October 2, 2007

WoW TCG Damage Dice Review

WoW TCG TreasureChestWe didn’t know what we should have expected from the WoW TCG Damage Dice [Amazon, Funagain], and Upper Deck accessory product that's a sideshow to the formidable WoW TCG. After all – it’s just a box, with dice in it. It’s a Box O’ Dice. Pure and simple. But to be honest, we thought it would be something at least a little bit cooler that it actually is.

The Good Points
It’s a handy little dice carrier that’s not too large and matches the artistic theme of the game, bringing some of the World of Warcraft cartoony art style alive on your table top. It really is a pretty slick looking treasure chest model... when viewed from afar*. The dice set contains both blue and red dice for assigning damage to your alliance or horde allies, and two 10-sided dice (one 1-10, the other 10-100) which work well in tandem to assign damage to your hero. In other words, the product does what it says it does without any major usability gripes.

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September 28, 2007

WoW TCG: UDE Point Crafting First Look

Upper Deck has lifted the lid off the new World of Warcraft item crafting side-plot to their World of Warcraft TCG with their first preview article on the subject: Crafting Redemption Preview: Black Felsteel Bracers. We have to admit, those are some pretty slick bracers right there.

The system itself is a pretty interesting concept, mirroring the tradeskill theme from the WoW MMORPG, and putting some destiny in a player's ability to direct the randomness of TCG collecting. But we can't help to feel that this also fuels the greedy collectible arms-race mechanic that already causes players to buy gobs of cards. Is this really for the player's benefit?

Here's how it works: each booster pack contains a UDE card which sports a code. The code can be entered into a website to unlock UDE points, a currency used on the Upper Deck Entertainment webstore. Points are exchanged for schwaggy goods aimed at making you feel good about playing the WoW TCG, including playmats, desktops, and items that be given to your character(s) in the computer-based World of Warcraft MMORPG. This is a system which has been in place for some time - since the launch of the game - so nothing new here for the avid WoW TCG fan.. But now the UDE cards also contain an additional symbol which matches one of twelve trade goods from the Worldcraft universe. Collect enough symbols to complete a tradeskill formula and you, too, are just one postage stamp away from crafting yourself some really nice epic cards to fill out your Heroes.

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September 6, 2007

WoW TCG Fires of Outland Review

Fires Of Outland Booster BoxThe World of Warcraft Trading Card Game set expansion Fires of Outland [Amazon, Funagain] was released a few weeks ago, and after the hangover of opening boxes upon boxes of new cards we’ve had ample time to put the release through its paces.

To sum it up: it’s fun, but how well does the game stack up against the other sets? And does Fires of Outland introduce enough new elements to the Heroes of Azeroth and Through the Dark Portal framework to warrant your hard-earned gaming cash?

Truth is that we’ve had some mixed feelings about it all. Read on to find are conclusions on the Fires of Outland’s Art, Gameplay, and the thoughts on the future of the WoW TCG in general.

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Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

September 4, 2007

August '07 Roundup: Starcraft, D&D 4th ED, and Fires of Outland

Roundup2.jpgSome big news went down this month. Things kicked off strong when the next installment in the A&A franchise - Axis and Allies Guadalcanal - began to take shape. Next, Margaret Weiss Productions awoke from their slumber an kicked off the covers for their upcoming retail release of the Battlestar Galactica RPG, and it's looking like it could be a solid title later this month. Then Fantasy Flight Games released a treatment on the upcoming Starcraft board game, which followed shortly after with fantastic news that the Fourth Edition of D&D will be released in Spring 2008. Holey Moley, talk about a tasty stew of news for some huge upcoming games!

This month also saw some great releases, the biggest two were Age of Empires III - which has some great community praise who are already whispering of a new classic - and the third edition to the WoW TCG: Fires of Outland. The Condottiere 3rd Edition card game of waring city states was also released, and we cannot stress enough that this little game truly shines for groups of 3-5 players.

Here’s the rest of the gaming news from August, from head to toe:

Board Games and Party Games


Collectible Card Games


RPGs

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

August 24, 2007

WoW TCG Fires of Outland Launch Links

Fires Of Outland Booster BoxFires of Outland [Amazon] was released to the masses on Wednesday, which means you should be passed-out in a sea of WoW TCG gaming cards by the time you read this. But the fun is only beginning when your post unwrapping marathon hang-over kicks in - your collection might be missing a few key cards that you didn’t even know existed, or you might be lacking some strategic ideas on how to tune your new collection to make a strong showing at the table.

Well let’s solve some of that. Here are some links for you to help you get going:

  • Our Fires of Outland Review - how could we recommend that you start out anywhere else?
  • The WoWTCG Database has already populated their Fires of Outland section. It includes an index of the 246 cards in the set, and is sortable in every fashion known to man. This is a great place to research what fashion of strength Fires brings-out of the games various classes. It’s also a great place research combos, and determine if you’re missing that One key card to round out a particular deck.
  • Our Fires of Outland: WoW TCG Expansion Previews story links to a slew of Featured Preview articles from the WoW TCG main site, sorted by class and card, and summarily analyzed for your previewing pleasure.
  • Check out the new series of Loot Cards included in this set – which has two definite keepers. Dibs on the Spectral Tiger epic mount. Seriously, hand it over.
  • Official Decklists Forum When you’re all set and finished with your new deck, post it here. Or peruse it beforehand to get some clever ideas for your favorite class, which will certainly crush your unexpecting friends on the next game night.

Fires of Outland - A Short Primer
Following the release of the original Heroes of Azeroth set, and the expansion Through the Dark Portal, the Fires of Outland installment continues to fill-out the standard WoW TCG classes, races, quests and equipment. There still aren’t any major gameplay or mechanic changes in this latest installment; hopefully that will come when the next set hits the shelves this Fall.

Outland refers to the rugged terrain which lies beyond the infamous Dark Portal - the setting of The Burning Crusade expansion released in early 2007 for the World of Warcraft Massively Online RPG. The new WoW MMORPG expansion "Wrath of the Lich King" will bring players to a new continent set in what seems to flavored with Midgard and Vikings with a mix the Undead Infestation that is the World of Warcraft plaguelands. Could be very interesting stuff, and we hope this is what's also in store for the WoW TCG themes as we roll on into next year.

Fires of Outland is now shipping from Amazon, ToyWiz, and Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

August 15, 2007

WoW TCG Damage Dice

WoW TCG TreasureChestFor all you World of Warcraft TCG enthusiasts Upper Deck has released a sideshow item in the form of a sleek Treasure Chest [Amazon, Funagain] modeled after those that appear in the online game. Cracking open the chest reveals Damage Dice which - of course - can be used to assign damage to heroes and their party members in TCG play.

It's a nicely stylized, snazzy dice carrier companion piece for a game that’s already steeping in artistic content. And when you’re not using the Treasure Chest to carry dice you can give it to your kids for bath time, or entombing their teeth for their nighttime passage to the Tooth Fairy. Other alternative uses include - but aren't limited to:

  • Transporting your RPG Dice
  • Using at as an RPG prop
  • Putting in Your Fish Tank
  • Swear Jar
  • Storing your dip (but that’s disgusting)

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Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

August 10, 2007

Fires of Outland: WoW TCG Expansion Previews

Fires Of Outland Booster Box

Fires of Outland is out! Check out our Review

It’s hard to believe that we’re already on deck for a new World of Warcraft TCG release. We gotta hand it to Upper Deck one thing: they know how to space their releases so there’s always something coming down the pipe in the near future. And now the Official WoW TCG website has started to post their series of WoW TCG Fires Of Outland set preview articles.

Outland is - of course - the lands which lay beyond the Dark Portal, and which served as the setting for the first World of Warcraft Expansion release: The Burning Crusade. We’ve included the first 10 Fires of Outland preview articles here for your reading enjoyment. However, we do have a couple of beefs with where it seems Fires is going.

First and foremost, it feels as though the WoW TCG isn’t really changing at all. New cards means new equipment, new abilities and new allies, but the game’s mechanics seem to be stuck in the mud. Sure, there’s some variety between how you construct decks for each set, for example there's some emphasis on ability removal in some sets more than others, but where are the new keywords and game mechanics? We’re on entering into the third major set of the game, and given these card previews and we’re beginning to worry that all future sets will just be a generic shotgun of new content instead an attempt to evolving gameplay with various themes.

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Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

July 18, 2007

Magic The Gathering 10th Edition Hits Stores

Magic The Gathering 10th EditionWizards off the Coast has released Magic The Gathering 10th Edition [Amazon,Funagain] - the latest installment of the granddaddy of Collectible Card Games. Yes, that’s right the tenth edition, which makes us feel so very, very old.

Every two years or so Wizards of the Coast audits their catalog of Magic cards throughout the ages and brands a selection of cards (around 350 or so) which best represents a balance of Magic the Gathering in its entirety. These Edition sets are based on cards from ages past, but incorporates some cards from the latest and greatest sets released over the last two years. The 10th Edition now forms the backbone of tournament play, and if tradition serves, it'll form a stylistic foundation for the new expansions coming down the pipe the next few seasons.

Now - we have to be honest with you: we really liked the Ravnica block, but we were a disappointed with last year’s Time Spiral and Coldsnap releases. A major draw for us are the themes of the cards which are usually set deep within Magic sets, but Time Spiral smelled too much of recycled material to keep us enthusiastic. That, and the World of Warcraft TCG entered the scene with all new content and a streamlined system – it was an easy decision to choose the WoW golden nugget over the leading brand in TimeSpiral.

But with Magic the Gathering 10th Edition we are willing to wipe the slate clean. Here’s hoping for some more exciting release when Magic the Gathering heads back to its standard Fantasy roots with Lorwyn this October.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

July 9, 2007

"Magtheridon's Lair" WoW TCG Raid Deck

MagtheridonsLairWith the ruined embers of the Molten Core glowing in a smoky pile behind us it's time to look forward at the next WoW TCG Raid Deck experience coming down the pipe this fall.

We're quite excited about the news of yet another raid deck relase, as you can tell by us looking months into the future of scheduled WoW TCG goodness with wondrous eyes. But despite our enthusiasm for the WoW TCG as a whole, not everything in its future burns hydrogen and smells of roses. Magtheridan’s Lair Upper Deck is taking both a very large step forward, and a step back at the same time. And if your glass is half empty like ours is, then unfortunately we have to warn you: the way we see things neither of these steps are confidentially placed in the positive direction.

The release of Magtheridon's Lair [Toywiz, Funagain] marks a curious leap forward and departure from the standard line of World of Warcraft raid progression. The set of raid dungeons of the World of Warcraft MMORPG have a standard ramp up in difficulty, starting with Onyxia, then The Molten Core - as you know. From here the progression continues through darker and more challenging encounters in the dragon infested spire of Blackwing Lair, the sandy bug tunnels beneath The Temple of Ahn’Qiraj, and then high above the plaguelands on the floating undead city of Naxxramas.

With the Upper Deck designers’ decisions to quickly move the WoW TCG into the new world of Outland – opened by the Burning Crusade WoW MMORPG expansion and the Dark Portal WoW TCG expansion earlier this year - there’s just no time to go back and redo all three years of WoW raid content that came before.

Quite the shame, really, because things really started to get interesting within the themes and boss battles that took place AFTER the Molten Core. We can’t say that we’re a huge fan of this move, since Upper Deck seems to be shoving a lot of fantastic content out an open window and into a dumpster. Still, it’s somewhat understandable -- the WoW TCG wants to keep some freshness and parity to the MMORPG. Perhaps there will be a time when Upper Deck goes back to recreate these older Raid dungeons, but with the accelerated progress in content of the WoW MMORPG, we’re not counting on it.

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Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

July 2, 2007

June '07 Round Up

Roundup2.jpgAs far as the short months go, June was pretty good. The WWII strategy game Tide of Iron shipped in early June just after D-Day. Some great preview news from Tannhauser followed shortly after when the game’s official trailer went live – and we gotta say: it excites the dark twisted side of us so. There’s just something about 1920’s future-tech and battling creepy demons with submachine guns that gets our blood pumping.

And of course the WoW TCG Molten Core Raid Deck lead our headlines with our hands on impressions, reviews, and news galore. This WoW TCG franchise continues to impress us while it slowly evolves over time, and we have high hopes for the next few releases this fall.

In the meantime we’re poking a stick at Carcassonne on Xbox Live – so far we think it’s great but sometimes the user community isn't always at home to match random game against. And one more mighty-large negative checklist on our ratings clipboard: where are the expansion packs? The standard title lacks gameplay diversity - even with the Rivers expansion - and this might kill the longevity and popularity of the title even before other expansion packs come out. Maybe they’ll keep it fresh with some quickly released downloadable content, but we’re not holding our breath.

Here’s the other board game news from June:

Board Games


Collectible Card Games


Gaming Culture

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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