April 11, 2008

Risk: Black Ops Board Game Giveaway on GWJ

RiskBlackOps.jpgYesterday the guys over at Gamers with Jobs kicked a Risk Black Ops giveaway contest . It's a piece of cake to enter - all you need is a camera, a board game, and a dream (see details below). The game isn't even out yet so this is a pretty sweet opportunity - get off your lazzy duff and enter!

As you may recall GamersWithJobs is the group who gotten their lucky hands on a Risk Black Ops preview release, and then posted a preview of the game back in January. They liked it, a lot, and from what we've heard Risk Black Ops is going to be a fantastic update to the classic but aging wargame system.

Some of the contest details are part of the latest GamersWithJobs episode (#79) notes:

"We called and you answered! We got so many emails this week we're dedicating the whole show to them. Not only do we have new GWJ contributer Michael Zenke joining us, he was kind enough to offer a limited edition of Risk: Black Ops (the upcoming Hasbro board game) for a glorious new contest! All you have to do is send in a funny picture that involves a board game of some kind to contest@gamerswithjobs.com! What could be easier!?"

The official rules can be heard in the podcast itself at 1H 46M. Some notes: The photographs should be related to board games in some way, and the use of photoshop is legal. Have fun folks and go get 'em!

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 6, 2008

WoW TCG: Stephen Colbert Puts the Horde on Notice

WoWTCGColbert.jpgA few weeks ago there were stories about a failed pitch that Upper Deck made to Stephen Colbert, who they wanted to appear in the next set WoW TCG Set Release Servants of the Betrayer. The image went around the web like wildfire, but now, after some copyright scares Upper Deck has let the artist post images of the entire card.

And it's hilarious (click image to make it go big now!) The official story can be found on multichannelnews.com.

We generally don't like when celebrities intrude on well set themes and settings - like when Perry Mason aka Raymond Burr appeared on the Flintstones - but we'd be behind Colbert and Upper Deck 100% in this case. It's a shame Colbert's agent poo-pooed the idea, 'cause Upper Deck would have had one of the most perfectly collectible mix of pop culture and gaming for 2008 on their hands.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 4, 2008

D&D Creator Gary Gygax Dies at Age 69

GaryGygax.jpgNews is going around the web like wildfire that Gary Gygax passed away in his house at 1:00 am this morning

This is definitely sad news. Gary Gygax founded the publishing house TSR, and was a major force behind the original D&D and Advanced D&D in the 1970s. He helped shaped the imaginations of our youth while we grew up in he 1980's. We had so countless days of fun playing within the worlds he created, that this news of his passing hits us like a lead brick to the chest.

After leaving TSR in the mid 80's Gary went on to form a new RPG system named Dangerous Journeys. It wasn't nearly as commercially successful of a system, probably because it sported a thick rulebook and some complicated rules. But this complication lead us down an unexpected path of liking Gary Gygax even more.

Two of us wrote to Gary himself (via his publisher) in the early 1990s asking for a Dangerous Journeys rules clarification. There wasn't an argument to be settled, we just wanted some clarity on a key element with confusing wording. Sure, label us dorks for trying, but one day we sat down bored and thought, "why not ask Gary?"

We honestly didn't think we'd get a reply, but a few months later we received a response from Gary himself - in the form of a Christmas card. Not only were the rules clearly explained, but he offered an apology for being overly verbose in the first place, and offered a hearty Seasons Greetings. Penned by Gygax himself we were floored, and filed that card away for extra long safe keeping.

Thanks Gary, for you gaming genius, creativity, drive, and for being such a stand-up guy.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 21, 2008

WoW TCG The Band. No Seriously, That's Their Name

KingMukla.jpgWe first heard about the group WoW TCG [MySpace] in a thread the official World of Warcraft TCG forums. In that thread there's a link to the band who classify themselves as Powerpop / Electronica / Rock.

At first we laughed, then we cried, then after a somewhat failed rap prologue the theme of King Mukla (TCG TDP) kicked into gear ... and we didn't know what to think. We ain't music critics, but half of us found the novelty of this music growing on us - and fast - even though we've assumed it's total side project material.

We'll leave it to you to decided if it's any good or not.

Now you can listened to the music on Myspace, but you can't download it there since the songs are embedded in that streamy thing of theirs. Another post in the WoW TCG Forum linked to this download site where you can download the stand alone mp3s. Unfortunately it's one of those convoluted sites where the actual download link is nested in chaos, so here's what ya need to do:

  1. In the center middle are three colorful letters in CAPS. Type those letters into the adjacent text field on the right, and click the Download Button.
  2. When the next screen appears, wait for the countdown near the bottom of the page to reach zero. Then click the Download button that appears there.
  3. The files are in a .RAR archive, so you'll need to download a RAR utility like Win RAR to get to em.

Enjoy!

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 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 29, 2008

Dragon Lance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight Now in DVD Form

DragonsOfAutumnTwilight.jpgWe almost did a spit-take when we heard that the first book of the Dragon Lance Chronicles Dragons of Autumn Twilight [DVD, Book] was being made into a movie.  Next to the Lord of the Rings books the Dragon Lance Chronicles might have been the most fundamental book series of our youth, with great character development an epic plot with near-perfect pacing.  The final turn of the last page was one of those sad/happy moments like saying goodbye to a good friend.

When we learned that Kiefer Sutherland would play the role of grouchy throated Rastilin, we almost took a spit take the other direction.  We couldn't have found a better actor/character match if it fell out of the sky and landed in our bird bath.

But then - shortly after - we learned the movie is a cartoon.  We have to be honest, we're not huge fans of cartoons unless its Cowboy BeBop or full motion pictures from Hayao Miyazaki (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away).  Now that the movie is out our initial speculation seems somewhat confirmed.

The Dragons of Autumn Twilight's animation barely impresses, its plot and dialog is a veritable Cliff's Notes of plot points and dialog from the book, and the pacing is like a child on ADD; rarely is there ever a moment for dramatic pause, instead the sounds and scenes are squished together into one long mess.  Each scene bleeds into the next, and no one moment seems to have have any true weight or consequence, despite the fact that it's based on one heck of a story.

A potentially good rental for the true Dragaon Lance Chronicles fan to relive their youth, or for the younger generation. This DVD is not a great vehicle to bring the Chronicles back to fantasy forefront for the 'oughts.  We recommend you instead reread the books, or watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy again for the 21st time.
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

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