November 7, 2006

Now Shipping: "World of Warcraft: Shadow of War" Expansion

WoW.ShadowOfWar.11.6.06.jpgFantasy Flight Games has just released the first expansion to their acclaimed World of Warcraft - The Board Game. The World of Warcraft: Shadow of War [Amazon,Funagain] expansion extends the original big box game with more power cards, class talents, items. The game also introduces new destiny cards and end-game raid overlords Nefarian, Lord Kazzak, and Kel'Thuzad, who are all waiting in the shadows for you to lay the smackdown.

The expansion's Official Rules (pdf) have been posted to the Fantasy Flight Game's website, so you can check them out to see if the game fits your fancy. While you're there also check-out the new design article "Destiny of War " which breaks down the new Destiny Cards. The cards act as the Overlord's hands guiding the game, playing sinister tricks on the players (like holding them hostage or killing them off) - at least until you put the overlords six feet underground.

Here's the official word:

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The Company Line: Shattered Kingdom is the first card expansion for the best selling World of Warcraft: The Board Game. This expansion contains hundreds of new cards, both expanding the base game and introducing several innovative concepts. The new item deck rewards players with interesting trinkets and artifacts. A new quest deck puts a bounty on independent creatures, rewarding characters for defeating blue creatures. Each class deck also receives ten new powers and ten new talents, further developing the character's arsenal of abilities and creating a richer gaming experience.

But the players are not the only ones with powerful new resources at their disposal. Each Overlord now has their own special cards that are shuffled into the event deck. If the players do not keep these minions in check, the Overlords can become even more dangerous!

Contains:

  • 90 power cards (10 for each class)
  • 90 talent cards (10 for each class)
  • 198 item cards
  • 25 blue quest cards
  • 26 event cards
  • 39 destiny cards
  • 1 rulebook

The World of Warcraft Shadow of War expansion is now shipping form both Amazon and FunagainGames.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

November 6, 2006

Now Shipping: "Carcassonne Big Box"

CarcassonneBigBox.11.6.06.jpgNow here's a treat. Rio Grande Games has packaged the Eurogame classic Carcassonne with all four of its expansion into a nice Carcassonne Big Box Edition [Funagain,Amazon]. And it's arriving just in time for the Holidays. Something just clawed it's way to the top of our Christmas wish list.

Carcassonne is not only one of our favorite Eurogames, it' one of our favorite games, period. It's got all of the qualities that we like about gaming - an elegant tile-flipping area of control game that's simple to learn, yet it there's tons of of room for strategy. And the board grows into an unique, fascinating, organic-looking medieval cityscape through the course of play. Yes. please!

Here's the official product description:

The Company Line: This special limited edition has the basic game and river expansion as well as the four major expansions: Inns & Cathedrals, Traders & Builders, Princess & Dragon, and The Tower. Each has its own compartment in the box and the tiles for each expansion are marked with special symbols to make them easy to distinguish for separation after a game. The rules are expanded to include more information on how the expansions interact and there is also a sheet with pictures of all the tiles for all expansions and the base game.
Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

November 2, 2006

Battlelore: Terrains, Landmarks and Lairs

BattleLore.9.11.06.jpgNow back from the Essen game expo in Germany, the Designers of the upcoming Days of Wonder flagship "Battlelore" [Funagain] war gaming system are back at work publishing preview articles on the game's official blog. The latest installment gives some cool details about the gameplay effects of the board's four terrain tile types.

The game's terrain tiles are used to configure the otherwise bare landscape of the board for each of the the ten different scenarios, and can effect troop movement and visibility. Some special abilities in the game effect troops who stand in specific a terrain types - the article uses an example of the "Rogue's Den" which can accelerate the withdraw of troops from a forest hex to a location many hexes away.

Trees and lakes aren't the only notable things littering the battlefield. Your troops might also take shelter in another one of the game's "landmarks" tiles, which include rock formations, tower fortifications, and buildings - some have unique abilities that effect various parts of the game. Here's a snippet:

"What nature does not provide, the ingenious talent of man will usually build. As a result, many distinctive Landmarks dots the battlefield.

Unless specified otherwise, Landmarks provide advantageous defensive capabilities to their occupiers, since a landmark’s occupant usually becomes Bold by the sole virtue of occupying said landmark, regardless of adjacent troops’ support or not.

In BattleLore, Landmarks often confer to their owners unique advantages, making them heartily contested and prized possessions." - From Terrains, Landmarks and Lairs

Battlelore is scheduled to ship in November, and is available for preorder from Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

WoW TCG Shortage

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Want to get started playing the WoW TCG? Then pick up a Starter Deck and a few booster packs. Also check-out Our Review.

You may have noticed that we've been a bit obsessed lately with the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game. Seems like we're not the only ones - just a week after the game's release the prices for boosters and starter decks has skyrocketed to double the MSRP. And that's if you can find a store to sell them to you. Vicious rumors have been circulating that Upper Deck is purposely starving the market as a publicity stunt, and that a new supply of cards wouldn't hit the market until JANUARY.

But we found some official words from Jeff Donais, the Director of Upper Deck's Game Development Group, that should lay those rumors to rest.

First off, a bit on the current starvation issue in retail stores:

" I did a little research today.

A few gaming stores ordered 600 boxes and many gaming stores ordered 1 box. Plus, everything in between.

Very interesting spread of order quantities, which makes it very hard for distributors to know how much to order.

Having said that, waves are going out each week for the next 3 weeks and a large wave is hitting a couple of weeks after that, which should accomodate almost everyone. " - From a post in the Official WoW TCG Forums

Also, Donais specifically addresses the current card shortages and skyrocketing prices at retailers:

" "We are releasing more product, which should lower prices a little.

Basically, our goal is to print exactly how much is needed, not less, not more.

This will keep card values high in the long run, but also accessible in the short run.

We are opening up our reserves next week, followed by some additional print runs in the coming weeks and months until everyone is satisfied.

Then, set #2 releases.

Interesting note - We doubled our original print run numbers, and then doubled them again after that and again doubled them after Gen Con Indy demos were so successful. So yes, we have a hit on our hands, hopefully people like the product and will stick with it for a long time. We certainly intend to support it for a long time. " - From a post in the Official WoW TCG Forums

It looks like those players wanting to break into the WoW TCG will get a chance to very soon, and you won't have to sell off your first born to do it. Double bonus.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

November 1, 2006

October '06 Roundup

Roundup2.jpgThis is it - we're heading into the Holiday season. Halloween was just a gateway event - a relatively sideshow compared to the upcoming Holiday season. We're about to head into bigger and better things as the Fall season releases continue.

Days of Wonder is boxing up the very large, and very delicious looking Battlelore. Rio Grande Games is prepping Yspahan, and is stuffing all of Carcassonne and its five expansions into one Big Box. Mayfair Games is churning-out copies of there upcoming titles Anasazi and Justinian, and Fantasy Flight Games is putting the finishing touches on Marvel Heroes and expansions for Wings of War, Twilight Imperium, and World of Warcraft.

Speaking of WoW, the TCG is selling like hotcakes. The game's retailers are having a hard time keeping the product on the shelves, and prices are skyrocketing with news that the Upper Deck factory warehouse has been stripped completely bare. We knew that the WoW TCG was going to be huge (and if our excitement over the title hasn't been obvious, then you're in optical prescription is past-due), but we didn't quite realize that the game would sell out in a matter of days. Hopefully this isn't a press stunt that was designed to garner publicity. At any rate, let's not make rain when there's the potential for some pretty intense sunshine. We'll have word on our WoW TCG experiences shortly.

Until then let's take a stroll down October lane to remember those calmer days of fall:

Board Games

Collectable Card Games

Gaming Culture

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 31, 2006

Eurogames Article from AimlessWords

Europe.10.31.06.jpgThe blog Aimless Words has published a great article "Eurogames - Join the Boardgaming Revolution" describing why every gamer and their mother should take notice about the emergence of Eurogames in the American market. The article also does a nice job explaining why all of these great family-games are coming out of Germany:

"It seems the Germans have a long and exciting history of gaming within the family; a practice that died a horrible death in United States in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Today, the true heart and spirit of boardgaming exists not within the hollow facade of Hasbro but inside the halls of dozens of much smaller companies in the U.S. and Europe such as Rio Grande Games and Mayfair Games. Rio Grande is an American company that was formed by Jay Tummelson for the purpose of publishing English language versions of German or Euro-games. Jay has experienced great success with Rio Grande and several other American companies have been founded recently to focus on this sector of the games market." - From: "Eurogames - Join the Boardgaming Revolution"

It's true that Rio Grande Games and Mayfair Games are both great Eurogaming publishers, but there are some also fantastically polished games coming out of American Companies, too. Most notable of which is Days of Wonder - those guys have a great line of titles, and their releases can stand toe-to-toe with anything that comes out of the German import market.

We're not nit-picking - we love both Rio Grande and Mayfair - we're just adding another to the list of the great modern American game publishers in right now.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

World of Warcraft TCG: Exactly What You'll Need to Get Started Playing

WoWStarter.7.3.06.jpg

Want to get started playing the WoW TCG? Then pick up a Starter Deck and a few booster packs. Also check-out Our Review.

If you've heard good things about the WoW TCG and you're looking to break into the game but don't yet know how, then look no further. We've had numerous questions from our readers regarding 'how do I get my foot in the door?' in what is chalking-up to be one of the biggest gaming releases of the year. After you read over these three things you should be good to go!

1: First things first, get your hands on a World of Warcraft TCG Starter Deck [Amazon]. Each deck contains everything you'll need to start playing the WoW TCG out of the box, including: a Hero card that cements the foundation and focus of your deck; a basic deck of 33 cards that includes select equipment, abilities, and quests designed specifically for your Hero; two booster packs containing 15 random cards each (more info below); and an instruction booklet with rules to get you into the game quickly. There are nine varieties of Starer Decks at launch, covering the spectrum of classes from the World of Warcraft Massively-Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game.

2: You should also pick up two extra Heroes of Azeroth Booster Packs [Amazon]. Why? Well although the Starter Deck has everything you need, the individual cards that makeup the prepackaged decks aren't of the highest caliber. The Starter Decks are simply that: a start. However, every WoW TCG Booster contains a fair number of powerful cards which could replace some of the lackluster cards in the starter pack. Each booster also contains a wide variety of other common cards that could change the way you focus your deck, and it includes a new hero card which might inspire you to completely branch out and try something new with your collection.

Customization is an important aspect of the game - there are a lot of different ways to play the WoW TCG: at least nine classes to build decks for, and then you can toy-around with the internal designs and focuses for each of the classes, too!

3: Counters. You'll need something to represent the damage accrued to your hero and his henchmen. Sure - you could use stacks of pennies, but one of the game's heroes can accumulate 30+ points of damage before going down. That's a lot of pennies. Our favorite solution: grab a number of six-sided dice. If those Rush t-shirts in the back of your closet veil an dusty copy of Axis and Allies, then you're golden.

Enjoy!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 27, 2006

World of Warcraft TCG: Launch Links

WoWStarter.7.3.06.jpg

Want to get started playing the WoW TCG? Then pick up a Starter Deck and a few booster packs. Also check-out Our Review.

It's official: The World of Warcraft TCG is now in stores, and actually, should be in your living room right now. If you've cracked open your Starter Deck and sifted through a few boosters, and wonder if there are other cards in the Heroes of Azeroth Set that might be useful in flushing-out your deck, then we have a few links that might fit your fancy.

Card Databases
Wev'e found two great sites where you can browse the entire first set of WoW TCG Heroes of Azeroth cards. WowCards.org is our database of choice because it's got a slick site layout, and a nice card zoom-in feature. Meanwhile WowTCGdb is a bit bland on the eyes in comparison - with stronger empathises on a textual layout - but it let's you poke through all of the cards in each of the nine starter decks. Very nice.

Official Feature Articles
This week also marks the first in what we're sure will be a long-line of weekly feature articles from the designers of the game. Wizards of the Coast does a similar thing with its Magic the Gathering design staff, and it's created one heck of an online resource over the years. We hope the World of Warcraft team from Upper Deck keeps up what seems to be a very good first round of info:

  • Ryan O'Connor starts off the new series with "One Card at a Time: Parvink" which investigates the weight of card advantage on WoW TCG gameplay.
  • Then William Brinkman gives us the skinny on some cards you should always keep on your Heroes of Azeroth collection radar. "Lazy Peon's Perspective: Release Celebration Top 10 Commons and Uncommons" pretty much says it all.
  • Finally Jason Grabher-Meyer lays-down the foundation of WoW TCG ideology with "Starting from Scratch: What’s a TCG?", covering the enticing elements of a TCG: Customization, Collecting, and Social Gaming. This might sound trite to some CCG veterans, but we're starting a TCG system from scratch here, and it's great to hear these things from the horse's mouth.

Onyxia.10.27.06.jpgOnyxia's Raid Deck
This last bit of news isn't a link but it's exciting all the same. Upper Deck recently sent-out release emails that detail the upcoming Onyxia's Lair Raid Deck for the TCG. For those of you unfamiliar with the World of Warcraft MMORPG: Onyxia is a very, very mean Black Dragon who acts as one of the first bosses in the gamem and takes takes nearly fourty players to kill. She acts as the gateway to raid organization, cooperation, and is a stepping-stone to even more difficult battles.

Onyxia will also be the first raid boss in the WoW TCG. You and your friends can purchase an Onyxia raid deck, and instead of bashing each other's heads in the standard Player vesus Player gameplay, you can team up and bring down Onyxia together. The reward for your efforts: a special cold foiled loot deck that comes with the Onyxia boss set, which contains some powerful and rare cards. Here are the details:

The Company Line: In the charred, desolate Wyrmbog, deep in Dustwallow Marsh, lies the lair of the black dragon Onyxia. Many bands of heroes have journeyed there, only to fall under the dragon's claw. Now take on the role of Onyxia and face the latest group of heroes brave enough to challenge the Black Dragonflight. Open up a whole new facet to the World of Warcraft® Trading Card Game (TCG).

One player takes on the role of an epic foe that only multiple heroes working together can even hope to challenge. With a successful raid on Onyxia, the heroes can win the chance to crack open the enclosed "Treasure Pack" and reap spoils not found anywhere else.

Each deck includes 110 Onyxia Game Cards plus one 10-card "Treasure Pack" and three oversized Onyxia raid boss cards. This limited edition raid deck requires players to build their raid parties by using cards from the World of Warcraft® TCG: Heroes of AzerothTM.

Available to ship: Nov. 22, 2006!

That's less than a month away. Start practicing those heals!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 26, 2006

"Leonardo da Vinci" Released

DaVinci1.10.12.06.jpgPainter, sculptor, anatomist, engineer of both civil machines and war machines, lover, fighter, not a meat biter (vegetarian), Da Vinci was the MacGyver of Renaissance Florence. And now Mayfair Games has released a board game inspired by the man who invented a paper bag to invent himself out of - "Leonardo Da Vinci" [Funagain].

Mayfair games is the publisher responsible for some major smash-titles such as the Settlers of Catan, and Tigris & Euphrates, but let's be honest - that doesn't mean that Da Vinci is going to match those standards.

But the initial word paints a picture of the game that's pretty freakin' good. As of right now there are two reviews on BoardGameGeek.com, one is authored by a play tester of the game, and the other is from a gamer who's tired of all board game web-hype. (hey!) The game also has a rating of 7.9, which is definitely noteworthy.

Here's the official description from Mayfair Games.

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The Company Line: Compete to be known as the most ingenious inventor in Leonardo Da Vinci, the new exciting game from Mayfair and daVinci Games. In Leonardo Da Vinci, players must gather materials to complete inventions for the lord of the city in exchange for florins as payment. The lord of the city gives rewards for the rapid completion of a project. The player with the most florins at the end will be crowned winner by Leonardo Da Vinci! If you are excited to try this new game, which emphasizes hand management, please stop by your local retailer and ask them about, Leonardo Da Vinci

Product Description: As an ingenious Renaissance inventor in 15th century city of Florence. Construct amazing machines for the lord of the city. Become a protagonist of this age of unbelievable discoveries, by building your inventions! Can you marshal your workers in the most advantageous laboratories, workshops, and in palace plots? Only the best can complete with the great Leonardo!

Compete to be known as the most ingenious. The lord of the city gives rewards for the rapid completion of a project. The player with the most Florins at the end will be crowned winner by Leonardo daVinci!

"Leonardo Da Vinci" is now shipping from Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 23, 2006

"Battlelore" Primer

BattleLore.9.11.06.jpgIt's been a while since we first checked-in on this upcoming wargame, rpg, card game hybrid, and it looks as though the folks at Days of Wonder are molding their preeminent fall franchise into one heck of a battle system. The game's producers are taking their final steps toward release very carefully, pulling resources away from other Days of Wonder product lines in order make Battlelore the most polished title possible. They seem to think they have a huge hit on their hands - and even though the system is only in the prerelease phase - we tend to agree with 'em.

But don't take our word for it, check it out for yourself: the Battlelore Primer has been published and is available for your perusal on the game's new official website. It details everything from the game's various inspirations, to the colorful units, art, morale system, etc.

There's a lot going-on in any one scenario of Battlelore (the base set will ship with 10), but every rule is very simple to remember and more importantly, simple to resolve. The morale system promotes the clumping of units into formations so that they might withstand a full-on attack without running for their lives, so battle lines will march across the field much like those famous engagements of medieval history. The colorful unit banners are more than just eye candy - the can be swapped between unit figures to customize the attack and morale values for all units in that space. And to keep things fresh, the spirit of the game shifts from a Hundred Years War wargame into a fantasy combat game as more complexity is added - from various creature units to loremasters that acts as powerful generals effecting the entire battleground.

The guys at 2d6 Feet in a Random Direction recently had a hands-on session with the game, and they've included some juicy details in their latest podcast. Fast forward to 14:26 to hear their opinions and specific remarks, all of which paint the game in a very positive light.

Here's one cool bit from them: we learn bits about the game's Epic Battles which are played by friends flipping over two ore more Battlelore boards and locking them together, making an even larger battleground. Hells yeah.

Battlelore is now available to preorder from Funagain Games and from the Battlelore Official Website. The game is set to ship in late November.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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