February 1, 2007

January '07 Roundup

Roundup2.jpgOver all not a bad month, we'd say. Despite the fact that January traditionally stands in the cold shadow of the huge holiday season - when publishers push titles out of the production pipe just in time for shoppers, and then rest and sip a scotch for a few - this January '07 has had quite the collection of cool news of titles coming our way in the near future.

January has seen the wraps have come off Fantasy Flight Games' Tide of Iron, and publisher Days of Wonder didn't rest after its release of BattleLore and is now gearing up for Colosseum. Also we received word that a new Thurns & Taxis expansion is coming down the pipe for March '07.

And February doesn't looks so bad herself. We're getting two new Catan games: Catan Histories Struggle for Rome is due out any moment now, and the Xbox Live Service is slated to release their "Catan" title on a Wednesday near you. Plus, sometime in the next 28 days expect Upper Deck to pop the lid off the World of Warcraft TCG: Molten Core Raid Deck and WoW TCG Dark Portal Expansion.

Oh yes, very tasty! Very tasty indeed.

But let's not look to far into the future until we realize where we are now. Here's the stories that made January 2007 such a great month:

Board Games


Collectable Card Games


Gaming Culture

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

January 31, 2007

Settlers of Catan on Xbox Live in February

'Catan' on Xbox LiveMicrosoft, the software behemoth behind the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live service, has released a press release listing their Xbox Live titles scheduled for release this February. On the list is the board game version of Settlers of Catan! The official press release can be read here.

As we reported earlier, Microsoft plans to bring three major board game releases to its Xbox Live service on the Xbox360: Carcassonne, Alhambra, and the Settlers of Catan.

The release of "Catan" in February will mark the first board game release on the Xbox Live service. What has us particularly excited is that the Xbox Live version of Uno become a huge success, and hopefully this line of upcoming Eurogames will also make a big splash in the online gaming community. If so then we can expect to see even more games bridging the divide between Computer/Video Gamer and Board Gamer.

But above that, the most important thing to us will be the chance to play some classics with friends who've moved to all corners of the country! Voice chat will really bring it home. Can't wait!.

There is no exact date for the release of "Catan", but expect it to be released on any Wednesday in February (which is the traditional release weekday for Xbox Live). And of course we'll keep you posted as soon as we find out when the exact date is.

Enjoy!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

January 30, 2007

Tide of Iron Rules Released

TideofIronRules.JPGPublisher Fantasy Flight Games has released the rules to their upcoming WWII epic Big Box war game Tide of Iron [Funagain]. The rules are available in Adobe Acrobat PDF format, and can be downloaded/viewed here.

The Big Box games from Fantasy Flight is a flavor of titles that ship with tons of pieces and set of rather complicated rules that lean toward Expert on the complexity scale. The marriage of this standard design philosophy with a World War II war game seemed like it might break the complexity barrier, sending normal players into an argumentative vortex of page turning and fist slamming aggression.

But now that we can see this stuff completely fleshed out in the rules, we can see that Tide of Iron remains just as approachable as any of the other Big Box Games. This, of course, doesn't mean you'll be breaking out Tide of Iron for family board game night. The title's learning curve is still quite steep and is probably best left to play with friends who want something one step deeper than the normal offering of the Axis and Allies suite of games.

For instance, the game has pillboxes and entrenchments which provide cover for troops making them less apt to be hit by Private Bag of Donuts or any other smacktard with a gun. These pieces of cover modify dice rolls, from certain angles of attack. Not too complicated... But then there are other mechanics that you have to resolve on the board including modifiers for: pinned or disrupted troops, battlefield smoke, and the directional drift of artillery barrages. As you can tell there's definitely a few layers of complexity to this game, but it's not all too bad in the end - the game's supplies visual tokens to easily represent these various modifiers, and each modifier seems to be easily resolved. There's just more going-on in a round of Tide of Iron that you have to keep your head around. That's all.

Stug It Up!In the end we're excited. We love Fantasy Flight's Big Box lineup (some more than others) and it seems like they're doing a great job covering our favorite wargame setting - the fields, hedgerows and towns of Western European during WWII. Could this be the next Squad Leader? We'll have to wait and see...

In the meantime we'll keep you posted of any further Tide of Iron developments as we roll closer to release, including news of the game's scenario editor. More information can also be found on Fantasy Flight Game's official Tide of Iron website.

Tide of Iron is currently schedule to ship in February and is now available to preorder from Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

January 29, 2007

Days of Wonder Announces Colosseum

Colosseum from Days of Wonder

Coloseum is out! For more information about the title please see our story "Coloseum Released."

Hot on the heels of their release of BattleLore, publisher Days of Wonder has just sent us word of the their next scheduled release. "Colosseum" [Amazon, Funagain] puts players in control of their own gladiatorial arena, each vying against one another to produce the most bloodthirsty and entertaining spectacle, attracting the largest and most lucrative audience.

Here's the word from the Days of Wonder press release:

Los Altos, CA; Paris, France - January 29, 2007. Days of Wonder, a leading publisher of top-quality board games, today announced their newest game, Colosseum™, designed by critically acclaimed game designer Wolfgang Kramer and Markus Lübke.

In Colosseum each player is a Roman impresario - producing great spectacles in his or her arena in the hopes of attracting the most spectators. Players earn wealth and glory for each event run, using it to create ever more ambitious events. They will need to improve their arena, find the best performers, lure the Emperor and his nobles, and manage assets for long-term success to be granted the title of Grand Impresario.

Known for producing some of the industry's most visually appealing board games, Days of Wonder has designed Colosseum to provide the timeless feel of a German style board game.

"Days of Wonder has made a strong commitment to produce games where the design supports the theme so well that as a player you feel you are an actual part of the story" says Colosseum co-designer Wolfgang Kramer.

"With Colosseum the physical design and theme takes you inside the arena, but at the same time it is integrated into an elegant game mechanic that is the trademark of experienced game designers," says Pierre Gaubil of Days of Wonder.

Colosseum includes: a large game board representing arenas in cities across the Roman Empire where events are produced; 5 arenas; 10 arena expansions; 6 unique painted resin pawns representing the Emperor, Consuls and Senators; 5 Emperor's loges; 10 Season Tickets; 2 Roman dice; 90 Roman coins; 30 Event programs; 152 Event asset tokens; 7 Star Performer Awards; 18 Emperor Medals; 6 Event Summary sheets; 1 Storage bag; and a detailed Rules booklet.

Colosseum plays with 3 to 5 players, ages 10 and up, and takes approximately 60 - 90 minutes.


ArrowContinue reading: "Days of Wonder Announces Colosseum"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

January 26, 2007

"Thurn & Taxis: For Power & Glory" Expansion Ships March 2007

For Power and GloryRio Grande Games has announced that the For Power and Glory [Funagain] expansion to 2006's critically acclaimed Thurn & Taxis [Amazon, Funagain] will be released soon, March '07 in fact.

"For Power and Glory" expands upon the original Thurn & Taxis postal empire gameplay by extending the board of Germany north. The new board adds new cities and connecting countries, and also a new horse mechanic to speed carriers along certain routes. Here's the official skinny:

The Company Line: The postal carriages continue to roll. Now that players have learned to master the postal routes in the south, they naturally turn their eyes toward the north, looking for more routes to establish to add to their ever-growing postal networks. The new routes run between Holland and Sachsen – between Preußen and the free cities. The player build new postal stations in order to provide fast service for important letters to the many new customers in the north. Hard-working postal carriers add horses to their carriages to enable them to travel farther and more safely, which will help the separated Preußen provinces to achieve power and glory. With this expansion, we offer new ways for players to enjoy Thurn and Taxis. The new board opens up new areas for postal routes. To support the new board, we include new bonus tiles and new city cards (with horses on their backs to support the new rules). We hope players will enjoy these changes and the strategic opportunities they offer.

Thurn & Taxis: For Power and Glory is scheduled to ship in March, and is currently available to preorder from Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

January 25, 2007

Catan Histories Struggle for Rome: A New Settler's of Catan Game February 1st

Catan Histories: Struggle for RomeKlaus Teuber the designer behind the classic Settlers of Catan [Amazon, Funagain] is set to release his latest game on February 1st, 2007. Catan Histories: Struggle for Rome [Amazon, Funagain] is a 3-4 person game that puts players in control of barbaric tribes consuming the failing Republic of Rome. As Roman cities are pillaged, the players gain resources which they can use to settle their roving tribes, founding cities of their own. The placement of these cities is key - they produce resources depending on adjacent tiles, just like the settlements from the original Settlers of Catan.

Since movement plays a key role in the early phases of Struggle for Rome, players should expect a bit less stagnation when compared to the original Settlers. Also, a new dice mechanic ensures that at least two different resources are produced a turn, which somewhat mitigates the streak-rolling tendencies of Settlers' resource hexes.

Here's the official word of the game from the Mayfair Games website:

The Company Line: "Klaus Teuber brings the fall of the Roman Empire into the world of Catan. Struggle for Rome lets players experience the turmoil that plagued the end of the Roman Empire through Catan game mechanics. The Romans rule over an enormous empire. But now, Rome holds its imperial breath. The empire is weak. Wild barbarian hordes surge across the frontier.

You rule one of those Barbarian hordes. Your noble tribe is strong, but rival princes stand in your way! Are you wily enough to outmaneuver them? Will you have enough wealth from plundering to found your own kingdom? Your fate is in your hands: civilization is ripe for conquest! Will you forge a mighty new kingdom? Will you be the one to inherit the storied glory of Rome?

Struggle for Rome also contains 100 beautifully-crafted, miniature plastic figures. Players will enjoy plundering across Europe with their fast horsemen and marching into cities with their warrior tribes."

Catan Histories recreates Ancient Europe

Now - everything about Catan Histories: Struggle for Rome doesn't come out smelling like roses - read this great review in the BGG forums. There are some elements of the game that seem to be a bit lacking: like the artwork probably won't blow your mind, and the continuing legacy of the Thief character is a bit odd considering that the roving tribes can simply move out of his way.

Struggle for Rome probably won't replace the original Settler's of Catan as the new gateway Eurogame of choice, but there's enough gameplay here to entice any fan of the Settlers series of games.

Catan Histories: Struggle for Rome is scheduled to ship February 1st, and is now available to preorder from Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

January 24, 2007

"Tide of Iron" Preview Movie from Fantasy Flight Games

1.01.07.TideOfIron.jpgThe designers behind the upcoming Fantasy Flight Games Big Box Title Tide of Iron [Funagain] have released a fairly in depth preview movie that showcases some of the W.W. II wargame's major design elements.

In the movie we see these games designers who have certainly immersed themselves in everything WWII in the hope of bringing one of the most realistic, fun, and customizable WWII games to your table top, but yet we can't help but laugh as we picture these intellectuals stuck in a real WWII setting. Sure, these guys are great at what they do, and we admire them for that, but then we picture 'em throwing down covering fire with a BAR, their teeth rattling away with the heavy recoil while their helmet shimmies off, and we can't help but snicker. Color us classless and shallow.

Anyway, if you're a W.W. II gaming fan, or if your a fan of Fantasy Flight Games' line of Big Box tiles, then you should certainly enjoy the few minutes of this walk-through preview. Here are some of the movie's topics:

  • The game will ship with a new Squad Bases piece mechanic. Each base sports 4 slots that you can slide various troops into, allowing players to piece together squads from various unit types such as: riflemen, machine gun teams, and mortar teams. The Squad Base also have a hook to hold special unit cards that customize squads the tools and support weapons of the squad, like Anti Tank Weapons, Medics, etc.
  • Tide of Iron's Command System includes tactical objectives points that players capture as they fight over map. Players spend these points to play Command Cards to affect the battlefield and their units. These cards come from a variety of decks including air support, artillery support, command support, etc. It seems as though scenarios may limit which deck a nation can draw from, providing a bit of a context for the action. For instance, we would assume that the Battle of the Bulge might lack air support as historically the infantry and mechanized units were snowed-in.
  • The game will ship with twelve double-sided interlocking rectangular board segments. Each side has a unique terrain layout so that the game's various scenarios will look fairly unique. Of course, there's also great potential for unique custom scenarios from the user base using a combination of boards and the online scenario editor to place command points and units.
  • The video also details the tactical actions that units can take in a game round, like Advance, Assault, Combat Movement, Opportunity Fire and Concentrated Fire, which draws other friendly units into a combined firing attack.

This game looks really sweet, and a great change-up from Fantasy Flight's other Big Box Games. You know - like, something based on history instead of set in a Fantasy World.

Tide of Iron is scheduled to ship in late February. Currently the game has a special edition preorder package "Operation Early Bird" from the Fantasy Flight Games website, but if you want to save 25 bucks on shipping then you can preorder the title from Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

January 23, 2007

World of Warcraft TCG: "One Card at a Time" Class Roundup

Valamos.jpgThe World of Warcraft TCG has a lot going on between the nine different classes a player can create a deck around. Thankfully Ryan O'Conner, staff writer at the Official World of Warcraft TCG Website, has been hard at work writing his One Card at a Time series which breaks down key elements of each of the various hero types.

Granted that at this point in time we're pretty sure that WoW players are pretty good at controlling their favorite class. But we also assume that serious players like you have stacks of cards in reserve that could be used to build alternative hero decks. This series will get you started with building a deck for a hero that you might no know from head to toe; not only profiling the card stated within the title, but also detailing other class-specific and ally cards that you should use in conjunction with it.

Enjoy!

One Card at a Time Class Articles (in reverse chronological order)

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

January 19, 2007

Cave Troll 2nd Edition Released

Cave TrollWell that was fast. Earlier this week we reported that publisher Fantasy Flight Games posted the rules to their upcoming Cave Troll 2nd Edition [Funagain]. Not more than a few days later the game has arrived in stores.

Now we could just reiterate the same game details we posted on Monday, but uh, that would be dull and boring for you, and for us. So instead, enjoy a little Cave Troll Haiku that we carved up:

Cave Troll Smash Thing Good
Crack Heads with Fat Leg of Dwarf
Me Can't Have Nice Things

Poor Cave Troll.. so tragic.

The Company Line: Adventurers brave or foolish enough to enter the cave troll's lair can reap riches beyond their wildest imaginations. However, they must face not only the mighty cave troll and his vile minions, but also other adventurers intent on keeping the dungeon's bounty for themselves!

In this new edition of Cave Troll, Fantasy Flight's board game of dungeon-looting and monster-bashing, players command brave adventurers trying to reap the most treasure from the dungeon. Players wield powerful artifacts and summon fearsome creatures in their attempts to control the richest areas of the dungeon, while trying to avoid their opponents' minions, including the mighty cave troll himself!

Cave Troll is a board game for 2-4 players, from renowned game designer Tom Jolly. Fantasy Flight's new edition of Cave Troll features detailed plastic figures depicting the different heroes and monsters in the game. It also features stunning new artwork and graphic design, a sturdy folding game board depicting the cave troll's lair, and an alternative set of skills and abilities for each hero and monster in the game.

Contents:

  • 1 game board
  • 68 plastic figures
  • 104 game cards
  • 6 artifact cards
  • 4 score counters
  • rules

Cave Troll 2 Edition is now shipping from Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

January 15, 2007

"Cave Troll" Rules Released

Cave TrollWhile some publishers seemed to have taken a bit of a PR break through the holiday season, Fantasy Flight games has kept cranking out the news. Case and point - within the last week they've released: a Tide or Iron feature article, a series of Twilight Imperium Star Maps for those anal gamer types, and now they've released the rules for their upcoming board game Cave Troll 2nd Edition [Funagain].

The rules for the light title can be found here [pdf] in a nice and small 2 page document. For those of you unfamiliar with Cavetroll - expect a quick game of dungeon exploration as players vye for positioning within a dungeon that pours out gold. Although the game has a fantasy theme, the theme is lite and it can eaisly be enjoyed by just about everyone.

The Company Line: Adventurers brave or foolish enough to enter the cave troll's lair can reap riches beyond their wildest imaginations. However, they must face not only the mighty cave troll and his vile minions, but also other adventurers intent on keeping the dungeon's bounty for themselves!

In this new edition of Cave Troll, Fantasy Flight's board game of dungeon-looting and monster-bashing, players command brave adventurers trying to reap the most treasure from the dungeon. Players wield powerful artifacts and summon fearsome creatures in their attempts to control the richest areas of the dungeon, while trying to avoid their opponents' minions, including the mighty cave troll himself!

Cave Troll is a board game for 2-4 players, from renowned game designer Tom Jolly. Fantasy Flight's new edition of Cave Troll features detailed plastic figures depicting the different heroes and monsters in the game. It also features stunning new artwork and graphic design, a sturdy folding game board depicting the cave troll's lair, and an alternative set of skills and abilities for each hero and monster in the game.

The original Cave Troll (1st edition) shipped in 2002 and was well received by many reviewers. This second edition is scheduled to ship in January (so soon) and is available to preorder from Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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