October 30, 2009

Carcassonne: Wheel of Fortune

The new Wheel of Fortune [Amazon, Funagain] stand alone expansion aims to add a bit more luck to your base line Carcassonne experience, without being one of those flashy, game breaking additions that shoots pieces through flaming hoops across the room and calls it 'fun for all ages'. (We're looking at you Catapult expansion).

Instead of gimmics, the new Wheel of Fortune piece frequently lets you score some points based on the current state of the game. Knights might be periodically scoring points based on the cities they occupy, and farmers might be netting players points even before the end game. It all depends on when and where the dancing pig lands on the new 4x4 starter piece containing the wheel.

What gets the pig moving is dots marked on the new base set of pieces, which replace the standard Carcassonne set. Whenever a piece with a mark is pulled, the Pig marker on the Wheel of Fate will rotate around. Different things happen wherever he lands, like the aforementioned knight and farmer scorings. Players might also score points based on the number of unappropriated meeples in their bank, or they might even be forced to remove a meeple from play if the pig lands on the dreaded Pest (ie: plague) fortune slice.

Interesting enough, and it doesn't feel forced on us like recently expansions. Rio Grande Game might have been running out of Carcassonne ideas over the last few years, but this one seems solid.

Here are the official details:

For years, knights, monks, farmers and builders have been undisturbed in their. But now a mysterious Wheel of Fortune changes the course of events in Carcassonne.

The plague sends followers back home, famines must be fought. The players also receive additional points from knights, which collect taxes. Whoever is in the right place at the right moment, moves his destiny in the right direction.

For everyone who knows the original Carcassonne game, the start is especially easy, because the Wheel of Fortune comes with just a few easy rules added to make a whole new game experience. Furthermore, the material of Wheel of Fortune can combine with the original Carcassonne and all the available extensions for even greater adventure.

Wheel of Fate is both a full replacement for the base game of Carcassonne and an expansion to the original base game. It includes 72 tiles, consisting of 63 tiles released in the original base game, 6 from Inns & Cathedrals, 1 from Traders & Builders and 2 from King & Scout. It also includes a special replacement start tile which depicts the Wheel of Fortune, a new mechanic unique to this edition of the game. The new start tile is the size of 16 tiles, arranged in a 4x4 square and is built using some of the tiles removed from the base game.

Carcassonne Wheel of Fortune is now shipping from Amazon and Funagain Games.

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October 27, 2009

Memoir '44 Sword of Stalingrad Coming Soon

SwordofStalingrad.jpgDays of Wonder has posted details about an upcoming Battle Map expansion to the Memoir '44 franchise. Set during the German siege of Stalingrad in 1942, this expansion will include two new scenarios, and more interestingly a new Urban Combat deck of cards.

Like the previous Battlemap installments the new Sword of Stalingrad includes a large board for some epic fights. The drawback: you'll need the materials to get the thing up and going. The system is meant for players with two copies of Memoir '44, or a single copy with the Overlord Expansion. And if you want to use the real Russian troops on the board, then you'll also need Memoir '44 Eastern Front (something that you really should have anyway -- Western Europe has been done to death).

Full product details and rules for the upcoming expansion can be found at the Memoir '44 Sword of Stalingrad website.

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October 23, 2009

Dominion: Seaside Expansion

DominionSeaside.jpgThanks for the large collection of card types, last year's fantastic 'card game in a box' Dominion [Amazon, Funagain] can be played countless times without ever running into the same game twice. Then Dominion Intrigue [Amazon, Funagain] hit the shelves and added 25 new card types. Seeing as you only play with 10 randomly selected card types in any given match, the chances you'd play a game with the same collection of cards is nearring same probability that Burt Reynolds will make appearance as a nun in a fat suit in Martin Scorsese's premier rock opera.

So when we heard that the Dominion: Seaside Expansion [Amazon, Funagain] just washed up on shores (Dominion Intrigue launched only 3 months ago), we were wondering what the point was. We could play Dominion and Intrigue for 30 years, build a time machine, and go back to 1984 and continue playing for the next 30. Chances are we'd still be playing the game with new and interesting card combinations.

Thankfully Dominion Seaside doesn't just add more content inside the current idea of Dominion, but changes the meta rules of the game. We'll quickly explain.

Seaside is themed with oceanic travel. Pirates, islands, merchant ships and ghost ships. What's interesting is how these themes play into the elements of the game. Most importantly are the new card mechanics that effect both your turn, and your NEXT turn, like tides rolling in twice. Or the light house card that remains in play until it's your turn again, keeping a watch out for you against attackers. There are definitely some interesting game changers that are implemented in interesting ways.

Our frustration subsided once we learned all this. Checking into player experiences with the game, early-bird gamers seem entirely satisfied and enthusiastic about where this series is going. Its not just a shotgun blast of more cards but the game is changing with this expansion - just as a CCG would and should do with its next set release.

Bravo. That's just what the doctored ordered. And it seems to have been very well executed to boot.

Here are the official details:

All you ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by. And someone who knows how to steer ships using stars. You finally got some of those rivers you'd wanted, and they led to the sea. These are dangerous, pirate-infested waters, and you cautiously send rat-infested ships across them, to establish lucrative trade at far-off merchant-infested ports.

First, you will take over some islands, as a foothold. The natives seem friendly enough, crying their peace cries, and giving you spears and poison darts before you are even close enough to accept them properly. When you finally reach those ports you will conquer them, and from there you will look for more rivers. One day, all the rivers will be yours.

This is the 2nd addition to Dominion. It adds 26 new Kingdom cards. Its central theme is your next turn; there are cards that do something this turn and next, cards that set up your next turn, and other ways to step outside of the bounds of a normal turn.

We should point out that Dominion Seaside is an expansion, and requires either Dominion or Dominion Intrigue to play. Enjoy!

Critical Gamers Staff Permalink social bookmarking

October 22, 2009

Power Grid Sale - Tanga Board Game of the Day

We waited a long time for the reprint of the fantastic classic Power Grid [Amazon, Funagain] to hit shelves. Bt we couldn't wait long enough so we settled on picking up a copy of Power Grid for $50+ at our local hobby shop.

It seems that all bets are off now that the reprint is out. Tanga, a web portal for sales, has Power Grid listed today for 25 bucks. Seriously, that's more than half off the price we paid just a year ago.

Power Grid is one of those tiles from Rio Grande Games that's approachable, plays quickly, and is very deep. It's winner with staying power. The only major drawback we can think of is the depiction of the translated rules (originally German) which are far more complicated than they need to be. Other than that, Power Grid is a huge addition for you gaming pile, especially when it's at this price.

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October 21, 2009

WoW TCG Scourgewar Preview Articles Begin

ScourgeWarArmyOfTheDead.jpgIt's about time. Upper Deck has shelved all of the tournament coverage and card strategy discussions and started focusing on the real meat and bones: feature previews of the new abilities, cards, and paradigms of this November's World of Warcraft Trading Card Game set expansion Scourgewar.

We both love and dislike the things we're seeing. For one: we're tired of cards that request you do silly things in order for an effect to happen, like Encrusted Zombie Finger does. We make enough "braains" references already, we don't need a catalyst for more. It's like someone at Upper Decks is swinging a cumbersome 'Fun' Hammer and hits our finger instead of our head.

Meanwhile, on the Awesome town side of the tracks is a new Assault keyword which adds to a ally's attack value whenever it's your turn. Things look even more interesting with the new set of armor smith allies that pump up attack based how many pieces of armor your wearing.

We welcome the cross cooperation of elements of the deck; it's been somewhat lacking in this game. Hopefully they keep up the work on that regard. We also love how you use your armor top protect yourself when its your opponent's turn, but then work to move that same armor into an Assault force when it's yours. Very interesting stuff.

Scourgeware is slated for release November 24th; just before a nice long Thanksgiving weekend. We'll keep you posted when new interesting cards appear, and when we learn more about this set's new key words, too.

Critical Gamers Staff Permalink social bookmarking

October 19, 2009

SurfaceScapes' D&D; for Microsoft Surface

A few things before watching this:

If you haven't heard of it, Microsoft Surface is an ongoing project to deliver a consumer level multi touch table top display. The platform is designed for all sorts of uses and to be placed horizontally, not vertically like a TV. This and the Entertaible have some serious potential to be a very slick platform for board gaming goodness in the year 'The Future.' Imagine getting board game software packs for all your favorite games, and no cleanup!

Also we should note that the software that SurfaceScapes shows here is a Proof of Concept, and in no way a full fleshed out product. It shows potential. The dice spawning animation feels particularly gimpy. We know it's a proof of concept at all, but come on. MakeDiceFallFaster=true!

Still, we're very excited any technology like this to hit the market, and we're glad that someone out there has keep the gaming eye on the price as these platforms mature. Keep it up guys!

Critical Gamers Staff Permalink social bookmarking

October 16, 2009

World Without End Board Game Coming this November


A sequel to one of our favorite games of 2007 - Pillars of the Earth - is in the works, and it's due out on American shores in under a month! Like Pillars, World Without End is based on the best selling novel by author Ken Follett. Instead of focusing on the construction of the 12th century fictitious cathedral at Kingsbridge, players control the lives of workers living in the now bustling town. Players will compete to gain influence in the town's thriving economy, placing workers in new good-production spaces, while also staving off nasty things, like you know... the Plague. Perhaps you've heard of it?

Here are the details straight from Mayfair Games:

England in the early and middle 14th Century

Journey to Knightsbridge, England, where 200 years ago Prior Phillip oversaw the building of the cathedral renowned as "The Pillars of the Earth." Now farmers, wool dealers, and builders seek wealth and prestige amidst a rivalry between the priory and merchants. As the plague reaches town, nothing remains as it once was.

World Without EndT is based on Ken Follett's best-selling novel. Strive to navigate turbulent events, ensuring and balancing your food supply, income, and prestige. Piety and loyalty remain vital, for you must cater to the upper classes. And precious medical knowledge is your greatest weapon against the Black Death. So, gather your power and spirit and rise above your rivals into legend!

The game is currently scheduled to ship near the end of November. We smell Christmas list! We'll keep you apprised of further details as we get closer to the ship date.

Critical Gamers Staff Permalink social bookmarking

October 15, 2009

Small World Wins Big Acclaim

SmallWorldRaces.jpgThe approachable yet surprisingly deep civilization growth and conquer game Small World [Amazon, Funagain] has won Games Magazaine's 2010 Game of the Year Award. They cited the title's approachability and replayablity as two major strengths. You can read their entire review of the game here.

This is the second nod to Small World this year, which also was a multiplayer game of the near nominee by the International Gamer Awards 2009.

For more information about this impressive game of the year - including the user-created expansions soon to be published by Days of Wonder - checkout our previous coverage:

  1. Small World coming this May from Days of Wonder
  2. Small World Board Game Previews
  3. Small World Board Game Released and Reviewed
  4. Small World Contest Spawns Three Mini Expansions
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October 12, 2009

BattleLore Heroes Expansion Hits Shelves (Finally!)

battleloreheroes.jpgFans of the BattleLore franchise have been sitting in longer duration hold pattern for some new toys to play with for a while. There was a drought for Battlelore even before the change of hands from publisher Days of Wonder to Fantasy Flight Games last year, and there hasn't been a significant release for the franchise since then either. But now BattleLore Heroes [Amazon, Funagain] is here, and while the $40 MSRP might not be reflected in the raw materials you get (that is: there aren't that many), you can be sure that the expansion is a great first step to refresh the wargaming system

Just a quick recap on the state of things: The BattleLore wargame system is set during the Hundred Years War. Despite the gruesome historic context the game plays relatively light and is shares rules with the approachable Memoir '44 (WWII) and Commands and Colors (Ancient) dice war game systems. The idea was to create an accessible medieval war franchise, and then introduce packs of new units to further the 100 Year War time line and to - with an intriguing twist - dabble in some Fantasy characters, too. Giant spiders, some trolls and goblins, and a few dwarfs entered the mix, but honestly, not much more than that.

But now with BattleLore Heroes players can create persistent characters that not only wander the battlefield, leading their troops on or laying waste to enemy forces, but earn experience throughout multiple fights. More experience and treasure snowballs into new abilities and powers, and so players can further customize their units throughout their campaign.

Very interesting stuff that adds an epic narrative to a series of otherwise independent scenarios.

Here are the full details:

"This BattleLore expansion introduces player-created Leaders and Champions to augment your camp's forces in battles.

As with all journeys, the beginning is never easy. As a fledgling adventurer, you begin with a bare minimum of skills and artifacts to help you combat the enemy. Adventures have the potential to reward your intrepid Hero greatly if he performs well. But beware, battlefields are not without peril, and taking too many wounds may force your Hero into an unwanted early retirement.

Prepare yourself for the journey of a lifetime!

BattleLore: Heroes includes 10 unique Hero figures, a Rules booklet, 110 Skill, Artifact, and Landmark cards, and much more!"

For more information about BattleLore Heroes or the BattleLore Wargame system, checkout the games' official website.

Critical Gamers Staff Permalink social bookmarking

October 7, 2009

Warhammer Invasion LCG Launches

It's official. Fantasy Flight Games has launched the new Warhammer Invasion Living Card Game [Amazon, Funagain]. We're stoked. Not only does the game look top notch, different, deep, well-themed and fun, it's also launching during a dormant patch of the World of Warcraft TCG. Don't be confused though - these games aren't similar except for the fantasy settings (Warcraft ripped off Warhammer after all).

What makes it pair well with the WoW TCG lull is the approach of the system. Warhammer is a Living Card Game, not a Trading Card Game or a Collectible Card Game. You don't buy gobs of boosters in shotgun's hope of collecting rares. Instead you can buy what are essentially story packs - injections of cards for a specific faction, each containing the entire set of cards for the expansion. If you decide you like the Orks best, for instance (this launch of the base set has cards for six different factions) , then you can keep the game fresh by paying 10 bucks for each Orc story pack every few months.

In other words, compared to a TCG or a CCG, an LCG can be quite cheap, and we expect to be playing both going forward in parallel lines.

And what a looker this is, too. We recommend you checkout the full blown preview / tutorial videos of Warhammer Invasion published from Fantasy Flight Games themselves. They're entertaining and thorough enough that we might just very well throw away the rulebook. The Introduction video is up top, and there are four more sections that follow. Enjoy!

  1. Introduction
  2. Capital Board Overiew
  3. Card Overview
  4. Setup - First Turn
  5. Play Example - Conclusion
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October 5, 2009

Le Havre wins International Gamer Award for 2009

LeHavre.jpgWhile we can't say that we were shocked that Le Havre [Funagain] got some accolades for the International Gamer Awards, first surpassing Battlestar Galactica for the best Multiplayer Game, we were a bit shocked that Le Havre beat out our recent favorite Dominion, too! So here's some respect to Le Havre and Lookout Games who have established themselves as a prime time gaming publisher.

Le Havre is set its namesake, the second largest port city of France, and centers around resource management and the manufacture and sale of goods. With that in mind, here's why the International Gamer Awards gave it the nod for 2009:

"In the Multi-Player category, the award goes to Le Havre, the creation of German designer Uwe Rosenberg and published by Lookout Games and Ystari Games. Set in the enchanting French port of Le Havre, the game challenges players to properly manage their harbor by securing goods, converting these into resources, purchasing buildings, and shipping goods to other ports for handsome profits. Le Havre is quite challenging, and the abundance of choices gives players wide latitude in pursuing their strategies. The game has earned the IGA in the General Strategy, Multi-Player category, and marks the second IGA for designer Rosenberg and Lookout Games, who captured the award last year with Agricola."

For more information about Le Havre, please see our previous coverage: Le Havre Board Game - A Destined Classic. And for more information about how Le Havre was selected, or details on the runners up for 2009, check out the official story Recipients Announced for 2009 International Gamers Awards - General Strategy Category.

Critical Gamers Staff Permalink social bookmarking

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