July 29, 2009

Pandemic: On the Brink Rules Preview


Please Note: Pandemic On the Brink has been released!Click Here for Full Details

The cooperative board game Pandemic [Amazon, Funagain] was one of those clean and simple hit games from last year, putting players in control of a team of scientists trying to eradicate the world of numerous viral and bacterial outbreaks. The game sported simple rules, colorful components, and fast gameplay. Plus, cooperative board games have become all the rage lately.

Now it's only a few short weeks before the Pandemic's expansion On the Brink [Amazon, Funagain] hits shelves (August 2009), and as a nice treat the Pandemic rules are on the game's official preview page.

We had already written about some of the details of the new expansion back in April, including some of the card previews. But now we have all the rules to peruse. So what's new? First, the game allows five players to participate now instead of the old four. This rocks of course, since 4 players is a tad too small for most gaming groups.. like, say, ours. The game also sports 8 new Roles that players fulfill, each including special rules, or special actions that the player can use to contribute to his or her team's success.

But some of the coolest new aspects are in the expansions new game modes, which have been dubbed Challenges, that can be mixed and matched to make the game more difficult or interesting. The Virulent Strain Challenge takes one of the game's existing viruses and randomly makes it even more potent and difficult to control and cure. The Mutation Challenge adds a fifth (purple) disease that latches on to other diseases, spreading along with them.

The Bio-Terrorist challenge is the most unique. It sets a fifth player the role of a bioterrorist antagonist who's running around the planet infecting cities, destroying research facilities and just causing general havoc. The bioterrorist remains hidden from view from all the players (its controller keeps track of his/her position on a special map pad) and 'surfaces' whenever they're in the same city as the other players, which should keep things pretty interesting... so long as you don't play with a cheater!

While the original Pandemic is a fun romp, these new features should definitely bring the game to new heights without making things complicated. We're looking to getting our hands on it thi August. We'll let you know as soon as it starts shipping.

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July 27, 2009

Settlers of Catan Coming to iPhone

Catan4thEdCover.jpgA small blurb of an Annoucnment on Catan.com has word that the Settlers of Catan will be heading to a front pocket near you, and sometime this Summer to boot. Now there has been a generic Catan Clone on the iPhone app store for some time, but this is the real license thing... hopefully with a bit more polish.

Of course that remains to be seen -- details on the official Catan port are pretty light:

"This summer the official version of the board game classic "The Settlers of Catan" will be released for Apple's iPhone. The game is being developed by Exozet Games in collaboration with Catan designer Klaus Teuber, and published by United Soft Media. More informations and screenshots will follow soon!"

Sadly, that's it. We'll keep you apprised of the concrete details once they're announced.

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July 23, 2009

Warhammer: Invasion LCG First Details

Some more information has been posted about the upcoming Warhammer: Invasion Living Card Game announced earlier this month. The preview article "The Invasion Is Coming" doesn't yet start breaking down the detailed rules, or card types, or anything that partciular and juicy, but sets the expectations of what this LCG product line will look like over its life time.

The game will ship with a core set that has decks for 4 different races on the side of Order (Dwarfs & Empire) and Destruction (Orcs & Chaos). The core set will include cards for both the High Elves and Dark Elves, too, but these guys won't receive a full showing until a later expansion down the road. The core set will also include all of the play materials for each of the four races, and enough materials for 2 players.

What sort of materials? Well the game isn't like Magic the Gathering or WoW TCG where players simply play allies and spells to beat the living snot out of each other. Instead this game combines those elements with elements of the old Lord of the Rings CCG, where players expand their kingdom, its economy, etc, all being tracked on a series custom of boards and pieces laid before each player. Here's some of the skinny on why the designers chose that path:


Although the goal of the game is quite clear and exactly what you'd expect (burn down your opponent's capital), I wanted players to have more to worry about than simply massing troops to kill each other. You need to defeat your opponent, but have to worry about managing your own kingdom while you're at it. If you don't have enough resources to build an army, you can't win. And if you can't have your units complete quests, you won't be able to draw enough cards to give you the options you need.

Of course you want to do all of these things, but therein lies the dilemma: which careful balance do you want to strike in order to defeat your opponent?"

So you have the base set of cars, that includes 4 different decks to play with. Then what? Well in the Living Card Game fashion, each month will see new, 'cheap' injection of cards that will update your collection, tell more of the overarching game's story, and add new mechanics to the game. Traditionally these packs sell for around 10 bucks, and deliberately include every single card so there's no wasted money pinata hunting for epic rares.

One last major thing of note: the game is designed around 2-Players for the start, and it won't ship with any multiplayer rules out of the box. This is a bit of a let down - our TCG nights always become cumbersome when an odd number of players show up to the table, and we'd love to see one of these new-fangled card games break that legacy problem. Instead they keep making the same mistake.

Still, the game looks very promising, and we're going to continue following the details as the emerge. Warhammer Invasion is slated for a release later this year.

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July 21, 2009

Eberron D&D; 4th Edition Guides Hits Shelves

EberronCampaignGuide.jpgThis is pretty momentous day for D&D; 4th Edition. Just over a year after its launch, the 4th Edition of the mainstream RPG has released one of its flagship settings with the Eberron Campaign Guide [Amazon]. The guide includes maps, faction background information, characters, monsters, the works. Joining it is the Eberron Player Guide [Amazon] (released in June) which includes new classes, races and feats for players to use in the 'film noir' inspired fantasy campaign setting.

Ask any 3rd Edition D&D; players and Eberron would most often their setting of choice. It was even the campaign setting of choice for the D&D; Online (which just became free to play). We're pretty old school ourselves, loving the Forgotten Realms setting, but our money says Eberron is mainly where the future of D&D; lies.

This new Campaign Guide lets any group's DM get up to speed with the new details of Eberron's setting, as well as carve out their own adventures from scratch with a slew the aforementioned list of the guide's resources.

If you want to peek at what you're getting for your money, then check out the Campaign Guide's official webpage with has links to excerpts from the book. These include sample maps, region descriptions, and preplanned encounters if your DM needs some inspiration, or on encounter mechanics in the setting.

Here are the official details:

The Eberron(R) world moves into 4th edition D&D;(R)!

This books contains all the information any DM would need about the world of Eberron. This exciting world is complete with soaring cities, viscious wars, and a gritty mean-streets style that harkens back to the traditions of film noir.

The Eberron campaign setting is updated into the 4th edition D&D; family with the Eberron Campaign Guide. Featuring all of the character elements from the core rulebooks, this updated version of the Eberron world is a must for any gamer that likes the magic-as-technology, film noir, high-adventure campaign setting that was chosen from over 15,000 game submissions.

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July 16, 2009

Carcassonne Coming to Nintendo DS in 2009


Word is circulating the Video Gaming Blogs (#1 | #2) that the classic tile laying Eurogame Carcasonne will soon be making it's way onto the Nintendo DS.

Like the Xbox Live version pictured above, Carcassonne DS will feature the original game along with the Rivers expansion. Featuers will also include 3 different 'worlds' - you got us what that means - as well as multiplayer and a story mode. This should push the feature set beyond the limited bounds of the the Xbox Live model, which is great. We hope the graphics are just as bright.

Carcassonne for the Ninendo DS should ship later this year -- we're thinking near The Holidays.

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July 15, 2009

Battlestar Galactica Pegasus: Cylon Leaders and You


The first in-depth preview article "A Dark Agenda" detailing the new Battlestar Galactica board game expansion Pegasus has hit the web, and we are very, very impressed. We already knew that the game would expand upon the board with a new Pegasus Battlestar flying alongside the Galactica, complete with new spaces and Events that characters can move to and use. We also knew that there was going to be a new series of cast members to expand upon the collection of main characters from the show.

What we didn't' know was that some of these new characters are Cylons - 'Cylon Leaders' to be exact, and they're Cylons right from the start of the game all the way to the end.

So what makes these guys different from the Cylong sleeper agent? Well, a lot actually.

ArrowContinue reading: "Battlestar Galactica Pegasus: Cylon Leaders and You"

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July 13, 2009

Dominion: Intrigue Expansion Hits Shelves

DominionIntrigue.jpgThe first follow-up expansion to 2008's game of the year Dominon is now in stores, and it very well might be the best release of the summer.

Dominon: Intrigue [Amazon, Funagain] adds 25 new card types to the already fantastic collection of interesting Dominion cards, which means there are all sorts of new quirky combinations added to a game that already has some amazing replayability.

Intrigue also expands the number of players to 6, which is a welcome bonus. The only drawback of the original Dominion that we've found is the limiting 4-person maximum. Well, no more! And If you combine the original Dominion set, you can even play in a special 8 person format. How about them apples?

Here are Intrigue's official details:

You are a monarch, like your parents before you, a ruler of a small pleasant kingdom of rivers and evergreens. Unlike your parents, however, you have hopes and dreams! You want a bigger and more pleasant kingdom, with more rivers and a wider variety of trees. You want a Dominion! You will bring civilization to these people, uniting them under your banner.

Dominion: Intrigue adds rules for playing with up to 8 players at two tables or for playing a single game with up to 6 players. This game adds 25 new Kingdom cards and a complete set of Treasure and Victory cards. The game can be played alone by players experienced in Dominion or with the basic game of Dominion.

Dominion: Intrigue is now shipping from Amazon and Funagain Games.

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July 9, 2009

Warhammer Invasion Living Card Game Announced!

WarhammerInvasionBox1.jpgFantasy Flight Games has announced a whole new franchise that has us stoked for both its subject matter and for its distribution design. The Warhammer Living Card Game (we'll talk about what that means in a moment) called Warhammer: Invasion will pit the factions of Order and Destruction against each other in the Warhammer Fantasy universe (sorry, no Warhammer 40k love, yet again). Each faction will have multiple races, with which you can mix and match, but 'Good' has to stick with their fellows, and 'Evil' sticks with their own.

The franchise is helmed by the designer of the Call of Cthulu and A Game of Thrones living card games, so there's a bit of pedigree going on here, which is nice.

So what separates a LCG form a Trading Card Game or a Collectible Card Game? Think of the set releases being small, self contained updates that come out a little more frequently, but only retail for about 10 bucks or so. Each of these injections include new updates to the story and factions that keep the game fresh and moving along. The Game of Thrones LCG, for instance, also follows a themed narrative of the G.R.R. Martin A Song of Ice and Fire series of novels, and we assume that the Warhammer LCG will also follow a long, epic plot as well.

Aside from the narrative, the best thing about LCGs is in the pricing and distribution model: you wont't have to drop a ton of money on a set of boosters hoping that you get some sweet epics. Instead you get everything you need in one box, for the price of only 2 boosters. This is fantastic, since it won't bite into our WoW TCG budget, like, at all.

For the preliminary information on Warhammer Invasion, checkout the official announcement story and this fairly in depth game overview. We'll keep you posted on the key details as more are released.

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July 8, 2009

Dominion Wins Game of the Year

Dominion.jpgThe preeminent board game award committee the Spiel des Jahres - or German Game of the Year - has chosen Dominion [Amazon, Funagain] as the best game of the 2008. Having obsessed over it ourselves over the last few months, we concur. Dominion is the freshest set of gaming fun to come in a box since the NES shipped back in 1985.

OK, perhaps that's an overstatement. But man, Dominion has grabbed us by the hair and bonked our heads around the room. It's just flat out surprising many options there are in any given game, how each game seems very different and very interesting from the last (randomly drawn configurations of the games pieces), and the speed at which the game unfolds, all make it one of these best games we've gotten our hands on since we started playing Eurogames and board games oh-so-many years ago. Plus, it's approachable as all heck, and that's nothing to shrug off, either.

The only drawback is that the game was designed for only 4 players. That's just not enough for our standard group. Thankfully, the first Dominion expansion is slated to ship in about a week, and that ratchets up the number of participants to a more comfortable 6 players ( and perhaps even more with alternative rules ).

Dominion has also won a few other awards of note, including like The Dice Tower Game of the Year nomination, and a Mensa Select winner for 2009.

We highly recommend that you check out Dominion if you haven't already. More information can be found in our previous coverage Dominion - A Standalone Collectible Card Game in a Box. Also, here's some flavorable official details pulled from Dominion's game page at Funagain Games:

You are a monarch, like your parents before you, a ruler of a small pleasant kingdom of rivers and evergreens. Unlike your parents, however, you have hopes and dreams! You want a bigger and more pleasant kingdom, with more rivers and a wider variety of trees. You want a Dominion! In all directions lie fiefs, freeholds, and feodums. All are small bits of land, controlled by petty lords and verging on anarchy. You will bring civilization to these people, uniting them under your banner. But wait! It must be something in the air; several other monarchs have had the exact same idea. You must race to get as much of the unclaimed land as possible, fending them off along the way. To do this you will hire minions, construct buildings, spruce up your castle, and fill the coffers of your treasury. Your parents wouldn't be proud, but your grandparents, would be delighted. Dominion is not a CCG, but the play of the game is similar to the construction and play of a CCG deck. The game comes complete with roughly 500 cards. You select 10 of the 20+ Kingdom card types to include in any given play -- leading to immense variety.
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July 7, 2009

WoW TCG Fields of Honor is Out!

HordeDeathKnight.jpgIt's true. Cards still haven't hit some of our local retailers (for some reason) but the latest WoW TCG expansion Fields of Honor is officially out -- our online orders have just arrived in the office and we'll be taring through gobs of foil tonight.

Thank goodness, too, because we've been dippying around with our entry level Death Knight Starter Decks [T&T;] for too long. Death Knights are fun and all, but there's just not much to explore and mix and match with in just the starter decks alone.

But now it's time for the real prize: a fresh, substantial brick of Death Knight abilities, equipment, and allies in Fields of Honor Boosters [Amazon,T&T;] to subsidize our latest addition to our hero collection, plus even more cards featured in the set to fill-out the other hero classes already cemented in our collection of cards, too. The full collection of cards can be found at the WoW TCG DB, accept no substitutes.

A meta note: this release also completes the Player versus Player themed WoW TCG Cycle that began with Drums of War and continued with Blood of Gladiators. Fields of Honor is also the first set with the Death Knight class, and if you missed all the cool information about them - or general information on the set - then checkout our previous story The Skinny on WoW TCG Fields of Honor.


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July 6, 2009

This Fallout LARP is Off the Hook

Fallout3LARP.jpgThis morning we stumbled upon this amazing series shots from a Fallout LARP that went down last month in Russian. Now, don't get us wrong and don't read into the future content of this website ; we wouldn't even think to set foot in a LARP machine unless there were piles of cash some seriously hot chicks waiting inside (that's the American way). We love games and all, but there's one thing to play them, and it's another to want to live in them.

Still, some of these shots are so darn cool looking... almost like a scene from a full fledged Fallout 3 movie from the backlot at Universal. But these are people who made their costumes with their barehands. Dorky, sure, but artistic talent abound.

Of course, our admiration and suspension of disbelief is unsuspended when coming across evidence of the apparent dorkiness of some these people. We don't mean to bust on them, but ... dunno.. it's almost required if you want to cover your butt against the cool police.

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July 1, 2009

Critical Gamers' June 2009 Board Game Roundup

Dominion.jpgWe just can't believe it. The year is already half over. Our liver only just got over our holiday party, and it's already almost 2010.

That's quite the sobering number; when we were kids back in the 70s and 80s we thought 2010 was officially "the future" (2001 A Space Odyssey was before our time, an obviously not an accurate target, so we only had John Lithgow and Roy Schnieder versus the friendly space Russians as our version of potential future events).

And the way we see it, Jupiter will go Nova in just 6 months time, so it's time to get some gaming-in while we still have a night time. Thankfully our countdown starts with a bang. The World of Warcraft set release Fields of Honor is hitting stores right about now. Also our new board game obsession Dominion is slated to expand in just a week's time. We're giddy over this, considering the game already doesn't seem to play the same way twice. Oh boy, it's going to be a good July.

And of course we'll continue to get more updates on upcoming releases, including Battlestar Galatica Pegasus, the Warhammer Board Game "Chaos in the Old World", Middle Earth Quest, and the new Axis & Allies 1942 baseline, all of which should rock our world this fall.

Here's a look back at the news of June:

Board Games

Collectable Card Games

Gaming Culture

Gaming News

Party Games


World of Warcraft TCG

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