February 15, 2010

Lego To Get Into The Board Game Business

LegoLogo.pngWe are all for getting kids into gaming at an early age, but the standard Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley suite of games is .. how should we say.. dated.

Heck one of the things that made board gaming so mundane in our youth was the lack of bridge into more interesting gaming after The Game of Life. Thankfully Eurogames started to fix that in the states in the 90s.

So it's great to hear that one of our favorite toy companies Lego is going to pump new blood into the ground floor with 10 new kid friendly titles in the next coming months. Here's a snippet of the official details via Rueters:

Priced between $9.99 and $34.99, the board games, which include "Ramses Pyramid" and "Minotaurus," will mostly hit store shelves in July. A few will be available online from late March.

The games promise to test memory and logical skills of children as they compete to reach a certain destination.

"We are pretty sure we are sitting on a formula that will be worthwhile for the retailers to support," Laursen said, citing the success of a test launch of the games in Britain and Germany.

We'll keep an eye out for how good these games appear to be when we get closer to their release.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 10, 2010

Horus Heresy Redux Coming Your Way Shorlty from FFG

HorusHeresyBox.JPGOh boy, yet another giant war board game with over 100 figurines is slated for release this winter. Akin a giant streamlined Tide of Iron battle, the new edition of the Warhammer classic Horus Heresy board game pits the sides of The Imperium and its Traitors in a giant space marine slugfest at pinnacle battle being fought for the control of Terra. The game is made up of 6 different scenarios, but the game itself centers around the single climatic last push from both sides to bring home victory.

HorusHeresyBoard.bmpYou take one look at the board (which pays homage to the original title) and you'll see some 3D fortifications built into the board. First of all: they look pretty slick. We can see massive fort battles play out in our dreams already. But with such a static layout you might wonder how a game could have multiple scenarios?

Well one cool mechanic is this: the Imperial forces setup all hulled-up in the fortresses and generally outnumber the Traitorous invaders who stick out like sore thumb in killing fields. But a select set of Imperial troops will have their loyalty tested at the beginning of the game. Each scenario will have a different initial setup and will vary the number of potential turncoats. Determining loyalty is as easy as pulling up random cards form a deck and checking Imperial or Traitor symbols. Any Traitor symbol revealed will not only make the fight closer to numerical parity, but it'll also pace an enemy troop inside the fort with the rest of the defenders.

Elements like this will surely make the game extremely different on each play through . There also other interesting mechanics already revealed too, like diceless, card-driven combat, or ordering units with drawn cards (like Memoir). Interestingly you will be given the option of delaying your orders for a turn ('till the 'Strategic Phase') which allows you to pay less for the order, but because you've delayed, you won't quite know the state of the battlefield by the time your order goes through.

The Initiative system is also intriguing; where you pay an initiative cost to play cards, and the player with the smallest total initiative takes the next turn. In other words, one player could play some uber powerful cards that push him further down the initiative track, and subsequently the other player could followup with a lot of smaller jab actions.

For more information checkout the Horus Heresy game page at FFG. It includes an index to all of the feature articles thus far.

Currently the game is slated to ship at the end of Winter, which we take to believe sometime in March. We'll keep you apprised of any new cool details as they emerge, and we'll definitely keep you posted on when the game finally ships.

Here are the official details:

In the Horus Heresy board game, this legendary battle unfolds across the razed plains of Terra and in the frozen orbit above. Deadly fighting ranges from the Emperor's golden Inner Palace to Horus's flagship, the Vengeful Spirit. Taking the side of either traitor or loyalist, two players control either fearless Space Marine legions or deviant Chaos Space Marines, mighty Titans, Imperial Armies both loyal and traitorous, and a fearsome array of other units, including the Emperor and Horus themselves.

An innovative order and initiative system forces each side to carefully consider the commands they issue to their troops. A dramatic, card driven combat system incorporates escalating damage, gives players the opportunity to allocate resources between attack and defense, and brings to bear the unique special powers of each unit type, from fortification-destroying Titans to the perverse daemons of Chaos. Brother fights brother, and the universe hangs in the balance!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 1, 2010

Critical Gamers' January 2010 Board Game Roundup

NaxxramasRaidDeck.jpgJanuary was more about playing games than hearing news about upcoming games. It is, after all, the time after Christmas where we all gorge ourselves on the tons of releases that came out last December.

Specifically January was the month of the Naxxramas Raid Deck. The ability to take on one or two wings in a sitting, easily pack up the game, and then resume where we left off is a huge deal with this latest raid deck. Kudos to Upper Deck to making this game far more sustainable without any overhead... it's become a 4 time event at our weekly gaming nights.

Also another shout out to the Warhammer Invasion Living Card Game and Warhammer Chaos in the Old World board game. Theses two remain to be top notch contenders for gaming time no matter where and when we play.

And Fantasy Flight Games is on a roll because they just released the epic emipre building and fantasy adventure game Runewars. This is a beast of a release with more layers of depth than a spanish onion. Could it be true that we already have a strong game of the year contender in January? Wow. Can't say we're sad about that.

Here are our stories for January:

Board Games

Card Games

Collectable Card Games

Gaming Culture

Gaming News

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

January 28, 2010

"Runewars" the Empire Adventure Board Game Hits Shelves

The newest epic board game experience from Fantasy Flight Games is now in stores. Runewars [Amazon, Funagain] is a full-fledged fantasy empire simulation and an adventure game with heroes all rolled into one. The game board is setup in a random tile draw like fashion, with a strategic placement phase for that each player. These tiles include terrain elements that effect movement and resource collection, so the implications of each tile's placement will have an impact throughout the entire game.

The has four factions each with their own flavor making up a full spectrum of classic fantasy elements. There's the human sword and board human faction, a slow acting undead faction with elements of regrowth, an elf faction that's quick and fast but paper thin, and a brutal magic wielding faction that don't believe in shirts. Not quite sure why.

RunewarsTiles.jpgThe game sports a whole bunch of other interesting mechanics, like four seasons seasons to the year. This doesn't only just effect when and where you can move (rivers freeze over and become passable in the winter) but it's coupled with different playable cards for each season. You'll have to plan out your year of conquest ahead of time given the hand you've been delt. The board, itself, also has 3D mountains for that extra flair. Interestingly hero units are more about special tactics than leading armies to victory. Neutral monsters are on the board and be can be tamed and brought o your side. There's just tons of cool stuff going on here.

For a good discussion and for more details of the game checkout this user review and its subsequent comments. For more product information check out the Runewars Preview Trailer and this lengthy product description article on the official Rune War website.

Here's the official product description:

RuneWars is an epic board game of diplomacy, combat, and quests for two to four players. Designed by Corey Konieczka, RuneWars pits players against each other in a strategic game of battles and area control, where they must gather resources, raise armies, and lay siege to heavily fortified cities.

RuneWars includes over two hundred beautifully rendered cards and as many tokens, as well as nearly two hundred finely-detailed plastic miniatures, but perhaps most exciting are the modular hexagonal map pieces. Featuring stunning three-dimensional mountain terrain, these map pieces ensure that no two games are ever the same!

RuneWars takes place in the same popular fantasy universe as the best-selling board games Runebound and Descent: Journeys in the Dark, and dozens of fan-favorite heroes and monsters play their part. The wars for the dragon runes are beginning, and only one faction will emerge victorious. What would you do to claim the ultimate power?

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

January 25, 2010

Mystery Express Announced, Rekindles the Classic Clue

MysteryExpress.jpgDays of Wonder, makers of fine board games like our favorites Ticket to Ride, Shadows of Camelot and Small World, have announced their first title of the year. Mystery Express has players traveling along the Orient Express, racing to correctly accuse a murderer among the passengers before the rail terminates in Istanbul Hungry.

The game has been designed in part by Serge Laget who worked on Shadows Over Camelot, and at first thought we dreamed that perhaps one of the players would take on the hidden role of the murder (aka Shadow's Traitor) who would use social misdirection to ensure that he or she isn't caught. However, from the breakdwon of the press release, this just seems like a classic Who Done It clue gathering game with a time table. That is: the game ends after a series of turns, and the player with the most uncovered clues is the winner. However, unlike the actual title Clue, you won't have to put all of your eggs in one basket at the end, just get the most clues correctly guessed.

Overall, the game sounds great, and the newly launched Mini Website sports some great artwork. Here are the details from the official press release:

"Players board the famous Orient Express in Paris just as a murder occurs. The rest of the trip - through Strasbourg, Munich, Vienna, Budapest and their final destination of Istanbul - is consumed with determining the who, what, when, where and why of the crime. Players use their special powers of deduction; information gleaned from others in various train cars; and investigative actions to determine the exact circumstances of the murder. The one who correctly identifies the most elements of the crime by the time the train reaches Istanbul wins the game.

Mystery Express is a classic Days of Wonder design made up of top-notch components and unique, period-perfect illustrations. Along with the Mystery Express board map detailing its itinerary from Paris to Istanbul the game features: 5 resin character figures and matching character tokens; 5 Ticket wallets that include a description of each character's special power; 100 Deduction sheets that players use to keep track of their deductions; 72 Crime cards; a Mystery Express miniature train to track the Mystery Express's journey on the map; a Conductor figure; 2 small passenger tokens, a miniature travel bag, a train whistle and rules booklet. Mystery Express is for 3-5 players and will be available worldwide in April 2010. Price is $50/€45."

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

January 22, 2010

Greed Corp: Chess Meets The Golden Child Meets Guns

Long time readers know that we don't shy away from computer games that emulate board games (see Empire Total War). Well Greed Corp looks to become one of those successful, yet lighter, bridges. The game involves elements of simplistic combat and movement, coupled with guns and a deeply strategic harvesting process that both reshapes and ultimately destroys the board. The winner is he who doesn't fall into the abyss.

Looks pretty sweet, and a nice little game for the online gaming console market place.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

January 19, 2010

Mayfair Games Announces Pillars of the Earth: Builder's Duel

BuildersDuel.jpgIt's been a while since we've heard of anything really worthwhile from Mayfair games other than the Pillars of the Earth franchise (the latest World Without End) or the rehashing of the classic Settlers of Catan. Now we have word that the next title that's soon to be released is a Pillars of the Earth rehash. Surprise!

Builder's Duel is a 2 player card game that pits the two major figureheads of The Pillars of the Earth storyline against one another. One player takes on the role of Prior Phillip, a respected member of the church who's in control of the monastery building the cathedral, and the antagonizing Bishop Waleran who's pushing his own ego upon the construction project. It's a game of competition in resource collection and the playing cards to convert those resources into various subprojects of the cathedral's construction.

There's a bit of an annoying gameplay element that we should mention which centers around tossing awkward gameplay components for a random result. This ... poor design can somewhat iced over by replacing it with a simple dice role. We thought it was worth mentioning, however.

Here are the game's official details. For further research there's a great rundown of user impressions found on BGG.

Builders Duel™ is a two player card game based on Ken Follett's award winning book Pillars of the Earth.

England in the 12th Century. The players take on the roles of Prior Philip and Bishop Waleran. Philip wants to build the most beautiful cathedral in England. Waleran is planning his own project, a mighty fortress.

Both players try to simultaneously build their buildings. To construct your building, you must obtain raw resources and convert them into building materials. You are supported by your friends and powerful allies, but are constantly opposed by dangerous foes. If you manage to overcome and build your building first, you win!

Pillars of the Earth Builder's Duel is slated to ship later this week. We'll let you know when it's actually sighted on shelves!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

January 14, 2010

Runewars Rules Published Online

Runewars.jpgWe drooled over the trailer for Runewars [Amazon, Funagain] , and since then we've been waiting impatiently for more details to emerge before the game's release later this Winter. Well, we didn't have to wait long, did we? Fantasy Flight Games has posted the rules to this game in PDF form on their website.

This is definitely one of the higher complexity games in the traditional Fantasy Flight Games style. It's seemingly like Twilight Imperium meets Tide of Iron in the grand scheme of things. That is, a notch more complex than the recent Warhammer Chaos in the Old World that we truly love, or place it on the complexity spectrum near a comparable location to the Battlestar Galactica board game. Of course, that's expected since Runewars is slated to be one of those epic war games.

Thankfully it doesn't look as complicated as the original Warcraft Board game, which was mind numbingly hellish.


Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

January 12, 2010

Straight Up Chess: An Elegant Proposition


Straight Up Chess is ingenious. Just look at it. A wall display of the ancient classic, and nothing is sacrificed for the perfect view of the board. There's no complicated pieces or chintzy Star Trek 3D chess chotchkies diluting the gameplay. Best of all its comparable in price to a good sturdy chess set.

Ponder a play when you wake up or go to bed. Challenge your coworkers to and ole fashioned throw down of wits and strategery, and score a fantastic talking piece all at the same time. Yes please.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

January 5, 2010

Runewars: An Epic Strategic Board Game Coming Soon

Fantasy Flight Games is at it again with yet another gigantic box full of bits of plastic that deal war with each other. We were getting a bit tired of the formula.. until we watched this trailer. Simply put Runewars [Amazon, Funagain] looks simply awesome.

What tickles us? The theme of kingdom growth, harvesting resources, and putting them to use in your army. It reminds us of the turn based strategy games of old on the PC, like Age of Wonders or even the older Master of Magic. On top of that are tons of strategic layers, from decks of cards for all four seasons (which you have to play ahead of time to effect your campaigns throughout the year) to varying factions and a randomly drawn, but strategically placed, board. No two games will be the same. On top of all that you have hero units that level up in this chaotic world.

We want Runewars and we want it now. This could easily be the go-to game for our gaming weekends in 2010.

Runewars is slated to ship in February, but we all know that these things can slip. We'll keep you posted as we get closer to release.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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