November 30, 2006

BattleLore Ships to Retailers, and Tom Vasel Reviews It

BattleLore Stacked Five Boxes HighIt's official. According to a post on November 29th, 2006 - which is yesterday - Days of Wonder has boxed and stacked their Holiday baby on flat bed trucks, and BattleLore is en route to distributors across North America and Europe (we assume there's a boat or a jet involved somewhere, too). If you've already preordered BattleLore [Funagain] then you can expect the war game to be unpacked on your dining room table by the end of next week. Probably even earlier.

We've heard that BattleLore might be so well-received by the gaming community that this single release will have a noticeable impact on the direction of the board gaming market for the next few years. We'll soon see if that's all prerelease-hype, or if we really are on the verge of a title that enormous and ground breaking. BattleLore Cover

Thankfully Tom Vasel - the game reviewing machine - has already some left clues pointing to the potential success of the new wargaming system. He's posted a very, very positive - and very interesting - review of BattleLore on Boardgame News. Definitely worth your time if you or your friends are thirsting for a new war game experience.

BattleLore is said to officially ship on Monday, and it's available to preorder from Funagain Games.

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November 29, 2006

The Settler of Catan's Long Lost Brothers

SettlersOfCatan.11.29.06.jpgHere's one for all of you Settler's of Catan [Amazon, Funagain] fans - 'Nick' from Mayfair Games (publisher of famous The Settlers of Catan) has posted a great article on entitled "The Origins of Catan". The article describes Settlers' designer Klaus Teuber's grand idea to create a massive game with three very different elements of gameplay: the exploration of the unknown, the establishment of settlements on the frontier, and then the feuding of those settlements over various resources in that new land.

But that design was too big to fit into just one box, and what we now know as The Settlers of Catan is actually one game in a spiritual trilogy - the middle game, actually.

Entdecker"The Origins of Catan" describes the other two products that Klaus Teuber later released. "Entdecker" (1996) [Amazon, Funagain] (which is German for "Discoverer") is the exploration portion of the franchise, and a prequel to The Settlers of Catan (1995). Players of Entdecker set out in to explore an uncharted sea (blank board) by flipping over randomly-drawn tiles to reveal an uncharted map of new islands. Once discovered, the players race amongst each other to settle the strongest colony in the new island chain.

DomaineAnd finally "Domaine" (2003) [Amazon, Funagain] caps the epic design. Here players elbow at each other over the control of various portions of land, placing walls and deploying knights to protect their domain, and selling resources produced from the mines they control to become the most powerful and richest player.

The article at goes into more detail about how these games eventually came into being, but the best news for the Settler's fan is that these are widely available today. So if you've loved Settlers after all these years, and you're looking for Settler's 2 - then you've been fooled! The game's sequels are already out!

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November 28, 2006

"Medieival 2: Total War" - Released

Medieval 2: Total WarTruth be had, Medieval 2: Total War [Amazon] came-out over a week ago, but we wanted to hold off on the falling balloons and showers of confetti until we were sure this game was worth your while. And it is. It so is.

If ever you've been interested in the Medieval period of history, or if you've ever played or been interested in a game that simulates the forging of medieval kingdoms through warfare, then this is a pc game you.

Like the other games of the Total War franchise (Shogun, Medieval, and Rome) Medieval 2 is a game with two main contexts. Players of the single player campaign pick a medieval kingdom from history, and are provided a strategic map of provincial Europe 1100 AD. Here players manage the board game-like elements city production of M2TW. maintenance by setting tax rates, constructing social projects, training spies, priests, merchants, and assassins, and sending them on missions into foreign territory. As your feudal nation builds momentum, armies will march from your castles to bring those 'uncivilized' fringe provinces under the fold of your kingdom. Eventually entire nations will butt heads in total war - medieval style.

That's when the game shifts context and zooms into a close view of the battleground. Here players control troop formations of spearmen, swordsmen, archers and knights in real time. Units charge into battle and engage each other in ruthless man-to-main slicing and dicing. The fights reward tactical prowess - where morale is damaged by flanking maneuvers, flaming arrows and - of course - diseased cows tossed over city walls by catapults and trebeuchets.

Plus the game looks great to boot. Click on these screenshots to the right to see a zoomed-in version.

Hack and SlashWe have to warn you that this isn't your kid's real time strategy game. This game simulates the medieval times, and although it never sacrifices gameplay to be true to history's more driest moment. Still this is not a game of over-the-top bells and whistles - explosions and gratuitous gore for the sake of gore are nowhere to be found. The attraction is in the gameplay, and as board gamers we definitely admire how successfully Medieval 2: Total War brings it all together.

Medieval II: Total War is shipping now from

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November 27, 2006

Board Game Holiday Shopping Steals at Settlers of Catan, Axis and Allies, Carcassonne, and More!

HolidayBuyersGuide.11.15.06.jpgIf you've spent the holiday weekend feasting on left-over sandwiches of Turkey and stuffing, and dozing on the couch in front of an endless parade of football, then you might have fallen a bit behind in your holiday shopping duties. Face it - the day after Thanksgiving is a day that plays host to some obscene shopping sales, but nobody in their right mind wants to plow through droves of anxious consumers at their local commercial mega-malls.

Instead, play it smart - sit back and relax - and check out these sweet deals at Amazon:

  • The Settlers of Catan [Amazon] : This is the game that started the modern board game craze in America, and it's currently highly-discounted at Amazon. If your loved-one is unlucky enough to have never played 'Settlers', then this is where you become their hero. Buy them a copy of this new modern classic with Monopoly-undertones at 34% off for only $26 bucks, and consider yourself done.

  • Carcassonne [Amazon] [Our Review]:
    Perhaps our favorite family-friendly eurogame, Carcassonne will remain atop our gaming stack probably for the next few years at least, and is definitely a steal at $17 bucks. In fact, this is the lowest we could find it in stock anywhere.

  • Axis and Allies Revised Edition [Amazon] : The revised edition of the WWII classic that anchored our gaming library for most of the early-to-mid 90s, this game will always remain great and for $33 it's indeed a steal.
    As we grew up and we realized that Risk was a bit too flat, Axis and Allies was there with deep gameplay including: economics, production, multiple unit types, naval actions, amphibious warfare, the works. Complicated enough to be interesting, yet easy-enough to be a key stepping stone from Risk on up, Axis and Allies is a great game to give to any young strategy gaming enthusiast.

  • Stratego [Amazon] : Another must-have in a traditional gaming collection, this version of Stratego packs away into a book-shaped case that fits upright on a bookshelf. Classy!

  • Ticket to Ride Marklin [Amazon] [Our Review] : Another perfect family game for under the tree, Ticket to Ride Marklin is $12 bucks off the standard price - which puts it at a measly $34. A great game for a great price - we're still playing this one seven months after release, and we continue to find new strategies here and there. One of our favorites of 2006 for sure.

Also be sure to checkout our Holiday Shopping Guide for other holiday gift ideas.

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November 24, 2006

Holiday Gift and Shopping Guides from Around the Blogpire

Our editors have been hard at work coming up with the latest products to give as gifts this holiday season. Each of our different sites has their own holiday gift guide on various topics including: shaving, hdtv, gps, gaming, coffee and espresso, kitchen gadgets, cookbooks, and more.

Make your holiday gift giving easier this season by visiting the holiday shopping guides below, and get your shopping done online without the crowds and hassle of ever leaving your comfy couch or computer chair.

Electronics - TV and GPS

Tvsnob Gg

Holiday Shopping Guide from

Gps Lodge Blogpire Gg-1

Holiday Shopping Guide from

Natural Products & Organic Living

Reallynatural Gg

Holiday Shopping Guide from


Shaving Gg

Holiday Gift Guide from

Coffee & Espresso

Holidayshoppingguide1 Ssc
Holiday Gift Guide from

Sse Gg

Holiday Gift Guide from


Criticalgamers Blogad Giftg

Holiday Gift Guide from

Liquor and Spirts

Liquor Snob Blogad Gg

Holiday Shopping Guide from

Kitchen Related

Holiday Shopping Guides Kc

Holiday Shopping Guide from

Thecookingnews Gg

Holiday Gift Guide from The Cooking

Baby Related

Supercoolbab Gg

Holiday Gift Guide from

Poker & Casino Related
Holiday Gift Guide from

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November 22, 2006

BattleLore Discussion with Eric Hautemont on Boardgame News

BattleLore Cover Patrick Korner of Boardgame News has posted a lengthy article detailing the design history of BattleLore [Funagain], and his reflections on a talk he had with Days of Wonder Big-Wig Eric Hatuemont. The discussion (which isn't quoted verbatim) was about the company's line of high-quality games in general, and about the emergence of Battlelore's design out of the lessons learned from the WWII war game
Memoir '44 [Amazon,Funagain] specifically.

This is a pretty beefy article. If you're haven't been sold on the upcoming Battlelore wargame system then the article probably won't win you over. Instead you should checkout some of our previous coverage such as "Battlelore Primer" and "Days of Wonder Announces 'Battlelore'".

But for those of you who've already swallowed the Battlelore punch then this article is a great read. It reassures us that Battlore isn't going to be a flash in the pan game release, but an entire system poised to be something big - something that could have a huge impact on the entire gaming market.

BattleLore Army BannersHere's one of our favorite bits:

"So what kind of expansions will we see? Well, the simple answer is: All kinds. Eric indicated that it’s true, gamers will be able to buy a ton of stuff, but all of it is focused on player development, not army escalation. In other words, the expansions are intended to allow players to play the game differently or with new goals, and the plan is to provide a lot of company support for player input. One example of this is the online scenario editor, which is being made freely available to the online community and will be heavily supported. DoW is hoping that some players will adopt the game the way that some have adopted Memoir ’44, and want to do what they can to ensure that these creative individuals have all the tools they need to produce new and unexpected gaming experiences." -From "Patrick Korner: BattleLore Discussion with Eric Hautemont (DoW)"

From: - sounds like it's be like approachable and expandable but yet not entirely complicated like the money-sink Warhammer franchise. Even better, those colorful banners mean we won't have to paint any models. Thank you Days of Wonder! - we're not quite willing to take that giant step down Obsessive Lane in our gaming lives.

The release of Battlelore is rumored to be somewhere on the cusp of November and December 2006, just in time for the Holidays. Battlelore is currently available to preorder at Funagain Games.

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"Arkham Horror: Dunwich Horror" Released

Dunwich.11.22.06.Cover.jpgFantasy Flight Games have released their second expansion to the popular Arkham Horror [Amazon, Funagain] board game: Arkham Horror: Dunwich Horror [Amazon, Funagain]. It seems that evil doings-a-transpiring have spilled over from the town of Arkham into the neighboring town of Dunwich. The expansion includes new investigators, new monsters, and new cards that also expand the base game of Arkham Horror (if you chose to go back and play the original without the expansion). Dunwich Horror also ships with a new game board that expands the original Arkham Horror by as much as 1/3 more. You can read the official rules for the expansion here [pdf].

The Company Line: The supernatural disturbances that plague Arkham, Massachussets, are not limited to that unfortunate place. The town of Dunwich is only a short train ride from Arkham, and if anything it is a darker, more frightening place, with its own secrets and its own perils. It looks like the investigators are going to have to protect two towns now instead of just one; if they ignore the dark forces that are stirring in Dunwich, they'll have to face the wrath of the Dunwich Horror ...

Dunwich Horror is an expansion to Arkham Horror, complete with an extra board and the entire town of Dunwich - accessible via train from Arkham. There are plenty of new rules and new components, usable either with or without the Dunwich board addition. Features include:

  • The town of Dunwich, on a new board with new locations and new rules!
  • 8 new investigators with their own reasons for saving the world.
  • 4 new Ancient Ones to desperately struggle against.
  • New Injury and Madness cards for particularly unfortunate investigators.
  • New game concepts, such as gate surges and the Dunwich Horror itself!
  • Over 20 new monster tokens, dozens of new items and skills, new encounters - over 300 new cards in all!

Now we're from New England - Massachusetts actually, and we thought we'd let you know that we're a sleepy state compared to our southern neighbor Rhode Island, which has a history of Vampire-related killings, and rekillings. And sure you could counter by saying that Massachusetts has a history of it's own, with our "burning witches" and "breeding axe murderers", but our tourism board will have you know that we have great textiles and our clam chowder is second to none. Don't forget to pick-up a patriotic Minuteman refrigerator magnet and a snow globe of Boston's skyline before you leave!

The Arkham Horror: Dunwich Horror expansion is available to order from Amazon and Funagain Games.

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November 21, 2006

Now Shipping: "Axis and Allies: Battle of the Bulge"

BattleOfTheBulge1.jpgThe Battle of the Ardennes began when German Artillery opened up on snowed-in Allied positions in Belgium on December 16th, 1944. It was the German's last-ditch attempt to break the Allied advance in Western Europe. The German High Command banked the entire operation on being able to capture gasoline and supplies from the defeated allied army in order to fuel the German advance.

Short of supply themselves, and without air support due to foul weather, the Allies held their ground for long enough to stall, and then repel the German advance.

At the start of the attack, the American 101st Airborne Division and Combat Command B of the 10th Armored Division occupied the hub town of Bastogne, the focal point of the battle. Whoever controlled the town had access to a network of roads that allowed troop movements in all directions. By the second day of the attack they found themselves surrounded by mechanized forces. Under constant attack, out-manned, out-gunned, but not to be outdone, the 101st stood-fast through the siege for seven more days. Their resolve became the flagship story of the Battle of the Bulge.

Now, in the second installment of focused WWII campaigns, the popular Axis and Allies series ships Axis and Allies: Battle of the Bulge [Amazon, Funagain]. Here's the official word:

Battle of the Bulge Board and Pieces

The Company Line: Prepare for a major offensive as German tanks thunder into the snow-covered Ardennes forest, opposed only by a few unsuspecting divisions of exhausted American troops! Providing the historical counterpart offered by Axis & Allies: D-Day, Battle of the Bulge challenges players 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.


  • 1 Game Board
  • 157 Combat Unit Playing Pieces
  • 135 Plastic Chips
  • 110 Supply Tokens
  • 30 Front-Line Markers
  • 2 Twelve-Sided Dice
  • 6 Combat Strips
  • 4 Reinforcement Charts
  • 1 Victory-Point Marker
  • 2 Turn-Order Charts
  • 1 Turn Marker
  • 1 Rulebook

We'll always have a place in our hearts for the Axis and Allies line of games - the original was a stepping stone for us between the simplistic world of Risk warefare and the wargames with far more beefy rules. Battle of the Bulge looks like to be a great extension of that franchise.

Axis and Allies: Battle of the Bulge is now available from Amazon and Funagain Games.

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November 20, 2006

Battlore Designers Answer "Commonly Asked Questions"

BattleLore.9.11.06.jpgThe designers of the upcoming Battlelore [Funagain] board game war system have heard enough. Apparently they've been pestered by the gaming masses who are asking the same old questions: What's Up with the Special Preorder Figures, and what should we expect in the form of future Expansions to the Battlelore base system?. Well they've released some detailed responses in an attempt to appease the hungry mob.

We're a bit shocked to hear how much this game is going to take off by Spring. Sure, the box ships with 10 scenarios, but then check this out:

"Starting in March 2007, we hope to release 2-3 mini-expansions every month. These expansions will come in the form of easily recognizable blisters (similar to those used for the promotional miniatures), which will be available through our regular distribution channels as well as our web site.

Pricing will typically be in the $7.00 to $12.00 range, with some items lower, and a few higher.

The objective of these expansions is NOT to start an arm’s race toward the most powerful Creatures, Units or Armies. While these expansions will come in blister packaging, they will not all be plastic figures, units or battalions.

Instead, our goal is to both surprise you and delight you, by building upon some of the many foundations introduced in the game’s core rulebook." -From "Some Commonly Asked Questions"

Wow, two to three per month? That's some extensive expansioning right there. And that's on top of the user-created scenarios that players can share with the online scenario editor. There's going to be a plethora of war gaming to be done this Spring.

Battlelore is set to ship ths month, and is available to preorder from Funagain Games and from the game's official website.

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November 17, 2006

Our Favorite World of Warcraft Combos - Rogue Burst Damage

Your shoe's untiedThis week for TCG It's Friday we thought it's high-time we share some of the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game card combos that we've come across. Like we said in our WoW TCG review we have a quite a few players involved in the online version of World of Warcraft, and if we've learned one thing dueling other players it's this: Never, ever, ever think a Rogue is a push over just because they're wearing soft and squishy leather armor, and never ever over-commit when fighting one mano-e-mano.

Rogues are all about pouncing on you when your pants are down, and then following through with a massive burst of damage. It's the old "You're shoes untied" hoodwink-move followed by a well-placed dagger where the sun don't shine. It's enough to ruin anyone's day and we think we've found the TCG equivalent. And best yet - all of the cards are either common or uncommon which means it's something anyone can get their hands on.

From our resident Rogue expert Chris:

Here's an Ally Combo for the Horde Rogue to toss around:

1: The Base Line
Populate your deck with as many Voss Treebender and Bala Silentblade cards as you can. The 2/1 (2-Attack/1-Health) Voss has the ability "When Voss Treebender attacks, you may exhaust target hero or ally." and Bala (who is a 1/4 default) gets a +3 Attack Bonus under the condition "Bala Silentblade has +3 ATK while attacking an exhausted hero or ally." This is a great way to put a a quick 4-point One-Two combination punch against a hero or ally.

Note two things : This is a great common-combo for any class, but you might also want to have a Protector Ally in play to ensure Voss doesn't kick-it before you can put him to good use.

2: Send in the Rogue
Here is where it becomes evil. In conjunction with the Voss / Bala combo there's a low cost big damage opportunity that opens up for the Rogue. In the case that you are going after the opposing Hero, have Voss hit the Hero to both to exhaust him and to cause 2 points of damage. Next have Bala hit the exhausted hero which causes 4 more points of damage due her +3 to Attack an exhausted target. Were' up to 6 damage now in a single turn.
Now comes your Rogue Hero who's wielding a a Barman Shanker (2 Damage at a cost of 2 resources to Swing, +2 against exhausted targets). That's four more damage, so we're now up to 10 damage.

3. Poison Makes it Sting
Now that you've hit a hero for Combat damage spend 1 to play Deadly Poison (cost of 1) which reads "Attach to target hero or ally that was dealt combat damage by your hero this turn. Ongoing: At the start of your turn, your hero deals 2 nature damage to attached character." It's the gift that keeps on giving.

4. And Stay Down
By now your opponent is a little hot under the collar, but you're about make matters worse with: Crippling Poison (cost of 1) which reads "Attach to target hero or ally that was dealt combat damage by your hero this turn. Ongoing: At the start of each turn, exhaust attached character unless its controller pays 3." Looking a little woozy there.

5. Not the Face!
If your opponent does chooses to get back up, then finish things off by hitting the Hero with: Gouge (cost of 1) which reads "Exhaust target hero or ally. It can't ready during its controller's next ready step." If he doesn't get back up, then gouge any protector ally standing in your way. Either way, ending with a Gouge sets-up the opposing hero for at least another hit from Bala for 4, and another hit for 4 from your Barman Shanker.

Total Damage:

  • Voss: 2
  • Bala: 4
  • Barman Shanker: 4
That's 10 points of damage this round, for the cost of only 2 Resources.


  • Deadly Poison: 2 more damage next round
  • Crippling Poison: Make them spend 3 just to Use the Hero
  • Gouge: They stay exhausted for the Rogue next round!

Not bad for spending 5 Resources!

I have 4 x of the Deadly Poison, Gouge, and the Barman Shanker in my present Rogue deck, and 2 x Crippling - so this isn't a difficult combo for me to pull off. And if I ever draw an extra Shanker when I already have one in play, then that it becomes an instant resource!

Yes, yes very nice, but now we wish Chris would freakin retire that burst damage Rogue deck until we storm Onxyia's Lair. We're seriously tired of thinking we're ahead in a game against him, and then losing in just a few turns.

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November 15, 2006

Critical Gamer's Holiday Gift Guide 2006 - WoW TCG, Board Games, and Party Gaming Gifts

Be sure to checkout our
2007 Holiday Gift Guide!

The Holiday Season is approaching all-too quickly. Soon the malls will be a swarm of ravenous consumers elbowing their way to the top-shelf merchandise.

In an effort to keep the world civil, here's our guide that will help you get around all of the holiday shopping mayhem.

Not all gamers are the same, so we've segmented our guide into a series of gamer stereotypes. Face it, when someone asks for Voltron for Christmas they mean the Lion Voltron, and they would be quite disappointed to unwrap the cheesy Car Voltron on Christmas morning. This guide will help you avoid such unpleasant mistakes by getting the best-fit gift into your loved-one's gaming hands come December.

We started things off with The Family Gamer, who's tired of television dominating their evenings and is looking for a game to throw-down on the dining room table after Wednesday's Prince Spaghetti Day. The Party Gamer wants to entertain her adult friends following dessert at a Dinner Party, or spice-up a New Years Eve with a humorous preamble activity that makes everyone laugh their gourd off. The Trading Card Gamer strives the mold a deck of cards into the best extension of his personality, and play in a community of other gamers doing the same. The Warmonger enjoys pushing plastic military figures to secure a hill and rolling dice to win the day on the tactical battlefield, while The Strategist is about a checkmate in 5 moves, or playing a game of worldwide CIA cloak and dagger.

Now all you have to ask is yourself: for whom am I buying a present for? Then read-on for some great gaming gift ideas:

ArrowContinue reading: "Critical Gamer's Holiday Gift Guide 2006 - WoW TCG, Board Games, and Party Gaming Gifts"

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November 13, 2006

Now Shipping: "Ticket to Ride: USA 1910" Expansion

Ticket To Ride 1910 ExpansionThe newly released Ticket to Ride: USA 1910 [Amazon,Funagain] expands the award-winning original Ticket to Ride [Amazon,Funagain] game with new destination cards and new scenarios that should spice things up.

For those unfamiliar with the Ticket to Ride series of games: players draw and collect sets of train cards of various colors, and play the cards to construct rail lines of varying lengths on the board; the longer the route the more points the player earns. Players can also earn points by drawing and fulfilling the demands of the game's Destination Cards. These list two cities on the board, and the player earns bonus points if their rail network connects the two locations.

As the game progresses the players build strong rail networks across America, connecting the cities of United States in order to grow their own rail empire, and laying track to block competitors from doing the same.

The 1910 expansion mixes things up, providing even more destinations to connect, and by adding three new ways to play the game. Here's the official word:

The Company Line: USA 1910 consists of 181 new large format cards (the same size as the cards in Ticket to Ride Europe and Marklin) including 35 new "Destination Tickets," a new "GlobeTrotter" bonus card for completing the most tickets, plus a complete replacement deck for all the cards from the original game deck.

The USA 1910 Expansion, which comes in a small metal box, also includes a new rulebook that gives players three new ways to play the game including 1910 rules. Players can choose to use only the new "Destination Tickets," or play a "Mega Game" featuring all the tickets, or just a "Big Cities" version, which uses only tickets to certain large cities.

Ticket to Ride: USA 1910 is now shipping from Amazon and FunagainGames.

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November 10, 2006

Battlestar Galactica CCG "Betrayal" Expansion Released

BattlestarGalactica.3.21.06a.jpgThe Battlestar Galactica Collectible Card Game has recieved its first expansion this week. "Betrayal" extends the BSG CCG plot line through the show's first season, starting with the initial cylon attack on Caprica on through to Starbucks' covert commando operations to acquire the Arrow of Apollo. We realize that sounds wicked dorky, but hey - BSG is one of the best shows on TV, so you probably already know what we're talking about.

Unfortunately the WizKids website seems to be a bit clunky these days, and the index to Betrayal's preview articles isn't anywhere to be found. But we can at least forward you to the latest two previews: "The Good Guys" takes a look at three personal cards in the new set, and "Strafe" breaks down three pieces of the fleet's military equipment. Here's the official word:

The Company Line: "Betrayal, the first expansion for the Battlestar Galactica collectable card game (CCG), is now available in hobby and game stores worldwide. Betrayal adds 165 new cards to the BSG CCG universe, and expands on the exciting intrigue and action introduced in the first Battlestar Galactica CCG set.

Each Betrayal Booster Pack contains 15 cards (11 common cards, three uncommon cards, and one rare card). The Betrayal expansion also features 500 hand-autographed, rare Crewman Cally cards, signed by actress Nicki Clyne. The promotion features mail-in cards randomly found inside Boosters that players and collectors can send in to receive the signed cards."

Boosters for the Battlestar Galactica CCG expansion "Betrayal" are on sale now at IconUSA for the cheap.

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November 9, 2006

Battlelore "Adventures" and 3rd Party Review

BattleLore.9.11.06.jpgA couple of cool things were released today in the realm of "Battlelore" [Funagain] prerelease media. First up is a new official preview article from the game's designers. "The Adventures" describes how the boys in creative bent history to mold the various Battlelore scenarios shipping with the game.

Apparently French author Jehan Froissart chronicled a lot of history during the 100 years war, but left some details unmentioned, or alluded to some supernatural events that might have affected the outcome battles. That's where Battlelore steps in, inventing scenarios which involve units out of both medieval history and medieval fantasy.

Here's a snip from the preview article:

"As you delve into the Adventure’s booklet that comes with the game - Froissart’s Vrayes croniques de France, d’Engleterre et païs voisins - you won’t be able to help but notice that even the best history books didn’t quite get it right!

Maybe it will be the frequent sighting of mercenary bands of mythical races; or the rumors of the monstrous creatures said to roam the land; or the whispered talk of Lore, this arcane power that is said to draw as much from science as from witchcraft;

It doesn’t matter: soon enough, you will acquire the conviction that not all is at it seems in old Europe." - From "The Adventures"

We should also note that article mentions that players will be able to create their own scenarios - err, adventures - with an online editor, and then share their creations with the rest of the Battlelore community on the game's website. Very, very nice.

A Battlore AdventureNext up on the Battlelore front is a review on entitled "Frank Branham: Rant 9 and Battlelore Review". Frank has somehow snagged an advanced copy of the game and he has already ran through it few times. He critiques the pieces, art, and gameplay in this punchy review. If you're looking for views outside the official press then look no further.

Battlelore is set to ship this month, and is available to preorder from Funagain Games.

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Now Shipping "Iliad"

Perhaps if we built a giant wooden badgerWe realize that your knee-jerk reaction to a game named Iliad [Funagain] must be: this is obviously a game for the history or literature buffs. Well from what we've heard from the review by Tom Vassal (the Churchill of game reviewers) everyone should be impressed by this interesting card game of ancient warfare. And with the eminent release of Medieval 2: Total War, this game certainly fits our current mood.

Players of Iliad lead Greek forces in their epic assault on Troy, vying against one another to become the most prestigious leader on the battlefield. The game evolves over a series of sieges that are like tricks in a card game or hands in poker (but without the gambling, so it's family-safe). Whoever claims the most prestigious victories in the entire war wins the game.

Here's the official word from publisher Asmodee Editions:

The Company Line: The Trojans abducted Helen, and the Achaean princes took advantage of the opportunity to lay siege to this proud city.

But war during ancient times has its own set of rules. Being more than just a single, well-organized army, the Greeks will present an assortment of princes, each fighting for his own glory. Each player is an incarnation of one of these characters!

The game proceeds in several successive sieges (phases of the game) during which victory cards are brought into play. With the aid of the cards in his hand, representing all the components of an ancient army (hoplites, archers, elephants, various siege engines, including the famous Trojan horse…), each player will construct a powerful army before himself, and will have to choose between sacrificing new cards from his hand (since those are not inexhaustible) or utilizing the abilities of the cards he has already placed.

Each player will have to form the best army from these cards, torn between the multiple choices offered to him with each round of play.

In this new, very tactical card game, Dominique Ehrhard brilliantly revisits the mechanisms that made Condottiere so successful. The superb illustrations by John Mac Cambridge, antiquity fanatic, are an additional invitation to join the voyage.

Iliad is now shipping from FunagainGames.

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November 8, 2006

Twilight Imperium "Shattered Empire" Expansion Preview

TI.SE.cover.11.08.06.gifThe Big Box game Twilight Imperium [Amazon,Funagain] from Fantasy Flight Games is set to receive a new installment this December, and designer Corey Konieczka has started breaking-down the Shattered Empire expansion in this first installment of what will become a weekly preview series.

The original Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition board game puts players into leadership roles of galactic civilizations, each one attempting to gain power through technological advancement, warfare and diplomacy. As one of Fantasy Flights "Big Box" fleet of games, Twilight Imperium is not for the feint of heart. Games are complicated, and can last hours, but Imperium can be extremely rewarding for those who love strategic depth and and an epic storyline to their gaming experience.

The "Shattered Empire" expansion brings four new races to the table, and allows two more players to take part in the action - bringing the total up to eight players. Now there's a honking board game. This first preview article breaks-down the expansion's new races, but the expansion includes a lot more. Here's the official word:


The Company Line: The Lazax empire has fallen - first into decay, and then, after a long twilight, into history. It is done and gone, but a new day is dawning, and your people have a new chance to mold the Twilight Imperium to the design of your race.

Twilight Imperium: Shattered Empire is an expansion for Twilight Imperium Third Edition. It enhances gameplay with a variety of new options and enables you to play with seven or eight players in an epic struggle for true galactic dominance!

Twilight Imperium: Shattered Empire includes:

  • Four never-before-seen races join the struggle for empire!
  • Two new colors of plastic units to allow for up to eight players in a single game.
  • Dozens of new system tiles, including new special systems such as Ion Storms, Hope's End, trade stations, and the Wormhole Nexus.
  • Brand new technologies for all eight players, including a new never-before-seen type of tech!
  • Eight new variant strategy cards for a completely different gameplay experience, and an additional variant Imperial strategy card for optional use with the core strategy set.
  • An even broader array of agendas and options in the form of new Action, Political, and Objective cards
  • Facilities, shock troops, artifacts, space mines, and more!

Twilight Imperium Shattered Empire is set to ship in December, and is now available to preorder from FunagainGames.

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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:


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!


  • 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.

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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.
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November 3, 2006

World of Warcraft TCG Review

Wow.TCG.11.03.06.Title.gifWe had our first WoW Trading Card Game rumble last night. Five of us grabbed a Starter Deck [Amazon] and 3 extra Booster Packs [Amazon] each. Five hours later, in the dark hours of the morning, we reluctantly decided to call it a night. At 1:15 am - on a weeknight - we went our separate ways to sleep off the giddiness, but as early as 1:50 am some of us were already emailing each other with exciting WoW possibilities. No Joke.

Was all the hype for the World of Warcraft TCG worth the wait? You bet your sweat bippy it was.

ArrowContinue reading: "World of Warcraft TCG Review"

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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.

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WoW TCG Shortage


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.

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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

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