October 31, 2008

Battlestar Galactica Board Game Previews

The cool month of November starts tomorrow, and that means the upcoming Battlestar Galactica board game [Funagain] slated for a November release so close that we can almost taste it. Detecting our hunger for more information Fantasy Flight Games has continued its prerelease roll out, first by posting the rules, and now following-up with a series of preview articles detailing some new, interesting dynamics of the game.

Those of you who missed the prior announcements, the Battlestar Galactica board game is based on a wide audience property but it's being pushed into an exciting small-niche: cooperative board games. Players control characters from the show, protecting the Galactica and its rag tag fleet from Cylon Attacks in social and political unrest. The goal is to survive enough jumps to make it to Earth.

But there's a monkey in the wrench: one of the players has been secretly assigned the role of cylon agent, and through acts of subterfuge will attempt to prevent the others from achieving their goal. Additionally, half way through the game there will be another cylon activation, where one other human player may, or may not, also become a cylon. Paranoia and a series of false accusations ensues.

And now onto the new stuff:


  • Preview #2: When Cylons Attack! [link] steps through the dynamics and mechanics of the unfortunate event of a Cylon Basestar attack, and the other passive ways the Cylons can hope to win.
  • Preview #3: Divided Loyalty [link]: discusses strategies on how Cylons may sabotage the Heroes while still not drawing too much attention to themselves. And on the other side of the fence, Heroes may want to keep the ship on the verge of disaster just in case they later discover they're actually a Cylon Agent during the game's Sleeper Agent draw phase. Interesting stuff that could definitely keep the game pretty tense.

In all it's looking good for Fantasy Flight Games to chalk-up another hit in their board game adapation column. Battlestar Galactica is slated to ship this November, and we'll certainly let you know just as soon as it does.

Have a good weekend.

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October 29, 2008

WoW TCG: Drums of War

WoWTCGDrumsOfWar.jpgWhen it rainsit pours. Upper Deck has released the first installment in the 2008-2009 set of the World of Warcraft TCG. The Drums of War is looking nice. Real nice. Not only does it include a new Location Card Type, and faction-specific weapons, but the standard class roles are definitely kicked up a notch.

The set is available in three forms: a Drums of War Starter Deck [Amazon, Funagain], in standard individual Boosters of 19 cards [Amazon, Funagain], or the value saver Drums of War Box of Boosters [Amazon].

Like all new cycles Drums of War introduces a new set of keywords. Gone are the ways of the Traitor, now replaced by Shadowmeld, Diplomacy and Berserking.

An ally with Shadowmeld is both elusive and untargetable while it's in the ready state (ie: not exhausted). Get your Aldor Inspire ducks in a row. Example: Cymbre Shadowdrifter

WoWTCGSouthshore.jpgAn ally with Diplomacy lets you spend 1 less to recruit other allies of that same race or faction, depending on the card. This ties resource acceleration and themed decks together quite nicely.. though do we need stronger rush decks? Example: Envoy Samantha Dillon.

Finally, an ally with Berserking adds +1 to their attack value for each damage he's holds. Example: Nok'tal the Savage , a troll who plays quite well with Kray'zin Firetusk if we do say so. And we do.

You can check out the entire Drums of War set of cards on WoWTCGDB.com in a nice pictoral layout that's easy on the eyes. Man we love that site.

Here are the official details:


"The thundering drums of war echo throughout the land of Kalimdor. New warlords ride through the gates of Orgrimmar, eager to serve the warchief and leave their marks on the pages of history. Small battalions of Alliance soldiers arrive at outposts throughout Azeroth. It is only a matter of time until the piercing battle cries, roaring magic, and crashing steel evoke the symphony of war once again. When the dust settles, will you be remembered, or will you fade into oblivion?"

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October 27, 2008

D&D; 4th Ed. Deluxe Handbooks - Something to Avoid


Months after release of the original D&D; 4th Edition Players Handbook, Wizards of the Coast has shipped a collector's edition of the same source material: the D&D; 4th Edition Deluxe Players Handbook [Amazon, Funagain].

And that's the the the problem - it's the same exact source material. Sure, it sports a new foil cover and embossed pages, but it doesn't ship with anything usefully new. At this point we're knee deep in D&D; goodness, and if you're not going to bring anything new and useful to the table, then you're just something the stare at.

And the Deluxe edition isn't even strong in that capacity. The foil cover doesn't impresses us at all. In fact, it's straight-up ugly. And as far as the actual art on the cover: all they did was cut off half of the original cover, and focused in on the hot chick. Did they Photoshop this in just one afternoon? It's like they're phoning it in.

If Wizards of the Coast had shipped some sort of gold-embossed leather bound edition, then just maybe it'd be worth the 75 bucks MSRP. Just our $0.02.

Here are the book's official details:

"The first of three core rulebooks for the 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game.

These deluxe volumes are special editions of the 4th Edition core rulebooks that every Dungeons & Dragons player and Dungeon Master can appreciate. These books feature embossed, premium foil covers, and premium, gilt-edged paper."

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October 24, 2008

WoW Minis Preview Hits Stores This Weekend

WoWMinisStarter.jpgThe gaming news site GamingReport.com has seemingly posted verbatim what appears to be a press release from Upper Deck stating that demo kits of World of Warcraft Miniatures will hit stores this weekend.

So if you're looking to get an hands on experience with the game before it ships in a few weeks, then you're chance is now!

Here's the meat and potatoes of the press release on GamingReport.com:

" Make sure to add the new World of Warcraft Miniatures Game to your weekend plans! Starting this week, hobby stores around the country are offering free demonstrations of this brand-new game. Stop by your local hobby store and get a taste of all the amazing game-play action and high-quality figures that the World of Warcraft Miniatures Game has to offer. Visit WoWMinis.com to find a hobby store near you!

WoWMinis.jpgLaunching on Tuesday, November 11, World of Warcraft Miniatures Game will be available in four-figure Starter Sets and three-figure randomized booster packs, all featuring amazingly detailed figures and innovative, engaging game play. Visit WoWMinis.com for more information about this great new game!

Upper Deck has provided free World of Warcraft Miniatures Game demo kits to more than 1,500 hobby stores across the country. The kit includes a Starter Set, offering everything two people need to play right out of the box, and a four-page quick start guide, making this kit a great way to experience the most anticipated Minis game of the year.

Each of the 70 figures available in the World of Warcraft Miniatures Game reflects the imagery and style of the popular World of Warcraft online game characters, including such fan-favorite characters as Leeroy Jenkins, Warchief Thrall and Varimathras. Each miniature can be mounted on a uniquely engineered, removable base, allowing it to serve as both a game piece and a standalone collectible."

Have a good weekend!

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October 23, 2008

Memoir '44 Expands into the Mediterranean Theater

Memoir44MedTheater.jpgNovember is just around the corner, and that means it's holiday release time. First up: the outstanding WWII tactical war game franchise Memoir '44 expands into the north African deserts. The Memoir '44 Mediterranean Theater [Amazon, Funagain] pits Italian forces and Rommel's Afrikakorps against the new-to-Memoir British faction of Lieutenant-General Montgomery's 8th Army: the Desert Rats.

The expansion isn't just a faction addition, but includes quite a few different elements that add to the game mechanics. For one there are new Anti Tank guns and Infantry weapons, which nicely balances against the massive amounts of armor that toured through North Africa. There are of course new terrain tiles matching the barren setting, and new Combat Engineer units to help clear roadblocks and mines.

Finally Memoir '44 Mediterranean Theater ships with 8 new scenarios pulled straight from history. Some are famous battles, others lesser known engagements and smaller actions, but each includes a page of Historical Background so you know what's at stake, even they're completely new to you. They include:

  1. Hellfire Pass (June 15-17, 1941)
  2. Sidi Rezegh Airfield (November 22, 1941)
  3. Dug in at Sidi Omar (November 25, 1941)
  4. Flanking Maneuver at Bir Hakeim (May 27, 1942)
  5. Panzers versus Grants (May 27, 1942)
  6. 1st Armoured to the rescue (May 27, 1942)
  7. Into the Cauldron (June 05, 1942)
  8. and Escape via the Coastal Road (June 14, 1942)

Memoir '44 Mediterranean Theater is out now and is available to purchase from both Funagain Games and from Amazon. Here are the expansion's official details:

"On the day war broke out, few nations imagined they would soon be forced to conduct land warfare outside of Europe. As a result, when the war reached North Africa, both men and machines were ill-prepared for the harsh demands of a desert campaign.

But history is a testament to the caliber of leadership, ingenuity and resolve of those who fought under such harsh conditions. Thanks in part to its long-established presence in far-flung corners of the globe, no army would display these qualities better than the British Commonwealth Forces.

  • A complete British Army set including: 42 British infantrymen, 24 Crusader tanks, 6 25-pounder guns and 3 anti-tank weapons
  • New rules including: the "Stiff Upper Lip" so common to the British Commonwealth Forces, the Motorized Divisions and "Artillery Bravery" of the Italian Royal Army, and a new class of embedded equipment pieces - the Special Weapon Assets!
  • 44 new double-sided Terrain tiles including: escarpments, ergs & ridges, coastlines, desert airstrips, HQ & supply tents, oasis, wadis...
  • 10 Round Markers: British medals, minefield tokens and "Exit" markers
  • 4 Obstacles including: desert bunkers and roadblocks
  • 14 new Special Forces badges including: including the British SAS, Royal Engineers, and an assortment of Italian badges
  • 8 Historical Scenarios: from the tank disaster of Operation Battleaxe at Halfaya Pass to the relief of the Siege of Tobruk in Operation Crusader; 5 scenarios cover the drawn-out engagement of the Battle of Gazala!"

More information - including the expansion's full set of instructions - can be found on the Memoir '44 Official Website.

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October 21, 2008

Cosmic Encounter Returns December 2008

CosmicEncounter.JPGOne of our favorite publishers Fantasy Flight Games - makers of Tide of Iron and the upcoming Battlestar Galactica board game - have announced a remake of the classic Cosmic Encounter for a late 2008 release. Even better, they've launched an Cosmic Encounter website.

Cosmic Encounter has traditionally been one of those games from the late 70s who's gameplay today still doesn't seem antiquated and cumbersome like some other hit titles from that period. The base rules are quite simple - use your armies to conquer five different planets outside of your home system. Each turn your randomly assigned another player to attack. You can persuade other players to lend their strength to help you defeat the other player. while your opponent can also lobby the player base to come to his or her own aid. The game is a mix of empire building, diplomacy, and luck.

But the game really shines in the powers that you're assigned. While the rules are simple, these alien powers go out of the way to break the standard rules of play in some very interesting ways, and extending the game by mixing and matching multiple cards can really make each game entirely different and incredibly enjoyable.

And while the launch of the Cosmic Encounter Website contains very little information, it does preview the first of these abilities: "Mind." Here the ability is fairly straight forward - peer into anyone's hand of cards before allies are invited into a battle. Foreknowledge of your enemies' capabilities is essential, but is it not just as important to know if your potential ally is a dud? Why commit forces to a conflict and diplomatically align yourself in process when your 'friend' may shoot corks instead of bullets? The Mind is a wonderful thing, especially when it can reach out and evaluate and predict the resolution of conflicts before they transpire. Plans within plans.

We'll have more information about what's in this version compared to the latest version of Cosmic Encounter as this new version gets closer to release, currently slated for December. Here are the official details so far:

"One of the classic science fiction board games returns from the warp in a brand new edition from Fantasy Flight Games!

A game that has endured for over 30 years, Cosmic Encounter has players take on the role of one of 50 different alien races in a struggle for cosmic supremacy, each armed with a unique and game-changing special power. No matter which alien they play, the players must use force, cunning, and diplomacy to ensure their victory."

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October 17, 2008

Risk 2008 Edition IS Risk: Black Ops

Risk2008Edition.jpgWe've recently had some questions thrown our way about if Risk Black Ops is ever coming out, so let's put this one to bed: the latest Risk release
Risk 2008 Edition [Amazon, Funagain] is the store shelf incarnate of the underground prototype Risk Black Ops. Its the same game everyone has talked about minus the slick packaging and the cool name. In other words, what are you still doing here - go play it. Now.

You're still here. Well then that must mean you need a primer:

Black Ops was a promotional beta release from Hasbro Games, and was slated to be the next evolution of Risk in terms of gameplay design. It included new randomly assigned capital cities to each player, randomly drawn objectives for players to fight over, and randomly assigned rewards to entice players out of a standard Risk Turtle strategy. The game was a cult-hit for both its killer gameplay, slick name, and for it being nigh-impossible to actually find a copy to throw down.

Last month Avalon Hill released the sleepy Risk 2008 Edition.. With a dull name like that it was almost ensure that everyone would toss it aside, 'just another Risk iteration? Boring! Where's our darn beloved Risk Black Ops? I've heard great things about it!'

Well this is it. Risk 2008 is Risk Black Ops. Yes, now you won't need to seek out the seedy underground of Providence, pound out a yodling password to get access to a dark underground bunker where Risk Black Ops silently awaits your commanding presence beneath a downturned floodlight. That's 'cause it's actually on store shelves now.

Here are the game's official details:

"Can you accomplish the military objectives before your opponents? With an updated map and all-new playing pieces, increased rewards for bold moves, and easy to learn rules, you'll be ready to take on whatever lies ahead. Test your nerve with the Basic Training game--a quick and easy way to play. Or, see if you have what it takes to dominate in the fast-paced and strategic Command Room game. Finally prove your courage in World Contest-an updated edition of the classic Risk game. The decision is yours. The time is now. Do you have what it takes to win? Bottom line: Three ways to play, faster game play, and updated map and playing pieces. Includes game board, 7 dice, deck of 42 cards, 5 sets of colored units, 5 capitals, 15 cities, parts sheet and instructions. For 3 to 5 players ages 12 and up.

This classic game of global domination has led the world in military strategy games since 1959. Each player competes to capture all 42 territories in an effort to dominate the globe. All-new features include multiple gameplay options and two different levels - Bootcamp and Officer's Club. Includes 360 military miniatures. For 3 to 5 players."

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October 15, 2008

Axis & Allies Annivesary Edition Slated for November '08

Avalon Hill has announced a release date for this years Axis & Allies installment November 18th, 2008. This year
they're taking a step back, not visiting one of the major theaters or specific battles as we have in recent memory (Guadalcanal, Battle of the Bulge).

Nope, this time Avalon Hill is consolidating its gains. The new Axis and Allies Anniversary Edition will be a large step up from the standard Axis & Allies title in just about every dimension. It'll include new pieces, new units, and new mechanics gleaned from past few years of releases. And if that's not enough: there will be two new playable factions in China for the Allies and Italy for the Axis. Oh, and the game will be physically larger than ever, too, with a board that dwarfs all others at 2' x 4'. That's a good 6" sub larger than the Revised Edition, in both directions.

Expect the mammoth Axis & Allies Anniversary Edition in stores in just a few weeks. Looks like the long Thanksgiving homecoming weekend might include a few rounds of large scale world domination.

Here are the official details:

Axis & Allies celebrates 50 years of Avalon Hill games with this Anniversary Edition of the classic World War II strategy board game. Designed by Larry Harris, A&A; Anniversary Edition will utilize the standard D6 combat system found in Axis & Allies Revised, Europe, & Pacific. Italy will debut as the third Axis nation, China will be operated by the US player, and cruiser class ships will join the naval line-up for the first time. The largest board ever produced for an A&A; game, along with deluxe components will ensure this is the granddaddy of all Axis & Allies board games. Deploy your forces and prepare for battle!

Axis & Allies: Anniversary Edition details:

  • Designed by Larry Harris, creator of Axis & Allies
  • Italy introduced as the third Axis nation
  • Two set-up options: Spring 1941 and Spring 1942
  • Cruiser class ships join the naval unit line-up
  • China included as US controlled ally
  • New sculpts for Italy, China, and others
  • Game board measures ~ 24" x 46"
  • Over 600 game pieces
  • 48 page rulebook

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October 13, 2008

WoW TCG: Drums of War Preview Card in Stores Now!


Upper Deck has just announced a slimline promotion for it's next World of Warcraft Trading Card Game release, Drums of War. Those of you interested in getting a nice special run of The Last Barov - with slick extended art that screams collectible - and you can't or don't want to attend any preview events, then things just got easy for you:

"Want to get your hands on an exclusive promo card from the upcoming WoW TCG expansion, Drums of War? Head in to your local store and spend $10 on any World of Warcraft Trading Card Game products, and you'll walk out with an Extended Art copy of The Last Barov!"

The card The Last Barov is surrounded by a family fued between the last remaining Barov Brothers. There are actually two remainng brothers, but one of them is a walking corpse named Aelxi who can't vote, hold his liquor (literally), nor get health insurance, so he's not technically part of society. Therefore we can only assume The Last Barov refers to his slightly more pompous brother Weldon. More information on the Barov family tree and their influence on the Drums of War expansion can be found in the official Upper Deck Preview Article Player vs. Player Hater.

And you in regard to the giveaway program, check to see if your local game store plans to participate here. Enjoy!

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October 9, 2008

Battlestar Galactica Board Game Preview

BattlestarGalacticaBoardGame.jpgPublisher Fantasy Flight Games has begun its prerelease blitz of the Battlestar Galactica Board Game [Funagain] slated for release in early November. As you may recall, the game has players sit down as compatriots trying to save each other's butts in life and death struggle for survival?. Is that redundant? Probably - wait - well yes it is.

Things aren't quite so straightforward in the lovely, elegant, simplistic, savage, stinky, recycled -air int this mother f'er of an everlasting convoy that won't freaking end as it probes its way through the dark reaches of space. Apparently Earth is way over there - like four regular seasons away - and those pesky Cylons are a constant threat looming on the periphery the whole voyage. Not only do they periodically pounce upon your rag take fleet with their shoomlike nuke-carrying basetars, but they've also planted a decoy in your human ranks of players.

Yep - thats right - your best friend could be a Cylon. And you thought he was just after your sister. Nope, turns out that he wants you all dead, and has designs on blowing the Galactica and its hangers on to kingdom come.

Mechanically the secret Cylon player is determined randomly at the beginning of the game, so don't go for your baseball bat or golf clubs just yet. His or her job is to ensure that the rest of the players don't make it to Earth, either via subterfuge and physical or political/social sabotage. And if the paranoia weren't already as thick as a the fishbowl smoke in a volkswagen bus cursing the California desert, then here's even more for you to take in: halfway through the game another player could - or could not - become a secretly activated cylon. Ok.... exhale.

Now, the first of of what will surely be a series of Fantasy Flight Games preview articles goes over the character skills, which are randomly dealt from a character deck each session.

BStarBGCard1.jpgConsidering the mass appeal of BStar among a desperate population of friends, we were hoping things would kept relatively simple in this Fantasy Flight release. But, of course not. Thanks to some ingenious tinkering in the Fantasy Flight labs, it appears that we have gobs of decks, and draw states, and ... stuff to keep track of. When will they learn that sometimes keeping things simple might equate to some fun? For instance:

"Each player is dealt a hand of skill cards at the start of his turn, based on his character. Take Kara "Starbuck" Thrace as an example. Starbuck is dealt 2 Tactics skill cards, 2 Piloting skill cards, and her choice of either 1 Leadership or 1 Engineering card. If another player gets Leadership cards already, Starbuck may choose to take 1 Engineering card, thus giving the crew a good cross-section of skill cards."
- Preview #1: Skills at Fantasy Flight Games

Woah. That was pretty complicated. Naptime. No no no, get your own carpet square.

But we have a feeling Fantasy Flight can still make this one a classic. If not , it's back to Shadows Over Camelot [Amazon, Funagain] for our cooperative board gaming goodness, and that ain't bad. In fact, gaming life is good.

Battlestar Galactica the Board Game is slated to ship in Novermber, and is now available to predorder from Funagain Games.

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October 8, 2008

D&D; 4th Edition Adventure's Vault

DD4thEditionAdventuresVault.jpgHere's a sweet sourcebook pickup that extends the standard collection of Items and Magic Items found in the D&D; 4th Edition Players Handbook or the D&D; 4th Edition Dungeon Master Guide.

This D&D; 4th Edition Adventure's Vault [Amazon, Funagain] is perfect for anyone looking to find a larger selection of standard item types. It also extends some of the more expensive items including new armor and weapon types, which makes it a great starting point for new characters that plan to join higher level groups. Additionally, have the book details a wide collection of balanced magical items that could supplement work by the DM, or serve as a standard for a DM to make a set of balanced magic items of his or her own.

The items are presented in charts, so if you're looking for in depth backstory and details of the equipment then you may be disappointed. This isn't a huge deal to us, honestly; Half the fun is the creating the narriative to these items via interesting adventure creation from the DM, and the wants and needs, and styles of the Players themselves.

For more reviews checked the D&D; 4th Edition Adventure's Vault page on Amazon.
Here are the official details:

"Hundreds of new weapons, tools, and magic items for your D&D; character.

This supplement for the Dungeons & Dragons game presents hundreds of magic items, weapons, tools, and other useful items for your D&D; character. Whether you're a player looking for a new piece of equipment or a Dungeon Master stocking a dragon's hoard, this book has exactly what you need.

The book features a mix of classic items updated to the 4th Edition rules and brand-new items never before seen in D&D.;"

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October 6, 2008

New World: A Carcassonne Game


Rio Grande Games has brought an entirely new Carcassonne title to our North American shores. The New World: A Carcassonne Game [Amazon, Funagain] is set on the Eastern Coast of the unexplored Americas, but instead of constructing a series of cities and towns throughout a Medieval Countryside as play progresses, players lay down tiles to build and explore the New World.

The game's new collection of tiles sport a nice new facelift, and includes trade routes, cities, and farms, the latter of which behave much like the monasteries of the original game. The old-school farm mechanic has been simplified or even replaced entirely with new Fur tile pieces - a Trapper Meeple placed in a plain will score points for the number of furry creatures that populate their controlled land mass.

Finally a new Surveyor mechanic represents the settlements establishing themselves in the wild territory When a project is completed, a Surveyor piece marches west one column, blowing away all meeples currently working on projects both in the column of his new position, and eastwards to the coast. The race to complete projects is on!

Here are the game's official details:

"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, paths, 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! "
"The New World has been discovered! Now it is time to explore and settle it. The players explore and develop the New World beginning on the East Coast and moving westward, and deploy their settlers on the trails, in the town, in the farms, and on the plains. The skills of the players to develop the area and use their robbers, shopkeepers, trappers, and farmers will determine who is victorious. The players place land tiles turn by turn. As they do so, the trails, towns, plains, and farms emerge and grow. On these, the players can deploy their settlers to earn points. Players score points during the game and at the end. The player with the most points after the final scoring is the winner."
- Amazon.com
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October 2, 2008

Critical Gamers' September 2008 Gaming Roundup


This is it. September is kaput and we're rolling on into October now. Summer is over, Fall is here, and you know what that means; Its time for the Holiday Releases!

You may be thinking it's too early for such crazy talk, but things really do begin the yearly holiday ramp up in October. We should continue to see more and more D&D; 4th edition releases, but also new standalone franchises like the potential release Fantasy Flight Games' Battlestar Galactica board game. There's also a Halo board game cross over title slated for release this month, a title that honestly could very well flop on the floor like a dead fish; a new Ticket to Ride Dice Expansion, and Memoir '44 will expand into the Mediterranean Theater this month.

And there are even bigger releases coming down the pipe in November. Both the new World of Warcraft TCG set release and the new World of Warcraft Miniatures launch should hit stores in just a month's time. That means October should be full of juicy bits of preview news on both of these franchises, and after what was shown at the Penny Arcade eXpo, we're darn excited.

What We're Playing

Board Games

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World of Warcraft TCG

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