March 10, 2006

War of the Ring Expansion Preview

BattlesThirdAge.3.2.06.gifKristofer Bengtsson over at Fantasy Flight Games has posted a great Battles of the Third Age Preview article. Battles of the Third Age (set to ship this April) is an expansion for the epic and addicting War of the Ring board game. It adds more units and characters to the preexisting Strategy wargame, and also includes a whole new tactical game to play-out some of the famous set battles from the Lord of The Rings novels.

This preview article focuses on the strategy expansion (not the set battles). He're a snippet:

Then we have Sméagol. But he is already in the game, you say! You are correct in a way, but also incorrect. Sméagol, Tamed Wretch, represents the chance that the Fellowship had caught him following them earlier than Frodo and Sam did in the book. What would have happened if Strider or Gandalf had still been around when Sméagol was tamed? Had they been able to make better use of him as Guide than Frodo and Sam did? Now we can find out.
Damn straight we can, and we will, when the expansion ships next month.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 7, 2006

3D Settlers of Catan Giveaway

Catan3d.3.7.06.gifThroughout the month of March, Funagain Games is collecting raffle entries for their $400 3D Settlers of Catan giveaway. This version comes with a slick wooden box to crown your bookshelf, and has some seriously well crafted pieces. Look at this thing! Cities are nestled between mountains and plains of wheat. Forest actually look like.. forests!

One of our problems with the standard version of Catan is that the terrain types aren't visually consistent with the design of the resource cards, and that's pretty confusing for new players. Well that's definitely fixed in the this version. Catan has never looked this vibrant and alive.

Purchase any MayFair Games (the publisher of Catan) title from Funagain's website to enter the raffle through the month of March. Considering the eleven-pages of MayFair's titles - that really shouldn't be a problem.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 27, 2006

World of Warcraft Boardgame Reprint Hits Retailers

WoW_Boardgame_2.27.06.jpgWorld of Warcraft The Boardgame (Fantasy Flight Games) was an immensely popular hit last year. Too popular, actually. Stores sold out of the game soon after its release, and Fantasy Flight's own inventory was stripped bare. The game has been quite a b... pain to get a hold of ever since (mainly it was exclusively available on the ebay auction hall).

But today Fantasy Flight Game's warehouses are chalk full of a second run of the game. Trucks are departing (as we speak) to bring additional copies World of Warcraft to retailers across the country. The folks at Funagain games have already listed their copies as available. Amazon is still bone-dry, but you should be able to order from Amazon here, once they get their shipments within the next few days.

The Company Line:World of Warcraft: the Board Game is a team-based fantasy adventure. The Horde and the Alliance factions must compete to be the first to defeat the invincible Overlord – be it the lich-king Kel'Thuzad, the dragon Nefarian, or the demon Kazzak – or, failing that, to be the last faction standing when it comes to all-out war. Battle opponents, gather treasure, and gain levels! Embark on quests to grow ever more powerful and compete to be the greatest hero in all the land. The epic World of Warcraft: The Board Game production will include gorgeously crafted components, including over 150 highly detailed, sculpted plastic figures representing the multiple races of the World of Warcraft. Players will be able to take the roles of all nine of the World of Warcraft classes, each with its own unique and fun talents and powers. The World of Warcraft Board Game is a massive production that will ship in FFG's signature Epic Style Box.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 22, 2006

Urban Dead: 243,575 dead and rising.

urbandead.gif Urban Dead is a free massively multiplayer online web-based game set in the fictional (duh) post-apocalyptic zombie infested city of Malton. The struggle of humans versus zombies has been going strong for almost three quarters of a year now, and on any given day there nearly 50,000 players shooting, biting and infesting their way through hospitals, malls, police departments, libraries, mansions... you get the idea.

Urban Dead isn't something that you devote multiple hours of your day to. This is slow game played over months of your time. Each day the system grants you only 50 action points to spend as you see fit - either killing, searching for ammo, or running away from the zombie hordes. A day's turn usually last about 5-10minutes of real time.

Players drive both the Human and Zombie sides of the conflict, and are given an option to join either during character creation. When a Human dies, he's forced to join the zombie horde. However, dead characters arn't trapped in zombie form forever (thankfully). Players who work for the NecroTech Corporation can rummage through the post apocalyptic refuse to find revivification syringes. This are consumable items that bring other zombie-characters back to world of the living.

Each side's gameplay is considerably different. The Humans can operate guns, barricade buildings, speak to each other, and run relatively freely through the streets. Zombies spend more action points to lurch around from point-to-point, and can't use weapons.. which is a bit of a downer. On the upside a zombie's bite can infect humans, who'll bleed to death unless they find medical attention. And when a zombie dies, he can get right back up.. a hauntingly nonhuman 'skill '

The game's graphics are fairly nonexistent (A simple clickable map is used for navigation), but that's okay. This one is all about the fight of Zombies versus Humans, and the social dynamics that evolve out of that conflict!

Some recommendations:

  • Join a clan to make the game a more social and immersing experience. Clans use message boards to coordinate attacks, defenses, quick raids, etc, - which is an especially useful tool for the zombie hordes (Z's have very limited verbal skills). You can find a list of existing clans here. Clicking on any of the clan names brings you to their homepage.
  • Start as either a scout or a fireman. The scout lets you run between buildings without going outside. This means safer travels since you can circumvent locked doors which can lock you outside in the cold. The Fireman kit is a great first choice for the more aggressive folks. He starts with a fire axe; the best non-ammunition weapon around. Shotguns require to you find shells, pistols require clips, but a fire axe is always ready to hack away few more Zombie limbs.
  • Play with friends - this game could get old quick if you're not watching someone else's back, coordinating with other people, etc.
  • Don't rest for the night in Hospitals, Malls, or Police Stations. These are prime targets for zombie attacks.

Good luck. Try not to get any red on you.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 20, 2006

Review: "Carcassonne"

Carcassonne1-2-20-06.jpgWe're suckers for randomly placed boards.. especially if the gameplay includes the hands-on design of an entire cityscape from scratch.

Carcassonne is an elegant game with plenty of room for creativity. It's easy on the eyes, has so few rules, and so few pieces.

And we'd probably eat it if it came with a pouch o' frosting.

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Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 17, 2006

What Makes a Eurogame Game?

MapOfEurope.JPGThe Games Journal recently posted another attempt at defining the qualities of a Euro Game. It's a pretty good writeup, and although we agree with most of the thirteen points, we'd probably remove point "11. Abstract to the point that the 'theme' appears to be tacked on", point "4. Uncertainty of information", and point "6. Very pacific".

Why trim these three? Well, mainly becuase 10-points lists have been the standard for thousands of years (ever since Moses dropped that third tablet), and this 13-point list makes our anal side claw at the walls. On top of that - Eurogames do have somewhat aggressive game elements. You're not slaughtering each other with table top muskets, sure, but take the thief of Settlers of Catan, or the ability to box-in farmers in Carcassone, etc. The "uncertainty of information" doesn't seem uniformly applicable, either.

We'd also like to add that Eurogames have seemingly evolved out of a social movement in German familes. From our understanding, one of the things that German familes do during their "together time" is huddle around a table for a board game or two. It's a pastime that's becoming increasing popular... and we definitely understand why. Eurogames light our engine, and we look forward to years of more great titles yet to come.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 14, 2006

A Facinating Story about the Electronic Football Underground

ElectricFootball.2.14.06.jpg ESPN's website publication "Page2" has a great little article regarding some rabid fans who obsess over Electronic Football. This was one of the best games to have growing-up.. but we haven't touched the rumbling Ralph Wilson Stadium in over 20 years -- ever since that tragic lemonade incident of 1986. Oh the humanity!

From Page2...

Next comes Larry Johnson. Buzz! The tiny running back darts across the metal surface, fast and straight and true. Revels grins.

'He's gonna take over,' he says. 'People think this is just guys running in circles. But you do this six, seven hours a day, and you learn how it works.'

Like the theory says - Out of the chaos, patterns emerge. And after 7 hours so does the vibrating likeness of Abe Lincoln's head, and Fat Elvis.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 6, 2006

Paranoia Mandatory Cardgame

Paranoia.2.8.06.jpgWe just finished a power session of Paranoia and we thought we'd get some thoughts down while still riding-out that aggressive high. Paranoia is a simple card game set in the quirky future-world conglomeration of B-Side Sci Fi Horror; it's a future-time where civil liberties and common sense simply don't exist, and where an all-knowing machine assigns your group missions to complete for the 'betterment of society'. During these missions your goal is to appease the machine by completing missions detailed on a randomly drawn card, but you can also win points by identifying (or more like set-up) your friends as traitors to the all-seeing social machine. The computer will then kill-off your friends and reward your policing ways with a higher security level (read: more health and more traitor resiliency).

The game sounds complex, but it's very lighthearted and the cards have some hilarious flavor text. This is a game best played with a large collection (5+) of your angst-filled friends who've no qualms about selling you down the river. Now, everything about this game isn't Roses - This game could get old after 10 or so sessions when the quirky flavor text loses it's cutting humor. But if you play this game at a fast pace, and play it with folks who you've compiled notebook of vendettas against, then a night of Paranoia will be simply bleed-time away.

Of course, drinks don't hurt either.

Paranoia is definitely worth the money for a group likes to work-out stress in a deconstructive way. For us, it's a no-brainer -- officer Friendly told us to stop leaving those flaming bags of poo on Mrs Frosts' front porch, so we need something else to do. Err.. Not that those bags contained our feces, Friend Computer. We were simply trying to get rid of them in the most hygenic way possible.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

Rio Grande's Early-2006 Release Schedule

Rio Grande games released their product schedule for the first half of 2006. It includes a ton of new titles, quite a few reprints of current sold-out titles, and some reworkings of current titles with new pieces and rules. Let's see whats we gots to look forward to:

New Titles:
- Times Square
- The Difference Between Women and Men
- Carcassonne: The Tower

- Friedrich
- Funny Friends
- Gloria Mundi
- Masons
- Rum & Pirates
- Thurn & Taxis
- Toppo
- Zig Zag

- Carcassonne: The Castle
- Power Grid Expansion
- Puerto Rico
- Samurai
- That’s Life
- Yinsh

- Cartagena
- Clans
- Lost Cities

- Attika
- Coloretto
- Goa
- Master Thieves

Unknown re-release Date
- Java
- Kahuna
- Barnyard Critters
- Galloping Pigs

Rule/ Pieces Revision
- Caylus ~ March
- El Grande (includes all expansions) ~ April
- Medici ~ May
- Taj Mahal ~ May

Holy crap, I need to take a nap. That's a helluva lot of good Rio Grande gaming coming our way before Summer. Time to get the interns to brush away that pile of Super Bowl chicken carcasses from the table and get it prepped for some Carcassonne Tower action.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 1, 2006

Pass The Pigs

Pass the Pigs has been a favorite pastime of ours for years. Once a week we head to the bar to take-in one of the local bands. We show up on the early-side to grab good seats, and then break out da pigs to kill time. This is a great game for playing on-the-go while waiting for something (anything) to start - a concert, fireworks, or to entertain yourself on a long flight, train ride, etc.

The game is simple; toss a pair of pigs across the table and score points depending on how they land. Is a pig pulling a razorback? 5 points. Is he leaning a Jowler? 15 points. Continue to toss and score points until you call out a "Bank!" (Cardsharks anyone?), at which time you lock-in your score. Then pass the pair of pigs on to your friend. But don't get too greedy - if you Pig Out (one pig dot-side up , the other dot-side down) then you lose all the points you've accumulated since the last Banking. The first person to 100 points wins.

Yes - we realize we could play this same game with a simple set of dice, but where's the fun in that? Half of the game is tossing these little rubber pigs to see how they land, the other half comes from your ability to play against your friends' karmic potential.

Serious strategy gamers need not apply - Pass the Pigs is simple, social and fun.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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