May 9, 2007

Rio Grande Games May 2007 Lineup: Notre Dame, Vikings, and Caylus Magna Carta Coming Soon

Notre Dame Will be Released May 2007The Publisher Rio Grande Games recently released their board game shipping plans for the month of May. Included on the list are some games that have tested very well at trade shows earlier this year as well as the English translation of some existing games that have done well in Germany.

Rio Grande Games has a long history of bringing fantastic Eurogames to the American market. We’re talking about classics like Carcassonne, Alhambra, Caylus, and the recently popular Thurn and Taxis. Now that the clock has struck May, we are on the eve of the release of some new - potentially modern classic – releases.

So shall we get down to it?

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May 7, 2007

Vasel Reviews "BattleLore Call To Arms" Expansion

BattleLoreCallToArms.jpgTom Vasel - the game reviewing machine with a heart of gold - got his hands on upcoming BattleLore [Funagain,Amazon] board game expansion set Call to Arms and ran it through its paces. This weekend he posted a great in depth review with details on the game, and his impressions of the new game mechanics and content.

Not to ruin the ending for you, but he freakin’ loved it.

Call to Arms is slated for a landmark release later this month (May 2007) and is the first expansion installment to the historic / fantasy BattleLore war board game that publisher Days of Wonder launched late last year. Included in the expansion are a few new terrain types and some new unit components which work off the game’s existing base. Also included are new Specialist cards that allow players to customize their armies - beefing particular units with better gear, stronger forces, or providing overarching strategy options such as free movement, enhanced reinforcement rules that allow a commander to field troops on the front line instead of marching them up from behind.

Also in this expansion is a new deployment mechanic that allows players to draft cards filled with various unit formations. Each player selects four cards from a series of decks, either completely randomly, or - if they’d rather a bit more control over their forces - players can select four cards randomly from two particular decks of their choice. Each card they pull specifies a group of forces that they can field, and the player selects to deploy their forces on the left flank, center, right flank, or in their reserves.

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May 3, 2007

How to Keep Your GQM Subscription Alive

GamesQuarterly.7.28.06.jpgA month ago we were sad to report that Games Quarterly Magazine is no more. The bad news is that this is still the case. The good news is that current subscribers won’t be left hanging in the breeze.

The gaming mag Knucklebones has worked a deal to keep GQM alive just long enough to fulfill the magazine’s current subscriptions. But subscribers can’t sit back and their comfy chair and expect Mr Belveder to put on your breakfast table with the Times, a glass of OJ and half a fresh grapefruit. No, you’ll have to be proactive about it.

And to that end Jones Publishing asked us to forward the details on how readers can keep their subscription going. And how could we not post something with such great noble purpose?

So read on if you’re looking to keep your magazine subscription going.

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May 2, 2007

Icon USA Price Meltdown

Catan3d.3.7.06.gifIconUSA.com has a pretty hefty discount going on today. Some items that were already on sale are now discounted by 10% more. We’re too lazy to do the math to figure out if that 10% of the sale price, or the original price. Either way, there are some overstocked items for dirt cheap here, including LoTR TCG cards, Star Wars Attactix figures, as well as other collectibles as Icon USA clears through Inventory.

But the prize of this list is the Settlers of Catan 3-D 10th Anniversary Treasure Chest, which kicks the Settlers Experience up to 11 with a 3rd board and nice wooden carrying case. The chest is usually 400 bucks, which is crazy, but with this discount it’s a bit more manageable. As of today it’s about 250. Christmas shopping could never begin too early.

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May 1, 2007

WizKids Star Wars Pocketmodel TCG Game

Star Wars Pocket TCG is set to ship in June 2007IGN has written-up a nice little preview of the upcoming Star Wars PocketModel TCG which is coming our way this Summer. As huge fans of the *cough* original Star Wars franchise the idea of pushing little model ships around the table and shouting blaster noises seems like a pretty good time in a box. Time to rewrite Porkin's fate.

Actually, these things don’t come in a box. Each TCG package includes “four to eight styrene constructible vehicle models, six game cards, two micro dice, assembly instructions and complete rules.” That seems like a lot to fit into our back pocket, so we’re not quite sure how the quality of these materials will feel during play. But I think we’re at least willing to give it a shot to see how the game plays out.

Aside from the IGN preview - which includes some pretty good pics - you can check out the game’s official press release from Wizkids Games. The Star Wars PocketModel TCG is slated to ship in June.

Edit: It looks as though Game Trade Magazine is hosting a Star Wars Pocketmodel TCG Giveaway which you can enter here. The contest is a bit exclusive; those of you who live outside the two northern Americas will have have to spend hard-earned cash to get your mits on the game. Bummer. But given the odds of contests, most of us are in that same boat with ya.

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April 30, 2007

"Catan Live" Wednesday May 2nd, 2007

'Catan' on Xbox LiveThose of you who keep on top of things - like today's date - should immediately realize that Wednesday May 2nd, 2007 is only two days away. And it's about time.

Only two days until the first major board game release hits XBox Live for the XBox 360 console. And with many more Euorgames and American board games on the way, this is only the beginning. Here are the official details as presented by Xbox Live's Major Nelson:

"Catan" for Xbox LIVE Arcade puts players in the role of colonists on a newly discovered island, where they vie for control of valuable territory and resources through strategy and trading. The game can be learned in just minutes, but will challenge players of all skill levels, even the experts!

Klaus Teuber, creator of the original Settlers of Catan board game, had this to say about the collaboration with Big Huge Games: "I had no doubts that Brian Reynolds would do a great job, and the first version of the game exceeded my highest expectations. The AI is so clever that I even lost several games in a row! Hands down, this game for the Xbox LIVE Arcade is an amazing achievement."

"Catan" will be available worldwide for 800 Microsoft Points and is rated E for Everyone."

More information can be found on the Catan Live Official Website. We'lll see you in-game on Wednesday night. Woot!

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Margaret Weiss's Battlestar Galactica RPG Update

BattlestarGalactica.3.21.06a.jpgAfter the initial announcement from Margaret Weiss Productions of a Battlestar Galactica RPG on the horizon, there wasn’t much news to be had anywhere. We were left hanging in the dark. The official Margaret Weiss website still has the same under construction page, the same number of products on their website, and no mention at all of the progress of the B-Star RPG. Odd. It was beginning to look like the title had become vaporware.

But GamingReport.com seems to have poked a hole through the media dam with news and details of the upcoming RPG rulebooks. Here’s a snippet from their site:

”The full 224-page full-color Battlestar Galactica Role Playing Game Corebook won’t be out until July 2007, but only Cylons haven’t pre-ordered it already from their FLGS. The Corebook includes everything needed to create characters, all game rules, gear lists, ships, ship and chase mechanics, and sample characters, plus military jargon, procedures, and rank listings. It also includes complete deck plans for Galactica! $44.99”

More information can be found in the GR post “GTS Special: Dragonlance, Serenity, Battlestar Galactica, and more!” [link]

With the very long hiatus of the BS:G TV series (not until 2008 it seems), then the release of the RPG in July will be nice little treat to get us through this detox. It’s already been hard enough and we’re like only one month in. We're crossing our fingers our fingers in the hopes that we'll soon hear of an official website launch, too, but at this point we’re not going to hold our breath - given the lack of online presence from Margaret Weiss productions that’d be suicide. We’ll probably have to find a 3rd party community site from which to mine RPG materials. Hopefully MWP will put more effort into the product than their online presence.

We’ll keep you posted as any more details are released.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 27, 2007

Fantasy Flight Games 2007: Starcraft, Tide of Iron, Beowulf and WoW Expands

Starcraft BoxWoW being World of Warcraft, of course. Fantasy Flight Games has published their intended release schedule for the rest of 2007. Heading of the charts is a new Reiner Knizia release: Beowulf the Movie Board Game, which should hit stores around the same time as the major motion picture hits Hollywood Blvd in November.

Between now and then Fantasy Flight Games plans to shove a lot more down the release pipe. The World of Warcraft board game will be expanded with The Burning Crusade expansion, which extends the game into Outland, adding the new races of Draenei and Blood Elves, and the option of high speed flying mounts (of course). Those WoW players who find the original World of Warcraft board game to be rather.. large, will be able to sink the teeth into a new World of Warcraft Adventure Game. This time around the digested content should allow players to wrap a game in only an evening without fear of all-afternoon gaming hangovers. Sometimes our brains don't need that much exercise on the weekend.

But those gamers with a whole afternoon to burn will find all-new content in Fantasy Flight's latest Big Box Game centered around Blizzard's other Crafty franchise: Starcraft. Somewhere out in the vastness of space players will compete for control of a tactical battlefield, pushing their armies of Humans, Zerg, and Protoss to conquer resources, build forces and work down through tech trees. The gory details of this title are still a bit sparse, but with a gobs of pieces and a componentized/dynamic board we picture a more zoomed-in and strongly flavored verison of Twilight Imperium. Starcraft is currently scheduled for a late 2007 September release, and hopefully this will hold up; the game didn't quite make its original ship date of: last year, delayed for polish in true Blizzard fashion.

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April 26, 2007

George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" RPG Announced

A Game of Thrones, Book 1 in A Song of Ice and FireThe publisher Green Ronin has announced its plans to produce a Role Play Game around the A Song of Ice and Fire, the fantasy setting made famous my George R.R. Martin series of novels of the same name. We personally don't have much hands-on experience with Green Ronin, but we haven't quite found any bad press about the RPGs either.

Yes, it's true, we're more board gamers than RPG players. For some reason we feel that we've always played RPGs incorrectly. Maybe the years of structured board gaming has squelched our improvisational skills. But to be fair, fighting a goblin one v one with both he and your hero missing 15 rounds in a row.. just doesn't lend itself to the creation of an exciting narrative. At about round 4 you give up describing how totally inept both characters are, and reach for your beer and a keno ticket instead.

But that doesn't mean we can't see a potential successful franchise when it comes and punches in the face. Based on the most popular thread running through Green Ronin's forums, the veteran RPGs company is starting things from scratch, designing RPG systems custom tailored to the A Song of Ice and Fire theme. Considering the source material it's based on, we hope for the best.

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April 25, 2007

Now Shipping: Arkadia

Hrmmm Where to put the brothel?Rio Grande Games has officially shipped their latest builder board game Arkadia, which is their English/International version of the well-received German board game Die Baumeister von Arkadia (The Master Builder of Arkadia) released in 2006.

Players of Arkadia[Funagain,Amazon] compete to become the most contributing builder of to-be castle city of Arkadia. Tthat pretty much describes every city building game, doesn’t it? Don't fret though, this isn't just another knock off. It's Arkadia scoring system is what separates it from the rest.

Players get colored Wax Seals for completing projects in the town’s construction, with the number of seals awarded dependent on the number of workers a player has placed around a constructed building. The seals can be exchanged for gold, but the amount of gold that a player gets depends on the current state of the construction of the castle. The multi layer foundation of the castle expands after every successful construction, with each piece added to the castle’s foundation has a color corresponding to the colors of the Wax Seals awarded for construction. If a player wants to exchange his/her seals for cold hard cash, then they look straight down on the castle’s foundation, count the visible colors that match their seals, and multiply it by the number of seals they wish to exchange.

Sounds complicated, but it’s really not. If you have 5 red seals, and there are 3 red castle pieces visible while looking down on the multilevel castle foundation, then you get 15 gold. The player with the most gold at the end wins the game. Easy Peasy.

There are other gaming elements to Arkadia, too, including card draws and a worker placement mechanic which reminds us of a less dynamic flavor of Aqua Roma. OK, maybe the familiarity is a stretch even while tightly squinting, but there’s more going on in a game of Arkadia than just cashing in Wax Seals for gold.

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