July 23, 2007

Travel Blokus

Travel BlokusAmazon.com: Travel Blokus: Toys & Games Parents looking to keep their kids occupied on long car trips without the use of the zombie-matic DVD players can breathe easy; there are other - more creative - options. Travel Blokus [Amazon, Funagain] packs the award winning and clever gameplay of original Blokus into a nice travel sized carrying case.

The competitive puzzle game design that won the Mensa Best Mind Game 2003 is still here, but now It's compacted for car travel, plane travel, or breaking out a game in an otherwise drab highway motel, etc. Who wants to watch CNN or repeats of "Alice" anyway? And the plastic bits float, which means that it's even safe for boat travel - which is great if things go south and you want to get in a a few rounds while waiting for the rescue plane. What will they think of next?

Travel Blokus Case & PiecesThe Official Word:

"This travel version of the award winning Blokus is the perfect on-the-go strategy game for two! The simple rules take less than a minute to learn, yet the game has the depth to challenge both beginners and experts alike."


  • Game board with 196 recessed squares
  • 42 game pieces in vibrant, translucent purple and orange, and a guide.
  • Instruction guide and a storage tray.


Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

July 16, 2007

A Flak Magazine Special: Social Gaming Reinvigorated

Flak GamesFlak Magazine has posted a series of articles describing their thoughts and views on what they describe as a Renaissance in "analog" game which has quietly occurred in the shadow of mass media video and computer games. Their articles are all very well written, and quite inspiring to we who are looking-on from the inside-out - waiting and cheering as board games, Eurogames, card games, and party games become increasingly popular among the other types of gamers who enjoy the warm glow of TV and VGs.

Not that there's anything wrong with either of those mediums - we've got a mighty impressive collection of consoles and HD TVs in our group that it's almost embarrassing. But it's great to hear other sites approaching gaming from the other direction, with talk about how The Settlers of Catan has become the new Monopoly amongst articles of God of War 2. Other installments in the series include looks at Lost Cities, Puerto Rico, and our personal favorite party game of them all: Celebrity.

This entire special-look at analog gaming culminates with a great How-To Guide for starting your own game group, including details on the few key elements that could make or break the fun factor of the evening. If you're really looking to start up your own group for some face-face fun with friends, then you should definitely make sure the results of your own organizing work doesn't become a boring chore of mediocre or enforced gaming for your attendees.

And don't think that this is a fluff piece, either. These guys seriously know what they're talking about. Check it out:

ArrowContinue reading: "A Flak Magazine Special: Social Gaming Reinvigorated"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

July 12, 2007

Ticket to Ride Swiss - An Efficient Expansion

Ticket to Ride SwissDays of Wonder has announced a new title in their ever so popular (and rightly so) Ticket to Ride series. Ticket to Ride Switzerland will be an expansion release that brings the game to a focused map of the small rugged country nestled high within the Alps. The game is on a slightly smaller scale than its predecessors and is designed for 2-3 players to complete in under an hour.

We stress ‘expansion’ because Swiss will be the first Ticket to Ride boxed release which requires one of two main games: either the original Ticket to Ride or Ticket to Ride Europe. The expansion designed by Alan R. Moon ships with a new game board, route cards, and rules, but you’ll need the train pieces and some of the train cards of the original to play – mainly the locomotive cards from the original game. These which will shed their original use-anywhere wild card abilities, instead they'll be used to the construct the railway tunnels through the mountains littered across the board.

TicketToRideSwissMapSmart move in our opinion as an expansion without a repeat of the same train pieces cuts costs, which means we won’t have to pay full price for another Ticket to Ride release. It’s also smart because a virtual version of Ticket to Ride Switzerland has been available for Ticket to Ride owners for quite some time through the Days of Wonder online game service. Those who enjoy the online variety won' can now throw a board down on the dining room table for a face to face - and warmer - experience without having to dig deep into their wallets.

Ticket to Ride Switzerland is slated for an October release. You can check this post on the Days of Wonder for more information, and read-on below for the full official press release.

ArrowContinue reading: "Ticket to Ride Swiss - An Efficient Expansion"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

July 6, 2007

Galactic Destiny

Galactic DestinyGolden Laurel has released Galactic Destiny [Funagain] - a sci-fi space strategy game where players set out to manipulate their opponents, build fleets, and conquer or campaign through the galaxy to become the most predominant political party on the board. The gameplay stresses social interaction and sneaky thinking over standard war strategy games.

Still the game does a good job dancing the line of balance between of those two niches. Picture the theme of both war and planetary expansion from Twilight Imperium, mixed with the with the cunning, social, and sinister gameplay of Diplomacy. Warfare involves a throw of the dice, but the math is easy and the battle ends in just a few moments.

A major of the game is centered around the game's senate. Players control and play Senator cards to act as the player's hands in voting in new laws, or in campaigning for new sectors to join their political party (players win when they control 10 sectors). The senate is also where the soul of Galactic Destiny lies: every turn in the Senate phase players levy taxes, put other senators on trial for corruption - both for the good of the empire of course - but players may also create entirely new laws which completely change the rules of the game. Sure, there are some limitations, of course, but Galactic Destiny acts as a framework for you and your friends to mold the setting and dynamics of the gameplay into any way you so wish. Those players who feel cornered by these new rules - or who find themselves losing the good battle - can storm out of the senate and join the rebellion. With all ties severed they can completely ignore senate laws and regulations, with a few key social detriments obviously.

But before we get going full steam - we have to remind ourselves that this isn't a review - not yet anyway. We'll have our praises and critiques in a few weeks. Until then we thought you should know that this interesting and semi-heavy game is out on store shelves nowm, and is dying be played by gaming groups with strong social circles.

Here's the official word:

"In a new galaxy with many civilizations, the six political parties struggle for dominance. Some quest for Enlightenment, some fear or relent to the demonic Infestations of another plane, but all seek to sway the cosmos to their views. More interactive than any board game before, the rules system of Galactic Destiny invites players to a new depth of strategy and intrigue."


  • 70 modeled ships in 3 unique designs
  • 50 full-color senator cards
  • A complete Galaxy
  • Intuitive and versatile rules

Good BGG User Reviews:

July 4, 2007

Gleemax Lands RoboRally, and Expands

Gleemax Knows ALL about gamingGleemax has just announced that it will be bringing an online version of the board game RoboRally to their Everything Gaming community website. As far as we understand it, this will mark the first game release in what founder Randy Buehler hopes to be a long line of online games and resources for the everyday gamer.

A mock-up of how RoboRally will look and feel has been posted by Randy here. Yes, it seems very bare bones - for now, but there's definitely potentia here especially considering that they just started working on the title a few days ago.

Speaking of which - as we reported a few weeks ago, the recently launched Gleemax website is still very much in its infancy. Currently the site has a small nucleus of readers and viewers, but soon it will expand with tools and focused content for specific games and the respective gamers who enjoy them.

First up is a suite of tools centered around a new customizable front end. The goal - provide users the power to make their own visual formatted look and feel of the website, with the functionality and tools that will feed them the latest news from the various online social scenes taking place in sections across the site. Users will be to sit back and have the website bubble-up content to their front page whenever they log in, allowing to be on top of the latest and greatest in Eurogames, Axis and Allies board game variants, World of Warcraft TCG, tiddly winks, whatever their gaming heart desires. It's as if users will be able to poke Gleemax's brain with their own tongue depressor - probing lobes and quadrants until he starts spewing focused gaming knowledge tailored by your own designs.

BrainSugreonToolsHere's the official word from Randy Buehler's Gleemax Blog:

" All of these various pieces of custom functionality will be done as widgets so you can pick and choose which ones you care about and put your pages together using just the ones you want. We've currently spec'ed out something like 37 different things that we think would be cool and our vendor has already started working through that list. The way I think about this, though, we'll never be done adding new features and tools to the site. We'll keep reacting to what you guys want and what you do with the site. This is because we've decided to build this community with you, as opposed to delivering a finished system that you might or might not like. This means that we'll deliver extremely basic functionality at first, and then, with your feedback, we'll evolve from there. We're counting on the fact that you'll want to be in this conversation with us and help us define this space as your space. "

We have to admit that the launch of Gleemax didn't impress us all that much, but this latest blog post is pretty darn inspiring (read the full thing here). Randy and Gleemax look to mean business, and in ways that will be great for gamers who aim to maintain an online presence.

And last time we checked the mirror, that audience includes us.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

July 2, 2007

June '07 Round Up

Roundup2.jpgAs far as the short months go, June was pretty good. The WWII strategy game Tide of Iron shipped in early June just after D-Day. Some great preview news from Tannhauser followed shortly after when the game’s official trailer went live – and we gotta say: it excites the dark twisted side of us so. There’s just something about 1920’s future-tech and battling creepy demons with submachine guns that gets our blood pumping.

And of course the WoW TCG Molten Core Raid Deck lead our headlines with our hands on impressions, reviews, and news galore. This WoW TCG franchise continues to impress us while it slowly evolves over time, and we have high hopes for the next few releases this fall.

In the meantime we’re poking a stick at Carcassonne on Xbox Live – so far we think it’s great but sometimes the user community isn't always at home to match random game against. And one more mighty-large negative checklist on our ratings clipboard: where are the expansion packs? The standard title lacks gameplay diversity - even with the Rivers expansion - and this might kill the longevity and popularity of the title even before other expansion packs come out. Maybe they’ll keep it fresh with some quickly released downloadable content, but we’re not holding our breath.

Here’s the other board game news from June:

Board Games

Collectible Card Games

Gaming Culture

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

June 28, 2007

Handoff! Football Card & Dice Game Enters Beta

Handoff! Enters BetaAttention football fans: training Camp is now in full swing, which means we simply have to manage the crucible of a few hot summer months before the autumnal battles of football echo in living rooms across America. Hard hits, coffee table throw downs, spicy wings and erratic heartbeats will follow. Consult your physician now.

Independent Gamers, Inc is preparing themselves, honing their upcoming Football Card & Dice Game - "Handoff!" - and is looking for a few good beta testers to give feedback on the title's gameplay. Interested parties should visit the Founder's Blog (the official website should launch soon) to learn how to apply for your own Official Handoff! Beta Tester Kit. The kit includes a mini version of the game, and a feedback form so your active participation can make the game go the distance.

We're working to get our own copy of the game in-house to run it through its paces. Keep your eyes peeled for more football gaming goodness coming your way soon.

Go on three. Ready -- break!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

June 25, 2007


ZoolorettoZooloretto [Amazon, Funagain] is a family-friendly board game title from Rio Grande Games where players compete to expand zoos and their respective collection of colorful animals contained within. The game is approachable and easy to pickup, while also remaining strong in the gameplay department. Zooloretoo strikes a balance of being fun for broad spectrum of gamers, from youngins who love fluffy zoo animals, to more serious gamers who'll find enough substance here to massage their brain between sessions of more complex board game titles.

The fact that the title hits the mark with such a large audience has led it to win the Spiel des Jahres (German Board Game of the Year) award for 2007, joining quite a prestigious list of historic favorites such as the Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, and Carcassonne.

ArrowContinue reading: "Zooloretto"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

June 18, 2007

Tannhäuser Preview Trailer Released

Tannhauser: Yes PleaseThis fantastic four minute trailer from Fantasy Flight Games just put us in the mood for some Tannhauser [Amazon, Funagain] action, but then again we’re always ready and willing for a well-themed strategy board game full of machine guns, demons, and ticking time bombs.

In case you missed our original story in February, Tannhauser is a strategy board game set 30 years into World War One where German occult agents race against the American commandos to open a door to hell and end the war once and for all. If your society can’t build an atomic bomb, then opening a portal to hell seems like the next best thing.

This preview trailer does a great job of presenting the game’s art style, and it excites s how well the title seems to instill the creepiness of the game’s setting and characters. The trailer switches into a gameplay preview about half way through, presenting various parts of the game,Tannhauser - HermonHietzinger including the ability for players to customize their characters and commandos with various pieces of equipment from flamethrowers to time bombs and machine guns. The movie wraps up with a presentation the new “Pathfinding” system which aims to uses subtle colors in the outlines of spaces on the board to depict line of sight in a seemingly streamlined way. No more accidentally knocking over half the board with rulers and pieces of string.

Taunnhauser originally shipped to a French audience in 2006, and it’s been so well-received that Fantasy Flight Games has decided to translate and deliver the game to the masses of English speaking gamers. Expect to be battling as the forces of good and evil in a Great War demonic throw down of the century when the English language version of Tannhauser [Amazon, Funagain] ships in time for Halloween this September.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

June 11, 2007

"Epic BattleLore" Expansion Released

Epic BattleLoreDays of Wonder has released a boxed version of Epic BattleLore [Amazon,Funagain], an expansion alters the game to allow for more than the standard 1 v 1 battles of the original BattleLore board game system. Now, with these rules, players convert their sets to create large-scale battles of 3v3.

You may recall that rules to the Epic: BattleLore were published a while back on the official Days of Wonder website, so wary readers may be wondering why you'd want to shell-out 15 bucks for it. The hitch is this: To work the multplayer magic of Epic BattleLore you'll need to shove two game boards together before you can DDT your "friends" in some 3v3 wargaming mayhem. But some of us don't pull in the big bucks, and throwing down $150 MSRP for 2 sets of BattleLore seems like steep way to expand the game into multiplayer goodnes.

This boxed expansion solves that problem - it includes everything you need to get going with on BattleLore set, including the required second board! What's that? Someone isn't trying to milk consumers of their money? How thoughtful.

Here's the official word:

"This expansion gives you the opportunity to conduct battles on a grand scale, by combining the back side of two game boards to form a single, unified, giant battlefield.

This supplement also gives you a chance to adventure in the company of friends (up to 3 to a side), making it the format of choice to introduce new players to the game."

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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