November 11, 2008

WoW Minis Launch Hub - Everything You Need to Know

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It's here! The biggest release of the year is here!

World of Warcraft Minis follows hot on the heels of the successful Upper Deck smash-hit World of Warcraft the Trading Card Game, which has impressed us immensely from both a gamer's perspective and from a World of Warcraft fan's perspective.

Now it's time for Upper Deck to bring us into the world of World of Warcraft once again, and this time it's in 3D. WoW Minis sports spacial tactics, rarity scales, collecting, and even 100% cooperative raid content.

Just about every aspect of the game is top notch. We had a chance to put our hands on the game at this years Penny Arcade Expo, and we walked away very, very impressed and more excited than we had ever expected to be.

Today we'll cover all the info you need about WoW Minis to get started, including the various kits, rules, and a listing of all the official feature previews that have been published so far - all in a nice completely page of WoW Mini goodness. Enjoy!

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Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

WizKids Ceases Operations

HaloActionClix.jpgIn a sad bit of news in a downtrodden economy the The Topps Company announced that its gaming division WizKids will no longer be alive to compete with Upper Deck's gaming division. Unless an angelic company swoops down to pickup the orphaned properties, then the Starwars PocketModel TCG, HeroClix, ActionClix (including the Halo series) and Battlestar Galactica TCG series will probably soon go the way of the dodo.

While we commonly regarded WizKids as producing B-Side games when it came to ongoing support, quality and subject matter, they still were an important player in the gamespace. They will be surely missed.

Here's the official WizKids press release pulled from their website:


Announcement

"The Topps Company announced today that WizKids will immediately cease operations and discontinue its product lines.

Scott Silverstein, CEO of Topps, said "This was an extremely difficult decision. While the company will still actively pursue gaming initiatives, we feel it is necessary to align our efforts more closely with Topps current sports and entertainment offerings which are being developed within our New York office."

Upon notifying our partners, Topps will immediately pursue strategic alternatives so that viable brands and properties, including HeroClix, can continue without noticeable disruption. To that end, WizKids will continue supporting Buy it By the Brick redemptions for Arkham Asylum, and the December Organized Play events for HeroClix.

For consumer announcements, please refer to www.wizkidsgames.com over the coming days for further information."


Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

November 10, 2008

Zooloretto & Aquaretto Expand to XXL Weightclass

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The award winning family oriented collection game Zooloretto, and its expansion Aquaretto, have achieved extra-extra large status with one expansions release. Zooloretto XXL [Amazon, Funagain] includes new animal offspring created from some *elbow elbow* animal zoo animal loving, new animal tiles, vending stalls and the new option to send animals to fictitious off-table zoos. This, of course, nets you more points at the end of the game.

This new animal lending mechanic can be done as a standard turn action and is explained quite clearly in the Zooloretto XXL rules [pdf].

In all the expansion seems to be a nice little spice-up to a family standard. Here is the official info:


  • Number of players: 2-5
  • Age of players: 10++
  • Length: 45-60 minutes

"The zoo grows and prospers: new animals are added regularly and the animals provide offspring from time to time. Once a zoo is full and few new animals are added, it can become boring and customers want something new.
Also, zoo managers find it useful to share their animals by sending them to other zoos. Of course, the new zoos like the additions and reward those who sent them.
Two extra delivery trucks are added for the game for two and bonus material is included for Aquaretto.
This is just what is needed for those who cannot get enough Zooloretto."



Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

November 7, 2008

Journey to the Center of the Earth Board Game

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We've been covering some pretty heavy board games recently geared toward young adults and adults like oursevles. Oh how we love them so.

We'll now here's one that entire family can enjoy. Journey To the Center of the Earth [Amazon, Funagain] challenges explorers to make the epic quest down a dormant volcano, then board a raft across to cross a subterranean ocean and ride the eruptive lavaflow of an active volcano to the 'safety' of the surface. Along the way players score points by unearthing treasures found within the deep, but they most ensure they keep control of them even through the violent shimmy shake of the lava escape.

The game is on the light side which makes it great for kids - the game says it's for ages 10&Up but you could probably get things rolling even earlier for that. Don't wait too much longer though 'cause the game isn't high on the complexity scale, and there are other games out there that may keep your family more entertained. This isn't a masterpiece like Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne or Settlers of Catan, for instance, but it's definitely a stepping stone for younger kids to get to games of that complexity.

Here are the official details:


Descend deep into the interior of the earth, as you lead the three adventurers from Jules Vernes classic novel: Professor Lidenbrock, his nephew Axel and their guide Hans. Begin your amazing journey with entry through the crater of the dormant Icelandic volcano Snaefells. Explore a dense forest of giant mushrooms, traverse a turbulent underground ocean, before you are hurled out of an Italian volcano to return to the earth's surface. On your journey, collect fossils both small and large, collect gold and overcome obstacles through the prudent acquisition and use of select equipment. Explore the many parts of the subterranean cavern; using equipment and luck are critical to overcoming the obstacles within your path. The player who can escape with the best collection of artifacts is the winner. Will you direct our heroes on a journey of danger, discovery and fortune?

Info:

  • Players: 2-4
  • Ages: 10+
  • Playing Time: 60-75 minutes
  • Designer: Rüdiger Dorn

Contains:

  • 1 game board
  • 3 adventurer figures
  • 1 raft
  • 20 water stones
  • 80 small cards
  • 120 large cards
  • 1 rulebook

Have a good weekend!

Edit: It looks like Tom Vassal of The Dice Tower fame recently reviewed Journey to the Center of the Earth, along with his 8 year old daughter. It's nice to hear opinions from both sides of the age cusp. Another great review from Tom once again:

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

November 3, 2008

Dominion - A Standalone Collectibe Card Game in a Box

Dominion.jpgThose of you looking to get your hands on a TCG or CCG that doesn't require you plop down gobs of cash, then you might have found just what you've been looking for. The new card game Dominion [Amazon, Funagain] has often been lovingly described as a collectible card game in a box, and a good one at that.

The game is being published by Rio Grande Games and designed by Hans im Glück, a pairing that has brought us the delicious Carcassonne series.

Dominion is an entirely card-based game that is played in short spurts ( < 30 minutes ), which is a fantastic amount of time since the game is all about building up a small kingdom from virtual nothing, and doing it in new, unique ways every sessions.

Throughout each round players draw cards from their basic deck to both act against other players, and to aid in the purchase of even more cards to add their deck. Dominion empowers players to construct their own custom dominion (deck) throughout play. A player's decision of which cards to purchase from a set of randomly drawn cards each turn is based on many different factors -the collection of cards that are currently available for purchase (using in game cash), how do the cards complement what the player's current deck is tailored to do, what are your opponents trying to do and how can you stop them, etc. Your deck starts small, and when it's exhausted the discard is shuffled back together into a deck along with all the cards you've purchased, and play continues. Think of it as a snowballing effect - your dominion becomes more powerful as you slide new resources and prized possessions into the fold as play progresses.

The game has been received extraordinarily well by gaming community. For more information checkout this great Dominion user review on BGG. And - as always - here are the game's official details:


" You are a monarch, like your parents before you, a ruler of a small pleasant kingdom of rivers and evergreens. Unlike your parents, however, you have hopes and dreams! You want a bigger and more pleasant kingdom, with more rivers and a wider variety of trees. You want a Dominion! In all directions lie fiefs, freeholds, and feodums. All are small bits of land, controlled by petty lords and verging on anarchy. You will bring civilization to these people, uniting them under your banner. But wait! It must be something in the air; several other monarchs have had the exact same idea. You must race to get as much of the unclaimed land as possible, fending them off along the way. To do this you will hire minions, construct buildings, spruce up your castle, and fill the coffers of your treasury. Your parents wouldn't be proud, but your grandparents, would be delighted. Dominion is not a CCG, but the play of the game is similar to the construction and play of a CCG deck. The game comes complete with roughly 500 cards. You select 10 of the 20+ Kingdom card types to include in any given play -- leading to immense variety."

Dominion is now shipping and available from Amazon and Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

November 2, 2008

Critical Gamers' October 2008 Board Gaming Roundup

RoundUp.jpgOctober was a big month. The mainline eurogame franchise Carassonne received a new installment, D&D's source materials expanded in the slick Adventure's Vault, and the dudtastic Player's Handbook Deluxe Edition. In the World of Warcraft world, local hobby stores received WoW Miniatures Demo Kits so you can check-out what will prove to be the biggest release of the Fall before it hits shelves, and the World of Warcraft TCG started a brand new cycle with the Drums of War which hit shelves just last week.

And though as busy as October was, it's just a prelude to bigger, better things as the holiday release scheudle markes on. On the horizon this month are a slew of hard hitting releases, like the Battlestar Galactica board game, Axis & Allies Anniversary Edition - the largest AA title released yet - a Lost Cities board game, a suite of new D&D 4th Edition source books, and of course the brightest spot on our radar: World of Warcraft Minis. They ship next week.

Hold on to your butts.

What We're Playing

Board Games

Collectable Card Games

Gaming News

RPGs

World of Warcraft TCG

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 31, 2008

Battlestar Galactica Board Game Previews

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The cool month of November starts tomorrow, and that means the upcoming Battlestar Galactica board game [Funagain] slated for a November release so close that we can almost taste it. Detecting our hunger for more information Fantasy Flight Games has continued its prerelease roll out, first by posting the rules, and now following-up with a series of preview articles detailing some new, interesting dynamics of the game.

Those of you who missed the prior announcements, the Battlestar Galactica board game is based on a wide audience property but it's being pushed into an exciting small-niche: cooperative board games. Players control characters from the show, protecting the Galactica and its rag tag fleet from Cylon Attacks in social and political unrest. The goal is to survive enough jumps to make it to Earth.

But there's a monkey in the wrench: one of the players has been secretly assigned the role of cylon agent, and through acts of subterfuge will attempt to prevent the others from achieving their goal. Additionally, half way through the game there will be another cylon activation, where one other human player may, or may not, also become a cylon. Paranoia and a series of false accusations ensues.

And now onto the new stuff:

BattlestarGalacticaBoardGame.jpg

  • Preview #2: When Cylons Attack! [link] steps through the dynamics and mechanics of the unfortunate event of a Cylon Basestar attack, and the other passive ways the Cylons can hope to win.
  • Preview #3: Divided Loyalty [link]: discusses strategies on how Cylons may sabotage the Heroes while still not drawing too much attention to themselves. And on the other side of the fence, Heroes may want to keep the ship on the verge of disaster just in case they later discover they're actually a Cylon Agent during the game's Sleeper Agent draw phase. Interesting stuff that could definitely keep the game pretty tense.

In all it's looking good for Fantasy Flight Games to chalk-up another hit in their board game adapation column. Battlestar Galactica is slated to ship this November, and we'll certainly let you know just as soon as it does.

Have a good weekend.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 29, 2008

WoW TCG: Drums of War

WoWTCGDrumsOfWar.jpgWhen it rainsit pours. Upper Deck has released the first installment in the 2008-2009 set of the World of Warcraft TCG. The Drums of War is looking nice. Real nice. Not only does it include a new Location Card Type, and faction-specific weapons, but the standard class roles are definitely kicked up a notch.

The set is available in three forms: a Drums of War Starter Deck [Amazon, Funagain], in standard individual Boosters of 19 cards [Amazon, Funagain], or the value saver Drums of War Box of Boosters [Amazon].

Like all new cycles Drums of War introduces a new set of keywords. Gone are the ways of the Traitor, now replaced by Shadowmeld, Diplomacy and Berserking.

An ally with Shadowmeld is both elusive and untargetable while it's in the ready state (ie: not exhausted). Get your Aldor Inspire ducks in a row. Example: Cymbre Shadowdrifter

WoWTCGSouthshore.jpgAn ally with Diplomacy lets you spend 1 less to recruit other allies of that same race or faction, depending on the card. This ties resource acceleration and themed decks together quite nicely.. though do we need stronger rush decks? Example: Envoy Samantha Dillon.

Finally, an ally with Berserking adds +1 to their attack value for each damage he's holds. Example: Nok'tal the Savage , a troll who plays quite well with Kray'zin Firetusk if we do say so. And we do.

You can check out the entire Drums of War set of cards on WoWTCGDB.com in a nice pictoral layout that's easy on the eyes. Man we love that site.

Here are the official details:

WoWTCGKrayzinFiretusk.jpg


"The thundering drums of war echo throughout the land of Kalimdor. New warlords ride through the gates of Orgrimmar, eager to serve the warchief and leave their marks on the pages of history. Small battalions of Alliance soldiers arrive at outposts throughout Azeroth. It is only a matter of time until the piercing battle cries, roaring magic, and crashing steel evoke the symphony of war once again. When the dust settles, will you be remembered, or will you fade into oblivion?"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 27, 2008

D&D 4th Ed. Deluxe Handbooks - Something to Avoid

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Months after release of the original D&D 4th Edition Players Handbook, Wizards of the Coast has shipped a collector's edition of the same source material: the D&D 4th Edition Deluxe Players Handbook [Amazon, Funagain].

And that's the the the problem - it's the same exact source material. Sure, it sports a new foil cover and embossed pages, but it doesn't ship with anything usefully new. At this point we're knee deep in D&D goodness, and if you're not going to bring anything new and useful to the table, then you're just something the stare at.

And the Deluxe edition isn't even strong in that capacity. The foil cover doesn't impresses us at all. In fact, it's straight-up ugly. And as far as the actual art on the cover: all they did was cut off half of the original cover, and focused in on the hot chick. Did they Photoshop this in just one afternoon? It's like they're phoning it in.

If Wizards of the Coast had shipped some sort of gold-embossed leather bound edition, then just maybe it'd be worth the 75 bucks MSRP. Just our $0.02.

Here are the book's official details:


"The first of three core rulebooks for the 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game.

These deluxe volumes are special editions of the 4th Edition core rulebooks that every Dungeons & Dragons player and Dungeon Master can appreciate. These books feature embossed, premium foil covers, and premium, gilt-edged paper."


Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 23, 2008

Memoir '44 Expands into the Mediterranean Theater

Memoir44MedTheater.jpgNovember is just around the corner, and that means it's holiday release time. First up: the outstanding WWII tactical war game franchise Memoir '44 expands into the north African deserts. The Memoir '44 Mediterranean Theater [Amazon, Funagain] pits Italian forces and Rommel's Afrikakorps against the new-to-Memoir British faction of Lieutenant-General Montgomery's 8th Army: the Desert Rats.

The expansion isn't just a faction addition, but includes quite a few different elements that add to the game mechanics. For one there are new Anti Tank guns and Infantry weapons, which nicely balances against the massive amounts of armor that toured through North Africa. There are of course new terrain tiles matching the barren setting, and new Combat Engineer units to help clear roadblocks and mines.

Finally Memoir '44 Mediterranean Theater ships with 8 new scenarios pulled straight from history. Some are famous battles, others lesser known engagements and smaller actions, but each includes a page of Historical Background so you know what's at stake, even they're completely new to you. They include:

  1. Hellfire Pass (June 15-17, 1941)
  2. Sidi Rezegh Airfield (November 22, 1941)
  3. Dug in at Sidi Omar (November 25, 1941)
  4. Flanking Maneuver at Bir Hakeim (May 27, 1942)
  5. Panzers versus Grants (May 27, 1942)
  6. 1st Armoured to the rescue (May 27, 1942)
  7. Into the Cauldron (June 05, 1942)
  8. and Escape via the Coastal Road (June 14, 1942)

Memoir '44 Mediterranean Theater is out now and is available to purchase from both Funagain Games and from Amazon. Here are the expansion's official details:


"On the day war broke out, few nations imagined they would soon be forced to conduct land warfare outside of Europe. As a result, when the war reached North Africa, both men and machines were ill-prepared for the harsh demands of a desert campaign.

But history is a testament to the caliber of leadership, ingenuity and resolve of those who fought under such harsh conditions. Thanks in part to its long-established presence in far-flung corners of the globe, no army would display these qualities better than the British Commonwealth Forces.

  • A complete British Army set including: 42 British infantrymen, 24 Crusader tanks, 6 25-pounder guns and 3 anti-tank weapons
  • New rules including: the "Stiff Upper Lip" so common to the British Commonwealth Forces, the Motorized Divisions and "Artillery Bravery" of the Italian Royal Army, and a new class of embedded equipment pieces - the Special Weapon Assets!
  • 44 new double-sided Terrain tiles including: escarpments, ergs & ridges, coastlines, desert airstrips, HQ & supply tents, oasis, wadis...
  • 10 Round Markers: British medals, minefield tokens and "Exit" markers
  • 4 Obstacles including: desert bunkers and roadblocks
  • 14 new Special Forces badges including: including the British SAS, Royal Engineers, and an assortment of Italian badges
  • 8 Historical Scenarios: from the tank disaster of Operation Battleaxe at Halfaya Pass to the relief of the Siege of Tobruk in Operation Crusader; 5 scenarios cover the drawn-out engagement of the Battle of Gazala!"

More information - including the expansion's full set of instructions - can be found on the Memoir '44 Official Website.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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