March 5, 2007

Now Shipping "Grænaland"

Greenland: Bring a Parka!Catan is a cold and lonely place, isn't it? Maybe you should try something with warmer weather. Something.. Greener, where waterfalls provide fresh, running water, where the deer and the antelope play, and where the fish are pleased to jump out of the water and straight into your boat! Yes, everything is happier on Greenland.

Settlers of Catan fans listen up! Publisher Czech Board Games has just released the viking saga Greenland [Funagain], a colonization title that builds on the groundwork of the classic Settlers of Catan game style.

However, instead of villages producing resources, the tiles do. Players then divy up the resources using a simple voting mechanic: every town on the tile gets a vote, and every player with a wandering viking hero on the title gets a vote. A diplomatic sharing of resources could work out in the long term, or a raiding viking could throw the whole uneasy balance into a chaotic pillagefest.

Check out the rules posted at BGG here [pdf]. And, as always, here's the official word:

The Company Line: In 982, a Viking jarl called Erik the Red sailed from the western coast of Iceland and discovered a new land. He named it Graenaland, a green land. Four years later the first colonists arrived to Greanaland and founded settlements that lasted more than four centuries. Take the role of one of the jarls leading their clans to the new home. You have to settle the coast and to agree with your neighbors on how to distribute the spare resources the land is giving away. As Eric wants no fights amongst Vikings, any conflicts are solving by voting. You could improve your position in order to gain more votes; however, you can also try to be righteous and to keep good relations with all your neighbors. Cooperating with them, you can fertilize and improve the land easier than when struggling for influence; just keep your position strong enough for the case something goes wrong.

Greenland (or Grænaland, if you prefer) is now shipping and available at Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 2, 2007

Colosseum Rules Released

Colosseum from Days of WonderWe've covered Colosseum before, and the game looks fantastic. Not only does the subject matter have our undivided attention, but with Days of Wonder as the publisher we already know that the pieces and board are going to be of the highest quality. And now that we've read over the rules (which can be found here) we're even more excited.

In Colosseum players will construct and upgrade Arenas in an attempt to host the largest and most successful spectacle. After five turns whoever has the largest turnout of attendees for a given spectacle is the winner.

But this isn't just a game of economic expansion. Every turn players buy events from a pool of cards drawn randomly from the deck, performers who enact the production are then purchased via a player auction system. Senators roam the streets looking for something to tickle their fancy in their otherwise rich, mundane, shallow lives, and players trade away gladiators for gold. It seems that each game will vary significantly between every play, whether it comes from dynamic player interactions or random event draws. Good stuff.

Colosseum is set to ship in April 2007 and is available to preorder from Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 28, 2007

February '07 Roundup

Roundup2.jpgFebruary is cold, sleepy and if it isn't snowing, or raining, or sleeting, then there's slush melting in the backed-up street gutters. Thank goodness that month is over!

We have to be honest, even given the short month, the number of releases in February didn't blow our minds. The most substantial was the release of the next title in the long line of Catan games: Catan Histories: Struggle for Rome. Romping through the Apennine Peninsula should tide us over until Spring when even more titles start churning off the factory line, including Days of Wonder's stadium building title Colosseum, the space opera Galactic Destiny, and the WWII tactical wargame system Tide of Iron. Plus we'll be soon slaying demons and kicking WWI butt in the upcoming Fantasy Flight translation of Tannhauser, and how could forget the long awaited news on the upcoming World of Warcraft TCG expansion The Dark Portal. It's about time Upper Deck loosens its lips about that title and spills the details; the set is due April/May, so if not March then when?

Even more important is this: When will then be now?

Board Games

Collectable Card Games

Gaming Culture

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 26, 2007

Xbox Live: Catan Interview on Joystiq

'Catan' on Xbox LiveWe've sat back and enjoyed a scotch and a Valium since posting our frustrated article last week about the delay of Catan, as in the Settlers of. It turns out that there's already a new date set for the release of the new Xbox Live title: sometime in March '07.

Honestly, though, the reaffirmed release date isn't what calmed us down. It's more about the exciting details revealed in the Joystiq Interview with Big Huge Games' CEO Brian Reynolds. As it turns out, Brian is a tournament player of Settlers of Catan, which of course means that this upcoming Live release will be done with love and enthusiasm for the original title. Also, Brian was handed a very in depth set of strategic data to serve as the foundation of Catan's Artificial Intelligence code, from none other than Settlers of Catan designer Klaus Teuber.

It's great to hear that Klaus had some significant hands-on contributions to the project.

So although we're a bit dismayed that we're not amidst office wars with Catan right now, at least our outlook of the game has changed for the better. We have a feeling this isn't just hype either: Catan might be the groundbreaking adaption that lays the groundwork for a slew of Eurogames to appear on the Xbox Live service. Cant' wait, and here's hoping!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 23, 2007

Age of Empires III Preview at Board Game News

AgeOfEmpiresIII.jpgThe good folks over at have thrown together a collection of preview snapshots for the upcoming title Age of Empires III [Funagain]. The page includes images of the fantastic looking board (see image below right), the box, and some images of the game pieces from various factions.

For those of you who don't remember early 2006 when the game was first announced (and before Eagle Games feel on hard times) Age of Empires III is set during the Age of Colonialism, when the major European powers fought to take control of the trade centers of American trade. Players must build infrastructure to harvest goods and resources in the New World to ensure they become the strongest and richest power in the region.

The Gorgeous Age of Empire III Game BoardThe good news of the day is that Age of Empires III has survived the collapse of publisher Eagle Games, which closed its doors last year. Publisher Tropical Games has now taken control of the torch and is working to bring the game to market sometime around May of this year. Nice.

Here's the game's official mass media literature:

The Company Line: It is the late 15th century and a new age is dawning. While searching for a new trade route to India, explorers have discovered a new land. The first reports tell of strange creatures, exotic people, and fabulous wealth. Captains and adventurers flock to these new lands in search of gold. They are quickly followed by colonists, soldiers, merchants, and missionaries all seeking wealth of one kind or another. Colonies begin to spring up, and soon competition among the great nations of Europe begins.

Take the role of one of Europe’s colonial powers and stake your claim in the New World. As the leader of your nation, there are many paths that lead to victory: Discover and colonize new lands; acquire trade goods that will build your economy; develop new technologies and infrastructure in your home country; build your merchant fleet to dominate the trade routes; and build your army to defend what is rightfully yours!

Age of Empires III is currently set to ship in May of 2007, and is now available to preorder from Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 22, 2007

Still No Catan on Xbox Live

SMASHBack in August we heard that Xbox Live was gearing up to bring some of our favorite games to their Xbox Live Service, including: The Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, and Alhambra. Then in January the Xbox Live team announced a list of ten titles that would be released in the month of February 2007, and on that was Big Huge Games' adaptation of the Settlers of Catan.

Microsoft just announced that the title scheduled for release Wednesday (their normal release day) was delayed due to quality control issues. They didn't mention the name of the title, so we can't be certain if it was Catan, but that means we're now three Wednesdays into February and only two of the ten scheduled games have been released for Xbox Live.

Either next Wednesday is going to be a huge day for Live, with eight new releases, or Microsoft will sideline Catan for a while. Boo. Also, rumor has it that Microsoft has purposefully slowed Xbox Live releases in order to create a gaming vacuum around their latest blockbuster release Crackdown. So either Catan has been sidelined due to it being a poor implementation, or Marketing has determined that blowing crap up with a gun is better than wholesome family fun. Sigh.

'Catan' on Xbox LiveWe thought the success of their Uno title on the Live Service, and then the announced addition of three Eurogames to the Xbox Live service, was a sign that Microsoft might be taking the board game and social gaming scene seriously. However this latest bit of news - combined with the latest from the rumor mill - has us a bit depressed. We really hope Microsoft doesn't start a trend of skirting potentially great titles to the periphery even before they're released.

We're still hoping for the best, but now with a little less confidence.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 21, 2007

Tide of Iron: Ground Force and Artillery Details

TideofIronRules.JPGPublisher Fantasy Flight games has started to roll out the preview articles for their upcoming World War II epic war game Tide of Iron [Funagain].

As our Axis and Allies renaissance continues in the Critical Gamers offices, every bit of information we learn about Tides of Iron gets us pumped for an upcoming change of pace to a more tactical simulation of WWII action.

Part One of series starts off with a few unit types that you'll have hoofing-it around Western Europe. The article covers regularly infantry men, machine gun troops, and eventually gets into some of the details of Allied and Axis armor. It's nice to see that right off the bat the game contrasts the overwhelming raw power of Axis armor against the weaker but more maneuverable Allied counterparts. There seems to be plenty of gaminess to be had in those aspect.

Pour it on, boys!The second article focuses on various Offensive Artillery command cards to showboat the game's command point system. Players will earn points by capturing objectives on the map, and then use those points to call in off-map artillery strikes, air support, etc. We like the fact that things don't always work out the way you want them to: the game simulates the chaos and mayhem of battle through a dice mechanic where the orders might not come through. Can your troops successfully contact and coordinate with HQ to get the Artillery to drop ordnance in the right spot? *... rolls dice*.

Sounds like it could be an complication more than a gamey simulation, but in the end we doubt it. Most of the rules seem lean enough to keep things chugging along at a good pace.

Tide of Iron is currently set to ship in April, and is available to preorder from Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 19, 2007

Rio Grande Games' Spring Schedule: Vikings and Thurn and Taxis Expansion

Rio Grande Games RocksRio Grande Games, publisher of many of our favorite family-friendly games out of Germany, has released Volume 8, Issue 1 of their newsletter [pdf]. You can download it digitally here. Included in the publication is information about their Spring schedule for upcoming game releases:

"In April we will release... Thurn and Taxis: for Power & Glory, Vikings, Cartagena II, Caylus Magna Carte, If Wishes were Fishes, Arkadia, Jenseits von Theben, Vikings, Ponte del Diavalo, Guatamala Cafe, Notre Dame, and Sakkara... And, we expect to release Race for the Galaxy in June or July."

You might have noticed that we substituted some ellipsis there for .. something. Wouldn't you like to know what it is? Turns out that many titles from Rio Grande Games' have recently sold out, and the publisher has updated their schedule to reflect when you should expect reprints. We've included the details on these second/third runs down below, in case your local game store is out of stock of one of them.

But first, we thought we should fill you in on the details of some of the upcoming titles from Rio Grande Games that we're most interested in. Starting with an expansion to last year's family friendly hit title:

ArrowContinue reading: "Rio Grande Games' Spring Schedule: Vikings and Thurn and Taxis Expansion"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 15, 2007

"Colosseum" Game Details

Colosseum from Days of WonderRome was a fickle mistress. On one hand it was a dirty, brutal, scandalous society, and has inspired some pretty horrible gladiator movies best forgotten. On the other Rome created and inspired many great things, including the Republic form of government, organized armies, public works, streets, and a killer TV series on HBO. Note that we used the past tense - inspired - because unfortunately the HBO show has been canceled due to 'production expenses'. Yeah, we hate be the bearer of bad news, but it's true.

We're there with you: it's sad. Rome (the TV show) really gets our blood pumping every Sunday night, and there's going to be a huge void that we'll need to feed our curiosity of this fascinating society. If there were only something to replace, and some way to make it fun for the whole family, too. Less stabbing. and skin and more sporty.. and maybe some lions. Oh and food, there better be food, too. Larks' tongues. Wrens' livers. Chaffinch brains, anyone? (hint)

ArrowContinue reading: ""Colosseum" Game Details"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 13, 2007

Tannhauser: English Edition Crossing the Pond this July

Tannhauser: Yes PleaseTannhäuser: it's 1949. World War I is still raging strong, and deep inside Central Europe the forces of the Reich stumble upon an ancient Relic. As it turns out this glowing shard-thing is the key to opening the door to Hell. Thirsting over absolute power, The Reich makes a move to activate the relic in hopes it'll bring an end to this bloody war once and for all.

The only thing that can stop them is a small crack team of allied soldiers who just airdropped in. Armed with firearms, grenades, and 1940's experimental weapons from the arcana, the heroes must lead an assault to stop the Reich at all costs.

Do you know where your children are?

ArrowContinue reading: "Tannhauser: English Edition Crossing the Pond this July"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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