June 12, 2006

"Marvel Heroes" Preview from Fantasy Flight Games Designer

MarvelHeros.3.16.06.jpgWe have something to get off our collective chests. Only a few of were into comics growing up. Wow, that didn't hurt nearly as much as expected.. in fact, it felt pretty good.

It's not that comics are awful, it's just that they're.. well, short. Back in the day we spent our hard-earned money (from mowing lawns) on other things, like renting Nintendo or Genesis games, purchasing Michael Jackson cassettes, and Friday-night monkey knife fights in Pine Forest. That didn't leave much room in our finances for anything else.

But from what we undertsand about the industry, there's a funny thing happening in comic world. Sales of comic books are decreasing, yet there's a noticable remergence of old-school comics in other parts of culture. Comic hero movies are kicking-butt in the box office, and now we see that Fantasy Flight Games placed their War of the Ring designers on a new Marvel Heroes Board Game.

The War of the Ring association is more than enough to make us non-comic heads stand up and take notice. There isn't much other information about the game yet, but judging from this two part post from designer Roberto Di Meglio, the game is shaping-up to be something quite nice.

*snip*There was another challenge: we wanted to keep all the game elements consistent with the stories, but we also wanted the game to be played with different teams and villains. So every element should fit any character - how could that be? Our first design did not address this problem properly, making everything too 'generic' to be meaningful from a thematic point of view, so we had to drop it (and a few months of work with it) and start anew.

The end result of many months of thought and labor is the design that we decided to develop and publish and which I will start to describe in these previews."From A preview (part 1)" in the BGGeek Marvel Heroes Forum"

Part 1 of the forum post focuses on their design decision for the setting of the game, some information about the round mechanics, and how they hope to keep everyone engaged in the game at all times.

Part 2 of the article goes into more detail about troubleshooting "Headlines" across Manhattan, scoping out how dangerous and encounter might be, and the mechanic of player versus player conflict through the control of heroes and supervillans.

The last we heard, Marvel Heroes was set to ship in July (we heard that back in March). Considering it's now June and Fantasy Flight Games doesn't yet have an official page for the game, we think that ship date will probably slip. We'll keep an eye out for any more official information for Heroes, including a release date, and of course part 3 of the design posts.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

June 9, 2006

World of Warcraft Boardgame: Complete Set of Limited Bronze Figures Released

Male_Paladin_thumb.jpgFantasy Flight Games sends word that their second set of the World of Warcraft Board Game [Amazon,Funagain] limited Bronze Figures are now available for purchase. The second set includes 8 new figurines, which are available for purchase individually (prices range from $8-$10) or altogether for $67.95, exclusively on the Fantasy Flight Games website.

The Official Line: Set Two
The stalwart faith of the Human Paladin. The savage and furious Orc Shaman. The wise and dedicated Night Elf Druid. The deadly cunning of the Troll Rogue. These heroes, and many more, come to life in Set Two, available now. Immortalized in bronze, these figures range from approximately 3/4 of an inch tall (2 cm) for the Gnome Rogue to approximately 1 3/4 inches tall (4.5 cm) for the Night Elf Druid.


Audience: MORE! MORE!
Mike: I don't know, Ian. I think they want more.
Alright, Mike. Act now and you can combine the complete first and second set of bronze figures for extra savings! The complete set of 16 figures costs just shy of a hundred bucks. If you've already purchased the first set at full price, and still want to cash-in on this amazing bundled offer, then Fantasy Flight Games can make your dreams come true. Here's how:

The Official Line Combined Set This package combines all sixteen hero figures into one set at a savings of over $50!

For customers who have already purchased Set One at the discounted price of $69.95, Fantasy Flight Games is offering a very special deal to match this complete collection offer. Customers who have already bought Set One may purchase Set Two for $30, bringing the total to $99.95, the same as the complete collection.

In order to receive this special deal, you must place your order through our online store with the same name that was used to purchase Set One.

Sorry about the Mike Levey tribute there... this week's barrage of new products left us flashing back to Sunday morning Infomercials of yesteryear. But seriously, if you're into collecting bronze figurines for general purpose gaming, then this Fantasy Flight offer stands pretty solid. Who would your rather be the next time you play Monopoly, a thimble or a backstabbing troll rogue?

Speaking of solid, watch as Auri 2000 protects the paint of this new-car while we ignite it with gasoline and then fry and egg on its hood...

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

June 6, 2006

Settlers of Catan Official Scenario Design Contest

CatanDesignContest.6.6.06.jpgMayfair Games has announced a Scenario Design Contest for their hit game Settlers of Catan. Those of you who've tweaked the Settlers' rules to compensate for any perceived holes in gameplay now have a chance to get their creations officially stamped by Mayfair Games' seal of approval, and also published in Games Quarterly Magazine. Not a bad deal.

Contest Details

Final Submission Date—October 31, 2006. We’ll announce the winner on April 30, 2007.

Grand Prize—The winning scenario will be published in Games Quarterly Magazine AND its designer will receive a copy of the special, limited, 10th Anniversary Catan 3D Collector’s Edition, plus a Catan Alumni khaki polo shirt.

1st Prizes (5)—These five scenarios may be published AND each winning designer will receive a Catan Alumni khaki
polo shirt.

2nd Prizes (10)—These ten scenarios may be published AND each winning designer will receive a printed University of Catan shirt.

3rd Prizes (50)—Each winning designer will receive a pin with the Mayfair Games Catan logo.

Some quick math says that come next April we'll all have 65 "good" Catan variants to toss around. That should keep you happy even if you don't win that swank Catan khaki Alumni Polo shirt.

The design contest is only for the original Settlers of Catan 4-player board game [Amazon, Funagain] in its purest form (with none of the expansions). For official entry rules visit the "First Ever Catan Scenario Design Contest" webpage at Mayfair games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

Now Shipping: Axis & Allies Miniatures D-Day Boosters

AAM_DDayBooster.6.6.06.JPGAvalon Hill has released their latest installment to the Axis and Allies Miniatures tactical board game Axis & Allies D-Day. The new expansion adds 45 new units including: 25 Allied units, 16 Axis, new airplanes, heroes, and 4 new battlefield obstacles.

The Official Line: The assault on Fortress Europe begins with D-Day. Highlighting units and nations involved in Operation Overlord – including the debut of Canadian troops – D-Day features the introduction of battlefield obstacles: immobile, non nation-specific units like pillboxes and tank traps that add to the realism of game play. Fan requested favorites like the Supermarine Spitfire and Jagdtiger also roar into action.

The D-Day Booster Pack Contains:

  • 9 randomized, prepainted, durable plastic miniatures
  • Full-color game stat cards
  • Set Checklist
  • Rules not included.

You can grab the D-Day expansion miniatures in the form of booster packs, which are in stores now. Each booster includes 9 random models from the Rare, Uncommon and Common model distribution. The rares in D-Day are mainly new fighter planes, ground attack aircraft , and Allied armored vehicles. Axis mech forces lie mainly in the "Uncommon" rarity type, except for two rare variants of the Tiger tank.

AAM_DDayBooster.6.6.06b.JPGIf you're drooling for some multimedia then check-out the Axis & Allies Miniatures D-Day Gallery for individual images of every one of the fourty-five new units.

More information about Axis and Allies Miniatures game [Funagain], and its D-Day Booster Expansion [Funagain], can be found at Avalon Hill's official A&A; Miniatures website.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

June 5, 2006

Age of Empires III Boardgame Art

AoE_art_060406b.jpgA designer at Eagle Games has posted some "Artwork that will appear on the gameboard and in the manual" in the Eagle Games forums. We don't get a sneak peak at the board, or the pieces, but we'll be pretty darn happy if it matches this style. This shot to the right here has been halved so it'll fit our page, the full shot is twice as gorgeous.

Only a select few have played the prelease versions of the Age of Empires III board game. Their early reports suggest that the game leans more toward a Euro-style board game, shedding the army clashing and dice tossing gameplay of Eagle Games' other Ensemble RTS adaptation, Age of Mythology. In fact, some (but not all) of the AoE III gameplay elements regarding the colonization of North and South America have been closely compared to the construction elements of the award-winning eurogame Caylus. That's definitely a good thing considering how well that title turned out, and considering Eagle Games' track record of making some great board game adaptions.

Age of Empires III is set to ship in July.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

May 31, 2006

May '06 Roundup for CriticalGamers.com

We hope you dodged the miserable rainstorms that drenched the Northeast for half of May.. but then again, that stretch of gray was a perfect opportunity to dust off the ole dining room table and enjoy same gaming before the summer officially hits. Not that summer '06 will slow us down. We had some great reviews in May, and we hope to continue the trend through June. Tomorrow we'll kick-off the new month with a review of "Interact toGo", and later we'll roll-up our sleeves for a critical look at the board games "Carcassonne: The Tower", "Ticket to Ride: Märklin", and "Wildwords". We'll also post our initial impressions of the Battlestar Galactica CCG, to ensure that this collectible card game lives up to its namesake.

Wow, June looks like it's going to be a busy month of gaming. Heh, not that we're complaining.

Board Games

Collectible Card Games

Gaming Culture

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

May 25, 2006

Settlers of Catan Expansion Ships in Games Quarterly Magazine

SettlersOfCatan.5.25.06.JPGWe just got word from Games Quarterly Magazine that issue #10 (August) will include a new Settlers of Catan expansion: "The Great River of Catan".

The Great River of Catan™ is a must for every player. It’s die cut with three new hexagonal board pieces exactly matching the game, ten new counters & special rules. Courtesy of designers Klaus and Guido Teuber and the great folks at Mayfair Games.

Gold! No word can inspire in quite the same way. Eager prospectors rush to the banks of the great river, pans in hand, hoping for a glimpse of the storied yellow powder! The gold rush in on in Catan. Can you profit from it? Find out with The Great River variant for The Settlers of Catan. A unique tile introduces the river to the island. Those who build along it’s banks stand to profit from the gold craze sweeping the land. But will it be enough to push you to victory?

A year's subscription to Games Quarterly Magazine is just under 16 bucks. That seems like a pretty good deal, too, considering that pays for a semi-official Settler's expansion, AND you'll get a four issues of game news, free games, and expansions. GQM also has hinted that an expansion will ship with November's issue for a nameless (surprise) Rio Grande Game... We're crossing our fingers for Carcassonne.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

May 17, 2006

Vassal - Play Board Games Online

Vassal.3.28.06.gifAbsolutely nothing can replace the social experience a group of friends has when huddled around a table playing a board game. Jokes are cracked, drinks are spiked, egos are pumped, and then torn down all in the name of having a good time. But let's be honest - sometimes coordinating a night for gaming just isn't possible. Friends have a knack for moving away, squirting out babies, etc. Free time disintegrates as our lives march on.

Enter the "Vassal" framework for playing board games on the computer, remotely, over the Internet, for free.


VASSAL is an engine for building and playing Internet-capable versions of turn-based, human-vs-human games. Players move and manipulate game pieces via the mouse while typing accompanying text. Moves can be recorded into a log file and stepped through one at a time for email play. During live Internet play, all moves and text are automatically broadcast to other players in real time. Combining a live VASSAL session with a third-party Internet voice-chat tool (such as NetMeeting or TeamSpeak) allows you to play with people around the world at very close to face-to-face pace.

Vassal has a lot of things going for it, including a near picture-perfect virtualization of board game titles and an active community that's glad to answer any of your download and setup questions (setup can be a bit confusing at first). There's also an active mod community who are constantly at work porting new game titles to Vassal's already strong library (over 100 titles!).

Definitely give Vassal a once-over if you grew up playing Axis and Allies, Squad Leader, etc, and yearn for those glory days of old.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

May 12, 2006

Review: G8 Game Timer

Not On Your LifeSometimes a particular game gets out of control and the session takes hours upon hours to complete -- far more time than your willing to spend. Some other drabber games become exciting when you place a limit on the time spent deliberating between moves, and some party games have a mandatory timer as part of the rules, but every one's got those old-fangled analog watches.

These are all great reasons to own a game timer.

Unfortunately, the G8 Game Timer is NOT the game timer for you. There are so many things that we dislike about this thing.

First off -- every press of the G8 button shrieks the most awful ear-piercing bLRUPP! This...thing could easily be used to chase Bats out of your house, or maybe submerged under the ocean's surface to communicate with dolphins (if they don't attack on you sight, first).

Setting up the device's timer modes always requires nine setup steps. Nine! Check this out (lifted from the directions):

  • Mode1 Select the number of players. *BLURP! BLee-blurp!*
  • Mode 2 Set a maximum time for each player to complete all their turns (Required) *blurp ble-ble-ble-blurp!*
  • Mode 3 Customize the time set in Mode 2 for each player if a handicap is desired *bLERT!*
  • Mode 4 Set the maximum time allowed for each player to complete a turn *blERT! bloop bloop BLERT!*
  • Mode 5 Customize turn times set in Mode 4 for each player. 0 defaults to Mode 3 time. *Bleep! breaks out abacus. shift-shift... carry the Mode 3.. and..! Blurp bleet!*
  • Mode 6 If desired, set a time in which all players must complete the entire game *Bloopt!*
  • Mode 7 Press PAUSE to seelct a light and / or sound warning that activates briefly each second during the warning period (upt to 9 seconds) at the end of turn or a game. L = Light on; S = Sound On. In Mode 0, press PAUSE then '+' to set volume. *Whaa? takes a nap*
  • Mode 8 Press '+' to select a memory A or B & [clock button] to save your settings or a game in progress. Press 'PAUSE' to see each player's stored time. Press 'Ying-Yang' (no joke) key to transfer the selected memory date to game memory to start the game *Hucks G8 Game Timer Across the Room

I guess we'll never know what Mode 9 does.

This timer is only for Rainman and friends. We have computer programmers in our group who are fairly level-headed and smart people, but they loathe this thing.

Bottom line: Only buy the G8 Game Timer as a birthday present for that gamer-friend of yours who you've secretly hated all these years.

1 star out of 5 Our Rating System

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

May 8, 2006

"Havoc: The 100 Years War" Expansion Ships

Havoc.4.18.06.jpgA few weeks ago we posted our hands-on of Havoc: The Hundred Years war. Overall we were impressed with the title. It's pretty solid and we'll certainly play it numerous times again for a full-on review.

Now, we were just on Funagaingames.com wasiting-away a Sunday afternoon checking-out what's new, and we stumpled upon news that the Havoc Expansion just shipped! Oh my! Where did that come from?

The Company Line: his is the first expansion for Havoc: the Hundred Years War. It includes a new type of character card, which is shuffled into the regular card deck and changes the game in interesting ways when one of them is drawn. For example, the John of Gaunt card, when drawn, joins the game as a player and starts a battle called The Chevauchées (a group of plundering raids.)

This expansion includes the premium cards that were given out at the game's release in Essen Germany in 2005, and at the first BoardameGeek Conference in Dallas, Texas. In addition to these, a new card not seen before has been added, as well as two extra Dogs of War which can be added to the game or used as blanks for players that want to try out character ideas of their own. The poly bag that comes with the expansion can also be used to store the tokens that come with the original game.

Sounds tasty. We'll make sure to devote some time to the expansion when we review Havoc next month. Until then, you can checkout the expansion yourself -- it's sold exclusively at FunagainGames.com (as is the original).

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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