May 2, 2009

Critical Gamers' April 2009 Board Game Roundup

CatanGeographiesGermany.jpgMan, quite a busy month int the board gaming world. Some high quality titles were announced, like a new Settlers of Catan installment, new WWII Miniatures for Wings of War, and the next set of WoW Minis started grabbing the preview spotlight.

Shipping news centered around the 4th Edition of the cult classic Talisman receiving its first expansion, and the family friendly civilization growing Small World, which has gotten some really strong preliminary reviews. It's currently clocking nearly an 8 on BGG, and that's quite impressive.

By the time you read this we'll already be elbow deep in our first annual board gamefest in the hills of Montpelier Vermont. On slate we'll be playing gobs of Imperial, Pandemic, Axis &Allies; 50th Anniversary Edition, WoW TCG, Talisman, and some Battlestar Galactica, of course. We'll try to upload some shots if any good ones come through the Cheetos encrusted lens.

Otherwise, here's to a good May!

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World of Warcraft TCG

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April 30, 2009

Pandemic: On the Brink Board Game Expansion Details


Please Note: Pandemic On the Brink has been released!Click Here for Full Details

Its Friday afternoon here and word has it the Swine Flu pandemic might soon attain Level 6 (out of 6) on the World Health Organization's pandemic defcon track of disasterous disasters. Don't panic yet though. Scientists are saying the disease isn't as lethal as first reported, and certainly not as big as the Spanish Flu that swept the world in the early 20th century.

Unfortunately they've also said that the these diseases could mutate at any time. So we decided that this weekend we'd head up into the hills of Vermont and throw down a board of the cooperative game Pandemic [Funagain] to celebrate the end of the beginning of the end. Unless it doesn't mutate, then it'll just be the end of the weekend, which would be great.

Now as if on-queue, the makers of the original Pandemic [Amazon] have released details of their upcoming expansion Pandemic On the Brink. The expansion will include new player roles, special events, and challenges, including a new game mode that pits one player against all others.

Full details on the expansion and a great sampling of cards can be found on the official Pandemic: On the Brink website.

Have a good weekend, and cover you mouth for goodness sake!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 23, 2009

Small World Board Game Released and Reviewed

Small World [Amazon, Funagain] is the Days of Wonder fantasy themed spiritual successor to the critically acclaimed Vinci, which is amazingly 8 years old this year. And hey, not it's finally in stores!

We've written quite a bit about Small World in our previous coverage, including praise for Days of Wonder for being the pinnacle of quality these days, so check our other stories (below) for all of the game details and previews. Also, BGN is quick on the trigger with Small World Board Game Review already posted n their site. It's more of a testimonial of a session than a full on critique, but it's a great read none the less.

Here are the game's official details:

In Small World, players vie for conquest and control of a world that is simply too small to accommodate them all.

Designed by Philippe Keyaerts as a fantasy follow-up to his award-winning Vinci™, Small World is inhabited by a zany cast of characters such as dwarves, wizards, amazons, giants, orcs and even humans; who use their troops to occupy territory and conquer adjacent lands in order to push the other races off the face of the earth.

Picking the right combination from the 14 different fantasy races and 20 unique special powers, players rush to expand their empires - often at the expense of weaker neighbors. Yet they must also know when to push their own over-extended civilization into decline and ride a new one to victory!

For more information about Small World, check out our other stories:

  1. Small World coming this May from Days of Wonder
  2. Small World Board Game Previews
  3. Small World Hitting Shelves April 22nd

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April 21, 2009

Battlestar Galactica Board Game FAQ Update


Thought we'd send a shout out on Caprica day that the FAQ and Rules Errata for the Battlestar Galactica board game have been updated on the Fantasy Flight Games website.

The new additions to the FAQ have the standard set of new questions answered, but most of the content comes in an on a whole new section dealing with the secrecy rules of the game (more on that below). Here are the standard QA updates:

Q: What happens to a viper if the piloting character reveals himself as a Cylon?
A: The viper is returned to the Reserves.

Q: Can multiple Centurion tokens be on the same space of the Boarding Party track?
A: Yes. They do not push each other, or prevent other tokens from being placed on their space.

Q: Can a player use the "Command" location to launch a viper and then move or attack with the same viper?
A: Yes. There is no limit to the number of times an unmanned viper may be activated per turn.

Q: What happens to the Sympathizer card once it is revealed?
A: It remains in play, but is unaffected by abilities that normally affect Loyalty cards. For example, if an opponent is able to look at one of his random Loyalty cards, the Sympathizer card is excluded.

As we mentioned, the FAQ also has a section of Zen guidance tailored for groups who've encountered a bit of trouble agreeing to games oh-so-important rules of secrecy. If you find yourself wondering just how many adjectives players may use to describe the strength of cards they've played in crisis checks, or how to deal with leading comments from players peeking at the Destination deck or Loyalty cards, then this section should help keep your BS:G experience fair and even.

The entire section is too big for us to describe here, so we'll just show you the gist via the introduction:

Secrecy Clarifications

This section of the FAQ further clarifies the Secrecy rules found in the rulebook. It covers general secrecy as well as specific rules that apply to unique situations and components. This section is only intended for play groups who have trouble agreeing on what should and should not be allowed under the current Secrecy rules."

Check the entire Battlestar Galactica FAQ and Rules Errata for all the FAQ and Secrecy entries. It's a great guide to have with you throughout your play session.

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April 16, 2009

Wings of War Miniatures Enters WWII (Finally)

WingsAtWarMiniaturesSpitfire.JPGThe Wings of War table top game made the slick transition from 2D card game to 3D miniatures a while ago without ever missing a beat. But now the miniatures have made that fantastic jump from from the original knights of the sky dogfights of the First World War, into the boom and zoom dogfights of the Second. We have respect for WWI themed, because there really isn't much out there about that war. Still, we're ready to admit that we're shallow, and with this one step of migration from WWI to WWII, we're now entirely interested in this game.

Wings of War is a pretty unique sort of game. Players pit fighters against one another in a aerial dogfight that exists as far as their table allows. Traditionally each fighter was represented as a card, but with the somewhat new addition of miniatures -- the game takes on a life of its own.

Players then play maneuver cards from their hand, laying them on one of the edges of their fighter, and repositioning their fighter exactly where the card displays. Picture yourself putting a card down in front of your plane which moves your plane forward but also makes a 90 degree turn to the right. You place your fighter where the arrow points, and your turn is done. And so with the cards in your hand, you jockey for firing position against your enemy, who's doing the same.

There have been many card sets, with different maneuver styles and a large collection of fighters. The game has both dabbled in WWII (traditionally it was WWI) and dabbled with miniatures, but now - at last - both WWII and miniatures are converging.

And both the WWII buff and the Gamer buff are really freaking excited.

For more information about the upcoming WWII Minatures, check out "The Heroes of the Sky Come to Life Once More" story on Fantasy Flight Games, and keep an eye on the official Wings of War website. So far we know that the Supermarine Spitfire and Messerschmitt BF109 will be part of the first release. The classic turn fight v boom and zoom Battle of Britain coming right at ya.

The WWII Wings of War Miniatures will be released in Summer 2009. We'll keep you posted on the details as they emerge.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 15, 2009

Settlers of Catan Geographies: Germany

Attention Settlers Fans, the designer and publisher that brought you the most famous Eurogame of all time decided to put their heads together once again for the 60th anniversary celebration of the founding of Germany. The result: Catan Geographies: Germany [Amazon, Funagain], a well-themed and streamlined version of the Settlers of Catan experience.

There are a few major difference between this title and your average Settlers. The elephant in the room is that the map is set in stone: You'll be settling Germany from towns all the way to a full nation, and not populating a randomly drawn set of terrain (this is very similar of what Catan Histories did for Western Europe). Additionally you'll start with three settlements instead of two, and there's no city building; instead you're tasked with building your faction's catan-like infrastructure, and tasked with building a collection of famous landmarks pulled from German history.

But like Settlers, things that affect you happen on every turn, and the first person to 10 victory points goes home the victor.

'Catan: Germany' was first available in Germany in 2008, but has rolled up on American shores this year. That means it's been out for a long enough time for the community to put it through its paces. Check the Catan Geographies: Germany page on BGG for a selection of user reviews and raitings.

Here are the game's official details:

A Game of Discovery, Geography, and History in the land of Poets and Thinkers.

Explore and settle the storied land of Germany using the elegant, award-winning game design from The Settlers of Catan®. Here, you will find great social interaction, simple rules, beautiful German geography, rich history and lore, and 12 wonderfully-sculpted landmarks.

"Catan Geographies: Germany" is a game about trade, building, and settlement. Start with town halls in 3 cities. Then build roads to neighboring cities, where you can purchase landmarks and new town halls. Town halls create resource production, while the unique landmarks generate special awards. Both yield victory points-- as do the Longest Road, Largest Army, and the historically-based victory point cards.

So, have fun with friends or family while casually discovering the novel geography and history of Germany.

"Catan Germany" contains:

  • An amazing, color map board depicting 28 different city scenes and 12
    historic landmarks.
  • 120 cards (including 90 resource cards, 26 development cards, and 4
    building cost cards).
  • 141 game pieces (including 12 landmarks, 80 roads, 48 town halls, and 1
    "Götz von Berlichingen").
  • 2 dice.
  • Rules and an illustrated geographic almanac

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April 13, 2009

Small World Hitting Shelves April 22nd

SmallWorldRaces.jpgJust a quick note about a game we've been covering the last few months. Days of Wonder has announced that it Civilization Game meets Fantasy themed quirkiness - Small World - is slated for release on April 22nd in just over a week's time.

The family friendly game (Ages 8 & Up) from the publisher of such greats as Ticket to Ride, Memoir '44, and Mystery of the Abbey, puts each player in control of their own fledgling civilization. Players will quickly determine that the island that everyone is stuck on is just a tad too small for things to remain friendly. Through the adoption of a choice Fantasy-themed races, and unique special powers, players can customize their Civ to defend their territories and exploiting weaknesses of their neighbors.

While there have been a sea of complicated Civilization style games over the years, there are few that remain light enough to be appropriate for casual and family gamers. We've covered a few, like Tempus, which was easy to play, but portions of the title were a bit unbalanced, and the game itself didn't LOOK approachable. But seeing the accoutrements of Small World, and knowing the pedigree of Days of Wonder's - a publisher known for approachable and high quality titles - we have faith that this title will make quite a splash.

For more information about Small World, please checkout our previous stories:

  1. Small World coming this May from Days of Wonder
  2. Small World Board Game Previews

We'll pipe back in about Small Worlds in just a few weeks, when we confirmation it's hit stores shelves.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 10, 2009

Zoloretto Coming to iPhone and IPod Touch


The 2007 Spiel des Jarhes (German Game of the Year) winner is coming to your jeans' back pocket, and within just a few weeks to boot. SpinBottole Games has announced that they're porting Zooloretto to the iPhones and iPod Touch. The title includes the standard Zooloretto Board Game, but also includes these following other features:

  • Use the touchscreen to drag and drop animals and vending stalls into your zoo

  • Drag the "roller blind" from the top to gain an overview of your zoo and the zoos of the other players

  • Unlock new player characters and future add-ons in the integrated shop

  • 3D-view for zoos, animals and vending stalls

  • Animations and sounds of the animals makes you feel like you are in a zoo

  • Learn exciting details about all animals from the game in the encyclopedia

  • Play against the computer or up to 4 other players (Pass'n Play)

iZooloretto is slated for release in "April 2009", which is sometime between now and the next 2 weeks -- we worked that out for you in case a panda accidentally ate your calendar. So look for the game to soon appear in your Grocer's Freezer (ala the Apple App Store)

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 9, 2009

Battles Magazine - A New Wargame Mag Emerges


Alright Grognards, listen up. A new independent Wargame Magazine just made its presence on the net, and it's available for order before its official launch at the end of April. Battles Magazine is slated to deliver 124 color pages of wargame news, reviews, scenarios and interviews about three times a year.

Battles Magazine is a collaboration of war gamers seemingly from England and France who banded together to create a publication that ships worldwide. We should mention the cost of the issues are listed in Euros. If you order the first issue before April 20th then you can nab it for 20 Euros, instead of the standard 26 Euro cover price It's a bit of a hit on the wallet, but given the amount of the content in each, and the quality we see in the previews, it makes us feel it's gonna be worth the price of admission.

The premier release also includes a wargame "Striking the Anvil" about the liberation of southern France in 1944, complete with map, chits and rules. A Striking the Anvil plugin for Vassal is also slated for release, so you know these guys mean business. Additionally, the next 2 issues - slated for release in September and December - will also include a new games, too, including Rome v Gauls, and the Vietnam War battle of Hue.

Looks like great stuff. We wish the folks there the best of luck with their new enterprise.


Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 7, 2009

Age of Conan Board Game Trailer Hits the Net

Publisher Fantasy Flight Games just published a trailer for the recently released Age of Conan Board Game [Amazon,Funagain].

We love it when a publisher puts this much energy into promoting top of the line games. Enjoy!

For more information about the game, please see our stories:

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