August 31, 2009

Critical Gamer's August 2009 Board Game Roundup


The September weather has capped-off the month of August earlier than the actual Calendar has. It's been downright cold, or rainy, or cold & rainy up here in Boston the last few days. While it may be a bit of a downer to think the weather is already turning its back on Summer, it's exciting to think we're heading straight on into prime board game playing season.

And the drum-up to the Holiday releases has started. Details have been 'printed' on the upcoming Warhammer Living Card Game, Ticket to Ride : Europa 1912 Expansion, Battlestar Galactica: Pegasus Expansion, and BattleLore Dragon Expansion have seriously made us start to drool. I mean, look at that lineup for the fall! Plus Middle-earth Quest and Axis & Allies 1942 are already out. Oh man, it's going to be one heck of a fall. Start playing the titles as they come out, 'cause there might not be enough months in the year to accommodate all the gaming goodness heading our way.

Here are our stories for August 2009, the year of the ox:

Board Games

Card Games

Cheap Deals & Sales

Gaming Culture

Gaming News

Party Games

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August 28, 2009

BattleLore Dragons Expansion Announced

BattleLoreDragons.jpgThe BattleLore [Amazon, Funagain] war game system had a plan for its expansions since day one: start as a semi historic medieval era war game system and then roll in fantasy elements in the form of expansions. There have been some quality mini expansions here and there over the years, with a slow roll-out of fantasy creatures from Dwarfs to Goblins, and Trolls. But now there's something bigger on the horizon: Dragons.

The BattleLore Dragons expansion will include at least three different forms of the wyrms: Green (poisonous), Blue (frost) and most brutal Red (fire). Full details on the dragons and their abilities have been summarized in the feature preview article "Casting a Massive Shadow". Here's a snippet:

"As the battle draws to a close, the day in nearly won. Knights dismount, removing their battered helms and breathing in the smoking air. Suddenly, a shadow falls across the battlefield, accompanied by the deafening beat of massive wings... and the fight is far from over. This fall, all of Europe shall tremble before the might of three new creatures!

BattleLore: Dragons, the upcoming expansion for the beloved strategy game BattleLore, brings to bear the awesome power of one of the most iconic figures in the fantasy genre. These majestic creatures promise to lay waste to their foes as they fly unhindered about the battlefield."

We'll keep you apprised of any new interesting details as the expansion gets closer to release, including the release of the sculptures (we hope their huge) and of cousre news of an actual release date! So far.. we just don't know.

Have a good weekend folks.

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August 26, 2009

Dominion Sale - Act Fast

Dominion.jpgThe critically acclaimed card game in a box Dominion [Amazon, Funagain] is one of our favorite new games on the block, and today lady luck is shining upon you because Dominion has been severely discounted at the online sales website Tanga. Check it out here.

As of 10:30 am this morning they're selling the original copy of the Dominion Card Game you've been reading so much about at 32.99 bucks. This is one of those short term 'while supplies last' sales so check it out sooner rather than later. The deal also includes gobs of card sleeves in case you want to get keep your decks safe and sound from random spills and wild flailing card tears due to high-richter earthquakes or drunken chair falls.

For more information about Dominion, check out our release story: Dominion - A Standalone Collectibe Card Game in a Box

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August 24, 2009

Axis & Allies Spring 1942 Released

AASpring1942.jpgThe next baseline Axis and Allies title A&A; 1942 Edition [Amazon, Funagain] has finally hit store shelves, and this might be a perfect pickup if you missed last years A&A; 50th Anniversary Edition. This installment is much smaller, and cheaper, but includes many of the cool new rules that made it into 50th Ann.

Cruisers are now on the scene, making naval combat far more interesting and vibrant. Additionally the notion of Damaging Factories (instead of destroying IPCs) during strategy bombing has been brought over, as have victory cities, artillery, and the new unit cost schemes.

Almost all naval forces prices have been slashed. Couple that to the fact that you'll need a flotilla of ships to protect your now defenseless transports and you should therefore expect to see some massive fleet actions. Let that sink in for a second - no more massive fleets of liberty ships off the English coast who's mere presence staves-off German aerial attacks. Nope: you'll need destroyers, cruisers, carriers and their planes, and / ore battleship escorts to keep your supply lines safe. This one move is a huge step for the better, and something that we loved in A&A; 50th Anniversary.

But unless you have 200-300 bucks to burn, then A&A; Anniversary is off the table. Now he's your chance to pickup its little brother for the cheap.

The game's downsides? It doesn't ship with IPC bills anymore, and asks you to track money on a sheet of paper, which is pretty lame. Additionally the game includes some of the support materials, like the attack board, on the main board itself - leaving less room for pieces. This makes Europe particularly cramped.

The money thing doesn't bother us - just grab your stack of bills from your older version, or use monopoly money. The cramped board is a bit more of a burden, but we can look past it. There are just so many great things that have been brought over from the 50th Anniversary that we can easily overlook the worst of the game's flaws.

Don't take our word for it though. You should check out these two user reviews on 25th Anniversary edition, a simpler, cheaper, easier edition and My 2 cents.

Here are the game's official details:

Spring 1942, The World is at War! Five world powers struggle for supremacy: Germany and Japan are aligned against England, the Soviet Union, and the USA. You control the military and economic destiny of one of these countries in the titanic struggle that will decide the fate of the world. You will need the perseverance of Montgomery, the daring of Rommel, the courage of Patton, the timing of Yamamoto, and the steadfastness of Zhukov!

Axis & Allies celebrates it's 25th Anniversary in August of 2009 with a new and updated edition of it's original classic game. Axis & Allies 1942, designed and developed by Larry Harris, will utilize the updated rules established in A&A; Anniversary Edition. Cruiser class ships will make their debut in A&A; 1942, forever changing the naval line-up. Newly sculpted playing pieces and all new packaging will position this game as the cornerstone of the Axis & Allies game line for years to come. Decide the fate of a nation in a few short hours!

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August 20, 2009

Middle-earth Quest Board Game Released

MIddleEarthQuestBox.jpgThe latest board game themed in the J.R.R. Tolkien's ultimate fantasy setting has just store shelves. The cooperative adventure board game Middle-earth Quest [Amazon, Funagain] puts players in control of heroes who help stave off Sauron from finding the ring during the 17 years immediately prior to the forming of the fellowship. Fans of the movies may remember the time Gandalf went galloping around to find information about the ring after Bilbo's birthday - that was actually 17 years.

The forces of good must therefore keep the ring safe long enough for Gandalf to figure out just-what-the-heck is going on. In the process they will embark on their own quests to halt the forces of Sauron, and to seek help and advice from many characters from the Lord of the Rings novels.

Facing them are a slew of baddies controlled by one player fulfilling the role of the Dark Lord himself. This player can win in a few ways, but mainly by increasing his evil influence on Middle-earth or finding the ring and its bearer before Frodo sets out on his epic trip.

The title is designed for 2-4 players to complete in about 3 hours time, which should give you some idea of its epicness and complexity. This is a pretty big game, so don't let it's 13+ age suggestion fool you.

Thankfully Middle-Earth quest isn't quite as mind numbing as the previous strategy game (as opposed to adventure styled ) War of the Ring. Instead this title is helmed by Corey Koniecka and Christian T Petersen who have both worked on previous smash-hit Fantasy Flight Game titles like Battlestar Galactica, A Game of Thrones and Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition. If you've played any of those then you can get a pretty good feel for the depth of game that we're talking about.

For more information on the title, checkout our previous coverage:

Middle-earth Quest is now shipping from Amazon and Funagain Games.

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August 18, 2009


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August 17, 2009

Battlestar Galactica: Pegasus Rules Posted

PegasusBox.JPGAfter a long string of previews the rules for Battlestar Galactica Pegasus - the expansion to last year's amazing Battlestar Galactica Board Game - have been posted to the Internets. You can check them out here.

Obviously we're really excited about this game. Most interesting to us were the rules aruond jettisoning players out of airlocks (and the different aftermaths of that character if he's a cylon or a human), the addition of Scar as a new Cylon Raider character, and the interesting notion that a Cylon Leader is randomly assigned a secret card that guides them to be either sympathetic to the human cause, or pushes them to help the cylon cause. Oh those cylons and their flip floppy ways.

It was also good to see details of the New Caprica rules. In this new addition to the end game, the humans scramble to prepare civilian ships to evacuate the temporary colony, and must defend the launched ships long enough to get enough resources airborne to avoid starvation, a loss of morale, and just general extinction. Meanwhile the Cylon Players lord over the colony and attempt to throw players in jail and blow up the Galactica (when are they not) to keep the humans right where they are. It also seems interesting enough, and is quite the cool twist, but we're currently iffy on how enjoyable it'll be, or if it'll be just a tad too complicated. Sometimes sessions of BS:G go on long enough, you know? Thankfully all of the New Caprica portion of the expansion is completely optional.

Battlestar Galactica: Pegasus is slated to ship later this fall, and we'll let you know as soon as it hits shelves.

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August 13, 2009

Middle-Earth Quest Trailer

Fantasy Flight Games' prelease media machine has released a trailer for the board game Middle-earth Quest, which should be on store shelves presently (August 2009). The trailer doesn't have much info about the actual board game itself, but we're really digging the art style.

Middle-earth Quest is an upcoming cooperative board game release in which up to three players control heroes and join forces to defeat a fourth player who controls the forces of Sauron. The game takes places in the darkening days immediately prior to the Forming of the Fellowship.

For more information on Middle-earth Quest, please see our previous coverage Middle-earth Quest Details Emerge, or visit the game's official website. We'll let you know as soon as they appear on store shelves later this month.

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August 12, 2009

Ticket to Ride : Europa 1912 Announced


It's been a while since we've had any notable Ticket to Ride news. We were holding out for the next next big thing, but Ticket to Ride: Europa 1912 should be more than enough to tide us over.

This expansion is set to include a whopping 101 route cards to play with the original copy of Ticket to Ride Europe, and it'll ship with three different configurations: combine a subset of the new cards with the original route cards to spice up your original Ticket to Ride Europe; go all Tabula Rasa and ditch those old routes and use the whole new collection or routes; or combine both full sets to get a library of route cards so large that'll make your head spin.

This is fantastic in our eyes because the weakest element of Ticket to Ride Europe was the routes (which is why Ticket to Ride Marklin remains our favorite of the franchise). The 1910 expansion for the original Ticket to Ride also did wonders to rebalance and open the board, and we have high hopes Europa will do the same the old continent.

The expansion includes some new interesting mechanics, too. We'll let publisher Days of Wonder present them:

"This expansion also introduces Warehouses & Depots - new game rules and pieces that create an additional strategic layer and can be played with any of the Ticket to Ride maps. Wooden Train Depots are placed on cities selected by each player. Throughout the game, each player's Warehouse will accumulate Train cards and those who have the foresight, clever timing, or just plain good fortune to build a route to a Depot can make off with a fistful of Train cards. Depot placement and skillful Warehouse tactics become a key part of a winning Ticket to Ride strategy!"

Seems like quite the deal for 20 bucks. Ticket to Ride: Europa 1912 is scheduled for an October release. Pictures of the pieces and a further description of rules can be found on the game's official website.

We'll let you know as soon as it ships!

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August 10, 2009

Warhammer Invasion LCG Rules are Online

WarhammerInvasionBox1.jpgBoy howdy, that was fast. The rules to the Warhammer Invasion Living Card Game are already online. You can peruse the 24 page rulebook here.

The rules themselves are very clear, and well formatted, and aren't a dry read as some other leading CCG brands. The game actually looks very, very interesting, too. (for general information on Warhammer Invasion and Living Card Games, checkout our previous article "First Details" ).

Unlike other CCGs and TCGs where players protect a hero, players of Warhammer Invasion control and upgrade a home city. Different facets of the home city can be built-out, strenghting buildings and upgrading production capacity (by playing cards face down in the different zones), and these various facets help buff a player's war machine. The city is also the main target of your opponent; if 3 sections of your home city are razed, then you lose. End of story.

Players will play cards representing Units (allies and heroes), Actions (Abilities or Spells), Quests, and Support Cards (Enchantments, Artifacts and other ongoing goodness) to build out their war effort. At the end of a player's turn he/she declares a zone of an opponent's capital city to fight over. Any Units defending this area will enter into battle to protect the city, absorb damage, and deal hurt back to the attacker. And so the larger battle of two major cities unfolds over numerous turns.

The cards a player selects to build their deck is tied to a faction included in the base set, which encompass all the major parties of the Warhammer Fantasy setting: Empire, Choas, Dwarf, Orc, High Elf and Dark Elf. Most of these factions start with their own captial city setup, save for the two Elf factions who'll get their just deserts in an expansion later this year.

The first set's keywords are easily approachable:

  • Counterstrike: The Unit deals immediate unpreventable damage to an attacking character, then the counterstriking character enters battle normally.
  • Scout: A scout who survives a battle forces the opponent to discard a card.
  • Toughness: Prevents a set amount of damage during combat.

Seems simple enough, and playing off these combos could be interesting enough, too.

The initial Warhammer Invasion LCG base set is slated for a November release. We'll let you know if any interesting info hits the net before then. This will surely make a killer stocking stuffer come Christmas. For one the game has a great setting, seems approachable, and has the rule set to grow in complexity. And two: the game is a LCG, which has a lot less wallet impact that a Trading Card or Collectible Card game... oh baby, late 2009 is going to be nice.

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August 6, 2009

Wits & Wagers Expansion 1 Released

WitsAndWagersExpasnsion1.jpgThe first expansion to the sweet Trivia game Wits and Wagers h as been released. The expansion, named Wits & Wages Expansion 1 [Amazon, Funagain] adds some 700 questions to the game.

Trivia fans who haven't played Wits & Wagers should definitely check it out. The questions are hard, near impossible hard, and that's the point.

Relax though -- players aren't expected to get the answers right, but instead players guess or approximate the answers. For instance, "In what year did Ben Franklyn run his famous Kite Experiment". Players then write down answers, sort them chronologically and bet 'points' on which answer is closest to the actual answer. The true answer is revealed, and the player's bets are paid out based on odds.

Sounds complicated. It's not. It's actually a pretty sweet idea. The only drawback are the components, which are themed and get the job done, but they really are fairly low budget. Thankfully the gameplay itself is probably the best of all Trivia Games on store shelves.

And it just got bigger. A lot bigger; the expansion sports 700 new questions that we bet you won't know the answer to. And unlike the perennial edition of Trivial Pursuit, there's no way in Hades you'll ever remember all the the obscure answers all these obscure questions for the second playthrough. It's the gift that keeps giving!

Here are the details:

Wits & Wagers Expansion Pack 1 features 700 new and intriguing questions for Wits & Wagers, the most award-winning party game in history. This expansion gives Wits & Wagers fans more of what they love most -- pop culture, everyday life, animals & nature, and even the outrageously zany. In Wits & Wagers Expansion Pack 1, there's something for everyone!

So, how many licks does it really take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? Get Wits & Wagers Expansion Pack 1 and find out!!!

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August 5, 2009

Axis & Allies Spring 1942 User Review and Images


Our friends over at Axis & have fished up the first user review of the upcoming Axis & Allies 1942 Edition due out in just a few weeks. You can read about it here, and don't forget to check out the slick shot of the board.

The reviewer gave this new A&A; baseline installment - the 25th Anniversary Edition of the A&A; franchise - high marks for Gameplay, Clarity of Rules and approachability for new players.

There are two major beefs, however. While the game's components sport the same sleek look and high quality of the awe inspiring A&A; 50th Anniversary Edition, the board is a tad too small to fit the pieces in and around Europe (hasn't that always been the case?), and Avalon Hill seems to have skimped out on some of the components, too. There's no more battle board (but a battle strip on the main board), there are hardly enough stackable white chips that come with the set (the ones that aid in keeping track of your soldiers) and there's no money included in this addition. *serious gasp* No Money?! We know things are tough, but that's a pretty sour thing to do Avalon Hill!

But you can just grab a stack of money from your own set, or use some Monopoly money from the basement.. that's fine. Or if you're really in bad shape you can do what the game suggests and drag out a pencil and some paper. Nontraditional but utilitarian.

The mere fact that this installment is a (cheaper) cousin of the out of print A&A; 50th Anniversary mixed with the older & also out of print A&A; Revised edition should make it quite the looker, and the gameplay should be much more involved than your father's A&A;.

If you happen to be that father.. then it's cool and no hard feelings. We are, too.

Well let you know as A&A; Spring 1942 ships to stores.

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August 4, 2009

Battlestar Galactica: Pegasus Previews Galore

PegasusBox.JPGWe now totally expect the Battlestar Galactica board game expansion Pegasus to be a box load of awesome. Why? Well because the original game was awesome, and after leaning more and more about the upcoming Pegasus release, it seemingly remains so. After three preview articles (the first of which can be found here), we've seen enough to blow our paranoid cylon accusing minds.

So we already know from before that the expansion contains new cylon types, a new type of dastardly skill card, and a cast of new characters. That's already a pretty good expansion right there, and it could be stand as a credible fresh air of new material just on its own.

The second preview article "Reckless Tactics" delves into the Pegasus and its' crew. The ship itself has four new spaces that have a great mix of powerful abilities that come with the arrival of the more powerful Battlestar Pegasus. The trade off for these more powerful ship controls are a slew of negative side effects which seem appropriate for the aggressive and overly militaristic Pegasus Crew. Things like, more powerful guns that may or may not also hit a civilian ship in the process. Or a new Brig like ability that jettisons players out of the airlock instead of just locking them up.

Yep, it's true - with the addition of Pegasus on the scene, it seems that you can now die in the Battlestar Galactica board game (well your character can anyway). Side effects of death seem include the discarding of your hand, and the potential loss of pulse. Upside: a substantial tax break.

ArrowContinue reading: "Battlestar Galactica: Pegasus Previews Galore"

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August 1, 2009

Critical Gamer's July 2009 Board Game Roundup

DominionIntrigue.jpgTraditionally July has been the lazy middle part of the year the slowly rolls into the August, the end of which is the leading edge of preview central -- you know that time when all the publishers scramble to educmacate we gamers on their upcoming Holiday releases.

But it seems that leading edge has bounced out of late August this year and now firmly rests lodged in the skull cap of July. Fantasy Flight in particular has started things early not only with their new game announcements, but a slew of in depth preview articles (in the true FFG way). On top of that, this month hosted substantial releases from two of our other favorite publishers. Board gaming hasn't been this good in a long time.

At the top of the release list was the Dominion expansion Dominion: Intrigue that hit shelves just a few weeks ago, and let us tell you that it's flat-out awesome. More top notch and well conceived cards means even more ways to play this already expansive 'collectible card game' in a box. And speaking of card games, Fields of Honor capped off the PvP themed series of World of Warcraft TCG cards with yet another great set of interesting allies abilities. The fraternity of Arena Allies that premiered with this latest series will be skulking through our decks in useful ways for years. Plus now we have our hands on the coveted Death Knight class and we can't wait to see what new avenues that brings up in both casual and Dungeon Raid play.

And last but even most substantial is the release of the Eberron Campaign Guide for D&D; 4th Edition. Finally, a year after the 4th edition's release, DMs get a huge injection of useful source materials to carve our their own adventures in probably the most popular D&D; setting.

Board game aficionados listening patiently should note that there are some great titles coming down the pipe in the next few months. Pandemic fans should have their hands full saving the planet from viral beasties when the On the Brink expansion hits stores this month. The new MiddleEarth Quest franchise is also slated for an August release. Further out: fans of the Battlestar Galactica board game (and that should be just about anyone with a pulse) are poised to feast on all the great things inside the Battlestar Galactica Pegus expansion. We'll have more information on this expansion shortly. And players of the BattleLore fantasy board game system are getting an epic upgrade with persistant heroes and their individual campains with the BattleLore Heroes expansion this fall.

Perhaps we're gushing at this point, but this fall is going to be sweet. Let's not forget that Warhammer is getting two treatments from Fantasy Flight Games, including a the new Invasion living card game, and a traditional board game Chaos in the Old World. The Axis and Allies franchise is about to set it's new standard for the next half decade with Axis & Allies Spring 1942 Edition, and last but not least we can't forget that Call of Duty is receiving a fast paced actiony card game that should ship sometime before the end of the year.

*gasp* That is a lot of AAA gaming right there. 2009 is half over, but it looks like the best is yet to come. Here are our stories for the last month.

Board Games

Card Games

Collectable Card Games

Gaming Culture

Gaming News



World of Warcraft TCG

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