Christmas comes a little early for those lucky few who actually got their hands on the first run of Galaxy Trucker [Funagain]. According to this story on BoardGameNews.com, publisher Czech Games will release a free downloadable expansion on their website on Christmas Eve! Here are the details:
"This expansion is designed for experienced Truckers. If you routinely build ships that overcome every obstacle and arrive nearly unscathed, if you shed a nostalgic tear recalling your first flights when your ships were smashed to pieces and you arrived with only a few sad fragments, then this expansion is for you. This expansion puts the kick back into space travel, and it kicks so hard that the tears will be in your eyes once again." - Board Game News
Here's a nice title for all you abstract strategy game fans. Blokus Trigon alters the shape of the board and pieces of the original Blokus, moving from a traditional square setup to a more advanced hexgon board. No, this isn't an aesthetic glitzy marketing maneuver -- the change in the shape changes the game significantly. Trying to fit triangles in the right place takes a lot long to master, and the level of strategy seems a few notches higher over the previous Blokus offerings.
The goal of Blokus ('block-us) is to place all of your pieces. The catch is you can't have any of your pieces touch sides, and you must place a piece on the diagonal of another one of your pieces on the board. It gets pretty trixy when your opponents are trying to do the same thing, while blocking you out of valuable reallestate.
Blokus Trigon [Amazon, Funagain] is best with 3 players, and players of Go seem especially enthusiastic. After all Blokus is the reincarnation of the Othello obsession we all had as kids back in the day, and we can see where they're coming from.
A lot of us here at Critical Gamers are tech savvy so we pretty consistently hold Wired in high regard. When the posted their Board Game gift guide for the Holidays we jumped to see how our gaming collections lined up.
Settlers of Catan - a no brainer as this title remains the gateway game of choice for introducing board games to a group. or the gateway game in the Eurogaming genre. It's also the best replacement for Monopoly, mimicking it's approachability and fun while trimming-off all the boring bits.
Wits and Wagers - a slick trivia party game where players bet how close everyone's answers are to some really outlandish trivia questions. The party game genre has stagnated a bit, but this title definitely breaths new life into the genre for 2007.
BattleLore - a tactical war game that made our list last year, but this ever expanding wargame system is still fresh and only getting stronger every month with new releases.
Not bad considering no New England breathing Critical Gamer has been in the same room as a Sunny San Franciscan Wired Employee, at least to our immediate recollection.
GMT Games has released the second installment in the popular card-driven Combat Commander tactical WWII war game series: Combat Commander: Mediterranean [Funagain]. Aside from including 12 new maps and 12 Custom Scenarios for some Mediterranean slugfest, this second volume also includes new armies and decks of cards to breath character and life into each. The British Army & Commonewealth armies enter the scene with cards that provide marksmanship bonuses, for instance, while other armies include the Italians & Minor Axis Powers, and the French & Minor Allied Powers.
The game floats in the medium complexity scale and is meant for 2 players to play in sessions of 1-3 hours. More ifnformation can be found on the official Command Command Mediterranean website. Here are some of the official features
12 new historical scenarios, each one including at least one of the three new nationalities.
An updated Random Scenario Generator incorporating the new nationalities and the twelve new maps, as well as allowing for the early years of fighting in 1939 and 1940. This random scenario system provides an almost unending variety of map configurations, force structures, and combat situations. Replayability value for Combat Commander gets even better with this new addition to the family.
A complete manifest of all 432 Fate Cards included in CC:E and CC:M. Number crunchers rejoice!
Assigned Point Values for all units, weapons, radios and fortifications in CC:E and CC:M, allowing players to easily create their own scenarios and Orders of Battle.
Cranium hit the table a few years ago and quickly usurped Trivial Pursuit from the party game trivia thrown. With clay sclupting, sketches akin to Picktionary, and trivia and word games - Cranium seems like modern high-energy step forward that tunes into our bright and colorful pop culture blood pumping through our veins..
Now Cranium updates itself with Cranium: WOW [Amazon]. With 600 more questions and updated pieces that let you personify yourself like a parade of 1000 Nintendo Mii's, Cranium WoW is a a considerable update on your previous version. Plus a fresh injection of clay comes just in time to save the drying lump of purple sand barely hang-on in our current box.
Here's the official word:
"Cranium WOW is the newest version of the outrageously fun, smash-hit board game that brings friends and family together through a variety of activities that celebrate all of your interests and strengths. Whether you're an aspiring actor, artist, data hound, or wordsmith, Cranium gives you and your team a moment to shine.
You were born to play this game. Maybe you¿ve always wanted to use your best friend as a puppet to act out "milking a cow." Or you want to prove you can draw "bed head" with your eyes closed. Perhaps you¿re eager to show off your vast knowledge of "The Hoff," YouTube, and which came first, the toaster or sliced bread. If any of these are true -- and even if they're not -- you need to play Cranium WOW immediately. You shouldn¿t wait to show off your hidden talents when they're so impressive. Cranium WOW features 600 brand-new-we-swear-you¿ve-never-seen-them-before-unless-you-peeked-somehow cards and new movers so cool you might forget to actually play the game for a little while (but we hope you'll eventually remember).
Days of Wonder has announced the latest installment to their BattleLore franchise: The Scottish Wars [Amazon, Fuangain] slated to ship December 2007, just in time for the Holidays.
The Scottish Wars brings the historical / fantasy themed Command and Colors war gaming system BattleLore to the Scottish Highlands where players can experience historic battles seasoned with some fantasy elements of Dwarven troops.
Here are the expansions official details:
Introducing the latest BattleLore Expansion - The Scottish Wars - A Dwarven Perspective
The new Scottish Wars expansion will take BattleLore players to the highlands in these battles for the right to rule Scotland. You'll also be introduced to some of the stalwart Dwarven warriors who inhabit these lands! The Scottish Wars feature 42 new figures including: 6 Iron Dwarves Cattle Riders, 8 Iron Dwarves Clan Chiefs, 12 Mounted Knights, and 16 Iron Dwarves Spear Bearers; plus a rules booklet with 5 new adventures - Stirling Bridge, Falkirk, Bannockburn, Dupplin Moor and Neville's Cross. Suggested Retail Price: $30. Available in late December 2007.
We want to take a break from the normal board game news to talk to you a bit about one of our new vices: Travian. When we first fired up this online web-based game and connected to Server 5 we expected another drab turn-based, and dry economic simulation. Instead we've been treated to a colorful, slightly addictive, social and fun online experience of carving little empire out of a much larger world.
Travian reminds us of a mix between the Settlers of Catan and an old BBS game from our youths: Solar Realms Elite. If you've played SRE then consider Travian a modern revamp of those same mechanics that kept you coming back for more.
Players start a village in "ancient times", which are loosely defined and include different civlizations including Romans, Gauls and the Teutonic Order. There are also some fantasy themed sects as well. As the day ticks on (in real life) your town produces resources which are placed in your warehouse and granary. You can use those resources to better your fields, clay pits and iron mining operations, or to upgrade your town with barracks, armories, embassies - the works.
For some people "hot" seems to be a bit different than what we thing is cutting edge in the world of board games, but there are still some nice finds in the 50% Off Games Sale at Amazon .
The list of titles in the sale rotate so on any given day you'll never know what you're going to get. Today you'll find some new classics in the family game and party genre such as: Settlers of Catan, Apples to Apples, and Scene It? Considering these are some of the hotter titles in mainstream gaming these days then we think they'll stick around
And for those who like to lean on the classics then you'll find some good Holiday discounts on the tried and true Monopoly, Pictionary, and Twister!
If you're thinking of picking up Monopoly then we highly recommend snagging The Settlers of Catan instead. It has the same themes but plays faster, is more balanced, keeps everyone involved \and rarely drags an epic game of Monopoly does. A nice step forward for the market and construction line of games.
We've been really busy this month putting together our Holiday Gift Guides - as you probably well know - and we hope you're enjoying them as much as we had fun compiling the lists of killer games of 2007. And as the lasso draws tight around another month of gaming news, we see another pack of games appear off the December horizon, too. Things are only going to get better.
Expect a WoW TCG March of the Legion review in the next few weeks, and a continuing mega horn of sweet shopping deals as we approach the final Holiday shopping crunch. Everyone hold on to your hats, December is going to be a sweet ride of gaming madness!
Here’s a blast form the past for all you old-school board game players. Elbow patches and Geritol not included.
Now We don’t quite go this far back ‘cause we’re all pretty young in the whole scheme of things (early to mid 30’s) and that’s why it’s even more unfathomable that most of these old school American games from Springfield Massachusetts are still on the market. We still prefer the more evolved gameplay design of modern family-friendly Eurogames and American Strategy / Party games, but sometimes it’s nice to go back to the American classics with the younger generations.
Here are all the games mentioned in their modern American glory (where applicable):
Sure, we've heard of and played almost all of these games, but we had no idea that they all went back that far. The 1950's were literally a completely different age! Today there are some timeless modern classics like Carcassonne, Settlers of Catan, and maybe now Pillars of the Earth, but in 60 years will they all still be around, too?