March 17, 2010

Memoir '44 Breakthrough Expansion Announced

Memoir44Breakthrough.jpgA new giant map expansion of WWII battlefield tactics game Memoir '44 is coming this May. While Breakthrough promises a plethora of scenarios the most intriguing element of this expansion are the 4 new giant maps. Printed on 2 double-sided 9 panel boards, the maps incorporate sand, grasslands, arctic and beach locales, and promise to "stretch the limit of current printing technology." We can only assume, then, that they're about as big as an elephant's ear.

While the expansion should work with one set of Memoir '44, Days of Wonder have interestingly suggested that some of the scenarios might work better if you have their series of expansions. Basically it would be nice to have all the extra pits of Russia's pieces in the Eastern Front, for instance, for any and all Russian battles within the 15 supplied scenarios.

It makes sense, but also means that the expansion is probably only best suited for those with Memoir '44 collections already in full swing.

Those seeking the official details can find them here. The Memoir '44 Breakthrough Kit is slated to an MSRP of $30.00 and should begin shipping in may.

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March 12, 2010

The Napoleonic Battles of the The Eagle and the Lion


Alright you history buffs. The scenarios that will be part of the upcoming first installment of the Battles of Napoleon board game have been announced and await for your perusal. We should note that the entire system will follow a timeline of Napoleon's battles, but The Eagle and the Lion release will depict a set of specific major battles between Le Petit Dude Mort against the forces of the English.

Other minor powers will be involved, too, but you know... as minor players. Interestingly is that the larger battles are broken up into a few scenarios, with the fateful Waterloo getting three installments. Talk about a long day of fighting.

Here are the scenarios:

  1. Maida (Battle of Maida - Italy, July 4, 1806)
  2. Cerro De Medellin (Battle of Talavera - Spain, July 28, 1809)
  3. Miranda De Azan (Battle of Salamanca - Spain, July 22, 1812)
  4. Los Arapiles (Battle of Salamanca - Spain, July 22, 1812)
  5. Garcia Hernandez (Battle of Garcia Hernandez - Spain, July 23, 1812)
  6. The Road to Namur (Battle of Quatre Bras - Belgium, June 16, 1815)
  7. The Woods of Bossu (Battle of Quatre Bras - Belgium, June 16, 1815)
  8. Jerome (Battle of Waterloo - Belgium, June 18, 1815)
  9. The Attack of the 1st Corps (Battle of Waterloo - Belgium, June 18, 1815)
  10. The Miserables (Battle of Waterloo - Belgium, June 18, 1815)

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March 10, 2010

Catan Histories: Settlers of America Details Released

SettlersOfAmerica.jpgBoard Game News has reported that the official product description of the upcoming Catan Histories series of games Settlers of America have been released. Summed up as the Catan Train Game, Settlers of America puts players in the control of creating the idustrial railways that expand America west into their frontier.

Here's the official Spiel

The 19th Century has arrived and Americans are heading west. Wagon trains are forming up and heading out to settle new lands and build new cities. These new cities will need railroad lines to bring in new people and necessary goods. Some head west for the adventure, some to start a new life, still others to find work.

Look west to make your fortune. As the population grows, resources will dwindle and the smart money seeks new sources and new markets. Finance your settlers as they head west to build the cities of tomorrow. Link these cities with rails of steel and operate your railroad to supply the townsfolk with goods. To the west lie lands to settle and fortunes to be made!

Settlers of America: Trails to Rails utilizes the familiar Catan hex-tile grid to present a map of the United States. Players collect and trade resources, in order to purchase, migrate and build settlements, forge railroads and acquire locomotives. Railroads are used to distribute goods to the interconnected cities. As westward locations are settled, old sources of resources deplete. The addition of gold adds to the depth of play and increases options for the players.

Expect a June release for this title, with the default out of the box configuration supporting 2-4 players.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 8, 2010

The Ballad of Catan

The name says it all.

It's funny... the Settlers of Catan had fallen off our game table a few years ago, but now it's back in our psyche in style. First lifted by the iPhone Settlers of Catan game, and now news of the upcoming Catan Histories: America.

Just when we thought we were out, Catan pulls us back in. Its like Lost meets the Godfather.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 4, 2010

Battles of Napoleon Series Announced by FFG

BattlesOfNapoleon.pngNapoleon has surface in our lives in a big way. Last week we say the release of the strategic and tactical wargame Napoleon Total War for the PC. Now we have word that Fantasy Flight Games plans to release a series of tactical board games based on the Napoleonic Age.

And sweet mamma pajama it looks awesome.

The first edition of Battles of Napoleon series is dubbed The Eagle and the Lion and incorporates 10 historic battles from the Napoleonic Wars with the major players being that of England and France. Fans of the other empires of the time should know that other powers will play some minor roles in the varying scenarios of this release. Hopefully we'll see a stronger showing of Austria, Prussia, and Russia in future expansions, too.

BattlesOfNapoleonDessertBattle.pngWe're not entirely sure what the list of scenarios are at this point, and if the first edition will contain the finale at Waterloo against England and Prussia, or if the series will iteratively work its way through Italy, and on into Russia before tackling that fateful battle. What we do know is the product information page has a battle image that seemingly takes place on sandy terrain, so it seems that the we're heading to Spain or Egypt. There will be 4 game boards in all, each double sided, and with terrain tiles to boot, so we fully expect to be all over Europe, too.

The initial announcement also hints to an interesting command and control scheme where orders will be divvied out to sub commanders who in turn lead divisions of troops. These orders might be confused or misinterpreted based on the battle situation, event cards, and the morale of the troops involved. Adapting to your foes moves, artillery, and calvary checks is only part of the game, the general chaos of the battle is another major player. Very interesting.

For more information on The Battles of Napoleon: The Eagle and the Lion check out the Product Description Page on the FFG website. We'll keep you apprised of more details as they come to light, and rumor has it that they're looking for an Early Summer release. We're stoked!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 1, 2010

Critical Gamers' February 2010 Board Game Roundup

iPhoneCatan.jpgFebruary might be the shortest month of the year but it was jam packed with excellent gaming news. For those Dominion Card Game fans we had news about another game that a similar vein with Thunderstone, and the news of not just one Dominion Expansion: Alchemy, but a hint of at least 2 years of the Dominion franchise expanding and evolving with more and more releases.

Board gamers got news of an epic Warhammer wargame with Horus Heresy, and announcements from Mayfair Games about their spring lineup. This includes another release in the Catan Histories series, which bridges Settlers of Catan mechanics with the American expansion west during the Industrial Revolution. We really liked Struggle for Rome, so we have high hopes for Catan Histories: Settlers of America which is slated for release later this year.

February also presented us the strategic board game and real time tactical battles of Napoleon Total War for the PC. We've been playing this over the last week and it's really an amazing step up for last year's 18th century based Empire Total War. And considering how much we loved that game, it's only testament of how much a beast Napoleon Total War really is. Anyone with a PC, an interest in history, and some mouse skills should definitely pick it up.

Here's to a dry March!

Board Games

Card Games

Collectable Card Games

Gaming Culture

Gaming News

Our Game Reviews

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 25, 2010

A Song of Ice and Fire Wargaming System Announced!

AGameOfThronesBookCover.jpgIn an unexpected move publisher Fantasy Flight Games has announced that an upcoming themed franchise of the BattleLore streamlined war game system is going to take place in the intriguing fantasy world of the G.R.R. Martin novels A Song of Ice and Fire. Dubbed the Battles of Westeros. The first core set will pit the two major protagonist and antagonist houses against each other on a configurable battle board with multiple scenarios and units lifted straight from the novels.

Here are the first details:

"In this epic board game of battlefield tactics, players control either House Stark, the wards of Winterfell who have called their hearty allies to defend their honor and lands, or House Lannister, an aggressive force funded by Casterly Rock's endless supply of gold.

Featuring over 138 detailed plastic figures and bases, 110 cards, a gorgeous double-sided six-panel board, over 32 map overlays, and much more, Battles of Westeros provides everything players need to relive the excitement and intrigue of the wars for the Iron Throne... and with their favorite Stark and Lannister characters."

Currently there isn't much meat and potatoes behind the details of this release, but that doesn't matter. The mix of the proven, customizable and extendable BattleLore wargame system with theme of G.R.R. Martin's novels had us at "hello."

For more information check out these two feature articles, and the official product description:

  1. A Guide To Westeros
  2. There Is No Middle Ground

We'll keep you apprised of the nitty gritty details as we get closer to release later this year.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 24, 2010

Catan Histories: Settlers of America Announced!

Settlers of Catan Box Shot - 4th EditionWell look at that. Just when we thought the Catan Histories series of games that mixed the Settlers of Catan mechanics with historical settings both began and died with Catan Histories: Struggle for Rome, publisher May Fair Games decides to make us look like idiots.

Catan Histories: Settlers of America has just been demoed at the New York Toy Fair, and is detailed as part of a larger fair coverage story by BoardGameNews. The game centers around the production of goods on the east coast of the United States in the 19th century. Players will parlay their goods into building railroad tracks to push further west, for both delivery points and for increasing their production areas. As players push west they will remove production points from the lands to the east and place them on the burgeoning frontier. At this point we're not quite sure if they'll be able to reduce the amount of production from their opponent's lands, or from only their own, but either way it's pretty intriguing mechanic.

For now the details are about that sparse. For all the information that's available today checkout the BoardGameNews article, and the Mayfair Games official story. We'll keep you posted of more details as we get closer to Settlers Of America's launch in June! Sweet!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 22, 2010

Mayfair Games Announces Forest Fires and Nuns for March

Mayfair Games has been the publisher of some fantastic Eurogames over the years. Unfortunately they haven't pushed a title with enough beef to make our must-purchase list lately, and we're hoping that 2010 is the year they turn things around.

So let's see how the year starts. First up for the end of winter are two new titles: Ablaze and Nuns on the Run.

Let's address Nuns on the Run first. We should note that title has nothing to do with the 1990's Eric Idle and Robbie Coltrane masterpiece. Instead of disguising yourself in drag to hide from fellow bank robbers, players on the board game will take on the roles of novices exploring the nunnery at night. Players will have their own secret agendas to achieve during the game, working together to sneak through the halls while remaining undetected. The trick is that another set of players will be controlling the Abbess and the elders of the nunnery, all of who are trying to catch anyone out of their beds at night. It's an "Us Versus Them" game of sneaking, spying and dark corridors which should be some light, interesting fun.

The other title on the near horizon is the game themed with explosions and wild fire. Ablaze is actually three games in one, two of the games are proven titles under different names, and the third is a yet unseen game. The first variant Volcano! has players controlling air tankers competing to save as much land as they can from the firey embrace of a very active Volcano. The second variant Wildfire! involves players taking on the roles of firefighters on the ground who work from water sources outwards as they attempt to contain fires that spread through a tile flipping mechanic. The final title On the Run! challenges players to save slightly crisp forest critters running from a fire that's spreading by lightning strikes

More information about these two titles can be found at the Mayfair Games website. We'll keep you apprised of the game details when the titles launch in March.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 17, 2010

Settlers of Catan for the iPhone - A Definite Winner

iPhoneCatan.jpgA baby joined our group this last week so I had a lot of time to sink into something handheld and entertaining. I found myself bored pretty quickly after tinkering with some of Reiner Knizia's iPhone & iPod Touch games. In principal the games were fun, but I needed something that I could play, put down on a moment's notice, and quickly pickup where I left off. Also puzzle games require a level of coherency that my sleep deprived brain couldn't embrace.

I suddenly remembered the news of a Settlers of Catan game for the iPhone. I quickly installed it, fired it up, and I was greeted with a clean menu system and a level of familiarity that I wanted. I could easily pick up a numerous series of sessions of the game without a bother in the world, and a variety of game configurations left me with a bunch of cool things to try out. Random maps, victory point and robber options, and a generous amount of AI opponents to chose from were all features that made me satisfied the game would hold up well to repeat plays.

I should note that I haven't played Settlers in years. The game was my gateway game of choice for a long time - and remains to be in some circles - but I've since moved on to newer, more modern things. But something about the iPhone version fit me like a glove.

The immediate first impression starts with a UI that's clean and crisp to the eye. More importantly the level of usability is high -- you can easily offer trades, build roads, towns and cities, or buy and play cards with only a few gestures.. The presentation of the dice rolls and subsequent resource rewards are also both very clear and quick to vvisually process.

CataniPhoneInGame.jpgThe game also does an excellent job of drawing your attention to the specific portions of the island that are being acted upon by other players. Construction projects clearly blink twice while the game quickly and smoothly snap-scrolls the screen to the portion of the map in question. And when it's your turn to build roads or cities, etc, the game visual prompts you with all of the potential positions for where you can spend your resources. Building out your small empire on Catan is as easy as tapping the screen.

Finally a nod to the AI. While tournament players might laugh at this, casual players like myself will find the AI characters quite capable. They're great at finding the best potential placements of their towns, and when you're ahead they do some nice moves to block you out of particular resources on the map, or block you out of trading, The game also has a very good trade offer and counter offer system that seems to work quite well.

I should also note that the game ships with a variety of AI personalities which you can play against, all having different values for things like Expansion, Aggression and Overall Skill. You can even hot seat with more than one human player in case your stuck on a bus or a long flight with a friend.

ThumbsUp.jpgOn the dark side: there haven't many things to complain about. I've noticed only one niggling 'feature' that rubs me the wrong way. Say you run out of settlements to place (the incarnate board game only ships with a certain number of houses after all). The game doesn't present you with an obvious error saying "sorry, no more houses for you! Next in Line!" Instead it greys out the possible construction project in the same way it does when you don't have the adequate resources to pay for it. So you may end up with nine out of ten victory points and yelling at your phone, telling it that you have the gosh darn resources to build a settlement and win the game, only after you've made an ass out of yourself do you notice the small fine print on the building screen "No more settlements available". They could have made this a bit more obvious, especially since you usually run out of settlements on the games with higher than 10 vicotry points.

Overall the Settlers of Catan for the iPhone and iPod Touch is a standup title. It's well produced, bug free, and easy to pickup and play. Most importantly it's a blast.

Our Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

The Settlers of Catan for the iPhone and iPod Touch can be purchased in Apple's App Store, accessed from your iPod or iPhone.

- From the Editor
Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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