October 12, 2006

"Leonardo Da Vinci" Details

DaVinci1.10.12.06.jpgPublisher Mayfair Games (Settlers of Catan, Tigris & Euphrates) has posted their official product page for the upcoming title "Leonardo Da Vinci" [Funagain], a game for 2-5 players.

Players of Da Vinici race to setup shop in the city's workshops in an attempt to gather resources and manpower required to complete the various inventions requested by the lord of the city (a set of face-up invention cards). Those players who are the first to invent something gain a patent on that device, and thus are awarded more points. Subsequent devices for the patent holder are cheaper to produce, which promotes specialization. However, at the end of the game, points are assigned to players for each unique patent, which rewards
long term diversification!

One of the game's playtesters has posted a great Leonardo Di Vinci review in the BoardGameGeek forums. Here's the official word:


The Company Line: In Leonardo Da Vinci, you are an ingenious renaissance inventor in 15th century city of Florence. Construct amazing machines for the lord of the city. Become a protagonist of this age of unbelievable discoveries, by building your inventions!

Can you marshal your workers in the most advantageous laboratories, workshops, and in palace plots? Only the best can compete with the great Leonardo!

Compete to be known as the most ingenious inventor. The lord of the city gives rewards for the rapid completion of a project. The player with the most Florins at the end will be crowned winner by Leonardo Da Vinci!

Leonardo Di Vinci should be shipping any day now, and is available to preorder from FunagaGames.com.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 10, 2006

"Galactic Destiny" Announced

GalacticDestiny.10.9.06.jpgSometimes good things arrive unexpectedly from out of the void.

We were recently contacted by Golden Laurel Entertainment about their first game to hit the presses in January, "Galactic Destiny". As we poked around their website we found that their 'Destiny could be a title that we've been thirsting-over for years. In fact, many of the elements in Galactic Destiny have been shot around our very own game table over a few beers after game night.

At its core Galactic Destiny is a space strategy game with both political and military themes. The game has a variable board augmented by a deck of sector cards, each detailing the planets, special abilities, and flavor text of the sector. Then there are the in-game personalities of the Senator cards which act as the player's hands in the game world. Event cards are flipped over three at a time, keeping each turn unique and dynamic as their effects wax and wane the players' abilities throughout the game. And each player's hand of Action cards can provide them that extra bit of oomph just when they need it most.

Perhaps the most intriguing thing about Galactic Destiny is the game's Senate phase. While players are fighting military campaigns for sectors of space, they're also pushing and shoving their political hands into various cookie jars within the galactic Senate. Every turn includes a phase when players convene to propose and vote on new polices (crafted from the top of their head) that affect the game across the board. In this way, a diplomactic strategy could be just as important as the game's motions of military conquest.

Speaking of military conquest, feuding players will sometimes have to trust each other and work together to push back an alien infestation of the Ke’Ras - a demonic race enslaving sectors of space, spreading from one zone to the next. Yum.

We're going to keep our eyes on this one as the title gets closer to shipping (in January, after the holidays ). Until then, ogle the website, mull over the game's rulebook, and check out Galactic Destiny's official press release:

ArrowContinue reading: ""Galactic Destiny" Announced"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

Now Shipping "Catan Event Cards"

CatanEventCards.8.29.06.jpgThe latest expansion to Settlers has hit store shelves, and it comes in a bit of a different format than you're probably used to. A deck of the Catan Event Cards [Amazon,Funagain] expands upon the classic Settlers of Catan [Amazon,Funagain] board game by adding random events to the game's turns (for complete details check out our story Coming Soon: "Catan Event Cards").

The cards also replace the standard dice used to determine random resource production in the normal game of Settlers, with a new system that eliminates the starvation potential of random dice rolls. Those who've built on a '10' space and waited for twenty frustrating rounds for it to produce anything know what we're talking about.

Here's the official skinny:

The Company Line: Drop the dice and spice up your Settler's of Catan or Cities and Knights games with this new set of cards. The Catan Event Cards feature thirty-six cards that act as a deck of dice, replacing the need for dice in your Catan game. Special events are triggered by these cards each time they are turned over, adding an exciting new element to your Catan play. Also included are 6 scorekeeping cards, the rules card, and a reshuffle card.

Catan Event Cards are shipping now from both Amazon and FunagainGames.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 4, 2006

Axis and Allies: Battle of the Bulge

BattleOfTheBulge1.jpgAxis and Allies was a coming of age game for us, acting as a big brother to the Risk. Where as the Parker Brothers game (Risk) is that of global domination, a vary mature subject, it had some serious tantrum issues. Games started with sporadic armies littered across the landscape in somewhat random locations, and the brute force of army movement and combat was a bit one dimensional. Axis and Allies brought us into the world of color: multiple unit types, political starting lines, long term planning and growth, weapons development, and money management, which seriously tickled our fancy.

The game has expanded three times over the years. Axis & Allies Europe came out in 2000, followed a year later by Axis & Allies Pacific. Both titles introduced new unit types and a more focused look at the war's two theaters. Then the series into the Operation-level in 2004 with Axis and Allies D-Day. And in 2005 the series successfully launched into the miniatures gaming market with Axis and Allies Miniatures.

Avalon Hill will continue it's march towards Berlin this November with Axis and Allies: Battle of the Bulge, which will simulate the last major European operation of World War Two.

A wounded Third Reich flails its arms in one last attempt to break the Allied lines. The Allies are outnumbered, outgunned, and without air cover. Can they hold strong until the German's desperate advance literally runs out of gas? Historically, the answer is "yes", but that outcome wasn't inevitable. Will the same result unfold when the plastic boots hit the ground and the treads start rolling across your dining room table?


The Company Line: German tanks thunder into the snow-covered Ardennes forest, opposed only by a few unsuspecting divisions of exhausted American troops. As Axis forces plunge into the countryside, Allied troops must struggle to hold the front line in order to repel the all-out offensive. Axis & Allies: Battle of the Bulge challenges you to control territory and contend with supply shortages, while directing infantry, artillery, tanks, and aircraft in one of the most decisive conflicts of World War II.
One player controls Germany, whose massive build up of forces have gone undetected by the Allies and are poised to unleash all their fury on the Allies. The other player controls the forces of the United Kingdom and the United States and they must stem the tide of German armor and hold their positions until reinforcements arrive.

Axis & Allies Battle of the Bulge is designed for two players and can be played in three to four hours. Axis & Allies Battle of the Bulge is the fourth Axis & Allies variant, following the successful Axis & Allies D-Day, Axis & Allies Europe and Axis & Allies Pacific versions. Axis & Allies Battle of the Bulge is available on November 17th, 2006.

Read more about Axis & Allies: Battle of the Bulge on the game's official website. The game is now available to preorder at Funagain Games, and will ship November 17th.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 2, 2006

September '06 Roundup

Roundup2.jpgWe can sum up September with two words: Sucker Punch. In high hopes of something stellar, we trusted some preview news that Lost the Game would be a release that bridges the gap between mainstream media and board gaming goodness. Unfortunately we found the game was lacking in just about every way. Our guess: Lost was rushed into production so that it would ship before the new season starts. That's a shame, too, because the title has potential on all fronts, but also has a general lack of polish to the game's key mechanics and content.

But on a lighter note, September was a nice little ramp-up to two huge Collectable Card Game releases. That's right - October marks the release of both Magic: the Gathering Time Spiral, and the World of Warcraft TCG. And starting late October and early November, we should start to see some fresh releases just in time for the Holidays.

Hold on to your butts!

Board Games & Party Games

Collectable Card Games

Gaming Culture

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

September 28, 2006

Now Shipping: "Emira"

Emira.9.28.06.jpgMayfair Games has announced that their new board game "Emira" [Funagain] is shipping to stores.

Players of take on the role of desert sheiks fighting for resources to build up their own fortunes, palace, and status. During each round, players try to woo once of a various princesses randomly drawn from a deck. The gameplay seems to have stripped-out the historically accurate objectification of women, but still incorporates something not very popular to some in the states - non monogamous marriages, and so the game has stirred a bit of controversy up until it's release. But initial reports suggest the gameplay is tastefully, and more importantly entertaining and rewarding.

The game reviewing machine (with a heart of gold) known as Tom Vasel has written an Emira review, which can be found here. It's a great read, as are the user comments pertaining to the potential knee-jerk reactions of the subject mater.

Emira is currently available to order from the Mayfair Games webstore, and is also available to preorder from Funagain Games, Ishak.Pasa.Palace.9.28.06.jpg
which should be shipping the game in the next few days. The Funagain game discounts the title's MSRP by about seven bucks, which is a pretty good deal so long as you don't mind a few day's wait.

The Company Line: Emira is a satirical, historically themed game about desert nobles trying to attract princesses to join their household. The game is also the winner of the 1st place prize at the 16th Game Authors Competition of the Hippodice Spieleclub e.V.!

As a wealthy desert sheikh, you have many needs. Perhaps you need a wise advisor, or a talented cook, or maybe a well-organized housekeeper? Or, maybe you seek the romance of a beautiful companion?

But are you attractive enough to convince the princess to join your house and provide you with the skills you need to achieve your secret goals? Only a lucky or resourceful sheikh can hope to welcome an Emira into his palace. Because in this distant desert land, it is the princess who chooses which palace she will join!

As a desert sheikh, you will need to invest in the lucrative spice trade to furnish yourelf with the wealth to improve your appearance, enlarge your palace, and expand your status in the kingdom so that the princesses will choose you instead of another sheik. But you will have to mind your funds carefully: these independent and self-confident princesses will not stay if you cannot provide them with the life of comfort that they have come to expect!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

September 27, 2006

Now Shipping: "Terra Nova"

TerraNova.9.27.06.jpgImmortal Eyes Games has shipped their latest board game title to stores. Terra Nova [Funagain, Amazon] is an area of control game where players push around fence building meeples to capture terrain. As soon a constructed fence corners off a part of the board, the meeples within are tallied, removed from the board, and scored based on the number of terrain types contained within.

Players must jockey for position across the map, creating their own fenced areas, infiltrating other players terrain with their own meeples, and building fences to impede an opponent's designs. Sounds good!

The Company Line: Players lead nations in this new world where the most valuable resource is the land itself. The clever system of movement and boundary-building gives you the tools you need. However, it is your strategic vision which will ultimately decide whether or not you will rule Terra Nova.


  • 1 game board
  • 80 border stones
  • 44 pioneers
  • 4 scoring markers
  • rules

Terra Nova is now shipping from both Funagain Games, and from Amazon.com.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

September 26, 2006

"Lost the Game" Review

Lost.Boardgame.8.23.06.jpgAlmost everyone in our group is a fan of the TV Show Lost (almost). There's the quirkiness of the island, the crass wordsmithing of Sawyer's castaway nicknames, the looming arrogance of the Dharma Initiative, and the puzzling question -- how the heck can all these attractive people have so many freakin' coincidences?

We had doubts when we first heard that Lost had a board game treatment: "Lost the Game" [Amazon, Target]. Most of the time TV to board game tie-ins really lack .. goodness. They're often designed by marketers to lure customers into a purchase, but when the game is unwrapped the unknowing customer finds a monopoly board with cobranding stickers hastily slapped over the orignial Park Place property names .

Marketers realize that most board game purchases are made by the customer's opinion of the cover or media tie-in. There really hasn't be a long standing resource for consumers to research or read a review off of the shelf games. What's changing these days is that people are actually becoming choosy with their board game purchases. Customers now read sites like this one to search for good family board games, or are meeting on gaming nights and talking with their friends about different titles and genres within the gaming scene (which is not nearly as dorky as what it once was). The culture is growing, too, and now has an internal dialogue which keeps gamers from becoming hoodwinked, and that population now reaches across s gap that once separated them from the mainstream. American game marketers are awakening to realize that board gaming is no longer a commodity market.

Our initial impression before getting our hands on the product was that Lost The Game is another rushed-to-market title. But as we dove deeper into the game's history we found prerelease coverage suggesting the title was designed by a gamer instead of a by boardroom of suits. According to the game's designer himself ( Keith Tralins interview ) Lost The Game draws inspiration from such greats as The Settlers of Catan, Talisman and Magic: The Gathering. The coupling of elements from these games seems risky and unclear, yet potentially clever. Most conservative marketers probably wouldn't have signed-off on spending time and money investing on a risky idea, but times are changing, and here in our hands sits the end product "Lost The Game".

Does the Lost mass market tie-in board game designed by a gamer, for gamers, live up to the standards of the best games on the market today? Could Lost The Game actually be the Missing Link between American marketing and Eurogaming excellence?

ArrowContinue reading: ""Lost the Game" Review"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

September 20, 2006

"Marvel Heroes" Official Website Launches

MarvelHeros.3.16.06.jpgFantasy Flight Games has launched the official product website for the upcoming board game Marvel Heroes. The website has an extensive About page that does a great job of detailing the game from top to bottom. There is also a Marvel Heroes forum, which is realatively empty at this point ( it has the obligatory "First Post!"), but we're sure it'll become alive with strategies and variants as soon as the game ships.

Marvel Heroes looks to be a fast, but yet relatively complex game. Because it comes from the same design team responsible for the complicated (yet extremely entertaining) War of the Ring, we would have a hard time recommending this title to kids. However, young adults and Marvel comic book readers should definitely check this game out.

Most of the Marvel Heroes information released up until this point has come in the form of design articles by board game designer Roberto Di Meglio. If the new product page website suits your fancy then you should definitely give Di Meglio's articles a once-over.

Marvel Heroes is set to ship in November. It's currently available for preorder from Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

September 19, 2006

IGA 2006 Honors "Caylus" and "Twilight Struggle"

TwilightStruggle.8.14.06.jpgThe International Gamers Award 2006 commite has announced the winners of the Best Mulitplayer Game 2006, and the Best 2-Player Game 2006 in the category of General Gaming.

The cold war themed Twilight Struggle [Funagain] gets the honors for best 2-Player game of 2006, while the Cathedral construction game Caylus [Funagain, Amazon] walks away with the Best Multiplayer Game of 2006 award.

Twilight Struggle has already received honors for the IGA's Best Historical Simulation 2006.

The German game Calyus (which has english editions) has already won the 1st place prize in the Deutscher Spiele Preis 2006, and the Spiel des Jahres 2006 Special Prize for Complex Play. These are the two most prestigious board game award organizations in Germany, the country from which a majority of Eurogames (like Carcassonne and the Setlers of Catan) are shipped from.

Here's the details for Caylus and Twilight Struggle:

ArrowContinue reading: "IGA 2006 Honors "Caylus" and "Twilight Struggle""

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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