February 12, 2009

Rubik 360 Revealed as a Puzzling Sphere

The Rubik 360 was revealed to the world last week with a rush to fanfare. When we heard the latest puzzle is series of concentric spheres with colored balls in the middle, we thought it was pretty darn interesting. But to see it, and now hear it shake and rattle, the mass of plastic detracts a bit from the puzzle. We're pretty sure that it's not built with cheap materials, but it instills the feeling that it is.

Hopefully the puzzling aspects of the device outweigh the hamster ball vibe. At least the puzzle is complex enought that it won't ever be solved by a simple iPhone App. See for yourself -- here (above), a fan unwraps it for the first time.

The Rubik 360 should hit shelves sometime mid summer. To tide you over until then, also checkout this interesting Time Magazine video interview with Erno Rubik, creator of the Rubik Cube and the Rubik 360.


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January 7, 2009

Steam: Reinvisioned Age of Steam comes March 2009

SteamBoxCover.jpgMartin Wallace - the original designer behind the railroad empire titles Age of Steam (2002) and the board game adaptation of the Railroad Tycoon (2005) - has been hard at work on a two year renovation of the Age of Steam franchise. Simply named Steam [Funagain], the title will include revamped rules, new pieces, and components compatible to the slew of original Age of Steam expansions.

The game will also ship with two different rule sets. The 'basic' rules are designed for groups looking for a quick (45-60min) railroad builder, while the 'Standard' rules are for more advanced sessions, and include auctions, tighter money management, and infrastructure costs.

More details about the rework can be found in an Alex Yeager (Mayfair Games) Steam Production Diary on BGG where he discusses some design decisions they made in the redevelopment, and answers questions and concerns of Age of Steam fans.

Here are the details from Funagain Games:


"Take charge of a railway company. Build track and deliver goods to make your railway the best.
Includes maps of New York and Germany's Ruhr Valley. The game's components are compatible with previous editions
  • Players: 3 - 6
  • Time: 90 - 120 minutes
  • Ages: 10 and up


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January 1, 2009

Critical Gamers' December 2008 Gaming Roundup

RoundUp.jpgHappy New Year!

Ok, now exhale. It's ok -- the slew of holiday parties is over, so relax and let the drumstick hangover set in. Don't fight it! There you go. Nope, that wasn't a kick and you're not pregnant, that's just grandma's pecan pie repeating on you. Ok, inhale again.. but slowly.

Thankfully there were tons of games that released in December to ease the burden of these next few digestive winter months. Battlestar Galactica hit table tops in Decmeber, just a month before the final season airs, the cult hit Talisman received a substantial facelift, and with the release of Chicago Express we finally saw the emergence of Eurogame that's once again worth your time. Plus, the WWII tactical slugest "Tide of Iron" expanded once again, and that's always a good thing.

Looking forward to January, we'll be keeping our eye out for more details on the upcoming Age of Conan board game, and keep an eye peeled on what's next for World of Warcraft Minis, have a review of that franchise as well, and start looking toward the significant Empire Total War PC release.

Stay frosty till then.

Board Games

Card Games

Cheap Deals & Sales

Collectable Card Games

Gaming Culture

Gaming News

Party Games

RPGs

World of Warcraft TCG


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December 16, 2008

Are You Sure Your Dice Are Random?

Part 1
Part 2

Who knew that our dice have been so inadequate after all these years? We sure as heck didn't. Not until we came across this video on youtube a couple of weeks ago, anyway.

Turns out that no only have our dice been made of crappy material, rock tumbled into near obliteration, and sloppily pushed through quality control, but they aren't even random. Bastages!

If you've already clicked the movie then you'll notice that the GameScience owner knows way more about dice than we've ever though was humanly possible. He's in love with his job, and speaks with conviction, but we couldn't just take his word for it before posting up the flick. We wanted to test the goods ourselves.

So we picked up a GameScience Dice Set on Amazon.

Wow. You can totally tell that these things are the real deal. They stop on a dime, feel sweet, are perfectly random, and look gorgeous We've never even thought much about dice before, and now we're fanatical about these things.

We took them for test drive in our Wow Minis session the other night, and we cringed when we had to dip into the dice that came with the game's base set. They're such crappy crap in comparison to the Game Science ones. People were pawing for the GameScience dice hand over fist, and refused the older dice whenever possible. Get those things away. Unclean!

If you're only into Eurogames and playing Six Sided Dice Games then the GameSicence Dice probably aren't worth your time. But if you're into to RPGs or Mini Games like we are, then GameScience dice have absolutely no equal, and are simply the best upgrade around.

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November 24, 2008

Critical Gamers 2008 Holiday Gift Guide - Party Games

HolidayBuyersGuide.11.15.06.jpg

For more great gift ideas across all genres of games please see our
Holiday Gift Guide Index.

Now while we love a board and some strategy in most of our games, they're not the right fit for a social evening. That's where party games come in - they tickle the exhibitionist side of everyone, and promote social elements of gaming in a far stronger light than the cerebral mind-game of positioning and placement. Most importantly, they make us laugh our buttocks off.

We're not going to lie to you; the releases in 2008 weren't very friendly to the party gamer. Sure, you could suck it up and buy the heavily commercialized PartiniTravolta.jpg, but it's just the rehashed/ reboiled essence of decade-old Cranium repackaged under a new publisher, and we simply can't suggest that to anyone.

So for this year's guide we revisit our favorite Party Games. These titles still top our table even after numerous repeat plays, some over the span of years, and that's saying something. So as much as this is a Holiday Shoppers List, also consider these choices our Best of Party Games Eva' list, too.

ArrowContinue reading: "Critical Gamers 2008 Holiday Gift Guide - Party Games"

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November 23, 2008

Critical Gamers 2008 Holiday Gift Guide - Wargame Board Games

HolidayBuyersGuide.11.15.06.jpg

For more great gift ideas across all genres of games please see our
Holiday Gift Guide Index.


In our third volume of our 2008 Holiday Gift Guides we present three substantial wargaming releases that hit store shelves this fall. Not only are these AAA titles, but they spread three levels of complexity and they're so new that not many folks have gotten their grubby mits on them yet.

Let us also say this: 2008 was a great year for revisiting Wargames from our past. Patton.jpgThere are numerous titles that were long lost and forgotten, including two of our selections this year. But now they've not only been reprinted, but in many cases the baseline of the game has deconstructed, revised and rebuilt. While this is often dangerous and sometimes the end product is mired in filth, the titles released in 2008 have been bright shining stars and very successful.

Enough talk, here are our selections for Best Wargming gifts for the 2008 Holidays:

ArrowContinue reading: "Critical Gamers 2008 Holiday Gift Guide - Wargame Board Games"

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November 22, 2008

Critical Gamers 2008 Holiday Gift Guide - Strategy Board Games

HolidayBuyersGuide.11.15.06.jpg

For more great gift ideas across all genres of games please see our
Holiday Gift Guide Index.

In part two of our Holiday Shopper Guides we look into gifts for the Strategy Gamer. These are the folks who grew up playing Chess, Stratego, and the classic Diplomacy, and are now ready for evolved games with better themes and potentially deeper gameplay.

Most of these games are for the more serious gamer who in their mid-teens and up. If you're looking for a title to fit the younger generation or pickup a mainstream game then you should checkout our 2008 Family Games Holiday Gift Guide, which lists some greats games that are more relaxed and interest a wide range of player types. For Rodin.jpgthose of you looking for strategy war games: we ask you to checkout our War Game Holiday Gift Guide for 2008 which runs down our list of the best war gaming gifts for this year.

But those who want some great stand up strategy games then look no further. We've got quite a list here, including many critically acclaimed award winners that'll satisfy any strategy gamer when they tear off the wrapping paper come late December.

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November 20, 2008

Critical Gamers 2008 Holiday Gift Guide - Family Games

HolidayBuyersGuide.11.15.06.jpg

For more great gift ideas across all genres of games please see our
Holiday Gift Guide Index.

We once again kick off our annual series of Board Game Holiday Shopper guides with probably the most difficult of gaming archetypes: The Family Gamer. Our goal was to compile a list of fun games that span the disparate interest levels of younger players, teens, and adults where challenge and creativity is more interesting than following the rules.

Here's our most important criteria for the choosing games for our Holiday Board Games Guide for Families:

  1. Games that are interesting for adults, too. Even though we recommend these games to families, we still want play any and all of these games because they're fun for us despite the fact that we're in our 30's.
  2. Games that are simple to learn - but yet interesting and offer a quite a few levels of depth. They have to be rewarding for everyone who comes to the table.CatanMap.jpg
  3. Games that keep everyone involved from the first turn to the last, unlike the traditional family games from our past - like Monopoly.
  4. The games come to a conclusion in about an hour so they're easy to budget time for, and you won't feel that board game hangover as you burn the midnight oil.

There's no surprise that this list jives with many characteristics of Eurogames which came out of Germany in the 1990's - since they were designed for exactly this type of gaming. Also, these games listed here would be great for non families, too, like any social board game group looking to get together a few times a month to play games and just hang out.

And here's our list of Family Games for the 2007 Holiday Season without any further ado:

ArrowContinue reading: "Critical Gamers 2008 Holiday Gift Guide - Family Games"

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September 11, 2008

Spore: Get Some

Spore.jpg

Spore is out!

We haven't been writing about this game before release, for a few reasons:

  1. It's not a board or card game, but a PC Game - the horrors!
  2. It had so much prerelease hype that it was bound to not meet such high expectations when it launched earlier this week (and it sooo doesn't); and
  3. We weren't quite sure that folks you and us would be interested.

We'll you darn well should be because Spore [Amazon] is a really wonderful thing.

If you haven't heard anything about Spore and it's promised riches, here's a quicky summation:

Spore starts you off a one planet in a galaxy of millions, which has just been hit by a comet that has deposited life first life into its oceans. The gameplay kicks-off with you in the control of a small organism as it attempts to fend for itself as a little bugger in a very, very large pond. You'll direct your cute cellular self as it swims away from the bigger mouths trying to consume him, and toward the smaller pray for food, or steer him around the ecosystem of the early oceans collecting plant matter like a cellular Pac Man.

You can customize almost every facet of the creature in a very powerful and simple to sue creature creator. You're almost design this creature out of clay, pulling the spine here, attaching spikes, eyes, mouths and antennae there, etc. Each element you add alters the the creature's ability to swim, defend itself, attack and eat. You can even choose if your creature is a herbavore, carnivore or omnivore. The combinations are nearly endless.

As you continue to play you'll continue to evlove your creature by dding more expensive body parts, changing its shape, etc. And you'll keep this this until it's complex enough to evolve legs, and climb up of the seas. This is where the gameplay shifts to a tribal face where you beging to evolve your creature's social skills with your kin, and then technology, and eventually you'll evolve your creature into the space age.

Yes, the game spans the life of your creature from the dawn of time on your home planet until it can venture out into that galaxy of millions of planets and start new colonies of its own. Watch out though, there can be other hositle creatures created by other players (like us, for instance) that are waiting to eat you in the much, much, larger pond of space.

We haven't played enough of the game to do a full a review, but we're giving it a preliminary 4 stars out of 5 after having toyed with it for the last few days. The game is entirely approachable, strokes the creative side of your brain with a comb made of feathers, and is incredibly fun rewarding. Check it out:


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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.
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