December 31, 2009

Twilight Struggle Deluxe Reinvigorates the Cold War

TwilightStruggle.jpgGMT Games has just released the new Twilight Struggle Deluxe [Amazon, Funagain]. The deluxe portion of this new edition doesn't pack too much of a punch : an updated board with better backing and some new cards. But this is a substantial release all the same.

That's because the award winning 2 player game from 2006 has been out of print and in high demand for years. Copies of the original were selling for $200+ bucks on Amazon... which is crazy for such a simple game with few materials. We suppose that's just a testament to how good this game really is.

Here are the title's official details:

In 1945, unlikely allies toppled Hitler's war machine, while humanity's most devastating weapons forced the Japanese Empire to its knees in a storm of fire. Where once there stood many great powers, there now stood only two -- the United States and the Soviet Union. The world had scant months to collectively sigh in relief before a new conflict threatened. Unlike the titanic struggles of the preceding decades, this conflict would be waged not primarily by soldiers and tanks, but by spies and politicians, scientists and intellectuals, artists and traitors. Twilight Struggle is a two-player game simulating the 45-year dance of intrigue, prestige, and occasional flares of warfare between the USSR and the USA. The entire world is the stage on which these two titans fight. The game begins amidst the ruins of Europe as the two new superpowers scramble over the wreckage of WWII and ends in 1989, when only the United States remained standing. Twilight Struggle inherits its fundamental systems from the card-driven classics We the People and Hannibal. It is a quick-playing, low-complexity game in that same tradition. The game map is a world map of the period, whereon players move units and exert influence in attempts to gain allies and control for their superpower.

Twilight Struggle's Event cards add detail and flavor to the game. They cover a vast array of historical happenings: the Arab-Israeli conflicts, Vietnam, the peace movement, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and other such incidents that brought the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation. Subsystems capture the prestige-laden Space Race as well as nuclear tensions, with the possibility of game-ending nuclear war. Can you, as the U.S. President or Soviet Premier, lead your nation to victory? Play Twilight Struggle and find out."

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December 28, 2009

Naxxramas Descends Upon WoW TCG

We got word from the ether that the WoW TCG Naxxramas Raid Deck [Troll&Toad;] has shipped over the holiday break. In fact, our copies should be arriving at our office any time around now.

This is of course the first raid deck for this Scourgewar Cycle, which pits the heroes against the undead hordes of the Lich King. First up is the floating Citadel of Naxxramas, home of countless evil undead and demony bosses, who are all lead by the lich Kel'thuzad. (Wow, we can't believe we just spelled that correctly).

So what's new in this raid? Tons. Gone is the old Trash Mob mechanic. Instead expect more powerful bosses and their flavored minion entourage. Also, Naxxramas departs from the old linear raid and lets players tackle up to four wings of the dungeon before taking on the boss. Each wing comes with its own overaching challenge, like decreasing the attack of your heroes until you defeat the last boss. However, once you clear a wing, you'll get a buff that will stick with you for the rest of the instance.

Balancing out how many buffs you acquire before you take on the Kel'thuzad in the final boss showdown, with how spent your heroes are, is all part of the game.

Other new elements include a Raid Leader who represents the heroes during important Events in the raid. Also, shipping alongside the raid are Individual Treasure Packsfor about 10 bucks. You can use them as rewards for your party as they tackle each section, or refresh an already conquered raid to reward repeat players who make repeat runs, or you could simply extend your collection by buying your own pack on the side. Slick little move Upper Deck, we applaud it.

For a more indepth preview of the raid check out the Official Page (including a link to the rules), or read the two preview articles: Naxxramas Preview - Introduction... to Doom! and How Eventful!

Good luck!

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December 22, 2009

World Without End Board Game Hit Shelves


Squeezing in as a release just before Christmas is probably one of the nicest treats to end the year. The World Without End [Amazon, Funagain] is a board game adaptation to the Ken Follet novel of the same name, and is a sequel to the amazing Pillars of the Earth board game (and novel).

Now in the original Pillars players worked to refined raw resources to construct various portions of the cathedral in the fictitious English town of Kingsbridge. Everyone was in direct competition to get their hands on the mines, smiths, and workshops, and to employ the best artisans on the board before their competitors snatched them up. In World Without End, players vie for prestige in the same town 200 years later, all while staving off their opponents progress, and avoiding outside determents like, say, the Plague. That jerky plague.

The good news is that this title doesn't seem to be a mindless sequel to the original. Instead there are great new turn mechanics, a sizeable random event deck, and interesting cooperative and competitive elements in every single turn. And that's on top of the resource management elements and area of control elements that were such a success in the first title.

For a better idea on what we're talking about, checkout this great user review on BGG. It sums everything up nicely.

Here are the game's official details:

"England in the early and middle 14th Century! Journey to Kingsbridge, 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 EndTM 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! World

Without End contains:

  • 1 game board
  • 30 gold markers
  • 100 cards (4 summary, 4 event, 48 action, 4 chapter)
  • 57 markers (20 medical, 11 plague, 12 piety, 14 loyalty, 1 favor)
  • 10 die-cut tiles (7 building project, 3 covering)
  • 41 wooden resource cubes (25 wood, 15 stone, 1 metal)
  • 37 wooden commodity pieces (10 grain, 15 wool, 12 cloth)
  • 16 wooden house pieces
  • 1 wooden start player piece
  • 4 wooden scoring tokens
  • 4 player screens
  • 1 tax die
  • game rules
  • bag

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December 18, 2009

WoW TCG Naxxramas Previews Come Just Before the Storm

NaxxramasRaidDeck.jpgWe thought we'd be playing the Naxxramas Raid Deck by now. We're jonesin'. At first we heard it was slated for release on Tuesday of this week, but now we see that Troll and Toad has it listed for December 24th. A game scheduled to ship from warehouses on Christmas Eve? Who thought that was a good idea? Seriously.

Well there's good news in this. Upper Deck has decided to tide us over with another peek at the raid with "Naxxramas Preview - How Eventful!" Those with pun detectors and raid experience might have picked up that this is all about the raid's Event cards, which are usually dolled out when one of the minor bosses hits the ground with double X eyes.

The main interesting thing we see here is the new role of the Raid Leader. One player will be placed in charge of speaking for the team when it comes for confrontations with the player controlling the bosses. Interestingly enough there's an event - which are normally evil - that makes the Raid Leader choose from drawing multiple cards for himself, or letting his teammates draw cards.

An event that puts cards into your hand? These things usually cause you pain; we can't see why Upper Deck would make life easier for the raid. Now, there is another event card that forces players take damage if you're holding too many cards, but this seems ... not so severe, and the combo would have to be drawn just-right from a deck of shuffled cards. Interesting.

Anyway... the raid launches next week. For reals (we think). We'll let you know when it actually starts shipping from stores. Until then, happy holidays!

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December 14, 2009

Axis & Allies Pacific 1940 Board Game is Now Shipping !

AA25Pacific.jpgIt's the ides of December, and that means only one thing: the new massive Axis & Allies Pacific 1940 version of our favorite wargaming franchise is shipping from stores. You can order your copy from Amazon and Funagain Games and still get it under the Christmas Tree if you act fast! We hate to sound like a board gaming infomercial but, well, there you go.

This is a substantial release. Pacific 1940 incorporates the new rules from last year's limited Axis & Allies Anniversary Edition. That edition sold so well that it's nigh impossible to get your hands on it unless you're willing to shell out 200 bucks.

So what does this game have over the recently released Axis & Allies Spring 1942 Well this puppy has a new large format board, new - and more importantly, interesting - rules surrounding the war in China, new units, the combat rules, new damage rules, the works. And everything is souring-high with top notch production values, too.

And most interesting is the Pacific theater of the game. Fleet and invasion combat is always fun, but now you're fighting over a huge version the Pacific. Guadalcanal is just a blip on the radar of an epic land, air and sea campaign ranging all the way from the USA, to Australia ( who plays a role in this title) on up to the Philippians, Burma, China, and rolling on into Japan. And lead designer Larry Harris has gone on the record that A&A; Pacific 1940 will work in conjunction with an upcoming European Theater Release next year.

Man, we can't wait to get those two in a room together. Seriously, talk about epic.

For more information about Axis & Allies Pacific 1940, please see our previous stories:

  1. Axis & Allies Pacific 1940 Details
  2. Axis & Allies Pacific 1940 Previews at
  3. Axis & Allies Campaign Setting Timeline

Here are the official details:

Axis & Allies celebrates 25 years of strategy war gaming with the release of this deluxe theater-level game in December 2009. Axis & Allies Pacific 1940, designed and developed by Larry Harris, utilizes the updated rules established in the A&A; Anniversary Edition.

Two new combat units debut in this game, Tactical Bombers and Mechanized Infantry. Australia and New Zealand, joined together as the ANZAC forces, debut as a new playable ally. China fields more forces than ever before, but will need all the help they can get from their allies the United States, ANZAC and the UK to withstand the might of Imperial Japan.Axis & Allies Pacific 1940 features an oversized board that measures 35 wide by 32 high. With over 450 pieces, deluxe game components and local storage boxes, this game raises the standard established by the A&A; Anniversary Edition.

All new rules for neutral nations, naval & air bases, kamikaze attacks and convoy disruption add even more depth and historical accuracy to this giant game.For 2 - 4 players.

Axis & Allies Pacific 1940 is shipping from Amazon and Funagain Games.

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December 10, 2009

Wahammer Invasion LCG The Skavenblight Threat


First up are the nasty, highly aggressive, and diseased ridden ratmen of The Skavenblight Threat [Amazon, Funagain]. These guys are the dregs of society. We're talking punch a baby in the face rotten, and they're not afraid to show it.

In fact, some of the skaven have a nasty little trick up their sleeve: they're willing to corrupt themselves if it helps the great good. Or at least what they conceive to be the greater good , which is probably eating rights to a moldy piece of blood sausage.

Fantasy Flight Games has released a series of previews detailing some of the marquee cards of the expansion:

  1. The Alpha Rat
  2. Fight With Your Bear Hands
  3. The Hunters Become the Prey

Here are the official details:

The armies of Order are locked in a fierce struggle with the forces of Destruction. And now a new threat, the Skaven, make their way into the Warhammer: Invasion card game.

The Skavenblight Threat is the first monthly Battle Pack installment of The Corruption Cycle, a linked expansion series for Warhammer: Invasion, a card game of intense warfare, clever kingdom management, and epic questing. This 40 card pack contains 20 different never-before-seen cards designed to augment existing decks and add variety to the Warhammer: Invasion metagame.


The Skavenblight Thread is now shipping from Amazon and Funagain Games.

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December 8, 2009

"Board to Death" Board Game Video Review Site Launches looks like it means business. While it only just recently launched, they've already churned out numerous good board game reviews. Above is their review of our favorite game over the last year: Dominion. We haven't seen it so clearly and quickly explained anywhere. Also we love the driving music in a lot of the reviews, which makes some of the reviews pop.

On the downside some of the vocals in the earlier reviews seem a bit forced and over enunciated. You can tell the hosts are reading from a sheet while also trying to maintain a level of excitement. Slight bickering, for sure, but hey we are CriticalGamers. Over time the reviewers have really honed their skills, though, and the latest reviews are a lot better in this regard.

Nice work guys. Keep up the good work! We can see this being one of the go-to video review sites for board games as we roll into the next decade.

Other recent reviews of games that might interest you:

We'll keep you posted as more interesting video reviews emerge.

Critical Gamers Staff Permalink social bookmarking

December 5, 2009

Axis & Allies Pacific 1940 Previews at

AA25Pacific.jpgOur friends over at have started a drum up to this year's biggest A&A; release: Axis & Allies Pacific 1940. The first two articles are a series of images of the components of the game, including detailed images of the various factions' unit sculptures, the board, the rules, national setups, the works:

  1. A&A; Pacific 1940 Preview 1: Japan Units, Box, Rulebook, and Bits
  2. A&A; Pacific 1940 Preview 2: Units and Setup for USA, ANZAC, UK, and China

And they promise that there's more info to come as we approach Axis & Allies Pacific 1940's release on December 15th.

Just a quick lowdown on the game: this installment is essentially the spirited offspring Axis and Allies Anniversary Limited Edition drilled-down to the Pacific Theater only. It features rules and large format board just like it's predecessor, but will hopefully have a more extensive production run (last year's 50th Edition is selling for 170 bucks + these days).

Then next year, in an exciting move, Avalon Hill will release a second installment for the European theater. Nigh-official scuttlebut has it that this European edition will be compatible with this Pacific Edition, and combining the two will create the largest most epic A&A; experience to date.

For more information about A&A; Pacific 1940, please also see our previous story: Axis & Allies Pacific 1940 Details

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December 1, 2009

WoW TCG Scourgewar Kicks off a New Cycle

WoW TCG Scourgewaris now shipping from Amazonin both individual Booster Packs and in Booster Boxes. Funagain Games also has Booster Packs. has boxes, packs, and individual cards.

Yes, it's out. The new World of Warcraft Trading Card Game Expansion Scourgewar brings the game to the frozen tundra of Icecrown. Eventually the expansion will lead to the steps of both Naxxaramas and the Lich King in two different raid decks, but for now expect tons of Death Knight content to breathe life into the new class. The expansion includes new mechanics and keywords: "Assault" buffs allies who are attacking (in much the way bosses have +attack while attacking). "Mend" is all over the place, in Allies and Equipment, and allows Heroes or Allies to passively heal your hero or allies each turn. Mounts are a new type of cheap allies that augment your abilities in a similar way that Locations compliment Quests. There's also focus on class-specific mechanics so that you're hero will have more of an effect on your deck than just its flip power. And perhaps most exciting when it comes to new content are the new Nerubian faction; a new choice other than Aldor and Scryer, but with a cast of giant undead spider demons. You can't go wrong with spider demons.

Oh man, is it game night yet?

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