January 31, 2007

Settlers of Catan on Xbox Live in February

'Catan' on Xbox LiveMicrosoft, the software behemoth behind the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live service, has released a press release listing their Xbox Live titles scheduled for release this February. On the list is the board game version of Settlers of Catan! The official press release can be read here.

As we reported earlier, Microsoft plans to bring three major board game releases to its Xbox Live service on the Xbox360: Carcassonne, Alhambra, and the Settlers of Catan.

The release of "Catan" in February will mark the first board game release on the Xbox Live service. What has us particularly excited is that the Xbox Live version of Uno become a huge success, and hopefully this line of upcoming Eurogames will also make a big splash in the online gaming community. If so then we can expect to see even more games bridging the divide between Computer/Video Gamer and Board Gamer.

But above that, the most important thing to us will be the chance to play some classics with friends who've moved to all corners of the country! Voice chat will really bring it home. Can't wait!.

There is no exact date for the release of "Catan", but expect it to be released on any Wednesday in February (which is the traditional release weekday for Xbox Live). And of course we'll keep you posted as soon as we find out when the exact date is.


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January 30, 2007

Tide of Iron Rules Released

TideofIronRules.JPGPublisher Fantasy Flight Games has released the rules to their upcoming WWII epic Big Box war game Tide of Iron [Funagain]. The rules are available in Adobe Acrobat PDF format, and can be downloaded/viewed here.

The Big Box games from Fantasy Flight is a flavor of titles that ship with tons of pieces and set of rather complicated rules that lean toward Expert on the complexity scale. The marriage of this standard design philosophy with a World War II war game seemed like it might break the complexity barrier, sending normal players into an argumentative vortex of page turning and fist slamming aggression.

But now that we can see this stuff completely fleshed out in the rules, we can see that Tide of Iron remains just as approachable as any of the other Big Box Games. This, of course, doesn't mean you'll be breaking out Tide of Iron for family board game night. The title's learning curve is still quite steep and is probably best left to play with friends who want something one step deeper than the normal offering of the Axis and Allies suite of games.

For instance, the game has pillboxes and entrenchments which provide cover for troops making them less apt to be hit by Private Bag of Donuts or any other smacktard with a gun. These pieces of cover modify dice rolls, from certain angles of attack. Not too complicated... But then there are other mechanics that you have to resolve on the board including modifiers for: pinned or disrupted troops, battlefield smoke, and the directional drift of artillery barrages. As you can tell there's definitely a few layers of complexity to this game, but it's not all too bad in the end - the game's supplies visual tokens to easily represent these various modifiers, and each modifier seems to be easily resolved. There's just more going-on in a round of Tide of Iron that you have to keep your head around. That's all.

Stug It Up!In the end we're excited. We love Fantasy Flight's Big Box lineup (some more than others) and it seems like they're doing a great job covering our favorite wargame setting - the fields, hedgerows and towns of Western European during WWII. Could this be the next Squad Leader? We'll have to wait and see...

In the meantime we'll keep you posted of any further Tide of Iron developments as we roll closer to release, including news of the game's scenario editor. More information can also be found on Fantasy Flight Game's official Tide of Iron website.

Tide of Iron is currently schedule to ship in February and is now available to preorder from Funagain Games.

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January 29, 2007

Days of Wonder Announces Colosseum

Colosseum from Days of Wonder

Coloseum is out! For more information about the title please see our story "Coloseum Released."

Hot on the heels of their release of BattleLore, publisher Days of Wonder has just sent us word of the their next scheduled release. "Colosseum" [Amazon, Funagain] puts players in control of their own gladiatorial arena, each vying against one another to produce the most bloodthirsty and entertaining spectacle, attracting the largest and most lucrative audience.

Here's the word from the Days of Wonder press release:

Los Altos, CA; Paris, France - January 29, 2007. Days of Wonder, a leading publisher of top-quality board games, today announced their newest game, Colosseum™, designed by critically acclaimed game designer Wolfgang Kramer and Markus Lübke.

In Colosseum each player is a Roman impresario - producing great spectacles in his or her arena in the hopes of attracting the most spectators. Players earn wealth and glory for each event run, using it to create ever more ambitious events. They will need to improve their arena, find the best performers, lure the Emperor and his nobles, and manage assets for long-term success to be granted the title of Grand Impresario.

Known for producing some of the industry's most visually appealing board games, Days of Wonder has designed Colosseum to provide the timeless feel of a German style board game.

"Days of Wonder has made a strong commitment to produce games where the design supports the theme so well that as a player you feel you are an actual part of the story" says Colosseum co-designer Wolfgang Kramer.

"With Colosseum the physical design and theme takes you inside the arena, but at the same time it is integrated into an elegant game mechanic that is the trademark of experienced game designers," says Pierre Gaubil of Days of Wonder.

Colosseum includes: a large game board representing arenas in cities across the Roman Empire where events are produced; 5 arenas; 10 arena expansions; 6 unique painted resin pawns representing the Emperor, Consuls and Senators; 5 Emperor's loges; 10 Season Tickets; 2 Roman dice; 90 Roman coins; 30 Event programs; 152 Event asset tokens; 7 Star Performer Awards; 18 Emperor Medals; 6 Event Summary sheets; 1 Storage bag; and a detailed Rules booklet.

Colosseum plays with 3 to 5 players, ages 10 and up, and takes approximately 60 - 90 minutes.

ArrowContinue reading: "Days of Wonder Announces Colosseum"

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January 26, 2007

"Thurn & Taxis: For Power & Glory" Expansion Ships March 2007

For Power and GloryRio Grande Games has announced that the For Power and Glory [Funagain] expansion to 2006's critically acclaimed Thurn & Taxis [Amazon, Funagain] will be released soon, March '07 in fact.

"For Power and Glory" expands upon the original Thurn & Taxis postal empire gameplay by extending the board of Germany north. The new board adds new cities and connecting countries, and also a new horse mechanic to speed carriers along certain routes. Here's the official skinny:

The Company Line: The postal carriages continue to roll. Now that players have learned to master the postal routes in the south, they naturally turn their eyes toward the north, looking for more routes to establish to add to their ever-growing postal networks. The new routes run between Holland and Sachsen – between Preußen and the free cities. The player build new postal stations in order to provide fast service for important letters to the many new customers in the north. Hard-working postal carriers add horses to their carriages to enable them to travel farther and more safely, which will help the separated Preußen provinces to achieve power and glory. With this expansion, we offer new ways for players to enjoy Thurn and Taxis. The new board opens up new areas for postal routes. To support the new board, we include new bonus tiles and new city cards (with horses on their backs to support the new rules). We hope players will enjoy these changes and the strategic opportunities they offer.

Thurn & Taxis: For Power and Glory is scheduled to ship in March, and is currently available to preorder from Funagain Games.

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January 25, 2007

Catan Histories Struggle for Rome: A New Settler's of Catan Game February 1st

Catan Histories: Struggle for RomeKlaus Teuber the designer behind the classic Settlers of Catan [Amazon, Funagain] is set to release his latest game on February 1st, 2007. Catan Histories: Struggle for Rome [Amazon, Funagain] is a 3-4 person game that puts players in control of barbaric tribes consuming the failing Republic of Rome. As Roman cities are pillaged, the players gain resources which they can use to settle their roving tribes, founding cities of their own. The placement of these cities is key - they produce resources depending on adjacent tiles, just like the settlements from the original Settlers of Catan.

Since movement plays a key role in the early phases of Struggle for Rome, players should expect a bit less stagnation when compared to the original Settlers. Also, a new dice mechanic ensures that at least two different resources are produced a turn, which somewhat mitigates the streak-rolling tendencies of Settlers' resource hexes.

Here's the official word of the game from the Mayfair Games website:

The Company Line: "Klaus Teuber brings the fall of the Roman Empire into the world of Catan. Struggle for Rome lets players experience the turmoil that plagued the end of the Roman Empire through Catan game mechanics. The Romans rule over an enormous empire. But now, Rome holds its imperial breath. The empire is weak. Wild barbarian hordes surge across the frontier.

You rule one of those Barbarian hordes. Your noble tribe is strong, but rival princes stand in your way! Are you wily enough to outmaneuver them? Will you have enough wealth from plundering to found your own kingdom? Your fate is in your hands: civilization is ripe for conquest! Will you forge a mighty new kingdom? Will you be the one to inherit the storied glory of Rome?

Struggle for Rome also contains 100 beautifully-crafted, miniature plastic figures. Players will enjoy plundering across Europe with their fast horsemen and marching into cities with their warrior tribes."

Catan Histories recreates Ancient Europe

Now - everything about Catan Histories: Struggle for Rome doesn't come out smelling like roses - read this great review in the BGG forums. There are some elements of the game that seem to be a bit lacking: like the artwork probably won't blow your mind, and the continuing legacy of the Thief character is a bit odd considering that the roving tribes can simply move out of his way.

Struggle for Rome probably won't replace the original Settler's of Catan as the new gateway Eurogame of choice, but there's enough gameplay here to entice any fan of the Settlers series of games.

Catan Histories: Struggle for Rome is scheduled to ship February 1st, and is now available to preorder from Funagain Games.

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January 24, 2007

"Tide of Iron" Preview Movie from Fantasy Flight Games

1.01.07.TideOfIron.jpgThe designers behind the upcoming Fantasy Flight Games Big Box Title Tide of Iron [Funagain] have released a fairly in depth preview movie that showcases some of the W.W. II wargame's major design elements.

In the movie we see these games designers who have certainly immersed themselves in everything WWII in the hope of bringing one of the most realistic, fun, and customizable WWII games to your table top, but yet we can't help but laugh as we picture these intellectuals stuck in a real WWII setting. Sure, these guys are great at what they do, and we admire them for that, but then we picture 'em throwing down covering fire with a BAR, their teeth rattling away with the heavy recoil while their helmet shimmies off, and we can't help but snicker. Color us classless and shallow.

Anyway, if you're a W.W. II gaming fan, or if your a fan of Fantasy Flight Games' line of Big Box tiles, then you should certainly enjoy the few minutes of this walk-through preview. Here are some of the movie's topics:

  • The game will ship with a new Squad Bases piece mechanic. Each base sports 4 slots that you can slide various troops into, allowing players to piece together squads from various unit types such as: riflemen, machine gun teams, and mortar teams. The Squad Base also have a hook to hold special unit cards that customize squads the tools and support weapons of the squad, like Anti Tank Weapons, Medics, etc.
  • Tide of Iron's Command System includes tactical objectives points that players capture as they fight over map. Players spend these points to play Command Cards to affect the battlefield and their units. These cards come from a variety of decks including air support, artillery support, command support, etc. It seems as though scenarios may limit which deck a nation can draw from, providing a bit of a context for the action. For instance, we would assume that the Battle of the Bulge might lack air support as historically the infantry and mechanized units were snowed-in.
  • The game will ship with twelve double-sided interlocking rectangular board segments. Each side has a unique terrain layout so that the game's various scenarios will look fairly unique. Of course, there's also great potential for unique custom scenarios from the user base using a combination of boards and the online scenario editor to place command points and units.
  • The video also details the tactical actions that units can take in a game round, like Advance, Assault, Combat Movement, Opportunity Fire and Concentrated Fire, which draws other friendly units into a combined firing attack.

This game looks really sweet, and a great change-up from Fantasy Flight's other Big Box Games. You know - like, something based on history instead of set in a Fantasy World.

Tide of Iron is scheduled to ship in late February. Currently the game has a special edition preorder package "Operation Early Bird" from the Fantasy Flight Games website, but if you want to save 25 bucks on shipping then you can preorder the title from Funagain Games.

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January 23, 2007

World of Warcraft TCG: "One Card at a Time" Class Roundup

Valamos.jpgThe World of Warcraft TCG has a lot going on between the nine different classes a player can create a deck around. Thankfully Ryan O'Conner, staff writer at the Official World of Warcraft TCG Website, has been hard at work writing his One Card at a Time series which breaks down key elements of each of the various hero types.

Granted that at this point in time we're pretty sure that WoW players are pretty good at controlling their favorite class. But we also assume that serious players like you have stacks of cards in reserve that could be used to build alternative hero decks. This series will get you started with building a deck for a hero that you might no know from head to toe; not only profiling the card stated within the title, but also detailing other class-specific and ally cards that you should use in conjunction with it.


One Card at a Time Class Articles (in reverse chronological order)

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January 19, 2007

Cave Troll 2nd Edition Released

Cave TrollWell that was fast. Earlier this week we reported that publisher Fantasy Flight Games posted the rules to their upcoming Cave Troll 2nd Edition [Funagain]. Not more than a few days later the game has arrived in stores.

Now we could just reiterate the same game details we posted on Monday, but uh, that would be dull and boring for you, and for us. So instead, enjoy a little Cave Troll Haiku that we carved up:

Cave Troll Smash Thing Good
Crack Heads with Fat Leg of Dwarf
Me Can't Have Nice Things

Poor Cave Troll.. so tragic.

The Company Line: Adventurers brave or foolish enough to enter the cave troll's lair can reap riches beyond their wildest imaginations. However, they must face not only the mighty cave troll and his vile minions, but also other adventurers intent on keeping the dungeon's bounty for themselves!

In this new edition of Cave Troll, Fantasy Flight's board game of dungeon-looting and monster-bashing, players command brave adventurers trying to reap the most treasure from the dungeon. Players wield powerful artifacts and summon fearsome creatures in their attempts to control the richest areas of the dungeon, while trying to avoid their opponents' minions, including the mighty cave troll himself!

Cave Troll is a board game for 2-4 players, from renowned game designer Tom Jolly. Fantasy Flight's new edition of Cave Troll features detailed plastic figures depicting the different heroes and monsters in the game. It also features stunning new artwork and graphic design, a sturdy folding game board depicting the cave troll's lair, and an alternative set of skills and abilities for each hero and monster in the game.


  • 1 game board
  • 68 plastic figures
  • 104 game cards
  • 6 artifact cards
  • 4 score counters
  • rules

Cave Troll 2 Edition is now shipping from Funagain Games.

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January 17, 2007

Become One with the Dice. Nanananana...

This time with Spirit!We've been on a bit of an Axis and Allies kick lately - as we've noted - but in our years of playing diceless Eurogames we've lost the talent for mastering the dice toss. This might sound silly but our lack of skill with the old ivories has caused more heartache than you'd think two innocent cubes ever could. There have been obvious lulls and crappy trends produced by our chucking techniques which has turned the tide of many games, squandering what seemed like certain victory with a flash of absolute ineptitude.

Enter Nairb Attobas' post in the BGG forums "A Treatise On Dice Rolling Strategy" which points-out that our problem probably isn't Lady Luck, nor bad Karma for playing as the Germans in a simulation of one of the worst tragedies of humankind. No - our horrible performance stems from a general lack of finesse.

It appears that we're stuck at the Beginner Level with an uninspired "Hyper-Active Closed Fist Dominant" tossing style, and it's brought us absolutely nowhere. Take that last blitz on Russia for instance: those ammunition-starved Russians made short work of our top of the line Panther tanks.. not because we lacked the numbers, or the know how, but we simply lacked the bravado. As Nairib Attobas points out: such a momentous battle should have called for an intermediate level "Off-Hand High Drop" or - even better - an advanced "Swaying Monkey" or "Belligerent Weasel".

We're going to add some zip to our toss the next time the odds are stacked against us, and maybe then we'll finally break through that Russian line with a cheerful smile.

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January 16, 2007

World of Warcraft TCG Deck Tuning: Probability Primer

WoWStarter.7.3.06.jpgBalancing a Deck is hard work, and the choices are rough. Should you put more quests in your deck of 60 cards? Add a few more allies to the mix? Perhaps you feel like your deck is light on the weaponry, but then again will adding more weapons upset the balance of Ability cards?!

We've always wondered what the right mix of our World of Warcraft TCG cards should be, and if you're lazy like we are then you probably don't ever, ever, ever want to sit there and derived the the math behind the probability of drawing any card during a game. That would like, take two bar napkins and probably three scotches, and by then we'd be scribbling down names of our ex girlfriends instead of worrying about World of Warcraft TCG draws.

Thankfully the mathematician Doombringer over at Wowcards.org has written an article "Probability and the WoW TCG" for the masses of interested - but not die hard - World of Warcraft TCG players who want to tweak their deck for efficiency. We must warn you though, this article ranks a solid 8 / 10 on the scary math scale, and it gets a bit heavy at the end. Thankfully there's some great stuff to read early-on, before we start calculating the Gaussian surface of Elendril's left eyeball in section 2.11b.

RealGenius.jpgHere's a snippet from "Probability and the WoW TCG":

"Now let’s look at resources, specifically quests. Quests serve two purposes: to avoid using other valuable cards as resources, and to provide some additional firepower such as card draw. How many quests you need in your deck has been a subject of great discussion. Obviously weenie and low-resource cost decks don’t need as much. Control and build decks may need more. You don’t have to play a resource every turn, especially if you’re short on cards in hand. But if you wanted to play a quest every turn through turn 10, how many would you need in your deck?"

Great question, and the article has some great answers. It explains how you can derive the average number of cards you'll draw in a 10 round game (given the cards of cards that you've added to your deck to let you draw more cards than usual) - and given that - your chances of drawing a particlar card in a game, or having a weapon in your hand on turn one, etc.

The article even explains how to use an Excel macro to quickly and easily calculate the probability that you'll draw a particular card on your first turn given the frequency of that card in your deck. Sweet stuff.

If you're scared of math then here's a quick tip to keep in mind while you're reading all of this. Given a 60 card deck, your chances of drawing a specific card is 1/60. The trick is, your chances of drawing a specific card after that is 1/59, because your original draw consumed 1 card from the deck of 60.

That's why these probabilities are so complicated, but getting your noggin around that one simple principal will help you with the entire article. Enjoy!

Similar World of Warcraft Trading Card Game links:

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January 15, 2007

"Cave Troll" Rules Released

Cave TrollWhile some publishers seemed to have taken a bit of a PR break through the holiday season, Fantasy Flight games has kept cranking out the news. Case and point - within the last week they've released: a Tide or Iron feature article, a series of Twilight Imperium Star Maps for those anal gamer types, and now they've released the rules for their upcoming board game Cave Troll 2nd Edition [Funagain].

The rules for the light title can be found here [pdf] in a nice and small 2 page document. For those of you unfamiliar with Cavetroll - expect a quick game of dungeon exploration as players vye for positioning within a dungeon that pours out gold. Although the game has a fantasy theme, the theme is lite and it can eaisly be enjoyed by just about everyone.

The Company Line: Adventurers brave or foolish enough to enter the cave troll's lair can reap riches beyond their wildest imaginations. However, they must face not only the mighty cave troll and his vile minions, but also other adventurers intent on keeping the dungeon's bounty for themselves!

In this new edition of Cave Troll, Fantasy Flight's board game of dungeon-looting and monster-bashing, players command brave adventurers trying to reap the most treasure from the dungeon. Players wield powerful artifacts and summon fearsome creatures in their attempts to control the richest areas of the dungeon, while trying to avoid their opponents' minions, including the mighty cave troll himself!

Cave Troll is a board game for 2-4 players, from renowned game designer Tom Jolly. Fantasy Flight's new edition of Cave Troll features detailed plastic figures depicting the different heroes and monsters in the game. It also features stunning new artwork and graphic design, a sturdy folding game board depicting the cave troll's lair, and an alternative set of skills and abilities for each hero and monster in the game.

The original Cave Troll (1st edition) shipped in 2002 and was well received by many reviewers. This second edition is scheduled to ship in January (so soon) and is available to preorder from Funagain Games.

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January 12, 2007

Axis & Allies Strategy Guides

Our Original Board Game Love: Axis and AlliesWe've fought each other over every inch of the the world of Axis and Allies [Amazon, Funagain] umpteen times over, and our stress levels are at an all time high. We've played so many rounds of W.W.II on GamesByEmail.com that our office has vendettas on top of vendettas, players have plans within in plans, and the parking lot is stained with the blood of numerous cut break lines.

One thing is for sure across all of our gaming sessions - the first turn means just about everything. If it goes wrong for Germany, or Russia, or UK, or Japan, then the war is all but over already. We had a problem: we wanted to make sure that we always do the right thing from the get go, and we kept second guessing ourselves. Through our numerous trials and tribulations of failed world conquest we've found solace in some Axis and Allies strategy guides that we've dug up online. We'd like to take some time on this lazy Friday afternoon to share some of these resources so that you, too, can beat the snot out of your friends. Aren't we so generous?

W.W. II at GamesByEmail.comWe should note that we play with optional the rule "Russia can't attack on the first turn", which is supported by W.W.II on GamesByEmail.com. This rule is so very important because the game is seriously imbalanced otherwise. Also, W.W. II uses the original Axis and Allies rules and board - the Axis and Allies Revised Edition is an entirely different animal so you should probably ingore those guides altogether if you can.

Okay, enough clarification and butt covering. Here are the guides we found most interesting:

  • Axis and Allies is a game of momentum, and it's oh-so-very important to get the game started off on a good note. The website Axis&Allies.org; has a pair of good opening move strategies for Germany (including handling the worst case scenario if you allow Russia to attack first). Similarly, the website has some two great Russian strategies, but Russia's Opening Round is that one that fits the Russia Can't Attack rule option.

  • Steve Winter has posted an official article on the Avalon Hill website about Infantry and You: a look at the often neglected unit type. He describes the probabilities of combined arms attacks with tanks (what's the right mix) and the defense efficiency of infantry given their IPC cost. A must read to improve your overall A&A; game.

  • Fall of Franco: The Spanish Option in the BGG forums does a great job of breaking down the alternative to the D-Day European invasion strategy. The 3 IPCs for violating neutrality and dodging a potentially devastating invasion is a steal.

  • "Strategic Placement of Industrial Complexes" is great read for all factions, and the title pretty much speaks for itself. Where and When is the best time to create production centers in the far stretches of 1940's industrial geography?

  • Here's a great thread about Japan's strategy (including opening moves) for placing industrial complexes on Asian soil, and another about benefits of transport manufacturing to ferry troops to Asia from Japan proper.

  • And although Germany's general strategy is fairly straight forward - attack Russia, attack Russia, then attack Russia again - here's a great article detailing the benefits, pitfalls, and percentages of attacking the UK's fleets with sea and air power. Alternatively waiting for Japanese air power for backup! Wowzers.


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January 11, 2007

Now Shipping: "Midgard"

MidgardCover.jpgAbove: horns, hats, sheep, English abbey booty, woodsmen competitions, boats, axes and eating, Vikings like to die fighting. It really fills their engine. And publisher Z-Man Game's latest release Midgard [Funagain] has just the thing for the Viking- kid in all of us: the battle at the end of the world.

The Company Line: The world of men, called Midgard, is in its final days, and the battle at the end of the world, called Ragnarok, has begun. Those warriors brave enough to fight to the end will have a hallowed place in the halls of Valhalla when the battle is over, but only one clan will hold the seat of highest honor. Will it be yours?

Midgard is a strategic board game of kingdom control for 3 to 5 players... with a twist. Over three escalating rounds, players semi-secretly draft from decks of action cards, taking cards they need for their strategy or denying their opponents the best cards in the rotation. Then, after the action cards are played out, comes Ragnarok, in which some kingdoms will become doomed. And all battling Vikings therein are destroyed in glorious rapture, scoring many points for their owners.

Thousands of possible combinations and interactions make Midgard endlessly replayable, and always tense right up until the end of the world!

Sounds tasty.

We should note that Z-Man games has some a few mediocre titles, and the pieces of Midgard are a bit lacking on the quality level. But the gameplay of Midgard is said to more to make-up for any physical shortcomings; if you're not a shallow gamer then you're in for a good time.

And checkout this great review at BGG.com if the Z-Man Marketing department didn't convince you

Midgard is now available to order from Funagain Games.

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January 9, 2007

Now at Amazon: "Rumis"

RumisCover.jpgRumis [Funagain, Amazon] isn't a new arrival to the party but the block laying game inspired by Incan building techniques - and similar to a multiplayer version of Tetris - is now available and shipping from Amazon.com.

What did the Incans always say, "Late is better than never?" Or was that Uncle Walter..?

Rumis is a very family friendly title (ages 8 and up) but the game remains a good puzzler for a group of players of any age. Players chose from one of four boards: pyramid, stairs, wall or tower, and take turns placing blocks of various shapes to build-out that structure. Once the construction is complete, or once a point is reached where players can't add any more shapes to the structure, then the game is scored. The winner is the one who has the most visible blocks of their color when looking straight down on the structure.

Cool stuff. But don't take our word for it - here's the official mumbo jumbo from the marketers:


"There'll be no stone left unturned in this challenging strategy game. Inspired by Incan architecture, Rumis (meaning "stones") sharpens spatial awareness and critical thinking skills as players strategize to outwit their opponents while reconstructing historical Incan structures (pyramid, tower, stairs, and wall).

Each player receives eleven Rumis stones of one color. Players begin, one stone at a time, strategically placing their stones to prevent opponents from having the most visible colored stones. The player with the most stones visible from above wins!

Rumis comes with four beautifully designed game boards, a unique custom turntable, 44 wooden Rumis "stones", and instructions for variations on the game, including a habit-forming version of solitaire."

There aren't any reviews of Rumis at Amazon at this time but the game has received 3rd-party critical acclaim that lends it some credibility: Rumis took Mensa's Best Mind Game 2004, and the title was nominated by Games Magazine for Abstract Strategy Game of the Year 2005. Also Ted Alspache has written a great review in the Board Game Geek forums, and the game page at Funagain Games has three reviews in which users have given their highest praise to Rumis: each reviewer gave the game five stars out of five.

If those aren't good research links then we'll eat our hat.

Rumis is now available to order from Amazon.com, and is also available for purchase at Funagain Games.

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January 8, 2007

Monday Morning News Bites: Catan Newsletter, Twilight Imperium Star Maps, Tide of Iron News

TI.SE.cover.11.08.06.gifWe're through the 2006 holiday season. Welcome to the first full work-week of 2007.

Yes, yes, we're groaning and moaning along side you. The parties are over, the vacations are coming to an end, and we're newly sober and raring for something to entertain us through the upcoming months of cold and snowy weather.

Oh wait, the thermometer nearly hit 70 degrees on a sunny Saturday January 6th in Boston. The pear tree in front of the office is budding, and that's seriously starting to freak us out. But these bizzaro weather patterns can't last forever; we're due for some great gaming weather in the near-future.

And to that end, we want to be sure we're playing the latest and greatest. Thankfully we caught these three little news bites when they tried to sneak bye while we were on the roof working on our tans:

  • Settlers of Catan newsletter: Mayfair Games has created a Settlers of Catan newsletter so that fans of the game can be kept apprised of new Catan titles, expansions, contests, the works. Sign up for the Setters of Catan newsletter here.

  • Twilight Imperium Star Maps: Fantasy Flight Games has published a series of boards for Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition [Amazon, Funagain], balanced for those who find the randomness of the standard rules to be a bit too chaotic. To us this seems like a great way to nerf a good random draw system - we embrace the current system's chaos because it increases replayability and provides a unique story for each game session. But this latest release should impress those who've been repeatedly burned by bad tile-draws in the past. You can download instructions to create the boards here.

  • Tide of Iron News: Two things on the Tide of Iron front. Due to a printing error the upcoming Big Box game from Fantasy Flight Games has been delayed another month, and the title is now scheduled to ship by the end of February. But as consolation, Fantasy Flight Games has published a new designer article detailing Tide of Iron's Strategy cards and Operation Cards. These look like they'll add a nice narrative the each battle and - if randomly drawn - could seriously increase the replayability. Also, we can glean some info regarding the complexity of the game through reading the these cards:this game is definitely leaning toward the Expert level of rule systems. Though we're not complaining - the battles of WWII were pretty freaking complicated.

Have a good Monday!

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January 5, 2007

GamesByEmail.com Revitalizes the Classic "Axis & Allies"

Our Original Board Game Love: Axis and AlliesUp until now there really hasn't been a solid online offering to get our Axis and Allies groove going. Sure, there's been some clunky titles - including the extremely buggy original software release from Microprose, and the solid yet discontinued Iron Blitz Edition which sells for around $100 bucks a pop - but that requires a full blown application and all of your friends to shell-out cash, install the game, and email each other save games flies. It's not a very elegant solution: there's a ton of overhead involved, and it's not quite office-friendly.

And we won't even talk about the archaic play by email varieties from yesteryear - most of our friends aren't MIT computer science die hards.

Enter: GamesByEmail.com's latest release "W.W.II", a free web-based translation of the original Axis and Allies classic board game authored by the same group that Made Risk Fun Again a year ago. Sporting a slick interface and an automatic email notification system, "W.W.II" quickly became our biggest time-sink throughout the lazy weeks of this holiday season. It was especially nice while our group traveled to all four corners of the country. All we had to do is quickly kick-open a laptop, get online, and run through a turn with a few mouse clicks.

We've probably played through more Axis and Allies games in the last half month than we've played in our lifetimes prior, and we've seen all sorts of things: Japan has invaded the USA; Africa has turned into a naval factory for the Axis, and Russia has taken over the Pacific Rim territories down through Austria. We've even seen the goose stepping third Reich drinking whiskey in the Blue Ridge mountains of Tennessee

W.W. II at GamesByEmail.comThere's been no setup fuss, no shaking pieces, no Bavarian tidal waves from a knocked-over bottle of Harpoon IPA - none of the time sink that makes A&A; a chore. And the game has been extraordinarily stable since we've picked it up. Nice work to the guys at GamesByEmail.com.

We admit the interface is a tad bit confusing at first (yet it's the best we think it could be), so we'll offer you the following words of wisdom. Ignore them at your own risk:

  • Above all else, read the game's Frequently Asked Questions (there's a link to the FAQ on the main game page). Additionally:
  • The game uses a movement system that's a bit different from the normal thinking of board game movement. You click on a destination space to move to - not to move from. The game will then list which units you can legally move into that space, both during the combat and non-combat movement phases. It's a bit of a perception-shift at first, but it makes a ton more sense as anything else would be very cumbersome.
  • There's a phase after the Combat Phase for landing planes. We originally forgot about this and were confused as to why wouldn't start our non-combat move step.
  • To use transports: click on a sea zone that you're moving a ship to. The game will list the available ships that can move there, this is where you click the "load" button to put troops on the transport. Once that's settled: click on the space to offload troops to. Your loaded transport and it's cargo will be part of the list of valid moves.
  • We recommend selecting the "No First Turn Combat Moves for Russia" game option, as the game is seriously imbalanced otherwise.

And with that you're well on your way to become an A&A; master. So what are you waiting for? Email an old high school buddy and get your game on. Enjoy!

Critical Gamers Staff Permalink social bookmarking

January 3, 2007

"Imperial" Review at BGG

Imperial from Rio Grande GamesThe Board Game Geek user Michael Longdin has posted an excellent review in the Board Game Geek Forums of Imperial [Amazon, Funagain], one of the latest game releases from Rio Grande Games. The entire review can be read here.

Imperial places each player into the role of a wartime investor, each pulls the behind the scenes strings of many waring nations of World War One. One part wargame, two parts Investor game, the players elbow each other for control of the varying European superpowers in their attempt to become the most powerful wartime profiteer.

This review does a great job summing up the rules, the mechanics, and offers some opinions of the game both positive and negative. A great read if you're looking to start off your new year with a title that's both a Eurograme and a strategy game, which is the one heck of a combination!

Critical Gamers Staff Permalink social bookmarking

January 1, 2007

"Tide of Iron" Website Goes Live

1.01.07.TideOfIron.jpgFantasy Flight Games has opened the lid on their upcoming Big Box Game release Tide of Iron [Funagain]. The official website contains preliminary details about this WWII European Theater tactical wargame, including news of a downloadable scenario editor that fans can use to design and upload their own custom WWI battles to the website.

This of course follows the other latest news that the BattleLore Adventures editor builds an online user base around the same principle - communities sharing new gaming content is a viral mechanism to increase the longevity of a game system. We're a huge fan of this, and we hope more games make use of a flexible foundation of rules coupled with user generated content. Plus we're excited for the library of scenarios that are modeled after historic battles of the twilight months of WWII.

Tide of Iron is another in the line of Big Box titles from Fantasy Flight Games. Big Box games are big. Blows your mind right? Just how big: They ship with boards twice the size of most games, the box has a ton of pieces, and most games sport a forty-page tome of a rulebook. Traditionally these big box titles approach - if not surpass - the Expert level of gaming rules, but they reward players with ebb n' flow gameplay, random events that spice things up, and personal epic story lines that unfold as you play each game over the course of hours with your friends.

It's currently not very clear where Tide of Iron falls on that Beginner->Expert scale of things, but we'll be sure to let you know once the rules are posted online.

Here's the official game description from their website:

The Company Line: "TIDE OF IRON places you in command of a division of fighting men and machines in the most important conflict in the world's history. Your brave soldiers will capture and hold objectives, lay down covering fire, and under your command they will emerge victorious ... you hope.

2-4 players on two teams. TIDE OF IRON includes American and German forces, and armies are divided into two divisions to support two players on a side.

TIDE OF IRON is a Scenario-based game, with the available forces, objectives, map, and victory conditions being set by each given scenario. The rulebook includes a variety of scenarios, and you can find more at the "Scenarios" link to your left, as well as create your own! " - From The Official Tide of Iron Website

Tide of Iron was originally scheduled to ship December 2006 -- but you know how that goes. Our radar currently blips the big box title for a relase sometime in late January 2007. We have our fingers crossed.

Tide of Iron is currently available to preorder from Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff Permalink social bookmarking

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