March 31, 2008

New World: A Carcassonne Game - Coming Soon

CarcassonneNewWorld.jpgAh, how we love Rio Grande Game's Carcassonne and it's 72 different flavors. It looks like someone spilled Mayflower on the latest incarnation entitled New World [Funagain], which has players exploring and settling the North American east coast frontier. Slated for June this installment couldn't have come at a better time as we ride our John Adams HBO miniseries fanaticism (we're suckers for historical dramas). The game also seems to sport some snappy tiles, at least in comparison to the drab Carcassonne title The Discovery, which really didn't do it for us esthetically.

The company line:

"In this Carcassonne game, players begin as the early settlers of the United States did on the east coast of America. As they explore westward, they build towns, farms, roads, and compete to score more points than the others players. As exploration moves to the west, players who are slow to complete the features they have started will find themselves left behind - with no points!"

New World is slated for a release in June 2008, and is available for preorder from Funagain Games.

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March 28, 2008

WoW TCG Servants of the Betrayer Previews Wrapup

The Servants of the Betrayer Preview Weekend is upon us, and so the exciting conclusion of the class preview articles from Upper Deck's official website comes to a close. And we really like what we see. The new standard heroes look pretty sweet in this set, sporting some pretty slick flip abilities. But even more interesting is that they contrasted by the new traitor heroes, who do similar things but more aggressively. Overall the traitor abilities look pretty darn powerful, and they should be since Tratior Heroes lack any other specializations, and their abilities are a flash-in-the pan release and they may not be expanded up on any time soon.

Some people might see that as a drawback - a waste of cards that might sit dusty in their collection. We welcome it. After the first three set releases we began to become wary of a lack of specific themes in the sets. Things seem to be improving, though. The Aldor & Scryer lineage which started in March of the Legion, continues on in Betrayer. And now we have some focused Traitor content that can be very, very interesting and unexpected ways.

And the game hasn't even touched the foundation of the heroes' tradeskill abilities yet.

Here are this week's feature articles. For information about the Druid, Hunter and Mage, checkout WoW TCG Servants of the Betrayer Previews Week 1.

Class Articles:


  • Wrath of Turalyon: Commander Michael Goodchilde, Lelora Sunlancer, Wrath of Turalyon
  • Seal of Betrayal: Crusader Michael Goodchilde (traitor), Lelora the Dawnslayer (traitor), Seal of Betrayal
  • Evasion: Resssa Shadespine, Jonas White, Evasion
  • Gut Shot: Ressa the Leper Queen (t), Jonas the Red (t), Gut Shot

  • Totemic Recovery: Ixamos the Redeemed, Kil'zin of the Darkspear, Totemic Recovery
  • Totem of Decay: Ixamos the Corrupted (t), Kil'zin of the Bloodscalp (t), Totem of Decay

  • Shield Slam: Fallingstar, Lionar, Unbound, Shield Slam
  • Bloodbath: Fallenstar (t), Lionar the Blood Cursed (t), Bloodbath

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March 26, 2008

Descent: Road to Legend Released, players See the Light

Descent Road to Legend.jpgFans of the epic adventure series Descent: Journeys in the Dark [Amazon, Funagain] are really in for a shock: someone leaned on the epic lever and pushed it from a stout '9' to and inconceivable '50'. Descent: Road to Legend [Amazon, Funagain] lays a topographical map over a series of dungeons, adds lieutenants who sack cities and cause mayhem under the evil players control, and potentially extends campaign sessions to weeks at a time.

Yes weeks. The game ships with a set of rules and boxes that aid players who need to store the state of the game. Truly some epic adventuring going on here.

We won't talk your ear off by regurgitating too many details. For a full list of features, and links to various preview articles from Fantasy Flight Games, please see our story from early march: Descent: Road to Legend Previews Galore. Its definitely worth checking out.

Here's the company line:

"In the darkest of night burns the glimmer of hope. When foul Overlords rise up to blot out the sun and enslave all living things to their infernal will, great heroes always rise up to oppose them... and now, you must be those heroes.

Venture forth from the peaceful town of Tamalir and journey into the darkness beneath the earth. Search for clues in the twilight beneath the trees in forgotten forests. Brave the horrors of treacherous swamps. Uncover new treasures, learn powerful new skills, and rise to dizzying heights of power.

But beware... the Overlord will not sit idle...

Descent: the Road to Legend includes:

  • New campaign rules for your Descent adventure!
  • New terrors to explore and new adventures to be had! Swinging ropes, nourishing fountains, outdoor maps, sheltering trees, and more!
  • Deadly new powers and plots for the Overlord, including terrible new Lieutenants!
  • Exciting storylines -- save the world, or fall to darkness.
  • New silver and gold power dice for heroes and monsters of incredible power.
  • Fighting the Overlord in person with new Avatar rules!"

Descent: Road to Legend is now shipping from Amazon and Funagain Games.

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March 25, 2008

Lost Cities Card Game Coming to Xbox Live


Update: Team Xbox has also posted a hands-on preview of Lost Cities for Xbox Live

Ask just about any crazy-eyed gamer what their suggested 2-player game is, and they'll quickly respond "Lost Cities" and shove a copy of the game in your hands and as you to give it a go. Seriously, there's a cult following behind this way, and no because it's some obscure unapproachable piece of culture like the Rocky Horror PIcture Show. Nope, instead people enjoy lauding this game because it's good. It's really, really good.

And now Shacknews reports that Lost Cities is coming to Xbox Live.

When released, it will be part of an extensive library of Xbox Live board game and card game titles, including the slated Talisman, Wits &Wagers;, Puerto Rico, Magic the Gathering (recently suggested), and the already released Carcassonne, Settlers of Catan, and, well - Uno. Yes Uno, which you may shrug-at, but whos success inspired this new-aged Xbox Live board/card gaming craze.

We're excited about the explosion of these types of games on a digital / social platform. However, as we watch our gaming stack digitizes before our eyes, it would be also nice to see new titles come to this medium as well. There has been a lot of backwards-porting work, but some new content that isn't revisions of games past would really make our day. Culdcept Saga was a nice step, but we want more like the greedy game consumers we are.

No word yet on when Lost Cities is due to be released. We'll let you know as soon as we know. Until then feel free to drool over the screenshots.

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March 24, 2008

Thurn & Taxis Expands Twice with All Roads Lead to Rome

TnTRoadToRome.jpgAfter a long drought of eurogame goodness the second boxed expansion to Rio Grand Games 2006 award winning Eurogame title Thurn and Taxis hits stores today! Following the successful first expansion Power and Glory, Thurn & Taxis: All Roads Lead to Rome [Amazon, Funagain] actually includes two new games in one box.

In the new scenario "The Audience", players compete to deliver their 5 clergymen to Rome for an audience with the Pope in St Peter's Basillica. This of course requires a new board which paths a trip starting in Germany, passes through the Alps, and on into the many cities of northern Italy. The second "Offices of Honor" optional scenario adds new gameplay mechanics around office holders in the game, and can be combined with the game's prior scenarios.

The official details are below. Those looking for further info can check out the Thurn & Taxis: All Roads Lead to Rome instructions [pdf] on the Rio Grande Game's website. The instructions are somewhat confusing, they include some typos, and a few mistranslations at points (from German), but you should get the overall feel of the game.

Here's The Company Line:

This 2nd expansion for Thurn and Taxis is actually two in one!
In Audience, each player sends 5 clergyman to attend an audience with the Pope in Rome. The players endeavor to make certain the carriages with the clergyman arrive, but not too early! A player who arranges for his cardinal to arrive at just the right time will score more points than the player who manages the same with a simple priest.

In Offices of Honor, the players try to use the office holders as evenly as possible, in order to receive different office tiles. The more different tiles a player can return at one time, the greater benefits he receives.

Whether you play Audience or Offices of Honor or both together with Thurn and Taxis, they will take you and the game to a new dimension.


  • 1 game board
  • 5 wooden carriages
  • 26 office tiles
  • 4 summary tiles
  • 12 victory point chips
  • 20 audience tiles
  • 1 rule booklet

Thurn & Taxis: All Roads Lead to Rome is available now from Amazon and Funagain Games.

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March 21, 2008

WoW TCG Servants of the Betrayer Previews Week 1


Upper Deck kicks the prerelease media blitz this week for the next WoW TCG set release Servants of the Betrayer due out in early April. Following the March of the Legion set release - one that we thought really did well to increase the deck building potential of the franchise - Betrayers will expand upon the faction-specific Aldor and Scryer themes.

But even more importantly, Betrayers asks the question of "What if your hero chose a darker path?" Answering that question will be a new set Traitor Heroes, who are darker and more aggressive forms who appear alongside the standard heroes also slated for release in this set. Most of these Traitors have flip powers that push them on the offensive in some very interesting ways, including the ability to play cards out of your opponents graveyards. Very, very nice. Supporting the traitors, and the Aldor and Sryer, will also be a new cast of allies pulled from the Outland mythos of the World of Warcraft MMORPG, and are only valid to be played from Traitor hero decks.

To balance these new abilities, the Traitor keyword replaces the Hero Specialization key words, which removes the ability for the Traitor heroes to play Talent Spec abilities. For instance, while a Traitor Mage couldn't play cards which require a Frost Mage, or a Fire Mage, because you sir, are a Traitor Mage. Jerk.

Upper Deck feature writers have truly outdone themselves this time around, writing up a storm of great card and mechanic previews articles. It all kicks off with "Acts of Betrayal" which describes the intension behind the Traitors, the issues in balancing them, and how they fit into this second Outland set release. Things spiral into bad-ass bliss from there.

We think that Servants of the Betrayer really has a good chance of shaking things up in some very interesting ways. March of the Legion answered questions we had about if the game was turning stale. As it turns out, it wasn't. And Servants of the Betrayer really could take it to that next level.

Overaching Set Introduction:

Class Articles:
The articles then went onto detailed the new heroes in the set. Two articles were released every day, one detailing the two standard heroes for each class. The second article decscribes their corrupted Traitor counterparts:



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March 19, 2008

Wits & Wagers: the next Xbox 360 Arcade Party Game

WWBox.jpgNorth Star Games today announced that their award winning triiva game Wtis and Wagers [Amazon, Funagain] is getting Xbox Live Arcade adaptation. Dubbed " the first trivia game can you can win without knowing any trivia", the Wits and Wagers gameplay centers around a player's ability to wager on which player suggested answer lands closest to the true answer to an outlandish obscure trivia question. The game is a cross between the opening bid round of the Price is Right and seven rounds of archaic Jeopardy questions, like "In what year were Boston Baked Beans first canned?" for instance. 700 of these questions are included, and chances are you don't know the answer to any of them, unless your some sort of obscure trivia Rainman.

The Xbox Live installment of Wits & Wagers has been marked as "Coming Soon." More information can be found on the Hidden Path Entertainment website, which is the company behind this console adaptation of W&W.;

Overall we liked Wits & Wagers [our review] but felt the bits and pieces lacked luster. In fact they seemed downright cheap. The Xbox Live version of the game might fix this issue, but we fear the interface - which we haven't seen - could be somewhat cumbersome compared to the physical baseline. The joy of Holding and toying with poker chips and felt betting mats is always more fun in real life than in a simulated Xbox Live world, and for this overall simple title there really isn't anything gained by a computer overseeing the correct placement of the pieces and rules.

The product description includes notes about Xbox Big Button Pad support, which we believe is the same controller that shipped with the Xbox Adaptation of Scene It? trivia. A nice touch to keep up support with what seemed like a one-shot chincy item. Perhaps it will rise from the ashes and be the controller of choice for party games for hte next few years (until the next Xbox comes out in 2009..?)

Wits & Wagers is the fun trivia party game where you don't need the right answers to win! For each question, bet on the answer you think is closest to the truth, whether or not that answer is your own.

With up to 25 hours of unique questions, local and online play, plus the ability to link one group of local users to another group via "couch-to-couch" multiplayer, Wits & Wagers is a party waiting to happen.

Get 700 questions, great character costumes and dance moves, catchy music, achievements, leaderboards, support for the Xbox LIVE Vision camera, the Xbox Big Button Pad, and more.

Based on the award-winning board game of the same name, Wits & Wagers brings trivia and party fun to Xbox LIVE Arcade on your Xbox 360.

Key features:

  • Supports 4 local players or a total of 6 players online
  • Supports "couch-to-couch" multiplayer with more than one person in an online game per console
  • Supports the Xbox LIVE Vision camera
  • Supports the Xbox Big Button pad

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March 17, 2008

D&D; 4th Edition Previews: Players Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, Monster Manual

The GamerZero team conducted interviews with the editors of the major D&D; 4th source books slated for release this year. The interviews took place on the floor of the D&D; Experience that went down 2 weeks ago and though they don't include any show stoppers, they definitely add fuel to our exciting fire of the 4th edition release.

Some players seem a bit upset that D&D; is getting another installment citing that this redesign might have been hit hard with the dumbed-down World of Warcraft hammer. So far, we're totally optimistic. Reading through the Worlds and Monsters prerelease book - which we highly recommend - our hearts race with how well-thought-out their overhaul of D&D; is, smartly redesigning monsters and settings and giving them strong traits and themes. The simplification of rules seems completely wrapped around an interlocking set of mechanics that can be easily extending by gaming groups as they see fit.

Here's what we learned this week from the interviews.

Players Handbook (above)
The Players Handbook is really centered around character classes, instead of having that information up front and then filed somewhere in the back, which is a welcomed origanizational change. The interview also talks about Character development arcs. An intersting example given was that higher level powers will extend lower level versions, replacing them in the character's bag of tricks. Through this new abilities will be unlocked, but the list of options will remain smaller than in past editions, and thus more manageable. Beyond that it's slightly vague due to limiting the amount of prerelease information they're allowed to release to the public.

We hope - we really really hope - that new gameplay mechanics will open up with these new powers, instead of the powers imply adding more damage dice to make them essentially the same exact spell as before. That kind of growth really doesn't seem interesting.

A few nice new tidbits: Players will be able to retrain skills on every level, and will receive Feats ever other level. We hadn't seen this info in print before, so score!

Dungeon Master's Guide: [On YouTube]
The DMG has be redesigned to be easily approachable to new and existin DMs, more so than in past editions. The book will ship with a section called the 'DM Toolbox' which will provide clear, simple rules and steps on how to create customized adventures tailored to your party. The video doesn't get into too many hard examples, but seeing as this guide is quite a ways away, things seem to sound good for this stage of prerelease hype ambiguity.

Monster Manual: [On You Tube]
The interview starts in about the Monster Manual at 1:40 (prior to that it's general 4th Edtion experiences). But what we eventually learn: the guide is going to ship with 500 monsters (wow!). Each monster will have some creative / inventive tactics for each monster, with the goal of each monster feeling quite different. A lot of these monster traits are mysterious, and will only be opened up to players as the encounter them, including monsters that use combined forces tactics in groups, or some monsters explode when they die, etc. The players will have to learn the correct tactics to take down every different monster type, essentially exploring each monster type as they're encountered. It sounds awesome. It really, really does.

Is it June yet?

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March 13, 2008

Board Game Help for those Estranged by Risk Addicts

Riskitus.jpgWe received a letter of help from a friend, who we'll anonymously name Beth. Beth is soon heading on ski weekend getaway with her husband and his school friends, and every year the gentlemen carve up the world over a table of of Risk while the women sit there and roll their eyes.

She recently asked if we had any game suggestions that both Risk addicts and non Risk advocates would enjoy. We came up with the following five games that hopefully span the interests of warmonger and their spouses, or at least are should serve as a stepping stone game toward a halfway point.

Now we know that Risk players can seriously hardcore in their quest for world domination, especially if they have a ceremonial tradition of a game every year. So with our selection we wanted to ensure that our suggested games were quick to learn, and either Risk-esque, or have a conquest theme involved. Game selections which are furthest removed from Risk's themes will be quick to play, letting Risk fanatics slap down a board and get their fix afterwards.

ArrowContinue reading: "Board Game Help for those Estranged by Risk Addicts"

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March 11, 2008

Descent: Road to Legend Previews Galore

Descent Road to Legend.jpgPublisher Fantasy Flight Games is getting ready to ship its latest addition to the popular Descent: Journeys into the Dark [Amazon, Funagain] fantasy adventure board game. In all other earlier installments, the adventures have dug deep, down into the earth to explore dangerous dungeons filled with all sorts of baddies, pitting themselves against the evil player-controlled overlord. In Descent: Road to Legend [Funagain], things will go above ground for the first time, interconnecting many dungeons in an epic battle of heroes versus evil.

Games will take weeks. Yes, we're talking epic weeks. Thankfully the game will ship with mechanics and tools that you can use to set aside the state of the game to play later, including boxes for each player to store their cards, character sheets, etc, and a worksheet that should allow groups to easily record and reproduce the state of the game.

In true stellar pre-release news fashion, Fantasy Flight Games has released 7 lengthy preview articles, and recently just published the expansion's instruction booklet (pdf). Here they are with a topical description of each:

  1. The Quest for Adventure: Kicks things off with a descriptoin of the new random dungeon elements, and how players can pursue various kinds of quests across the world.
  2. Talon Man: The Overseer - a player who pulls the strings of the bad guy - now has some new hands in the world: his lieutenants. These guys can chase down the heroes on the overland map, and even lay siege to towns - something the players have to fight against to ensure the Overseer doesn't become too powerful to handle.
  3. Home Sweet Home: Information on what the adventurers can do when they head back to town for refueling, training, and beers.
  4. Lord it Over the Heroes: Introduces the expansion's plot cards, showcased specifically around the Beastman Lord Overlord. It seems his father didn't hug him enough when he was younger. Or maybe too much - it's hard to say.
  5. Mordrog Lord-Smasher, Champion of Terrinoth: Gets into the meat and bones of hero advancement, using an axe-happy Orc as an example. As a special note the designers have decided to keep the starting out heroes weaker than in prior Descent installments, but open the door for more growth than before.
  6. Packing for the Road to Legend: Details packing up the game to play for later sessions. This title can lasts weeks, so getting this right is very important and FFG seems to have put a considerable amount of thought into the process. The game ships with boxes to store player sheets and cards, as well as a sheet that does a quick inventory of the state of the board (which you can then dump back into the main box). Very nice stuff, considering many people don't have a table they can just set aside and leave alone for weeks at a time.
  7. From the Bat-Cave - introduce new monster elements such as monster types and four new level grades. And the monsters have been overvhauled to boot. The article uses the bat-tastic Razorwing as an example for these mechanics that will affect 20 monsters in total. A hint is also made that this expansion will be required for all future expansions, as the new monster mechanics will be used in so far un-announced expansions.
To say the Descent: The Road to Legend is huge doesn't quite put it into perspective. This expansion should not only shake the foundation of the agame, but create an epic adventure that could last weeks at a time, and then beyond that it's replayable! Oh my.

Unfortunatley looking over the rules we fear this game may have hit the 11 on the complexity scale just like the World of Warcraft board game, but if Fantasy Flight Games can pull it off with high fun factor then they could have the first monumental release of 2008.

The Descent: The Road to Legend [Funagain] expansion will require the Descent: Journeys into the Dark base set [Amazon, Funagain] . The Road to Legend is currently slated to ship in March, 2008. We'll let you know as soon as it hits the shelves!

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March 10, 2008

Eye of Judgement Sale at Amazon

TheEyeOfJudgement.jpgMost of you should be familiar with the The Eye of Judgement [Amazon] when we wrote about the game a few weeks ago, but here's a quick referesher incase you forgot. The Eye of Judgement is a PS3 Trading Card Game that uses "Augmentented Reality" technology, which is wizz-bang marketing rhetoric for a visual code on your cards that unlocks in-game cards with the use of the game's camera. The end result: a physical collection of cards mixed with visual battle royale of animated creatures and spells duking it out on your giant TV.

Well good news this daylight savings morning: the game has come down in price, by a lot: Amazon discounted the Eye of Judgement to just $47.00 American. That includes a base set of cards, the camera that is 'The Eye' and a booster pack, marked down 33%! Quite the sweet little deal for those who've been drooling over this somewhat price game since October.

Here's the official details:SW_Chess.jpg

"Developed by Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios, JAPAN Studio, The Eye of Judgement presents a new style of gameplay where collectable trading cards, embedded with a CyberCode, are brought to life in the 3D game through use of an innovative "9 Fields" battle mat and Playstation Eye. Players compete by selecting a card and placing the coded card in front of the Playstation Eye for their respective creatures to come to life and battle on screen. Players take turns placing cards as they jostle for control; the winner is the first player to conquer five of the nine squares of the "9 Field. Players have four ways to play The Eye of Judgement: single player against their PS3, against an opponent in two-player mode, against an opponent online, or letting the PS3 play out a round with the cards the player owns. The Eye of Judgement comes with a starter deck of 30 character and spell cards manufactured by Hasbro. Pre-constructed decks and booster packs, sold separately in stores, can be purchased to strategically build the perfect deck using the 110 cards unique cards available. The Eye of Judgement is a socially engaging title that will appeal to gamers of all ages and abilities More than 100 different characters and spells will be offered via additional booster packs and pre-constructed decks, available at major retail chains. ESRB Rated T for Teen"

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March 7, 2008

Horus Board Game Coming Soon from Mayfair Games

Horus.jpgThe publisher Mayfair Games has had some hits on their hands recently. As we've noted The Pillars of the Earth was one of our favorite titles from last year, and the recently released Settlers of Catan 4th Edition seems to have been pretty well-executed reemergence, too. And now the most recent Lascaux card game was applauded by one of the gaming industry's most noteworthy critics.

Soon Mayfair plans to release Horus, another casual (read interesting and family friendly) game set in ancient Egypt. Details so far are light:

Can you seize your destiny and reign supreme over the land of Egypt? Discover your inner Pharaoh with Horus™, designed by H. Jean Vanaise and coming soon from Mayfair Games.

Horus uses a unique combination of tile and card play to create a delightfully casual yet engaging game with surprising strategic and tactical depth. Beautifully designed tiles feature ancient hieroglyphics, and the playing pieces evoke the deities of this fascinating culture. Horus is easy to learn and play, but is full of intrigue and player interaction. Ever changing, always different, you will find mastery of the Nile delightfully elusive.

Be on the lookout for Horus to hit stores soon in March.

Yes - Mayfair says March, but the latest from Funagain Games places this new board game release somewhere in the April timeframe. We'll keep you posted as more details emerge.

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March 6, 2008

WoW TCG: Official Upper Deck Accessories Released

WoWTCGOfficalDeckSleeves.JPGUpper Deck has released a pretty slick new line of WoW TCG accessories centered around card protection and storage, as well as spicing this up with a little World of Warcraft flavor. The products include deck sleeves stylized with either Horde or Alliance patterns, deck boxes, and card binders for collection storage. There's also a neutral variety for players who vote for Nader.

The deckbox is similar in style to the deckbox that shipped with the Feast of Winter Veil pack last fall - which was a pretty solid and snappy - but has been printed with a more of a generic World of Warcraft pattern. The binders look pretty slick, too for the WoW head, but we have to be honest - black binders at CVS are pretty darn cheap. The card sleeves look like the prize of the group with some bold patterns that should make the decks pretty slick while in play.

All accessories should be available at the Upper Deck Store by the end of today. Until then details about the product can be found in this feature article.

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WoW TCG: Stephen Colbert Puts the Horde on Notice

WoWTCGColbert.jpgA few weeks ago there were stories about a failed pitch that Upper Deck made to Stephen Colbert, who they wanted to appear in the next set WoW TCG Set Release Servants of the Betrayer. The image went around the web like wildfire, but now, after some copyright scares Upper Deck has let the artist post images of the entire card.

And it's hilarious (click image to make it go big now!) The official story can be found on

We generally don't like when celebrities intrude on well set themes and settings - like when Perry Mason aka Raymond Burr appeared on the Flintstones - but we'd be behind Colbert and Upper Deck 100% in this case. It's a shame Colbert's agent poo-pooed the idea, 'cause Upper Deck would have had one of the most perfectly collectible mix of pop culture and gaming for 2008 on their hands.

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March 5, 2008

D&D; 4th Edition RPG Classes First Look

DD4thEdRangerPreview.jpgWizards of the Coast hosted a D&D; Experience last weekend where they took the lid off D&D; 4th edition. A few things have spilled out of the exciting weekend. Our favorite so far: these scans of character sheets posted on Picasa. They're so worth your time.

One of the goals of D&D; 4th edition is to streamline play and add deeper combat mechanics, and while these sheets cover the stats of all the major classes, they more importantly shed some light on how the class abilities will effect combat positioning and turn order. For instance, the fighter and rogues contain abilities to maneuver opponents into position, and the fighter gets bonuses to strike two adjacent foes in one turn. Additionally, these abilities allow the front line troops to slide foes into a position to shield weaker ranged party members from ranged enemy NPCs.

Combat will be more dynamic than before, with groups jockeying for position. Some people have commented that this requires players to play combat on a hex grid, which takes away the ability to easily play D&D; with just a pencil, some paper, and a dice. But honestly - we love the idea of mixing combat strategy into our favorite fantasy RPG of all time.

We also see glimpses of the new Warlock class (photo 1 and 2 of the set) and some Fey and Psychic abilities that toy with the minds of enemies, allowing the warlock to vanish from the minds of opponents for a turn, or to both suppress enemy abilities and damage them for good measure. We assume Shadow abilities will also be part of a potential warlock build when the players handbook launches in a few months.

The Wizards class (photo 11 and 12) has been overhauled considerably too. In an attempt to give Wizards something to do every turn, low level spells like Magic Missile are now "at Will " abilities, which means it can be cast as often as the character wishes. It seems it also packs quite a punch now, too (2d4+5) though if we're reading this right then it no longer scales as the character increases in levels.

But that's one of the great things we like about what we see here about the new rules: in any given round there are now tons of options for every character. No longer will the Fighter simply roll dice in a miserable drab and repetitive "game" of hit or miss. Instead they'll be controlling the front lines of a fight while hacking away. Paladins will be blessing nearby allies with righteous swings and pulling monster focus away from other players. Rogues will be tripping foes and maneuvering through the cracks of the melee as they dance around the fight. And no longer will Wizards become bored when their catalog of tricks empties for the day- instead they'll have a few bags, where some key abilities are ever-present, but the big fireworks have to be used and consumed at clutch times.

You might have notice that the Rogue doesn't make an appearnce in any of the sheets. We figure it's becuase Wizards of the Coast had already covered the juicy details of the class in this Rogue Preview Article.

Aside from the class and racial abilities showcased in these Picassa images, one thing we found noteworthy about thecharacter stats is the massive amount of hit points these characters now have (low 20s to low 30s). Considering the new heal mechanics (photos 13 and 14) we think combat in the early levels might be more of a contact sport than before.

Which sounds absolutely awesome. This all sounds incredible. Color us excited. We can't wait.

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March 4, 2008

D&D; Creator Gary Gygax Dies at Age 69

GaryGygax.jpgNews is going around the web like wildfire that Gary Gygax passed away in his house at 1:00 am this morning

This is definitely sad news. Gary Gygax founded the publishing house TSR, and was a major force behind the original D&D; and Advanced D&D; in the 1970s. He helped shaped the imaginations of our youth while we grew up in he 1980's. We had so countless days of fun playing within the worlds he created, that this news of his passing hits us like a lead brick to the chest.

After leaving TSR in the mid 80's Gary went on to form a new RPG system named Dangerous Journeys. It wasn't nearly as commercially successful of a system, probably because it sported a thick rulebook and some complicated rules. But this complication lead us down an unexpected path of liking Gary Gygax even more.

Two of us wrote to Gary himself (via his publisher) in the early 1990s asking for a Dangerous Journeys rules clarification. There wasn't an argument to be settled, we just wanted some clarity on a key element with confusing wording. Sure, label us dorks for trying, but one day we sat down bored and thought, "why not ask Gary?"

We honestly didn't think we'd get a reply, but a few months later we received a response from Gary himself - in the form of a Christmas card. Not only were the rules clearly explained, but he offered an apology for being overly verbose in the first place, and offered a hearty Seasons Greetings. Penned by Gygax himself we were floored, and filed that card away for extra long safe keeping.

Thanks Gary, for you gaming genius, creativity, drive, and for being such a stand-up guy.

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March 3, 2008

February 2008 Round Up for Critical Gamers

Thumbnail image for RoundUp.jpgFebruary has been darn good for us considering its shortest month of the year. We've had some great new announcements, like the Battlestar Galactica board game and new Ticket to Ride card game. Even better are the drool-worthy details of the 4th Edition of D&D; which have been coming-out in greater frequency lately. Oh baby, the more we hear the more we like. We'll definitely see more and more information become available as the month moves on, especially since Wizards of the Coast had a D&D; 4th Ed. preview just last weekend.

And lets not forget the announcement of World of Warcraft Minis for the fall. Unfortunately, in true Upper Deck fashion, details are sparse.

Aside of day dreaming about future releases, we've also been playing quite a few games this month. Locked inside on snowy days Culdcept Saga has been owning our souls on the 360, and when we've met in person it's been to hack apart some zombie heads in Last Night On Earth. We're looking forward to it's expansion Growing Hunger despite our recent malcontent with the original, which we was just a fluke.

So many games, so little time! Life is good.

Here's a look back at February:

What We're Playing:

Board Games:

Role Play Games

Collectible Card Games:

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