February 19, 2008

Magic: The Gathering Coming to a PC/Xbox360 Near You

MagicTGRavnica.jpgTrading Card Games on Windows and console systems seems to be all the rage these days. But this news is substantial.

via GamingReport.com:

""We're excited to bring the Magic brand to new platforms and give our fans new ways to experience this great property," said Jared Gustafson, Brand Director for Magic: The Gathering at Wizards of the Coast. "It's partnerships like these that will advance the strategy games category and transform it to meet the needs and desires of today's digital gamers.""

Magic: Online is getting pretty dated, and the "new" revision has been in the work for years now. Years! Like two to three. The fact that Wizards of the Coast hopes to expand their enterprise onto multiple systems leads us to believe they're finally getting serious about bringing the game into the digital forefront. Good for them, and good for us. Now Upper Deck just needs to make an online game out of the World of Warcraft TCG franchise and we'll call it a clean sweep.

Oh wait.

Tomorrow we promise to get back to some board gaming news, but for today this was too big to pass up.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 18, 2008

Saga Release Date Set for MMO RTS / TCG

Saga - the PC based Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) Real Time Strategy Game (RTS) with Trading Card Game elements (TCG) not only has more acronyms than an attack submarine's diagnostics guide, but should also set the bar pretty high for the budding TCG / Computer Games market.

Also don't confuse Saga with Culdscept Saga. As we reported a few weeks ago, Saga is one of the most anticipated TCG games this year, and soon we'll all be able to get our own hands on the final project. Saga is slated for release March 4th, 2008.

We do have some reservations at this point mainly stemming with the uncertainty of the quality of the game at release. Saga is produced by a somewhat unknown gaming house who's flown under the radar in most computer gaming sites thus far. MMO fans know that release week for a new game is chalk full of server crashes and client issues. Additionaly their website is extraordinarily bare bones website (almost a blog) for an online-only enterprise, and the graphics are pretty low-key and dated even for an expandable engine. But the proof is in the pudding, and maybe all these things will melt away when the mayhem starts in a couple of weeks. We'll keep you posted as the title launches and the reviews start rolling in.

Until then check out these Saga links:


Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 12, 2008

The Eye of Judgement (...and Culdcept Saga)

EyeOfJudgement.jpg

When we posted our story about Culdcept Saga last week - the Xbox 360 title that's TCG meets Board Games - we didn't mean to turn a cold shoulder the already established Eye of Judgment [Amazon] franchise on the Playstation 3. The Eye is something that any TCG should at least poke their nose into, because it really is a whole new world of gaming.

The truth of the matter is that none of us in our group actually own a PS3, and we didn't want to hype something with ground-breaking and potentially gimmicky mechanics (more later) when we very-well knew we'd never get to play and break down the gameplay ourselves. But then we got questions and concerns after our story last week: 'If you're covering Culdscept Saga, then you're ignoring the console-based TCG war going on right now!' And we have to admit, we were wrong to not to post at least one story on the franchise until now. Yes, we're admitting error - mark your notebooks. It was a poor editor decision that we hope to fix starting right now.

First and foremost some resources: If you need a full breakdown of the game mechanics then checkout the Eye of Judgment Wikipedia Site. It contains the key details of the gameplay. Also, check out this review from Game Trailers. Watch and listen as you read on.

Eye of Judgement is a TCG played on a 3x3 mat in front of your TV and PS3. The map is fought over as creature cards jockey for position across the field, moving and orientating themselves to guard against and exploit potential flanking maneuvers, and capturing spaces of verying colors. The game's 'thing' is a camera - called The Eye - that's included with the base set. When attached to the PS3 the Eye overlooks the special game board . And no, this is not photo-evidence device designed to prove to an online opponent that you actually have a card. Oh no, it's so much more.

When everything is setup properly you can see your cards reflected on the screen, and the mat is replaced on-screen with the map of the match. Because the game board is a filled-in version of the mat on screen, the PS can skin the board any way it likes.

Here's the kicker - each card, sold in stores in booster packs, contains a special visual pattern encoding on the card. When shown in front of the camera the game unlocks a creature shown in 3-D on the TV, hovering over the card in real space. In front of you is a 2D board with cards, and on your screen is a mix of reality and virtual creatures akin to R2D2 and Chewbacca playing chess in Episode IV.

The Eye of Judgment is one of those crazy idea elevator pitches that just might work. It's different and new, and it looks [em]really[/em] cool. We'll let the VG review sites fill you in on how well the game pulls it off.

How does it stack up against Culdscept? Well here's the deal: Culdscept is one bundle of 450 cards at a price tag of 40 bucks. Currently there aren't any expansions slated for release, so it's pretty much one shotgun blast of balanced cards meant as a single stand alone release. Meanwhile, The Eye of Judgment comes with a stock of 100 cards, and will be expanded by new set releases and booster packs of random cards of varying rarities, just like a standard TCG / CCG release.

One is a game release, the other is a new way of life. Should these games be compared head-to-head? We think: no. They each have their own place in gaming.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 4, 2008

Culdcept Saga - Board Game meets TCG for the Xbox 360


Due out later this week Culdcept Saga for the Xbox360 mixes a 400-card set Trading Card game with a turn-based board game with Monopoly undertones. We've been totally addicted to the demo on Xbox live all week since downloading the demo, and we can see how this game will make a great translation to the multiplayer. Not only is there a relatively deep gaming aspect, but the ability to ante and win cards online is.. well it's awesome really. The movie above is a developer walk-through of one of the levels that you should really take a gander it. Sure, it doesn't seem all that exciting to watch, but playing the game is quite the experience. If you're into casual games and TCGs, and have a bunch of friends on Xbox Live, Culdcept S. seems like just the gift to get us through that dry spot between Christmas and Spring.
Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 1, 2008

January 2008 Roundup for Critical Gamers

RoundUp.jpg

We've finally made it through the holiday feasts of December, and we're starting to game at full speed again.  Thankfully we feel like we have a strong foundation of titles to work through after that line of great board game releases last Fall.  Coupled with the World of Warcraft TCG Raid Deck: Maghteridon's Lair this may have been the heaviest month of gaming we've had yet.

Oh and by the way, in regards to Mag's Lair: some people have had an easy time dispatching this four legged beastie from the depths of hell, and we've seen the complaints every which way in the WoW TCG forums about how the raid doesn't scale to challenge those groups with good card collections.  But we've taken matters into our own hands, and have crafted-up some Maghteridon's Lair house rules to even the playing field.

With these rules Magtheridon's Lair might be our favorite raid deck release to date - it's more lethal than the 1/1 Whelp-happy Onyxia's Lair, and has a stronger consistent theme as the epic grind of the 10 bosses of Molten Core.  And considering how well the March of the Leigon set release was, we're thinking the World of Warcraft TCG isn't some passing fancy.  This is a solid TCG series.

This month we're looking forward to getting our hands on the Tide of Iron expansion: Days of the Fox and fighting some intense tank battles through the expansive north African wilderness.  We're also looking forward to hearing more about the Heroes of Might and Magic Kingdoms massively online webgame, which definitely seems like the looker.  And it just so happens that our interest in Travian is starting to fade - you probably won't see it on our "What we're playing" list next month.  Speaking of which...


What We're Playing:

January's Board Game News:

January's TCG and RPG News:

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

January 23, 2008

Culdcept Saga Interview Reveals All in 20 Minutes

In his latest podcast Gaming Steve sits down with Nobu Taguchi, localization produce for Culdcept Saga from Namco Bandai Games.

Due out in early February, Culdcept Saga merges a TCG oozing with Japanese culture with a board game, then squeezes into disc-form to be eaten by your Xbox 360.

It sounds like just our thing. The game sports a single player campaign mode, and online play, where players can unlock cards in either mode. With nearly 500 cards there are going to be a lot of collecting going on, including a betting feature where players may ante a number of cards in both offline and online bouts.

Culdcept forgoes the booster model to level the playing field, and that’s cool with us; 500 cards is a lot for a single game release, seeing as that’s nearly two sets of or normal TCG / CCG releases.

The interview picks up 43:00 minutes into episode 68 of the Gaming Steve Podcast. Don’t miss it, and be sure we’ll keep you posted of news and reviews of other Culdcept Saga as we near release. More information can be found on the Culdcept Saga Wikipedia page.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

January 14, 2008

TCGPlayer.com Names SAGA Online Most Anticipated Collectable Game 2008

The tcgplayer.com readership were asked which upcoming TCG they're looking forward to the most. They're response: Saga, an upcoming persistent-world Real Time Strategy Game with Trading Card elements.

Slated for release sometime this year, this upcoming fantasy PC game tasks players to build armies, conquer new lands and build up kingdoms. Mixing in elements of other online management games such as resource collection, trading, city management, and alliances, the massive battles going on left and right in this hybrid of a game could be quite promising. There are very few online RTS games out there, and the idea of making it a collectable game to boot really tickles our fancy.

But not so fast. Just like the Saga graphic (above) things aren't all bright n' sunny. Delays and a somewhat dated graphics engine leave us a bit skeptical. We admit it's hard to assert this point too strongly though, since the 2D static Travian is one of our favorite games to play right now. It's all in the gameplay (almost), so we'll just zip-it on the graphics engine until we get our hands on it and start smashing stuff.

ArrowContinue reading: "TCGPlayer.com Names SAGA Online Most Anticipated Collectable Game 2008"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

January 10, 2008

WoW TCG Magtheridon's Lair Deck Is Out!

MagtheridonsLairAlright WoW TCG players, it's time to determine how bad-ass your heroes really are -- Upper Deck has finally shipped the third in a line of Cooperative Raid Decks for the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game. Magtheridon's Lair [Amazon, Funagian] brings one of the first raid encounters of the Outland to the the TCG, where players team up to take down the Pit Lord Magtheridon in his very own prison.

We're pretty psyched about this one.

Now killing a 'man' sleeping in his own jail cell doesn't sound very noble, even if the man is a 3 story half dragon pit fiend. But in the scheme of things it's for the greater good; in the WoW mythos Magtheridon's Blood is being used to create an army of Fel Orcs to serve Illidan, the grandmaster jerkhole demon who's become the capital evil burden of Outland. The death of Magtheridon means Illidan won't have his army to act as a shield, and thus be severely weakened and open to attack. If we were to take wild stabs in the dark - then tackling Illidan in the Black Temple will be the next Raid Deck release in the Outland series.

The floating undead citadel of Naxxramas is rumored to be the next Azeroth-based WoW TCG Raid Deck release (following the line of Onyxia and Molten Core).

MagtheridonLairFieryPits.jpgBut enough back story, we gotta start playing. Like the other Raid Decks Magtheridon comes with his own set of Loot Cards to act as a gold foiled reward for defeating the raid. Now Upper Deck hasn't yet finished previewing the cards - they're usually pretty lethargic about prerelease news and details- but you can check-out the complete list of rewards thus far at WoWTCGDB.com, which has always been on top of the latest card details as they're released.

We're quite giddy over this one. Here are the brief Official Raid Deck details:

Play as the powerful pit lord Magtheridon and his minions, and defend your citadel from the foolhardy heroes who crave your treasure! Or, form a raiding party with your friends and try to defeat the deckmaster's ultra-powerful Magtheridon deck! Each Raid Deck expansion set requires players to build their raiding parties using cards from the World of Warcraft TCG.

We'll have our thoughts on the Magtheridon's Lair raid deck as soon as we've put it through its paces. For those of you who dive-in before that: Good Luck!. This is one helluva raid in World of Warcraft, and you're going to have been pretty darn smart in your strategies if you're going to tackle this beasties before he goes bezerk.

For more information on the World of Warcraft TCG Raid Decks checkout our previous coverage of Onyxia's Lair and the Molten Core.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

December 26, 2007

WoW TCG Magtheridon's Lair Raid Deck - January 8th, 2008

MagtheridonsLair

The WoW TCG Magtheridon's Lair Raid Deck has been released, and is now available from Amazon and Funagain Games. For more released information click here.

Boy howdy - it feels odd to start typing 2008, but it's just around the corner. And on just the other side of the new year comes the long awaited - and delayed - release of the WoW TCG Magtheridon's Lair Raid Deck [Amazon, Funagain].

We can't wait to get our hands on it and stomp our overachieving heroes into juicy bits of goo. With every expansion release our decks have become more lean and mean, violent (we love the Horde) and powerful. The Molten Core was a challenge, but we still tackled it with our 5 elite heroes built off the first two sets: Heroes of Azeroth and Through the Dark Portal. Since then our decks have become even more stack with powerful cards from the Fires of Outland and the latest March of the Legion expansion, which really takes the game to the next level. Hopefully Magtheridon's Lair can keep pace.

Here are the the official details :

"You’ve taken down the dreaded Onyxia, and you’ve taken Ragnaros’s mace from his dead grasp. But what are you going to do against a pit lord so powerful that Illidan has to keep him locked up? Well, you’re going to have to figure it out quickly, because on January 8, the third WoW TCG Raid deck is hitting shelves. Players will have to figure out how to deal with Channelers, Abyssals, Manticron Cubes, and one big, angry Demon. You’ll have to try new strategies and work around the exciting new mechanics if you’re hoping to take down Magtheridon to get your hands on some of the twenty exclusive new treasure pack cards. "

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

December 16, 2007

Wizards of the Coast Interview: D&D 4th Ed, Magic Online, and Gleemax

We used to listen to Gaming Steve a lot for our PC Gaming industry news, but then he sort of feel off the edge of the Earth. Now he's back, and in his latest informative Podcast he speaks to Randy Buehler of Wizards of the Coast.

Yes his theme music is a bit.. over the top. But man - it sticks around in our head. The discussion covers topics such as:

  1. Gleemax and it's upcoming Board Game Portal
    The online collaborative social networking site for games will have mostly Avalon Hill Titles at launch (Axis and Allies, Vegas Showdown, RoboRally, and Guillotine) but hopes to expand into a major hub of all gaming including other publishers as well.
  2. Codename: "The Goblin Game" [link] Beta
    The upcoming web browser turn based multiplayer game which seems similar in vein to Travian, except games are designed to last about 2 months and will have varying end goals.
  3. Magic Online v3.0 and the D&D 4th Edition Online Initiative
    Wizards of the Coast has found found that most of the people who play online are those who've played the original titles in the past, but have aged and don't get to meet up with their friends to play games together all the time. Their goal is to create a place where all of these players can meet up once again to play not only old classics, but new games as they're released. The overall vision is to have an interactive gaming metaverse, where players can trade online collectibles from one game for items of another. Can't wait to see how this pans out.

You can find the entire Gaming Steve Podcast here, including the timestamps of all the Wizards of the Coast discussions - in case PC Gaming is not you're thing.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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