June 2, 2008

Pillars of the Earth Board Game Expands to 5-6 Players

PillarsOfTheEarthExpansion.jpgIt's been a long time coming. The Pillars of the Earth - a board game adaption to the best-selling historical fiction novel - was one of our favorite titles of last year. Instead of being just washed up adaptation of a novel and just another cathedral builder, it introduced new turn mechanics, interesting resource gathering and construction mechanics, and it's simplly put: a blast to play.

But there was one drawback - it only supported 4 players, and since we usually have 5+ players at our table, The Pillars of the Earth was regrettably pushed to the bottom of our gaming stack. But thankfully, not anymore.

The new The Pillars of the Earth Expansion Set [Amazon, Funagain] ups the player count to a potential 6 while also adding more characters from the Ken Follett masterwork to the workers and event cards. In fact, 30 more cards are added The evil William Hamleigh now makes an appearance, and new mechanics and a hefty board expansion provides hooks for a player to take on the new role of tax collector, or to send architects to France for inspiration in cathedral design, or even help out the king and church by joining the Crusades.

The goal remains the same - be the most influential resource gatherer, builder, artist, or even merchant through out the lifespan of the construction of Kingsbridge Catheral, by whatever means possible. The original title was a blast in the exercise of player adaptability in a turbulent turn structure, and now with even more options on the table, Pillars of the Earth should shine even brighter than ever before.

ArrowContinue reading: "Pillars of the Earth Board Game Expands to 5-6 Players"

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June 1, 2008

Critical Gamers' May 2008 Gaming Roundup

RoundUp.jpgJune is here and that means the 4th Edition of D&D is just around the corner. Actually, it's already here. Though the core rulebooks aren't slated to ship until Friday, the first adventure is already on store shelves, and it's so very-well done.

Keep on the Shadowfell sets the bar high for the quality of 4th Edition materials. Instead of the low grade white paper staple-bound modules of old, Keep on the Shadowfell is a solid binder chalk full of quick start rules, maps, and a very detailed adventure all printed on high quality paper. We'll be interested to see if this level of quality continues, or if it's just for this first release.

We also hope to have a review for you sometime soon, but we can tell you right away - if you're wondering if Keep on the Shadowfell is worth your time and money, or if it's a great introduction to Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition for your group, then the answer is a very strong: Yes.

But enough D&D. Tons of other things happened this month, including numerous stories in the world of Board Games, and our World of Warcraft TCG Servants of a Betrayer review. Don't miss it!

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May 27, 2008

D&D 4th Edition Launches with Keep On the Shadowfell

KeepOnTheShadowFell.jpgThe 4th Edition of D&D has officially launched, and it's with a bang. Keep on the Shadowfell [Amazon] is a standalone adventure designed to get your feet wet with the new D&D 4th Edition Rules. It doesn't require any of the source books (due out in a little over a week) so you can get your D&D game-on 'early'.

The module has been very well received in the D&D Community forums where it's lauded an entertaining and well-written romp. So if you fear marketing prerelease crap, don't fret -- Keep on the Shadowfell is a fantastic introduction to the new edition of D&D, and it should should thoroughly entertain your D&D group as they fight their way close to level 4.

Anything that isn't abundantly clear in the the module is clarified in the updated Keep on the Shadowfell FAQ, or in the Keep on the Shadowfell thread in the official forms.

Next week the D&D 4th Edition Players Handbook, Dungeon Masters Guide and Monster Manual all ship next week. Yes all of them ship at once, unlike previously reported, and you can even get them in a bundled slipcase for a sweet little discount. This is going to be one heck of a summer.

ArrowContinue reading: "D&D 4th Edition Launches with Keep On the Shadowfell"

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May 19, 2008

Lost Cites for Xbox Live - Walkthrough

Sierra Online, the publisher of the recently releases Xbox Live Arcade version of Lost Cities for the Xbox 360, has released this walkthrough video of the Lost Cities gameplay. Anyone wanting to checkout the rules of Lost Cities, or to see the quality of the digital adaptation, should look no further!

The video comes via GameTrailers.com. For more information on Lost Cities for the Xbox Live checkout our Lost Cities release story.

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May 15, 2008

Settlers of Catan Game Cards - Melt those Wrinkles Away

SettlersOfCatanCards.jpgEven if you're one of those obsessive washers, hands are oily, greasy, dirty mittens of bacterial jucinesses by nature. Everything they touch tarnishes and melts, including such luxuries as gold, diamonds, silverware, puppy dogs and kittens.. and your games, too.

If the cards in your Settlers of Catan set are sittin' pretty, then move along - there's nothing for you here. But if you look at your Settlers box o' cards and they seem cold, toothless and grey, and you don't want to fully upgrade to the full Settlers of Catan 4th Edition set, then Mayfair might have a compromise right up your alley.

For a fraction of the cost of the full game, you can upgrade / replace your warn or lost set Settlers of Catan cards [Amazon, Funagain] , including both resource and development cards, without the nuisance of writing the manufacturer directly and hoping there's someone with a pulse on the other end.. Plus, you get the full blow 4th Edition quality of materials and artwork to boot. Not bad for under 10 bucks.

Why is this such a big deal? Well when Mayfair brought out the 4th Edition of Catan, many folks might have found the upgrade cost prohibitive. Now you can get half the upgrade for a fraction of the price!

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May 13, 2008

Axis & Allies Guadalcanal - Do You Know What You're Doing?

AxisAndAlliesGuadalCanal.jpgAxis and Allies Guadalcanal [Amazon, Funagain] - the latest installment to the venerable line of WWII strategy board games by Larry Harris of Avalon Hill - has been on store shelves nearly half a year. We're sure you've put the game through the paces yourselves, grabbing islands and securing airbases in the name of the Japanese Empire or the United States Navy and Marines.

We assume you've already read the preview articles detailing all aspects of the game, but do you really have a winning strategy in tact? Are you sure your approaching the conflict with all of the game's mechanics of economy and military force in mind?

Over the last few weeks Avalon Hiil (now owned by Wizards of the Coast) has been posting some interesting Strategy Guides covering all aspects of the war. They're lengthy, in depth, and could go far in helping you beat your 'friend' who thinks he's the second coming of Isoroku Yamamoto. Definitely worth the time of any Axis and Allies fan:

  1. Part 1: Game Mechanics [link]
  2. Part 2: Making the Most of Units [link]
  3. Part 3: Building a Winning Strategy [link]
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May 7, 2008

"Cooperation and Engagement: What Can Board Games Teach Us?"

Matt Leacock, creator of the homebrew cooperative board game Pandemic [Amazon, Funagain, Ebay], recently gave a talk describing his experiences and lessons learned from his exploration of game design. It's a must-watch for aspiring game designers; his talk is chalkful of info, and he offers some smart warnings on how to avoid certain design process pitfalls.

Pandemic has players cooperate to cure the world of 4 epidemic diseases plaguing the world. Diseases left untreated spread across the map, and everyone loses if things get too out of control. The title has inspired gobs of users created content, most of which can be found on Pandemic's Board Game Geek page.

Pandemic is currently in short order, but you can pick up some pretty cheap copies on Ebay.


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May 5, 2008

Age of Conan Board Game Fall 2008

Conan.jpgBack in 2006 we reported that the upcoming MMORPG Age of Conan was getting a board game adaptation from Nexus games (Marvel Heroes, War of the Ring, Descent ) in late 2007. Well, unfortunately the online game's schedule has slipped - now scheduled for a Summer 2008 release - and so has the subsequent board game adaptation. But fear not, you'll still be able to smash heads in Crom's name, you'll just have to do it later than expected.

The new targeted release date: Late 2008.

Gaming Report has the full story on the release schedule and product info, as well as these other juicy game details.

Here are the updated game details, which have changed somewhat since the game's first announcement:

"In Age of Conan: The Board Game, 2-4 players control the lands of Aquilonia, Hyperborea, Turan, and Stygia, trying to increase power and influence in the Hyborian Age, while trying to influence the mighty Conan to side with them -- or at least against their enemies! Age of Conan: The Board Game will be released by FFG in late 2008."

For more of the evolving game details, checkout this great story on BoardGameNews. We'll keep you posted of the official details of the game as they're released.

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May 2, 2008

A Touch of Evil Board Game - Hunting Monsters in Fall '08

ATouchOfEvil.jpgThe team behind The Last Night on Earth - a fantastic zombie hunting board game that was one of our favorite releases last year - has announced another monster braining title for Fall 2008. A Touch of Evil looks to put zombies to rest and open the door to a variety of evil monsters types. Gameplay centers around a cast B-Movie stereotypical monster hunting heroes slaying a variety of different monster types. We picture Van Helsing, but good.

Players can play in two modes : cooperative against a difficult uber monster boss, or a players can compete in a race to be the first to slay a more benign beastie.

Reading over the official details makes us reminisce about the amazing Buffy the Vampire board game, which had such fantastically balanced cooperative gameplay. In that title from decades past, players took on the roles of the show's heroes to battle one of the arch villains from various seasons of the show. Settlers of Catan made our game group officially organized, but it was Buffy that drew us back into board gaming in the first place.

Though we truly love Flying Frogs Productions' previous title Last Night on Earth and what it did for the zombie board game genre, the zombie romp has some balancing issues that make some of the few included scenarios more a chore than fun braining experience. That's ok, though, because there really are only a handful of Zombie board games out there, and Last Night On Earth stands heads and shoulders above the rest even with these flaws. But with there being such a strong presence of good, well balanced, cooperative games in the general monster hunt Halloween gaming collection, including Buffy, Arkham Horror, etc. we hope Flying Flog puts A Touch of Evil through a well-designed gauntlet of playability and balancing tests. We might not be as forgiving given since the established library of high quality monster hunting games has set the bar pretty high.

Enough prerelease critiquing. Here are the official details:

"A Touch of Evil, The Supernatural Game is a fast-paced game of fiendish creatures, dashing Heroes, and high-adventure. Each player takes on the role of a unique monster-hunting Hero, racing against time to stop the forces of darkness from claiming another foothold in the world of man. Only by investigating the town and building your Hero's strength can you hope to hunt down the Supernatural Villain to his Lair and defeat him in an epic Showdown. Players can race Competitively to be the first to defeat the Villain and save the town, or they can work together Cooperatively to defeat a much stronger Villain. Featuring a gameboard map of Shadowbrook and its surrounding countryside, eight Heroes to choose from, and four different Supernatural Villains to hunt; each with its own host of unique Minions and powers to drastically change the game. A Touch of Evil is designed to create an adventurous cinematic feel as the story and game unfolds.

So grab up your Wooden Stake, stuff some shot in that Musket, and hold onto your Tri-corn Hat; no one is safe from the creatures of the night and no one can be trusted...for inside everyone lies A Touch of Evil."

A Touch of Evil is currently scheduled for a Fall 2008 release. We'll check back in with details of the game later this summer.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 30, 2008

Critical Gamers' April 2008 Gaming Roundup

Thumbnail image for RoundUp.jpgThere were gobs of announcements this month but few releases, so we had the time to focus our heads to the table to review a select list of games for May. This month we should have a 4-5 reviews including Sen So, and a few WoW TCG products including the killer Servants of the Betrayer expansion release. We even put the litmus test to a children's game that marries Candy Land with the fun! exploration of the finer points of Lawsuits. No, we're not joking.

Looking forward the future months: we're pretty darn excited about the 4th Edition of Dungeons and Dragons that's schedule to ship in early June. Some preview articles were released this month that paint a pretty picture of a refined set of roles for characters, their abilities, and combat structure, how could we not be salivating and chomping at the bit for a few more details from Wizards of the Coast? We'll keep you posted of the finer points near the end of May during the two weeks running up to release.

Have a good month folks!

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