March 31, 2006

"How The Lord of the Rings Should Have Ended"

LOTR.Ending.3.31.06.JPGHere's some "sweet crap, the weekend is almost here!" video hilarity for you. It comes from, a site of we just discovered that has considerable animation talent.

There are other 'endings' besides LOTR's, too, including "Star Wars Episode IV", "The Matrix Revolutions", "Willy Wonka", and an original montage of sci-fi movies, "Surviving An Alien Attack". But the Lotr ending takes first prize.

All of the movies can be found here.


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March 31, 2006

The Best of the Blogpire

Cheapfunwines-2Another week and another Best of the Blogpire. Make sure and check out the latest from all of our blogs and also each blog now offers a mailing list and RSS feed for you to read your news from. Now on with the Best of the Blogpire!

Liquor Snob
- Reviewing Booze Is More Than A Numbers Game - Skorppio Vodka: Feel the Sting

Really Natural - Disturbing News About Organic Dairy Farms - Kashi TLC All Natural Snack Crackers Original 7 Grain

Critical Gamers - Warhammer Marches on PCs this Fall - Spice up your Scrabble with Wildwords

Single Serve Coffee - Review: Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Fair Trade Island Coconut™ K-Cups from Single Serve - Reader Reviews: Aerobie AeroPress Coffee & Espresso Maker

Just The Chips - Texas Hold'em Odds - RFID goes all-in at the casino

Kitchen Contraptions - Cheese Scissors - Wine Preservation Steward

Shaving Stuff - Gillette Fusion Razors - 8 for $14.99 - Free Schick Quattro Midnight Razor

Whats All The Racquet - BROKEBACK BORG - THE FINAL CHAPTER! - What do Vince Spadea and Kevin Federline have in common?

TV Snob - Is That the HDTV you Really Want? - Amazon Now Listing the TCD649180 Dual Tuner Series 2 TiVo

Shirt Snob - Falling in Tank by Ya-Ya - Short Sleeve Top with Leather Band by Lauren Moffatt

GPS Lodge - New Navman GPS Receivers: iCN 720 and iCN 750 with Cameras - Garmin Launches GPSMAP 378 and GPSMAP 478

The Cooking News - Recipe News: Taste of Home Recipes - Wine News: The effect of oxygen on wine

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March 30, 2006

Warhammer Marches on PCs this Fall

Warhammer-3-30.06.gifThe gritty table-top universe of "Warhammer" is slated to get two PC treatments within the next year. Warhammer: Mark of Chaos, a PC real time strategy game from Namco and Black Hole Games, is scheduled for a Q3 2006 release. This should be the closet thing to the Warhammer tabletop experience that the PC has received to date. Players can paint their various unit types using a virtual paintbrush (more like selecting from a color wheel), and provide units with different weapon sets, shield emblems, armor - the works. There should be gobs of options, enough-so that your multiplayer units will have a unique coloring and style and will be easily recognizable on the battlefield

Mark of Chaos will include four Warhammer races from the system's fantasy setting (not the futuristic 40K universe): the human empire complete with rifles and cannons, the fantasy-themed high elves, the rat-men scaven, and the dark human Chaos. The game will sport an overarching strategic battle map that drills-down to the tactical level for the gorgeous real time battles of smoke and blood. Consider miles of rolling terrain in which you position troops to garrison buildings, construct forts, etc, or line-up your forces behind rivers, walls, and hills to ambush your opponent when his army makes that inevitable march into your territory. This isn't a base-building real time strategy title (like Relic's PC Warhammer title Dawn of War), but an army pushing set-piece war. Yes, Mark of Chaos is turning into quite the looker.

Also coming down the pipe is Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, a massive online role playing game (MMORPG) from the folks at Mythic Entertainment (Dark Age of Camelot). Information about this title has been sparse until about a week ago when the first true details were released to the press.


From the official press release: It is a desperate time for the Emperor. A terrible Chaos Plague defiles his lands, ravaging the populace and weakening his armies. Meanwhile, the Dwarf holds in the nearby World's Edge Mountains have come under siege by a massive greenskin horde. Honor-bound by an ancient oath, the ruler of the greatest nation of men in the Old World has dispatched several regiments to assist the embattled Dwarfs, further depleting the Empire's already thin defenses.

In this dark hour, a new threat appears. Under a sky darkened by a crimson eclipse, a great warhost erupts from the wastelands of the north. Bearing the banner of Tzeentch, Changer of the Ways, the army of Chaos marches south for the borders of the Empire, crushing everything in its path.

Mythic also recently released the first trailer for the game, here. It's short, and definitely a good start graphically, but the trailer doesn't serve as a technical demonstration on how the game will play. Will the MMORPG conversion do justice to the massive battlefield of Warhammer's table top standard? This is a major concern for us, but considering Mythic's massively online RPG track record, and Dark Age of Camelot's groundbreaking player versus player war modes, we're content to wait patiently for a little while more.

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning is slated for a 2007 release. We'll keep you posted as more information is released about the title, probably at the Electronic Entertainment Expo mid-May. For now you can find more information and sign-up for their monthly newsletter on their official website, here.

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March 28, 2006

Battlestar Galactica CCG: "Focus on Resources"

BSG.CCG.3.28.06.jpgThe official website of the upcoming Battlestar Galactica Collectible Card Game has posted their second feature article "Focus on Resources" which discusses the game's resource-card mechanics.

Think of resource production in BS:G as your faction's ability to gear-up for war. Your main base (the Battlestar Galactica, for instance) will be your major production house at the start of the game. Each turn it'll produce some of the game's various resource types (3 in all) which you spend to bring more cards into play.

Some of your other cards will be specialized production houses of their own that add to your resource-pool each turn. These production centers are important since you'll need their extra oomph to play the game's beefier, more powerful cards.

If you find yourself in a resource rut, then you can also discard any card from your hand and place it face-down underneath one of your existing resource producers. This destroys your discarded card for all intents and purposes, but grants that resource production stack a +1 bonus on all subsequent turns. You can continue to grow any one or you stacks by repeatedly burning cards to boost its power.

From "Focus On Resources" In the Battlestar Galactica™ collectable card game (CCG), controlling the flow of resources is just as important. There are three resources: persuasion, logistics, and security. Persuasion is linked to the decisions made by influential individuals, and it also illustrates the insidious plans of the Cylons. Logistics covers the management of supplies and equipment. Security is primarily the projection of military force, using fighters, scout craft, and heavily armed pilots and marines.

The game's mechanics seem to be shaping up quite nicely. We now have fewer questions about gameplay, but the ultimate question still remains: Does the game have enough content and twists to be a fun game for the long-run.

We need to see more cards to answer this question. Unfortunately, the official site's card gallery isn't up yet.

Inquiring minds want to know!

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March 27, 2006

Spice up your Scrabble with Wildwords

WildWords.3.27.06.jpg Scrabble's random draw of tiles, well-designed board, and game play that shifts the context of the game after every turn makes it one of the most replayable games in history. But If you're anything like us then you've grown a bit tired of the same common Scrabble pitfalls. We hate festering through an entire game hoping to pickup that elusive 'U' tile to match the 'Q' we drew in the first round. That's just not fun, nor is getting a Z and all consonants. Frustrating indeed, and we've all been there too often. Yes, we know that "Qat", "Qintar" and "Qaid" are all valid Q-words, but they only get you so far, and Qat usually doesn't net very many points.

Enter Wildwords, a game that thwacks your frontal Scrabble lobe with the wooden stock of an elephant gun. No longer will you play with only the letters in the tray in front of you -- now the voices inside your head get their turn, too (and the leprechaun with the super nova eyes told us that's healthy.)

Wildwords adds Asterisk tiles and the new wild card squares to the Scrabble board. Both of these wildcard elements can represent either a single letter, or a series of letters. You don't have to declare what a word is when you play a wild card. However an opponent may challenge you immediately after the play, at which point you're forced to declare what the word is (or was, or will be if you've gotta be like that). If you can produce a legal word then your opponent loses their turn. They had it coming.

The rules for the Wildwords Scrabble variant are actually quite simple, and are perfectly described on the game's official web page. They even host a short video tutorial (streaming) and a sample game in case you're still skeptical. But how could you be?

Wildwords is available is on sale now on the game's official website. G*e it a go!

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March 26, 2006

"Axis & Allies Miniatures Contested Skies" Released

P51DMustang3.26.06.jpgThe collectible game Axis and Allies Miniatures expands this weekend with 45 new units in the new "Contested Skies" booster series. The main focus is on the main fighter and ground attack aircraft of WWII: The United States receives the P-51D Mustang (of course), the Soviet Air Force - the IL-10 Sturmovik, the Germans get both the JU 87G Stuka diver bomber and the Bf109E fighter, and the Japanese receive the Mitsubishi A6M Zero.

The expansion includes ground forces for each these factions, and more (!), including the lumbering French bathtub Char B1 tank, and various anti-aircraft guns and vehicles. The official website has a complete Gallery of the 45 miniatures which make-up the set, and also lists each piece's rarity (note: all aircraft are 'rare').

The Contested Skies expansion ships in the form of booster packs, which are on sale now.

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March 24, 2006

Ventures of Argent - Open Beta

Ventures of Argent is a fantasy adventure board game currently available for free (in beta form) from the game's official website. We know what you're thinking - free board games tend to lack polish, but you'd be smacked-wrong if you applied that generalization onto Ventures. This game may be in black and white but it's gorgeous - the documentation is chalk-full of great content like flavor text, detailed maps, and great illustrations. The tangibles are on par with (if not surpass) most budget games out there, and it could show some premier titles a thing or two, too.

Players of "Ventures" create a group of 5 characters (called.. uh.. "ventures") who travel as a party through the regions of the game's world map. The venture group is free to explore various locales including towns, forests, and dungeons as they level up for the big boss battle at the end of the game. Movement on the main map might incur a random combat encounter (decided by a factor of location and the roll of the dice at the end of the turn). The game has a simple yet flexible combat system, complete with positioning and targeting mechanics, a damage and healing system, and item rewards.

Ventures of Argent is currently in open beta and is available to download for free(!) from the game's official website. The download (a .zip archive) contains a collection of printable Adobe PDF documents including the game map, character sheets and documentation (there's also collection of unit markers that you can print, cut-out, and fold, but we'd recommend that you stick with figures or tokens from another game until you've decided pursue that arts and crafts project). You'll need WinZip and Adobe Acrobat to open and print these files.

The game is meant for a a group of 5 friends to huddle around a table and play, but also has a solo mode and a campaign mode if you want to add persistence to your characters.

Finally, just inferring from the layout of the game's website, Ventures might be only one game in a series of titles that take place in the detailed World of Argent. We'll see if dig up any information on anything else coming down the pipe from designer M.A. Snowden.

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March 23, 2006

Forbes Lists Top 10 Business Games

Money.3.23.06.JPGIt's understandable if that special businessman or women in your life is disinterested in playing anything other than the money swapping hotelfest that's Monopoly. It is a classic after all. But don't give up yet -- you might find salvation in Forbes' recently published list of top 10 Business themed games. We haven't played all of these games (So Sue Me!, I'm the Boss), but the titles that we're familiar with should liven up the tabletop of any fiscally responsible family.

Now - it's surprising that the classic Acquire didn't make the list, or get some sort of honorable mention at the very least. Maybe It's omission was due to the title being out of print for a while. Still -- it's very easy to snagg a used copy off ebay. Feel free to append it as the shadowy 11th entry to the shiny Forbes Top 10... consider it an exercisable stock option from us to you.

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Chose Your Own Adventure Books - Welcome Back!

ChoseYourOwnAdventure.3.23.06.jpgSandwiched somewhere between Tintin on the left, and Bunnicula on the right, the line of Chose Your Own Adventure books were the missing links of children literature. Sure, you weren't really reading an entire book at once, but with CYOA's you explored 'literature', playing through a book like it was a game. There was something so very new and exciting about that.

Then just as suddenly as a suspended vat of acid spilled and killed you off on page 64, CYOA books disappeared from the face of the Earth. It was bizarre - they just upped and vanished like they were part of Steve Guttenburg's private library.

But now they're back. It's 2006 -- holy smokes and Happy days. Kids the world over can bask in the same young-adult lit freedom that broadened our minds some 20 years ago. We might pick up a few copies ourselves for old time's sake.

Barnes and Noble has exclusive rights to 18 titles available today from their online store, and the books will be available from other retailers near the end of May.

From an official press release by Shannon Gilligan, Executive Vice President of Chooseco "For over 25 years, CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE has captured our imagination and our spirit for adventure as we have read and collected the many treasured volumes of this series. These unique books empower and challenge 7-12 year olds with decision-making throughout each story. After initial publication in 1980, the series quickly became a cultural phenomenon. The interactive adventures feature multiple choices, multiple endings, and countless story variations with “you” – the reader – as the protagonist of the story. The Choose Your Own Adventure books have over 250 million copies in print worldwide, and each book of the first 15 titles is at least a one million copy bestseller. Featuring new illustrations and covers, all of the texts have been updated for a new generation to reflect technological advances, recent historical discoveries and current political realities."
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March 22, 2006

Caylus is Back in Stock

Caylus.3.22.06.jpgThere has been a drought of Caylus ever since it stormed through stores on its initial release. Getting your hands on a copy has been a hit or miss endeavor, well, until now.

Caylus is an acclaimed city builder from Rio Grande Games, and a fad amongst those who thirst for complexity. The rules are thick, the gameplay is long (a couple of hours usually) and so Caylus isn't something you should pick up if you're just getting back into gaming. It's also a bad choice if you're bringing an outsider to the table for a quick game of 'something'. For that we'd recommend Carcasonne or Settlers of Catan.

However, if you've been the gaming scene for a while and like gobs of options at each turn, or the ability to effect the outcome of the game from multiple fronts, then Caylus is a great pickup. The game scales-well from 2 players to 5, and plays very differently depending on how many people are involved. Most importantly, is that it's been received fantastically well by almost everyone that's gotten their grubby hands on it. Heck, take as testament that Rio Grande was forced to run a second printing of the game less than a year after Caylus' initial release.

You might want to pounce-now and grab a copy before it disappears again. It's at for the cheap (10 bucks off MSRP).


The Company Line: 1289. To strengthen the borders of the Kingdom of France, King Philip the Fair decided to have a new castle built. For the time being, Caylus is but a humble village, but soon, workers and craftsmen will be flocking by the cartload, attracted by the great prospects. Around the building site, a city is slowly rising up…

The players embody master builders. By building the King’s castle and developing the city around it, they earn prestige points and gain the King’s favor. When the castle is finished, the player who has earned the most prestige wins the game.


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March 21, 2006

Battlestar Galactica CCG: "Welcome to the Combat Information Center"

BattlestarGalactica.3.21.06a.jpgThe first feature article on the official BS:G Collectible Card Game website has been published. "Welcome to the Combat Information Center" does well to solidify game details which have already been released in fractured previews here and there, and it lays the groundwork for future upcoming feature articles. If you haven't read-up on this game yet then "Welcome to the Combat Information Center" serves as a great starting point.

From "Welcome to the Combat Information Center": The complex storyline of Battlestar Galactica call for constantly changing situations. We create a similar experience in the game by providing an interactive sequence of play. So, instead of using the terms “your turn” and “my turn,” we use the term “our turn.”
See, space isn't so vast and lonely if we all gather around for a quick hug every once in a while. But don't cluster -- Cylons have nukes.

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Refurbished Games from JRC Collectibles

Midway.3.21.06.jpgWe just unwrapped a copy of Midway! (1964) that we purchased anonymously from JRC Collectibles' eBay store, and we're floored how lovingly refurbished this copy is. JRC told us that they took the choicest bits from multiple copies of the same board game. These lesser versions sacrificed themselves to create this final polished collection of pieces, boards, rules-- the works. They even gave us the original paper pads that game with the game over 40 years ago.

You can almost feel the post World War / mid Cold War American propaganda particles jump off the paper and onto your skin. This has that old board-game smell that all the pre-Regan titles have. It was only 40 bucks, and that friend's - is insane.

We found JRC while searching for some recent out of print titles. What we found was 8 pages of vintage board games from the hay day of our youth (and even further back in time). If you're looking for something from your childhood, or something to add your "History of Board Games" collection, then definitely check out their online auction store.

Note: JRC isn't paying us, at all. We're just happy with the product the sent us. :')

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March 20, 2006

World of Warcraft TCG Interview

World_of_Warcraft_Logo.3.6.06.jpgWe're big fans of the World of Warcraft online role playing game, so the WoW TCG has always been more than just a blip on our fall '06 radar. And when posted this great WoW TCG interview with Upper Deck's Cory Jones (Director of New Product Development), we frothed at the mouth, read it thrice, and then enjoyed a cigarette for peaceful reflection. World of Warcraft the TCG is a huge title coming down the pipe with what seems like tons of content and a very strong backing from Upper Deck, and reading this great stuff only makes us want it more.

The interview brings special attention to how well the card-art is shaping up for this game. Upper Deck has signed famous talents like Spawn artist Todd McFarlane, fantasy artist Boris Vallejo, and the guys at Penny Arcade to make art for the individual cards. Upper Deck hasn't had problem signing artists for two reasons: there are a ton of famous artists who love the World of Warcraft Massive Online PC Game, and who are more than willing to contribute to the TCG version, and also because it's rumored that Upper Deck has spent four times the art budget of any of the previous titles in their "Vs." line of trading card games. Four Times!

WoW_Mike.3.20.06.JPGAs a cool variant to normal gameplay, the WoW TCG will also have Raid Decks (the dragon Onyxia was named for example). In a raid you and your friends will customize your character decks to work together as a party to solve specific challenges of the raid. Each raid deck will come with a gold foiled wrapped treasure chest collection of cards that will contain special item rewards for your group when it completes the challenge. It was slightly unclear if raids will only be held at sanctioned tournaments, or if these raid decks will be available for personal purchase (hopefully). Either way, it's a freakin' cool side mechanic, and it complements the game's overarching character development.

Some products will also have special scratch card rewards, either as part of purchased decks, or as tournament rewards. These scratch cards will contain codes that unlock content for players in the PC version of WoW.

The WoW trading card game is shaping up to be fantastic blend of social card gaming and World of Warcraft character building goodness, and every new bit of information makes this game sound better and better. Read more of the interview here.

The WoW TCG is currently slated for a late-September/early-October 2006 release.

That's Sarya in bear-form. She likes to gnaw on the heads of children who dont sit still.

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March 17, 2006

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


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.

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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.

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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.

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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 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 Permalink social bookmarking

Rubik's Cube Coffee Tables

RubiksCubeTable.3.10.06.jpgGizmodo has a great find on a set of Rubik's Cube Styled Coffee Tables.

These things don't shift and twist like the true game, but they're certainly the spitting image. Best of all, they're available for purchase online! Jellio, the creator of the table, has some other freakin' cool things they've dipped into vats of acrylic, including a "Light Table" very reminiscent of a giant Light Bright, and a series of coasters made from laminated ViewFinder discs. Sweet.

You can never go wrong with ViewFinder discs.

Critical Gamers Staff Permalink social bookmarking

Learn to Pick the Most Luscious Wines on the Planet for Under $20 at

Cheapfunwines-1We're pretty excited here at Blogpire Productions to tell you about our new site - Cheap Fun Wines.

How many times have you shelled out ten bucks for a bottle of wine only to have your hopes dashed when you poured the first glass? The staff at is here to help. They're goal is to find the most luscious bottles of affordable wine on the planet for under $20.

Kim and the staff at love wine. There is little in life that’s more fun for them than pouring a new wine or revisiting an old favorite.

What they don’t love is wine snobbery. At www.CheapFunWines they'll promise to write about wine in plain English and make fun of people who don’t. That said, they don't profess to be a wine experts. They're totally wine beginners - each with a keen sense of smell, a decent palate, a passion to learn, and a sense of humor.

For the past six years, the staff at has often trekked to wineries in Napa and Sonoma, trying dozens of reds and whites. Slowly, they've learned what they like (Full-bodied Cab and peppery Syrah) and don't like (Bombastic fruity Zin and overblown Chardonnay).

At CheapFunWines the staff won’t always be right. They won’t always use the proper wine vocabulary. But that’s OK. They're all learning together. So pop a cork and join them on a fun journey to a cheaper, better bottle of vino. And send them your favorites!


Blogpire Productions 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, and at for a buck cheaper.

Critical Gamers Staff Permalink social bookmarking

March 8, 2006 Catalogs 100 Free Games on the Web

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'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:

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 Permalink social bookmarking

March 7, 2006

3D Settlers of Catan Giveaway

Catan3d.3.7.06.gifThroughout the month of March, Funagain Games is collecting raffle entries for their $400 3D Settlers of Catan giveaway. This version comes with a slick wooden box to crown your bookshelf, and has some seriously well crafted pieces. Look at this thing! Cities are nestled between mountains and plains of wheat. Forest actually look like.. forests!

One of our problems with the standard version of Catan is that the terrain types aren't visually consistent with the design of the resource cards, and that's pretty confusing for new players. Well that's definitely fixed in the this version. Catan has never looked this vibrant and alive.

Purchase any MayFair Games (the publisher of Catan) title from Funagain's website to enter the raffle through the month of March. Considering the eleven-pages of MayFair's titles - that really shouldn't be a problem.

Critical Gamers Staff 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 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 Permalink social bookmarking

March 2, 2006

War of the Ring Expansion News

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!

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 Permalink social bookmarking

March 1, 2006

Guildpact Hits Magic Online

RumblingSlum.jpgOkay, okay. Guildpact MTG:O went live on Monday, but today the bell strikes leagues o'clock. We're not rich enough to throw money at online just-for-fun-cards, but now we gots a reason to pay and play. Leagues!

The Leagues open at noon PST, which is only a short time from now. You'll need the normal Event Tickets (2), Ravnica Tournament Pack (1), and Guildpact Boosters (3), all of which are available via the MTG:O webstore.

Each league will launch when full (256 players), and is scheduled to last one week with a total of 5 matches to play. These Release Leagues pay 2x the normal prizes, and also unlock avatars for participation. And If you're so freakin' good that you can go 5-0, then you'll get a special avatar: Rumbling Slum. He sounds gorgeous.

The other Release Event signups open at 9:00am PST and include draft tournaments and Flights that pay 2x, 4x, or 6x the normal number of booster pack prizes. See the Magic Online Guildpact Release Event page for a complete list of relaese events requirements, schedules, and payouts.

Good luck in the pact... but not too much luck. We'd hate to lose to you.

Critical Gamers Staff Permalink social bookmarking

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