September 8, 2010

Ascension Deck Building Card Game is Now Shipping!

AscensionChronicleOfTheGodslayer.jpgWhen it comes to deck building games then you're got two mainstay choices: Dominion and Thunderstone. Both have the perks, both have their drawbacks. Ascension Chronicle of the Godslayer hopes to bring enough new things to the table that it'll be the next deck building card game of choice.

So what's does Ascension address? Easier setup, a dynamic tableau of cards to purchase and monsters to attack, permanent cards that sit out to give you constant buffs, and a fantasy theme and gameplay designed by Magic the Gathering tournament players. Don't let that last bit scare you -- the game is quick to learn and start playing.

The main deck that serves up the items you buy or monsters you kill has 100 different cards types (redundant cards bring the deck up to 200 cards). There are multiple avenue's to 'score points' so players can focus on different overall strategies like killing beasties, beefing their economy, etc. Therefore while players are in pitched head to head contest as they race for victory they might have different paths to their own specific victory, butting heads orthogonally instead of grinding it out head-on.

Plus your tactical move on your turn will be guided by the current 10 face up cards in the common area (when a card is purchased from the 10 face up cards then its replaced with another drawn randomly from the deck of 200 cards). No two turns are alike, and no two games are alike.

The endgame is dictated by a pool of crystals that players pick up as rewards. When the last crystal is removed, the game is over. Count up your little gems, and the points of certain cards in your constructed deck to determine the winner. Easy Peasy.

We picked up our copy and the game is honestly looking pretty sweet. Check out Bored to Death TV's video review and Game Salutes Overview for more details on the game.

Here's Ascension's nitty gritty official details.


Ascension is a fast paced deck building game designed by Magic the Gathering Pro Tour champions Justin Gary, Rob Dougherty, and Brian Kibler, with artwork by Eric Sabee. Ascension is a deck-building game where players spend Runes to acquire more powerful cards for their deck. It offers a dynamic play experience where players have to react and adjust their strategy accordingly. Each player starts the game with a 10-card deck comprised of eight Apprentices and two Militias. Apprentices provide Runes when played, which can be used to recruit Hero and Construct cards during the game. Militias provide another type of resource, Power, when played, which is used to defeat Monsters. The game revolves around the Center Deck that contains Heroes, Constructs, and Monsters.

Contents: 200 cards, game board, storage tray, 50 deluxe honor tokens, and rulebook.



Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

September 3, 2010

Civilization 5 Shakey Cam Previews

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Part 1
Part 2

Civilization 5 - the PC Game not the Board Game - is slated to ship to stores later this month. Now, if you're not already a Civlization fan then you're in for a treat... but the above movie is probably not for you. Instead checkout our previous story Civilization 5 Preview Debuts at E3 for a nice introduction about what to expect from a game int his venerable series.

So with the utter flop of the recently released turn based strategy game Elemental War of Magic, CIV 5 has become our bright shining hope for strategy games on the PC. Shoveled in behind the standard hype machine facade of any PC game releases is the fact that every installment of the Civilization franchise has soaked up at least a hundred hours of our time. Now throw in the potential for multiplayer (which Civ 4 had but we had horrible problems with it) and we have our strategy game fix for probably the next six months.

And This new Civ installment looks fantastic. Everyone makes note of the lack of unit stacking and the new hex setup that sprawls armies across the country side. That surely will add depth to the tactical aspects of the military game, but other aspects of the strategic game look amazing as well. You can now further customize your nation beyond the standard leader selection with the new Social Projects feature. These are elements that you can pursue that add even more traits to the various military, cultural and economic aspects that steer your civilization. Ever installment provides 'a new, dynamic diplomacy system' and for once Firaxis might have nailed it. Autonomous City States will be scattered throughout the world, each adding narrative elements to the map by requesting help from other civilizations, or via trade requests, etc. It's a sort of quest/reward system that compliments your nations epic journey and adds sideshow, short term goals to your overarching strategy.

Checkout the videos above for more information. They're shakeycam but they're so worth the muted sound and unstable bounciness. And if the graphics of the living world look this good here then they should be stunning when you're playing the game in full 1900x1200 detail in just a few weeks.

Enjoy the weekend!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

September 1, 2010

Critical Gamers' Board Game Roundup August 2010

AnAEurope1940.jpgAugust was an interesting month. It was a mix of upcoming and new releases. First up the game announcements which we're few but pretty big. Civilization the Board Game was released to the public for scrutiny. The title looks pretty complicated, lots of bits and dynamically randomized setup, but if it captures the feeling of the Civilization line of PC games then we're all aboard.

Also filed under major preview news is the new Dominion expansion Prosperity. This installment is a large format box of 20+ cards and turns the series' theme toward the bean counters of yesteryear. Cards will be focus on snowballing your personal wealth, which, of course, allows you to buy more and more powerful cards. It would be interesting to see how this balances with the traditional sets when random cards are selected across the full breadth of Dominion, especially since some of the Prosperity cards cost an arm and a leaper to purchase.

As for the releases? Oh boy. We've pined over the idea of shoving Axis & Allies Europe 1940 into Axis & Allies Pacific 1940 and then blacking out for a weekend-long WWII fest -- and now we can. Europe came out just over a week ago. Also hitting the shelves is a cooperative board game that's one part Pandemic and one part Fantasy. Shake vigorously and hold on because Defenders of the Realm is a swank title in a big box. Finally, after delays and misleading promises, the deck building game Thunderstone got its first expansion Wrath of the Elements. We'll put putting it through its paces on Tuesday. Can't wait.

Here are all the stories for September, in neat order:

Board Games

Card Games

Gaming News

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

August 30, 2010

Space Hulk Death Angel the Card Game Up and Coming

SpaceHulkDeathAngel.jpgCooperative games are all the rage these days. So are card games in a box. And now with the latest Space Hulk board game, and the release of Starcraft II, nothing says loving like a mechanized space marine pumping ravenous aliens full of lead until their primordial goo.

Space Hulk Death Angel looks to be a mix of all these things. The game supports 1-6 players in a difficult ballet of cooperation, and the threat assessment. Players will have to chose between either shooting down hordes of vicious aliens, supporting their allies or moving closer to the final exit of the game. Action cards for these options are selected and placed face down, and the resolved all at once. Choices made on one turn may not be selected for the immediate subsequent around, so choice wisely.

The actual baddies, the Genestealers, are controlled by a deck of cards instead of a player fulfilling the role of the antagonist. While this may make them slightly unguided in some facets, it also allows everyone to be on the same side. If the team loses then there isn't a gloating dork with Brain 1 sitting in the corner; you can only take the anger out on yourself. We like that.

Like the recently released Space Hulk board game the new Death Angel Card Game sounds amazingly simple to play, and from what we've heard, a damn hard experience to win. All this cooperation against the face of adversity is brought to you by designer Corey Konieczka who hammered out one of our favorite cooperative games ever: Batltestar Galactica. The theme, the mechanics, the ability to support up to 6 players, and all for 25 bucks makes this upcoming game shine bright solid gold on our radar. Too many other titles top out at 4 seats these days and for 60 bucks. It's an annoying trend we wish would cease immediately.

For more information about this upcoming release, check out the following FFG preview articles:

  1. Announcing Death Angel, a Space Hulk card game coming this summer
  2. A Look at Action Cards in Death Angel
  3. A Look at Genestealers and Movement in Death Angel
  4. A look at combat in Death Angel
  5. A look at locations and events in Death Angel
  6. A preview for Death Angel
  7. The rules for Space Hulk: Death Angel - The Card Game are now online!

And here's the official description:


"Players choose from six different combat teams, each consisting of two Space Marines with different abilities. Each player receives three Action cards for each of his combat teams. After all of the Space Marines have fallen into formation, prepare for the first wave of Genestealers!

Action resolution keeps all players involved while the overwhelming odds inspire them to work together to survive. The Action Resolution Phase consists of each player revealing and carrying out their chosen Action. The lowest number card goes first, which means Attacks are resolved after Supports. Support tokens enable Space Marines to reroll, so make sure to cover your fellow Blood Angels!

The Genestealer Attack Phase happens after all the Actions have been resolved, so hopefully you thinned out the swarms since you have to roll higher than the number of Genestealers in the swarm to successfully defend. Finally, an Event card is drawn to spawn more alien adversaries. Once all the Genestealers have emerged from the darkness, its time to move forward, drawing a new location card. And then it's back into the fight!"


We'll let you know as soon as this puppy starts appearing on shelves.


Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

August 26, 2010

Axis & Allies Europe 1940 Board Game Hits Shelves

AnAEurope1940.jpgSweet day in the morning. Axis & Allies Europe 1940 [Amazon, Funagain] is out. This is huge. We love the latest and greatest A&A games. Sure some of the components have sucked it up (getting rid of money, really?) but the maps, the units, the sheer scope have only gotten bigger.

Now we're diving down to zoom in on the multinational European Front. Tanks, massive amounts of infantry, an African side show, strategic bombings, full on amphibious invasions, the works.

And of course the main event. You can ( and we immediately will ) combine last year's A&A Pacific 1940 with the new Axis & Allies Europe 1940 to make the largest, most involved, and most intricate A&A game yet. Even bigger that the Monolithic Behemoth that is the Axis & Allies Anniversary Edition. So if you missed out on that limited run release, then just scoff off a laugh and pickup these baddies.

For more information on A&A Europe 1940, checkout our previous coverage:

Here's the official line


"With the invasion of the Low Countries and the allied evacuation from Dunkirk, the German army is poised to march on Paris. Axis & Allies Europe 1940, designed and developed by Larry Harris, builds on the success of the acclaimed A&A Anniversary Edition. France appears for the first time in Axis & Allies and will represent a new playable ally! Italy will be included as a second Axis power along with Germany. The UK, USSR and the US find themselves vulnerable at this early and uncertain point of the war. Two new combat units that debuted in Axis & Allies Pacific 1940, Tactical Bombers and Mechanized Infantry, will also appear in this game.

Axis & Allies Europe 1940 features an oversized board that measures 35" wide by 32" high. With over 550 combat units, deluxe game components and local storage boxes, this game will raise the standard established by A&A Anniversary Edition. All new rules for neutral nations, naval & air bases, and convoy disruption will add even more depth and historical accuracy to this giant game.

Finally, this deluxe theater-level game is designed to play together with Axis & Allies Pacific 1940. Together these two games will create the greatest Axis & Allies experience to date, with a combined board measuring 5' wide by 32" high and over a thousand sculptured combat units. Both games are designed to play alone or together to offer the 2-6 player global 1940 scenario, complete with weapons development, and national objectives."


Axis & Allies Europe 1940 is now shipping from Amazon and Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

August 23, 2010

Thunderstone Wrath of Elements Expansion is Finally Out

ThunderstoneWrathOfElements.jpgThe time is finally here. After delays, delays, delays, the first expansion to the deck building game success Thunderstone has hit shelves. Wrath of the Elements [Amazon, Funagain] adds new cards to every facet of the game, from weapons, heroes, items, and monsters. There's even a replacement to the Thunderstone.. though that aspect of it is slightly underwhelming.

Now, we've said it before and we'll say it again: Dominion remains seated at the throne of the deck building genre. While Thunderstone did some interesting things in it's gameplay formula to take the genre one step further (mainly in the player's dual focus of economy and monster slaying), the original Thunderstone stand alone didn't have enough interesting card combinations in it's implementation to entertain us enough to overthrow the king Dominion.

Now it's time for Wrath of the Elements to prove that Thunderstone has staying power and we're stoked to find out if it can get the series kicking butt and taking names.

Here's the official description:


Thunderstone returns with all new monsters heroes equipment and now? traps! Thunderstone brought dungeon crawling to the deck-building game genre and Wrath of the Elements takes Thunderstone to a new level. With four new heroes six new monsters and many new village cards Wrath of the Elements can be stand alone or mixed in with classic Thunderstone for a larger experience. Wrath of the Elements also introduces Traps. This new card type creates perlious dangers for your adventuring party when revealed from the Dungeon Deck. Can you overcome the new monstrosities and claim the Thunderstone?

Wrath of the Elements also features an attractive and durable card box large enough to hold both Wrath of the Elements and classic Thunderstone and is even more compact and easy to transport! The box also comes with all new labelled card-type dividers for both the new cards and classic Thunderstone cards. Jason Engle returns again with more amazing art as well


Thunderstone: Wrath of the Elements is now shipping from Amazon and Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

August 18, 2010

Cadwallon: City of Thieves Unveiled at Gencon

CityOfTheives.jpgWe love to backstab each other -- we grew up playing Diplomacy after all. So we got excited when we heard that Cadwallon: City of Thieves is cast as a tactical board game of thievery, dynamic quests, scenarios, backstabbing, and backstabbing (two daggers just to be sure). A game like this fits the dynamic of our group perfectly.

Players compete to haul in the most loot stolen throughout the city, and are given four thugs to scour the city scape. Monies could be collected by looting the houses of Cadwallon, by fulfilling random quests decreed by the local thieving guild, or by pouncing on your opponents who've done all the hard work for you. Players have a tastey amount of strategic choices in each game, being able to tackle the ultimate goal in numerous ways, while toying with the tactical execution of their four servants in the field. Action points are shared amongst your pawns, which can be spent on movement, picking locks, trashing doors, grabbing loot, etc.

Picking a successful strategy, implementing it at the tactical level, and avoiding your foes attempting to achieve their own goals while undermining yours .. sounds like the perfect game.

We'll let you know more about when this exciting game is slated to hit shelves. For more information check out the Cadwallon: City of Theives website.

Here are the official details:


Cadwallon: City of Thieves is a fast-paced game of cunning thievery and ruthless skullduggery in a fantasy city steeped in magic and intrigue. Two to four players each control their own gang of four thieves, competing to amass the greatest haul of loot from the many carefully locked chests scattered about the board. This is no friendly competition, however, and there is little loyalty among thieves in Cadwallon! The most successful players are as likely to claim their loot from the other gangs as they are to do the time-consuming legwork themselves. And always there is the Guild, directing the gangs from the shadows, and offering rich rewards to those who follow its will. But there is little time to waste; even the slow-witted militiamen will eventually raise the alarm... and woe be upon any thief who fails to creep away before the lawmen seal the district!


Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

August 17, 2010

Gen Con Coverage from The Dice Tower

Tom Vasel just sent us a line that he's back from Gen Con and he has video coverage to prove it. While some of the coverage includes some knife juggling and uncomfortable cos play that, frankly, we'll never understand, most of the video is focused on the good stuff: upcoming board games from Fantasy Flight, Mayfair, Zman, and Rio Grande Games. Man, what a year for gaming.

We just had our own local Gen Con ourselves. Simply Coincidental. We wear our nerd on our sleeves so we simply called it Dork Fest Summer 2010. Great games, great beer, and more Funions than you can shake a stick at. We'll soon post our thoughts on the new games we played. Stay tuned.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

August 13, 2010

Dominon's Prosperity Expansion Reviewed at BGN

DominionProsperity.jpgNow that the small-ish Alchemy expansion is behind us it's time to move on to bigger things. The next expansion tot the venerable Deck Building Genre King Dominion has hit players' hands at Gen Con, and Board Game News has a full review.

While Dominion has always been about snowball your economic powers, Prosperity will shoot that up with 500cc of strontium 90. The set focuses specifically on turning a meek pittance into a Scrooge McDuck fortune, and it even ships with new money type: Platinum. This baby costs 9 and is worth 5, and you'll need them to buy some of the more expensive cards in the set. After all, what's the point of Prosperity if it doesn't lead you to bigger, better, and more costly things?

Check out the BGN review for more details. This one looks juicy.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

August 11, 2010

Axis & Allies Europe 1940 Previews

AnAEurope1940.jpgWe're only a few weeks away from the release of the landmark A&A Europe 1940. Tick freakin' Tock.

We normally consider ourselves lucky folks, but it's our friends over at AxisAndAllies.org have gotten their lucky mitts on a review copy of the game. They're not sitting back and gloating, but instead releasing preview details of the game's components and rules.

The game looks stunning. Despite this we may never play A&A Europe 1940 -- at least not as it's known. Instead we plan to ram A&A Pacific 1940 into the boards of Europe 1940 and have a giant, world dominating slugfest (the game ships with rules on how to do this). All of the intricate details, specific units, and flavored rules of a theater level of A&A game but on a global scale with the combined board size of a mulberry. That's pure A&A bliss right there.

If you're looking to purchase A&A Europe 1940 as a stand alone game, or combine it with your Pacific 1940 purchase from last year, then definitely checkout the following A&A.org previews:

  1. Out of the Box
  2. French and Italian units
  3. The RulesThe Global Rules

We'll let you know as soon as we see this puppy showing up in stores.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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