June 14, 2010

Smiley Face Family Card Game Announced

SmileyFaces.jpgIn a change of pace publisher FFG has announced a family friendly card game. Smiley Face plays like your normal trump-based game like hearts or spades or Euchre, bu where different suits score a varying about of points.

The suits, in this case, are a series of emotions. While there is no overarching trump emotion itself, each of the emotions is randomly assigned a point level at the start of each round. Say the 'Happy' emotion is assigned the trump position and gets +1 point for each card played, and 'Sad' is assigned the bottom rank and simply doesn't' count for anything.

Players take turns playing cards of the various emotions in an attempt to score as many points in a round as possible.

Various 'mischief' cards will then throw a monkey wrench into the mix. Each of these little guys has printed instructions on an interesting way the card could be used to mix up the round. And because you have it in your hand to start the round you can lie in wait until just the right moment and then --- pounce!The one example mischief card revealed thus far will reorder the scoring ranks of the different suits. Suddenly cards worth points might be worth less points, or even no points at all. Who's smiling now?

Finally, as an interesting twist: if you feel like you're buggered and there's no way for you to win, then you back another player and pass a card to them in the hopes that it helps them win the round. If so, then you score some points.

Overall this seems like it's going to be a very dynamic game. Light on the rules (ages 8+) and high on the dynamics this could be a great title for family game night. You can check out more information on the official Smiley Faces website, or on designer Burno Faidutti's website. Here's the official description:

"SmileyFace is a card game of face-to-face family fun for four to eight players. This clever family game by Bruno Faidutti includes 82 cards featuring dozens of quirky and colorful characters based on popular emoticons. Over the seven short rounds of the game, each player tries to collect the highest total face value of cards of a single type. Each round brings new surprises as the values of cards change and the wacky Mischief cards come into play. Only the player with the highest score for a round (and perhaps the player who lent him a helping hand) will win points! All the other players are out of luck. :(

We'll keep you posted of any more details as their emerge, and we'll let you know when Smiley Faces hits shelves later this year.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

June 1, 2010

Critical Gamers' Board Game Roundup May 2010

May was a a great month for news and releases. The was the continuing coverage of the upcoming Game of Thrones wargame Battles of Westeros. Talisman expanded again with even more dungeon exploration goodness. Dominion got it's first expansion in quite some time with the much anticipated Dominion Alchemy. Oh and Crytpozoic got their website into gear and started posting some great previews of the Wrathgate expansion.

But there was more than just that, including game reviews and board game announcements. Here's the full list:

Board Games

Card Games

Collectable Card Games

Gaming Culture

Gaming News

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

May 21, 2010

Dominion Alchemy Expansion Hits Shelves

DominionAlchemy.jpgHappy day of days. The long awaited 2010 expansion to the best game in years (that is Dominion) has been sighted in stores and is now shipping from online retailers.

Dominion Alchemy [Amazon, Funagain] pushes us into the laboratories of mad scientists as they try to use common potions to plot and scheme the uses of transmutation to create bigger and better things. And after all, isn't that the whole theme of Dominion in the first place?

We should note that this is a half-sized expansion (larger ones to come later this year), and so it requires either Dominion or Dominion: Intrigue to play. But hey, if you don't already have one of those then you have a lot of great gaming to pickup (start with the original Dominion).

Here are the official details about Dominion Alchemy:

There are strange things going on in your basement laboratories. They keep calling up for more barrels of quicksilver, or bits of your hair. Well it's all in the name of progress. They're looking for a way to turn lead into gold, or at least into something better than lead. That lead had just been too good of a bargain to pass up; you didn't think, where will I put all this lead, what am I going to do with this lead anyway. Well that will all be sorted out. They're also looking for a universal solvent. If they manage that one, you will take whatever they use to hold it in and build a castle out of it. A castle that can't be dissolved! Now that's progress.

This is the 3rd addition to Dominion. It adds new Kingdom cards to Dominion. As it is an expansion, you will need Dominion, or Dominion: Intrigue to play the game.

Dominion: Alchemy is an expansion, and can't be played by itself; to play with it, you need Dominion, or a standalone expansion to Dominion (Dominion: Intrigue). Those provide the Basic cards you need to play (Treasure, Victory, and Curse cards), as well as the full rules for setup and gameplay. Dominion: Alchemy can also be combined with any other Dominion expansions you have.

Dominion Alchemy is now shipping from Amazon and Funagain Games. For more information please see our previous coverage: Dominion Alchemy Teasers, Dominion Alchemy Expansion is Nigh and Designer's Breakdown of Dominion Alchemy.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

May 10, 2010

Designer's Breakdown of Dominion Alchemy Cards

DominionAlchemy.jpgWe like 2008's Dominion. Heck, we'd even say we love Dominion. It remains both the breakout game of the deck building genre, and also the leading franchise, too. Approachable, fun, deep, and extraordinarily repayable. And we're now on the eve of the launch of Dominion's third expansion: Dominion Alchemy. We're giddy with delight.

So what better treat than to read a preview of the new set's cards? How about one that's written by the game's designer himself?

And here it is: Donald X. Vaccarino's "The Secret History of the Alchemy Cards" post in the BGG forums.

Now the post goes into the nitty gritty details about the history of the Dominion franchise, including how it came to be, how it was broken into expansions, and why we're starting to see mini expansions instead of full fledged sets (blame some of the game's publishers). If you want to skip all that then just scroll down to where you start seeing the bold card games. Once there you'll get right to the nitty gritty details of what cards to expect, how they'll play with each other, and how they'll fold in mechanics of the existing sets.

We can't wait to get our hands on Dominion Alchemy. Some lucky ducks have found a few copies in their local gaming stores. If you act quick you might even be able to nab one. If not, we expect a full shipment to hit the major stores next month.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

May 4, 2010

Warhammer LCG Assault on Ulthuan Box Set Hits Stores

WarhammerLCGAssaultOnUlthuan.JPGAhh yes, the next chapter of the Warhammer Invasion Living Card Game has hit shelves. The Assault on Ulthuan Expansion [Amazon, Funagain] brings two new capitals to the game that square off against one another: the Dark Elves and the High Elves. Plus, like the original Warhammer Invasion LCG base set, this expansion includes two 40 card decks to kick start your core collection for these new factions factions.

And if you've been playing the LCG over the last half year or so then you're collection of cards will be very applicable here. All of those supporting cards from those two factions will find a home in focused decks with well maintained themes here instead of manning peripheral roles in your current collection.

If you're new to the LCG then you'll still need to pick up the original Warhammer Invasion LCG Core Set. Trust us, you'll be happy with that purchase; it includes the home cities for the Empire, Dwarf, Chaos, and Ork factions, as well as all of the damage tokens you'll need to play.

For the rest of you, here are the details on the new Assault on Ulthuan expansion:

"The Assault on Ulthuan expansion explores the bitter enmity between the Dark Elves and the High Elves. The Dark Elves are a cruel race who excel at taking prisoners, sacrificing them, and inflicting vast amounts of pain on enemy units through hit point reduction. This treacherous faction seeks to enslave the other races of the Warhammer world. The High Elves are a proud, powerful race who rely on card denial, cancellation, healing, and ranged attacks. They work to heal damage to the world and unlock the ancient mysteries of the arcane. Both will raise mighty kingdoms and venture out on perilous quests as they seek the power to stand victorious. Can either faction rise to dominance over the other, or will they both succumb to another foe altogether?"

The Warhammer LCG Assault on Ulthuan Box Set is now shipping from Amazon and Funagain.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

May 3, 2010

Critical Gamers' Board Game Roundup April 2010

Constantinopolis.JPGTons of gaming news this month. Tons. We have new announcements from Fantasy Flight Games like the mouthful Constantinopolis, a new Tide of Iron expansion Fury of the Bear, and even more information about the upcoming Song of Ice and Fire wargame system Battles of Westeros. Oh, and how can we forget the epic Warhammer 40k board game Horus Hersey also hit shelves.

We saw the launch of the iPad which already sports board games like Small World, and a new version of Civilization Revolution. Days of Wonder's new murder mystery board game Mystery Express, and for the deck building faithful we started seeing information about both the new Dominion Alchemy expansion, and Thunderstone's first expansion Wrath of the Elements.

Like we said: tons of gaming. And May really shouldn't be any different. Here are our stories for April:

Board Games

Card Games

Cheap Deals & Sales

Gaming News



Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 28, 2010

Thunderstone: Wrath of the Elements Card Montage

ThunderstoneWrathOfElements.jpgWe have mixed feelings about Thunderstone [T&T;, Funagain]. On the plus side the game takes Dominion to all new levels of awesomeness. By ingeniously incorporating the card buying / deck building, hero progression, and then dungeon crawling themes, the game turns a fun romp in economics into a race to beat up on the most bad guys with the best tools.

Unfortunately the original installment has its issues that surface after repeat play (and thus Dominion remains king of the genre).

For one, there really aren't that many times where you have to carefully weigh a decision regarding one of the major mechanics: deciding on 'going into town' to buy new cards , or attack the cave full of bad guy every turn is pretty much straight forward math. If your hand can deal enough damage to a bad guy then you'll almost certainly let lose on him instead of wasting your turn going into town. Mostly you'll find yourself with only one obvious decision here.

Secondly, and most importantly, the cards that you use don't have nearly as many interesting card combinations, 1-2 punches, and chains as its spiritual forerunner Dominion. After a while we found ourselves getting a tad bored with Thunderstone due to this flatness, where as Dominion remains fun and interesting.

But we love the system. We love the idea of Thunderstone. And we hope that new content from the upcoming expansion will flesh out the erected skeleton of awesomeness, and potentially sprout it into something bigger than anything the deck building genre has seen before.

While there aren't any official previews of Thunderstone: Wrath of The Elements, there is this gallery of cards that has surfaced at Board Game Geek. If your thirsting for more information about where Thunderstone is going then you should definitely check it out. We already see some interesting combos developing.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 23, 2010

Vasel Tells Us Why Cardcassonne is Worth Your Time

We've always had a soft spot for Carcassonne, which was our second gateway game after Settlers of Catan. But lately the Carcassonne franchise has flown the coup (or so we've recently thought.)

We have to be honest, 2008's Carcassone The Catapult had as much ingenuity and design as an inanimate carbon rod, and so we filed the lazily named Cardcasssonne under "who cares" when it was subsequently announced.

Watching Tom Vasel's review on The Dice Tower makes us feel like we made a big mistake. This stand alone title seems both clever and interesting. We're not quite sure how it fits the theme of Carcassonne, but we don't care. The game simply looks great! We're picking up our copy this weekend.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 20, 2010

Warhammer Invasion LCG Warpstone Chronicles Released

WarhammerLCGWarpstoneChronicles.jpgThe penultimate expansion to the premier Warhammer Living Card Game cycle has just been released. By now your library should be fleshed-out with the previous expansions and your main forces are all assembled and sitting restless, waiting for a fight in your hand-tailored decks. Enter the Warpstone Chronicles [Amazon, Funagain], a set which focuses on outfitting your troops with powerful relics to boost their strength in battle. Some even resurrect your troops that have fallen victim to death. Nasty.

The following preview articles go into the in-depth gritty details of three of the twenty different cards you should expect to get in the expansion:

  1. A Worthy Death
  2. Charging to the Front Line
  3. A Dangerous Development

And here's the official product description:

"The War Crown of Saphery... Basha's Bloodaxe... The Rune Fang of Solland... The forces of Order and Destruction have turned to the ancient relics of the Old World in the hope of gaining a deadly advantage in the ongoing war.

The Warpstone Chronicles is the fifth monthly Battle Pack installment of The Corruption Cycle, the first linked expansion series for Warhammer: Invasion, a card game of intense warfare, clever kingdom management, and epic questing. This 40 card pack contains 20 different never-before-seen cards designed to augment existing decks and add variety to the Warhammer: Invasion metagame.


The Warpstone Chronicles are now shipping from Amazon and Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 12, 2010

Dominion Alchemy Expansion Is Nigh

DominionAlchemy.jpgRumor and scuttlebutt has it that the highly anticipated expansion for the new Rio Grand Games flagship Dominion should be shipping to stores soon, very soon. Some local stores have it shipping April 15, 2010 (link). This seems a tad early to us, but it's not completely out of the question considering that some people have already picked up a copy at a few toy shows (link). There's also word that the game will be demoed in toy shows in April in Germany, and go on sale in that massive board game market in the middle of May (link)

Finally, and most importantly, Amazon is accepting preorders for an early May Ship Date (link).

So expect to have the latest and greatest Dominion set of cards in your hands before the Summer officially begins. Boosh! And in case you missed our previous coverage of Dominion Alchemy, here are the official product details.

"There are strange things going on in your basement laboratories. They keep calling up for more barrels of quicksilver, or bits of your hair. Well it's all in the name of progress. They're looking for a way to turn lead into gold, or at least into something better than lead. That lead had just been too good of a bargain to pass up; you didn't think, where will I put all this lead, what am I going to do with this lead anyway. Well that will all be sorted out. They're also looking for a universal solvent. If they manage that one, you will take whatever they use to hold it in and build a castle out of it. A castle that can't be dissolved! Now that's progress."

Dominion Alchemy is available from preorder from Amazon and Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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