, which is wizz-bang marketing rhetoric for a visual code on your cards that unlocks in-game cards with the use of the game's camera. The end result: a physical collection of cards mixed with visual battle royale of animated creatures and spells duking it out on your giant TV.

Well good news this daylight savings morning: the game has come down in price, by a lot: Amazon discounted the Eye of Judgement to just $47.00 American. That includes a base set of cards, the camera that is 'The Eye' and a booster pack, marked down 33%! Quite the sweet little deal for those who've been drooling over this somewhat price game since October.

Here's the official details:SW_Chess.jpg

"Developed by Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios, JAPAN Studio, The Eye of Judgement presents a new style of gameplay where collectable trading cards, embedded with a CyberCode, are brought to life in the 3D game through use of an innovative "9 Fields" battle mat and Playstation Eye. Players compete by selecting a card and placing the coded card in front of the Playstation Eye for their respective creatures to come to life and battle on screen. Players take turns placing cards as they jostle for control; the winner is the first player to conquer five of the nine squares of the "9 Field. Players have four ways to play The Eye of Judgement: single player against their PS3, against an opponent in two-player mode, against an opponent online, or letting the PS3 play out a round with the cards the player owns. The Eye of Judgement comes with a starter deck of 30 character and spell cards manufactured by Hasbro. Pre-constructed decks and booster packs, sold separately in stores, can be purchased to strategically build the perfect deck using the 110 cards unique cards available. The Eye of Judgement is a socially engaging title that will appeal to gamers of all ages and abilities More than 100 different characters and spells will be offered via additional booster packs and pre-constructed decks, available at major retail chains. ESRB Rated T for Teen"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 25, 2008

UGO Sits Down with Magic the Gathering Online v 3.0

MTGOnliner.jpgAny Magic Online fan frustratingly knows a MT:G Online face lift is a long time coming. The game's current engine has been in the same clunky state nearly-since it first launched, with a confusing and archaic interface that was only tolerable because of it's adaptability to new rules, and because - honestly - Magic The Gathering is such a great game.

It seems that the next installment of the client is coming out "soon", and that's definitely good news. It aims to make games cleaner, easier to understand, and just plain more enjoyable.

Yes, we know that Wizards of the Coast has said the the engine is "coming soon" for quite a while now, but we're starting to really think it's true - and it looks gorgeous.

UGO recently got to sit down with the client. Here's some of what the review site said:

"And now Magic Online is poised to ramp up the standards with the much anticipated and very long awaited version 3. Players have been chomping at the bit for this latest update and several delays in the release have only made the masses more anxious for this long promised third edition. However, after checking out a demo of version 3 at the New York Toy Fair this week, we think it's definitely worth the wait. Wizards has indeed been listening to the players and taking diligent notes. With version 3, the user interface is revamped to allow players to customize the in-game "real estate" to their liking. Stability issues that plagued previous incarnations of the game will also be worked out. After all, more players online should only make the game better, not bring the whole thing down, right? And players can now buy cards and event tickets in game, instead of having to log onto a separate site. These improvements along with other on-going tweaks currently being tested, should give players a smoother, more streamlined game."

Seems like any day now. Really.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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