March 17, 2006

Spotlight Fantasy Flight Games' 2006, Part 2: Board Games

Warriorknights.3.16.06.jpg

We had a good look yesterday at Fantasy Flight's lineup of 'Big Box' games. Their titles for 2006 seem downright solid, and we'll be knee-deep in war gaming goodness for most of the second half of this year. But the Big Box games are a bit of a side cart to our standard gaming menu - because they take an entire afternoon to play, and afternoon on weekends are precious.

Thankfully their standard lineup is looking strong as well. First up is the redesign of Warrior Knights, a game of diplomatic positioning and territorial conquest as you vie for control of an empty medieval throne.

The Company Line: In Warrior Knights, each player takes on the role of a Baron vying for control of the Kingdom. Each Baron commands four faithful Nobles who lead his armies into battle. Each Baron seeks to capture cities in order to gain Influence, which is used to measure his claim to the throne. Barons may also seek to gain advantage by increasing their income, gathering Votes to use at the Assembly, or by amassing Faith, which can be used to gain a measure of control over chance events. Only through cunning strategy and careful diplomacy can a Baron hope to attain victory.
Warrior Knights supports 2-6 players, and ships this May.

MarvelHeros.3.16.06.jpgThen, shortly afterwards in July, Fantasy Flight will release 'Marvel Heroes: The Board Game'. We're not Comic Book gurus here (by the slightest), but we're still exited about this one because it's designers also created The War of the Ring; a game for which we have the utmost reverence. Each player in Marvel will control one of the Marvel Superhero teams, and also a Supervillan Mastermind to keep the other player's teams in-check. Board games that let you play two sides cuts into the downtime of normal turn taking -- that's a definitely a good thing. And if War of the Ring is any proof of design talent (which it so very much is) then we'll be enjoying this one immensely.

Finally Blue Moon City, a board adapatation of a card game with the same name, was also just announced. We've gotta be perfectly honest - we've never played the Blue Moon City card game, so we're not quite sure of the background story of this title. What we do know, though, is that this one is a substantial builder gamer with a dynamic board :

From Fantasy Flight Games' 3/16 'Rant' from Greg: Players vie to impress the dragons, collect crystals, and ultimately gain leadership of Blue Moon City. The game's modular board is formed from 21 large building tiles, which show building plans on one side and reconstructed buildings on the other. The game also features wooden player figures, 80 cards, and three large plastic dragons.
No word on a release date for Blue Moon City yet, but initial signs point to June.

Fantasy Flight will also release expansions for a boat load of their current board games titles We've already covered the 'War of the Ring: Battles of the Third Age' expansion quite a bit. But there's like, 15 more. They're cranking out titles like a circus monkey on crack.

AGameOfThrones.3.16.06.jpgA Game of Thrones is getting its second board game expansion. 'A Storm of Swords' will include expand upon the 6 person main game with new leader cards, house cards and tactics cards for every house in the game including House Martell (which was added by the prior expansion 'A Clash of Kings' ). 'A Storm of Swords' also includes a separate 4 player game with completely new components and victory conditions. Best of all - this thing has already shipped to the printer, so we're talking a June release!

Arkham Horror will be expanded by the "Dunwich Horror" expansion, which includes a completely separate companion game in the same box. Twlight Imperium is set for an expansion in November that includes 4 new races, and "Descent: Journeys in the Dark" gets two (count them, two!) expansions. The Well of Darkness is due-out in June and includes thirty more plastic miniatures, six new heroes, new monsters and new quests. The second unnamed expansion is set for December, and will include iverarching campaign rules(!). Nice.

The World of Warcraft board game will also expand twice this year. "Shattered Kingdom" will contain gobs of new cards (hundreds), including new class powers, a new item deck full of trinkets and artifacts, and a new quest deck. Then a full-sized expansion is slated for November, which we ass-u-me will include content from the new Burning Crusade World of Warcraft computer game expansion.

LOTR.3.16.06.jpgFinally The Lord of the Rings board game (not to be confused with War of the Ring) will receive another expansion. "Battlegrounds" provides battlefields for the boards in the original game. The positioning of units on the new battlegrounds will effect the main game.. but we're not quite yet sure how. Fantasy Flight should fully release the information gates on this title in April.

Oh man. this is one helluva strong lineup for 2006. We can't wait to get our hands on .. well just about all of 'em. We'll have more information about each title as it gets closer to release.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 15, 2006

Spotlight Fantasy Flight Games' 2006, Part 1: Big Box Games

Starcraft.3.14.06.jpgThe Game Manufacturers Association trade show (GTS), is in full swing in Las Vegas and Fantasy Flight Games has announced a shoppingcart full of gaming goodness heading our way for later this year.

If you're like us and sometimes enjoy involved board gaming goodness along the lines of the multiple hour sessions of Axis and Allies and War of the Ring, then Fantasy Flight 2006's Big Box Game lineup should both tickle and smash your frontal lobe like dumpster full of feathers. "Big Box" games are titles chalk full of tons of pieces, large boards, and complex rules, but yet somehow remain open and inviting enough for we non war gaming grognards.

Topping the list is the board game adaptation of the Blizzard Real Time Strategy PC Game: Starcraft. Fantasy Flight has had tremendous success with their conversion of the World of Warcraft MMORPG to an RPG board game title, but mapping an RTS PC game to a board game is a wee bit of a stretch for an automatic runaway hit. We're very curious how this one will play-out.. here's the officially unofficial company line so far:

From Fantasy Flight Games' 3/16 'Rant' from Greg: "[Starcraft] features a large central game board depicting the Starcraft galaxy, as well as nine separate smaller boards that each represent a specific planet in the Starcraft universe. Players will control the familiar Terran, Protoss, or Zerg space and ground units in a bid for domination of these nine worlds. The combat system is fast and diceless, featuring an innovative mechanic that utilizes transparent plastic game cards. The game will feature dozens of beautifully sculpted plastic figures, dozens of cards, lots of high-quality cardboard tokens and markers, a large game board and several mini-boards, and all of the other great components that pack our epic-size games. Starcraft: The Board Game is scheduled for release in October.

ReinsOfPower.3.14.06.jpgThe two other Big Box Games take place right here on planet Earth. "Reins of Power" is a game of near-future global supremacy where players wear two hats: they act as the leader of an existing world power (such as the US, EU, China) but the also act as domestic opponent to an opposing player. In this second role players will inhibit their opponents actions from the inside-out, like a political rival stepping in the way, or like Greenpeace driving a boat through an offshore oil derrick. The game's tension points probably won't be battles, but global hotspot outbreaks like famine and terrorism. Quite the interesting dynamic, and a perfect topic for these modern days. Reins of Power is due in September.

TideOfIron.3.14.06.jpgThe WWII squad based war game "Tide of Iron" brings up the rear. Not much is yet known about this December release other than there will be gobs of pieces to push around the dynamic (configurable) tactical battle map. Sounds pretty good to us.

I'm sure we'll hear more from Fantasy Flight's 2006 Big Box games when GTS wraps-up and they have the time to write some game previews. We'll keep you posted.

Now, Fantasy Flight's 2006 lineup isn't entirely comprised of these marathon war games (but in our eyes they're the main drool factor of the release schedule). Tomorrow we'll give you the lowdown on some other F.F. products set to ship this year, including expansion packs and something that the Marvel comic kids might enjoy.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 14, 2006

Rocketville Released

Rocketville.3.14.06.jpg"Rocketville Launched" seemed far too obvious.
Avalon Hill's new 1950's futuristic political campaign game hit North American stores this weekend. Players race against one another to lay claim over various political regions in the city of Rocketville on their way to becoming Mayor. The game has a thick (and quite enjoyable) slab of 1950's futuristic styling, from the astro board to the VTOL rocket ship player-markers. It's as though a 1950's cafeteria in NASA's headquarters puked all over this title (you know, in a good way). Here's the CL:

The Company Line: Congratulations, citizen! Your application to enter the race for the office of mayor of Rocketville has been approved. Please report immediately to the Central Launchpad ... your campaign is about to begin.
In this fast-paced game of luck and strategy, you and other candidates travel via rocket from district to district campaigning for votes -- making promises, garnering endorsements, and recruiting robotic assistance -- in a mad dash t win the hearts, minds, and CPUs of your fellow sentient beings.
Avalon Hill posted three preview articles over the past few weeks leading up to release. They do a great job detailing the game components and gameplay, and when spliced together one after another you'd swear this was an extended game overview that shipped in the box. You should definitely give them a once-over if this game interests you:

1: Rocketville: Welcome Aboard Citizen!
2: Rocketville: How to Win Friends and Influence Voters
3: Rocketville: Now in 32 Flavors

Rocketville is available today from the online game store Funagain Games at 7 bucks off the MSRP.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 13, 2006

MT:G Guidpact Draft Strategies

MagicGuildpactIzlet3.13.06.jpgWe've played enough Guildpact (via Magic Online) to have hit that "comfortable" level of card knowledge. Replicate has been a cinch since day one, but Haunting no longer scares us, and we've learned that the 'trick' to Bloodthirst isn't knowing when to use it, but knowing how to defend against it.

Now It's time to put a draft-tournament together to see which critical-genius is the alpha male of the 'pact.

It's funny how well things fall into place in life. Synchronicity I suppose - 'cause Wizards of the Coast just posted a great feature article regarding Guildpact Drafting Strategies. This is only part one of two, so the article doesn't march headstrong toward a end-all conclusion, but there's still some great tidbits in here.

This seems like Noah Weil's first article for official Magic:TG website, and yet he's got the saphrolings to flatout rank the Guildpact faction from best to worst: 1.Izzet (Red/Blue) 2.Gruul (Red/Green) 3.Orzhov (White/Black). A fairly lbrave move I must say, but he describes why he's made his selections, and his reasons are hard to disagree with.

Click here to read the full article.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 10, 2006

War of the Ring Expansion Preview

BattlesThirdAge.3.2.06.gifKristofer Bengtsson over at Fantasy Flight Games has posted a great Battles of the Third Age Preview article. Battles of the Third Age (set to ship this April) is an expansion for the epic and addicting War of the Ring board game. It adds more units and characters to the preexisting Strategy wargame, and also includes a whole new tactical game to play-out some of the famous set battles from the Lord of The Rings novels.

This preview article focuses on the strategy expansion (not the set battles). He're a snippet:

Then we have Sméagol. But he is already in the game, you say! You are correct in a way, but also incorrect. Sméagol, Tamed Wretch, represents the chance that the Fellowship had caught him following them earlier than Frodo and Sam did in the book. What would have happened if Strider or Gandalf had still been around when Sméagol was tamed? Had they been able to make better use of him as Guide than Frodo and Sam did? Now we can find out.
Damn straight we can, and we will, when the expansion ships next month.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 9, 2006

Apples to Apples Online Demonstration

ApplesToApples.3.9.06.jpgApples to Apples [Amazon, Funagain] has been out for a few years now (2004) , but lately it's exploded in popularity and has made a huge name of Out of the Box Publishing. The game rules are simple, and there pieces are limited - just twotwo decks of cards. This could be a great title to throw-down on on the dinner party table after dessert, or when your vacationing with friends. Here's how the core of the gameplay works:

The group elects a 'judge' for the first hand (the title of judge rotates around the table after every hand is played). Players are dealt a a hand of RED cards, the noun cards, which contain the name of a person, place or event.

The first round starts when the judge flips over a GREEN adjective card, and places it on the table. The rest of the players have some time to mull over their hand of RED noun cards to select one that is best described by the GREEN adjective card in play. The RED cards are played in secret, then collected and shuffled together. The judge looks them over and then selects the one they like the most. Points are awarded to the player who played the RED card the judge thinks best matches the GREEN card. Then the role of judge shifts clockwise, and a new round starts.

The kicker of this one is that you're constantly playing to the judge in clever and creative ways. The relationship between the GREEN adjective and the RED noun could have an abstract relationship in your judge's mind, so knowing the judge's sense of humor could net you big points. For instance, if a GREEN card "Mean" is played, then Judge-Dave would probably elect "Algebra" over "Chuck Norris" from a RED card selection, where as Judge-Russ would probably pick the kickboxing Texas Ranger

Afterall, Chuck Norris doesn't see the color red, he hears it.

Anyway, Out of the Box has a complete demonstration of a hand of Apples to Apples on their official website. The game definitely looks interesting, especially when played amongst close friends

The Company Line: Apples to Apples® is the wild, award-winning card and party game that provides instant fun for four to ten players!
It's as easy as "comparing apples to apples"...just open the box, deal the cards, and you're ready to play! Select the card from your hand that you think is best described by a card played by the judge. If the judge picks your card, you win that round. And everyone gets a chance to be the judge!
Each round is filled with surprising and outrageous comparisons from a wide range of people, places, things, and events. Fast moving and refreshing, Apples to Apples is perfect for any get-together with family and friends!

Apples To Apples is currently available at Amazon.com, and at FunagainGames.com for a buck cheaper.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 8, 2006

1UP.com Catalogs 100 Free Games on the Web

FreeGames.3.8.06.jpg
Games are good, and in case you slept through that crucial first session of Economics 099, then we should remind you of something else: Free is Good. So 1UP.com's list of 100 Free Games Online is two Good. 2-Good > 1-Good, by a factor of 2, and thus far superior to a standard game, or a free grilled cheese sandwich.

And nobody wants a free grilled cheese sandwich. Would you eat that crap? Did someone spit on this? Was it dropped on the floor? Was it poisioned? Why does it smell like pennies?? Stop pushing this sandwich on me! No - I don't know where the freakin' YMCA is!! STEP OFF!

*cold sweat*

Now, we realize we're a site focused on board-games stamped from the real-life carcasses of Brazilian Rain Forests, but that doesn't mean these virtual computertoric games should be ignored. The 100-Game List has a few genre subsections that might interest the table-top gamer:

Adventure/RPGs
Puzzle Games
Strategy Games

Special note on a confusing deja vu-fest: The 'Next Page' link on the bottom of Page 3 leads right-back to top of Page 3, and not to Page 4. There's an easy workaround - just go back to the story's front page and click on page 4 in the index near the bottom.

Oh, poor clown. The '80's are over; kids want brand-name talents now.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 6, 2006

World Of Warcraft CCG Survey

World_of_Warcraft_Logo.3.6.06.jpgUpper Deck is asking for 15 minutes of your time to help shape their upcoming World of Warcraft Collectible Card Game. Twelve lucky participating surveyors will receive a free WoW CCG Starter Pack when the game is released.

Meld a game to your liking, and receive free booty?? Not too shabby.

Click here to participate in the survey.

Edit: It seems that the website is very hit or miss this evening. If it won't load then you should check back with them tomorrow.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 3, 2006

Night of Fire! (Yah!)

NightOfFire.3.2.06.jpgHere's a surreal vid clip to shake-up your Friday blues.

From the Google Video page: This is a cover of the well-known eurobeat hit NIGHT OF FIRE, by the HINOI Team, and Korikki. Korikki is a wrestler guy. It's... odd.

What does this have to do with games? Nothing, really. Well there IS a cape-wearing, fire-breathing Japanese wrestler, and although we've never actually played a game with a fire breathing Japanese wrestler before, we think it'd make a good one. Plus he has a throne with a dragon mural behind it. Oh and also - he dances with a Japanse Girl Band. Are you still reading this?!? Click the freakin' link already! Sheesh.

Night of Fire (yah!) is one of those things that's both awful and fascinating at the same time. It's not quite at the same level of 'awfully fascinating' that Yatta set, though -- that's going too far. Nothing beats a good Yatta.

Enjoy the weekend!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 2, 2006

War of the Ring Expansion News

BattlesThirdAge.3.2.06.gif
A pair of the designers at Fantasy Flight Games have posted an article previewing the new War of the Ring expansion 'Battles of the Third Age'. The expansion adds new characters, new cards, and new siege units to the already ginormous War of the Ring board game. Battles of the Third Age is also a game itself (!), with a new board and rules to setup and play a pair of famous fictitious battles from the Lord of the Rings trilogy - the battle for Minas Tirith and Helm's Deep.

War of the Ring - Battles of the Third Age introduces new armies and figures, including the Ents, Dunlendings, Siege Towers, Catapults, Orc Archers, Southron Cavalry, and more!

You will have a chance to add these new figures to make your War of the Ring battles even more fun ... and to re-fight the battles of Helm's Deep and Minas Tirith on a new gameboard, with new rules which move the game from the grand-strategy to the tactical scale and add a whole new dimension to War of the Ring!

WarOfTheRingBoardShot.jpg
You can read more about the game in the featured preview article here. There's also a strategy guide detailing the Free Peoples Cards. If you have any uncertainty about your strategy, or confusion over rules, then this ones a must read.

We've been drooling over the War of the Ring quite a bit, and so we have our eyes strongly fixed on this expansion pack. The siege engines should definitely shakeup the tactical side of things, and the smaller set battles should quench our thirst when we don't have an entire afternoon to set aside for the full strategic Tolkien slugfest.

Mmmm.. more LoTR warfare goodness. The Battles of the Third Age expansion is set to ship in early March (and that's like, now).

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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