October 20, 2006

World of Warcraft TCG Hands On Product Details

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.

The World of Warcraft Trading Card Game is still one week from it's official World Wide Release. Somehow, somewhere, a few lucky people have already received their preorder shipments and they're laying down PvP smack down even as we speak.

Thankfully one of these lucky ducks posted a video of himself sifting through the TCG packaging, opening the starter decks and posting images of some of their booster cards - a lot of these cards haven't yet been detailed by the official website's card previews, nor anywhere else on the net for the matter.

We recommend skipping ahead to 2:40, which is when Mr X pulls apart the WoW TCG Starter Deck packaging. The stuff looks like it's made of high quality materials, and acts as a deck transport box to boot. Very, very nice.

There are also some great image uploads of other 'new' booster cards at zyeye.com.

Finally - we did some sifting of our own and found one of the better preorder deals online. As usual we found that IconUsa.com has the best prices on starter decks, boosters, and Onyxia's Lair raid deck preorders. The box of 24 boosters is nearly 40% off MSRP, which is nothing to sneeze at.

The World of Warcraft Trading Card Game officially launches next Friday.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 19, 2006

Now Shipping: "Pop 5"

Pop5.10.18.06.jpg

Cranium, Inc, creators and publishers of the hit party game Cranium, have released their latest gaming creation onto the world. Pop5 [Amazon,Funagain] is a party game that includes the fun activities of acting, drawing, humming, and sculpting, but with a twist that seems to nicely differentiate the game from its older brother Cranium [Amazon,Funagain].

Each turn the opposing team looks at the one clue on the drawn card, and assigns points - ranging from one point to five - to each of the five activities. Some things might be hard to draw with a pencil, while others might be difficult to hum, etc. Based upon the point assignments it's up to the current team to decide if they want t go for big points inspite of the potentially difficult task, or play it safe and try for the easier, yet less rewarding way to solve the clue.

We have played Cranium a bunch, and after a few parties it became apparently that certain categories contain questions that far easier than others. A true/false Datahead question is at least a 50/50 shot, for instance, while sculpting a glob of clay into a visible resemblance of Michael J Fox is.. uh, not. Looks like Pop 5 avoids these inconsistencies by providing a customized weighting mechanic, and on a question-to-question basis to boot. Good stuff!

The Company Line:
  • Guess and perform hilarious pop culture clues
  • Opponents rank activity difficulty each roundFun pop culture theme makes it a party must
  • Reminisce, laugh out loud, and compete
  • Everyone plays every turn, for maximum fun

Hilarious pop culture fun gets a Cranium spin! From Madonna and mullets to moonwalks and Monday Night Football, this party game isn't about what you know, but how you show it.

Here's how it works: Each turn, the opposing team draws a clue card and assigns points to each of the five activity choices, according to how hard they think each one will be. If they pull the "Red Bull" card, they may think drawing it is easy, so they'd give it one point. But acting? Hard. Five points! Now it's up to you to decide: Will you go for the easy points and draw, or go for the big points (and glory) by acting it out?

Each turn you get to choose to act, draw, hum, sculpt, or use letter cubes to get your team to guess the clue. With songs, celebrities, fads, fashions, TV shows, movies, and more, Pop 5 cards include all kinds of fun pop culture clues that span the decades -- and every turn, you get to choose how to get your team to guess!

  • Would you act out Iron Chef or draw it?
  • Would you rather hum a Spice Girls song or roll the letter cubes to give clues that start with the letters that come up?
  • Would you choose to sculpt a Chia Pet out of clay or hum the jingle?
Pop 5 is now shipping from Amazon and Funagain Games.
Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 12, 2006

November Games Quarterly Magazine Details

GamesQuarterly.7.28.06.jpgGames Quarterly Magazine has announced the final meat and potato details of their next issue scheduled to hit magazine racks this November. The magazine will ship with a twelve tile expansion to Carcassonne, and include an exclusive premier of a so far unannounced title from Days of Wonder (publisher of Memoir '44 and Ticket to Ride).

The Company Line: Games Quarterly is marking numerous milestones as a leading magazine for games. In the coming issue we begin a three-issue exclusive serialization of a new fantasy story by New York Times best-selling author Ed Greenwood, titled Castlemourn. Castlemourn is a new post-apocalyptic fantasy role playing game setting coming from Margaret Weis Productions, Ltd.

Games Quarterly #11 includes a brand new 12-piece expansion for Rio Grande Game's award winning game Carcassonne™, polybagged in each copy.

Games Quarterly has great coverage of all types of non-electronic games. With fantastic extras like The Great River of Catan™ in GQM10 and the Carcassonne™ Expansion in GQM11 it’s worth far more than cover price. The ensuing three issues already have game expansions planned, alternating between Mayfair Games in issues 12 and 14 and Rio Grande Games in issue 13.

Also in GQM11:

  • Interviews with NPR’s Puzzlemaster & NY Times Crossword Editor Will Shortz and TV’s CSI Creator Anthony Zuiker on his new CSI: SENSES The Game by Specialty Board Games.
  • Wizards of the Coast Expands Dreamblade
  • Detailed plans for the huge Games Expo 2007
  • Days of Wonder unveils their next incredible game
  • Front Porch Classics’ Word Count
  • Bruce Whitehill's The European Scene
  • A preview of Mongoose Publishing's Battlefield Evolution
  • Profiles of National Games Week Sponsors
  • Word Up!– Games to build vocabulary in the classroom
  • Coverage of all kinds of non-electronic games.
  • All your favorite columns plus a few surprises we’ve cooked up.

Games Quarterly #11 will reach game stores, book stores and newsstands worldwide in the second week of November, cover price $4.95, $5.95 Canadian. Release date is November 8. Ask your local store for every issue. Subscriptions are available by phone.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

"Leonardo Da Vinci" Details

DaVinci1.10.12.06.jpgPublisher Mayfair Games (Settlers of Catan, Tigris & Euphrates) has posted their official product page for the upcoming title "Leonardo Da Vinci" [Funagain], a game for 2-5 players.

Players of Da Vinici race to setup shop in the city's workshops in an attempt to gather resources and manpower required to complete the various inventions requested by the lord of the city (a set of face-up invention cards). Those players who are the first to invent something gain a patent on that device, and thus are awarded more points. Subsequent devices for the patent holder are cheaper to produce, which promotes specialization. However, at the end of the game, points are assigned to players for each unique patent, which rewards
long term diversification!

One of the game's playtesters has posted a great Leonardo Di Vinci review in the BoardGameGeek forums. Here's the official word:

DaVinci2.10.12.06.jpg

The Company Line: In Leonardo Da Vinci, you are 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 compete with the great Leonardo!

Compete to be known as the most ingenious inventor. 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!

Leonardo Di Vinci should be shipping any day now, and is available to preorder from FunagaGames.com.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 11, 2006

"Medieval II: Total War" Demo Released

Medieval2TotalWar1.jpgObviously this isn't a computer gaming website. For the most part we like the socially rewarding boxed variety of strategy games more than the cold disconnected feeling you get from staring into a monitor's warm glow for hours on end. But every once in a while a computer strategy game comes along that's so absolutely chalk-full of board game-esque entertainment that it makes those hours on end in solitude not only tolerable, but something that we thirst after.

Enter Medieval II: Total War [official website], a game that simulates the military conquests and technological evolution of 1000AD-1500 AD Europe, within a map that spans from the west coast of Portugal into the deserts of Asia Minor, and all the varying terrain types in between.

At the start of every game you pick a nation from a list of about 20 historically accurate factions, and the game gives you a kingdom of only a handful of cities to cultivate your empire. Your technology starts in the early Medieval period when towns were mostly surrounded by wooden walls. From there you can set out in a turn based mode to make good (or bad) relations with your neighbors, fight wars, convert enemies to your religion, antagonize or support the Pope, pump out new units to outfit your armies, build infrastructure, and discover new technologies, weapons and units. And when we say new units, we really mean it - the game contains over 100 detailed unit types with special abilities, weapon types, tactics -- the works.

Medieval2TotalWar2.jpgWhen your armies clash on the world map the game enters into a detailed battle view. Here you will control the formations of your troops - lining up spearmen to block cavalry charges, charging in your swordsmen to break up enemy lines, launch arrow barrages, and batter castles with siege equipment or pepper them with flaming arrows.

If you've ever been a fan of block war games, then this one animates that type of game into living color. The battle mode of Medieval 2 features fully detailed units who march under flowing banners, hack off limbs, send heads flying, and who suffer to (or are bolstered by) morale effects.

This game is a complex, but the series has been in-place for years so they have a very refined and entertaining tutorial system. The final game ships this November, but the demo was just released! Download it now (for Windows Only) from any of these various gaming download websites:

Medieval II: Total War Demo:

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 10, 2006

"Galactic Destiny" Announced

GalacticDestiny.10.9.06.jpgSometimes good things arrive unexpectedly from out of the void.

We were recently contacted by Golden Laurel Entertainment about their first game to hit the presses in January, "Galactic Destiny". As we poked around their website we found that their 'Destiny could be a title that we've been thirsting-over for years. In fact, many of the elements in Galactic Destiny have been shot around our very own game table over a few beers after game night.

At its core Galactic Destiny is a space strategy game with both political and military themes. The game has a variable board augmented by a deck of sector cards, each detailing the planets, special abilities, and flavor text of the sector. Then there are the in-game personalities of the Senator cards which act as the player's hands in the game world. Event cards are flipped over three at a time, keeping each turn unique and dynamic as their effects wax and wane the players' abilities throughout the game. And each player's hand of Action cards can provide them that extra bit of oomph just when they need it most.

Perhaps the most intriguing thing about Galactic Destiny is the game's Senate phase. While players are fighting military campaigns for sectors of space, they're also pushing and shoving their political hands into various cookie jars within the galactic Senate. Every turn includes a phase when players convene to propose and vote on new polices (crafted from the top of their head) that affect the game across the board. In this way, a diplomactic strategy could be just as important as the game's motions of military conquest.

Speaking of military conquest, feuding players will sometimes have to trust each other and work together to push back an alien infestation of the Ke’Ras - a demonic race enslaving sectors of space, spreading from one zone to the next. Yum.

We're going to keep our eyes on this one as the title gets closer to shipping (in January, after the holidays ). Until then, ogle the website, mull over the game's rulebook, and check out Galactic Destiny's official press release:

ArrowContinue reading: ""Galactic Destiny" Announced"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

Now Shipping "Catan Event Cards"

CatanEventCards.8.29.06.jpgThe latest expansion to Settlers has hit store shelves, and it comes in a bit of a different format than you're probably used to. A deck of the Catan Event Cards [Amazon,Funagain] expands upon the classic Settlers of Catan [Amazon,Funagain] board game by adding random events to the game's turns (for complete details check out our story Coming Soon: "Catan Event Cards").

The cards also replace the standard dice used to determine random resource production in the normal game of Settlers, with a new system that eliminates the starvation potential of random dice rolls. Those who've built on a '10' space and waited for twenty frustrating rounds for it to produce anything know what we're talking about.

Here's the official skinny:

The Company Line: Drop the dice and spice up your Settler's of Catan or Cities and Knights games with this new set of cards. The Catan Event Cards feature thirty-six cards that act as a deck of dice, replacing the need for dice in your Catan game. Special events are triggered by these cards each time they are turned over, adding an exciting new element to your Catan play. Also included are 6 scorekeeping cards, the rules card, and a reshuffle card.

Catan Event Cards are shipping now from both Amazon and FunagainGames.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 9, 2006

Warhammer Online on The Escapist

WarhammerOnline.Escapist.jpgThe gaming web magazine The Escapist has a good story regarding the history of the Warhammer Online franchise. It details who the major designers are, how their individual ducks fell into place, and the general outlook of where the design team aims to steer the Warhammer Online franchise. Here's a snip:

"The major challenge for a company taking something with a built-in audience and converting it to a videogame is deciding where to draw the line when it comes to strictly sticking to the existing property. I asked Paul for his thoughts on that, whether they are trying to get a complete, exact replication of the tabletop game, or if they are looking to capture the "spirit" of Warhammer itself. "[That question] has a very long answer that I really can’t do justice to here. But if I had to try and explain it, I would say it’s important to understand that we are not making a game based on the tabletop war game. We are taking the idea of Warhammer — the idea, concept, theories and feeling — and making the best Realm versus Realm MMOG we can." He adds, "Warhammer is Batman," meaning no matter what form Batman is in — be it comics, movies or LEGO — there is always a central theme, a sort of spirit of Batman's character running through it." -From "The Idea of Warhammer" on The Escapist

Well, here's hoping they don't insert any superfluous ice skating super villains, ala Joel Schumacher.

Warhammer Online is set to ship in the Fourth Quarter of 2007.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 6, 2006

Timespiral's Release and Theme Decks

TimeSpiral.jpgToday marks the world wide release of Magic the Gathering's latest block, Time Spiral. If you're not already sifting through tournament and booster packs, then you might want to give a quick look at the block's four prearranged theme decks.

We're excited to see that the collective organisms known as Slivers (a creature type where each sliver buffs every other sliver in the game) have not only made a strong reemergence in Time Spiral, but they also get their own theme deck! You know what htey say, the only bad Sliver is a dead Sliver (especially when it pours out of the box into your breakfast cereal).

SliverEvolution.jpgSliver Evolution

Slivers share a hive mind. Whatever one thinks, they all think. Whatever one can do, they can all do. Slivers have mutated over the years, and the “Sliver Evolution” deck shows off their new, deadlier skills. But they still think the same thing they always did: “Smash anything that’s not a Sliver.”
As soon as the game begins, start building your Sliver collective. Gemhide Sliver is especially good early since its mana ability helps you play other Slivers. Don’t take any risks in combat with your first few Slivers. If they’re still in play a few turns later when their friends show up, even the most mild-mannered Sliver will turn into a ferocious attacker.

FunWithFungus.jpgFun With Fungus

Fungus doesn’t think or sleep—it just spreads and devours. The “Fun with Fungus” deck lets you take the reins of a post-apocalyptic rampage of Thallids, and these freaky fungus fiends won’t take “Eeeeewww!” for an answer.

In the early going, play as many Thallids as possible so they can start building up spore counters. Waiting three turns for enough spore counters to make a single Saproling might seem slow, but when you have three or four Thallids budding at once, you’ll soon have more creatures than you know what to do with.


ArrowContinue reading: "Timespiral's Release and Theme Decks"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 4, 2006

Axis and Allies: Battle of the Bulge

BattleOfTheBulge1.jpgAxis and Allies was a coming of age game for us, acting as a big brother to the Risk. Where as the Parker Brothers game (Risk) is that of global domination, a vary mature subject, it had some serious tantrum issues. Games started with sporadic armies littered across the landscape in somewhat random locations, and the brute force of army movement and combat was a bit one dimensional. Axis and Allies brought us into the world of color: multiple unit types, political starting lines, long term planning and growth, weapons development, and money management, which seriously tickled our fancy.

The game has expanded three times over the years. Axis & Allies Europe came out in 2000, followed a year later by Axis & Allies Pacific. Both titles introduced new unit types and a more focused look at the war's two theaters. Then the series into the Operation-level in 2004 with Axis and Allies D-Day. And in 2005 the series successfully launched into the miniatures gaming market with Axis and Allies Miniatures.

Avalon Hill will continue it's march towards Berlin this November with Axis and Allies: Battle of the Bulge, which will simulate the last major European operation of World War Two.

A wounded Third Reich flails its arms in one last attempt to break the Allied lines. The Allies are outnumbered, outgunned, and without air cover. Can they hold strong until the German's desperate advance literally runs out of gas? Historically, the answer is "yes", but that outcome wasn't inevitable. Will the same result unfold when the plastic boots hit the ground and the treads start rolling across your dining room table?

BattleOfTheBulge2.jpg

The Company Line: German tanks thunder into the snow-covered Ardennes forest, opposed only by a few unsuspecting divisions of exhausted American troops. As Axis forces plunge into the countryside, Allied troops must struggle to hold the front line in order to repel the all-out offensive. Axis & Allies: Battle of the Bulge challenges you to control territory and contend with supply shortages, while directing infantry, artillery, tanks, and aircraft in one of the most decisive conflicts of World War II.
...
One player controls Germany, whose massive build up of forces have gone undetected by the Allies and are poised to unleash all their fury on the Allies. The other player controls the forces of the United Kingdom and the United States and they must stem the tide of German armor and hold their positions until reinforcements arrive.

Axis & Allies Battle of the Bulge is designed for two players and can be played in three to four hours. Axis & Allies Battle of the Bulge is the fourth Axis & Allies variant, following the successful Axis & Allies D-Day, Axis & Allies Europe and Axis & Allies Pacific versions. Axis & Allies Battle of the Bulge is available on November 17th, 2006.

Read more about Axis & Allies: Battle of the Bulge on the game's official website. The game is now available to preorder at Funagain Games, and will ship November 17th.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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