March 23, 2010

Warhammer Invasion LCG - The Enemy Cycle

WarhammerInvasionBox1.jpgThe innaugral cycle of the fantastic Warhammer Invasion Living Card Game is coming to a close. We're not sad, oh no, we're stoked. Why? Well FFG has committed itself to the franchise and is slated to bring bringing us a whole new set of cards just as the WoW TCG cycle winds down (hopefully not for good).

But that's just filler. We're really stoked for two specific reasons. For one: the new set attempts to give the franchise focus. The foundation has been set with the Corruption Cycle over the last 6 months, but now we're moving onwards from petty battles and heading into full out war. Specific factions will square off against each other. Balanced, bloody, old-school vendetta style.

Secondly FFG had previously announced that the new LCG format will include even more cards per deck starting with this second cycle. In fact, each expansion will include 3 of every single card in the set. No more rarity scales and getting just 1 or 2 of the cards that you really want and having to buy a second copy of the expansion. Now you'll get 3 of each. Sweet.

Here's a snippet from "New Leaders and Ancient Enemies" which announces the next set, introduces the new designers, and provides details of where the franchise is going:

"I can't say too much yet, but The Enemy Cycle continues to explore the depth of each faction, providing them with new tools to expand upon their strategies to win. This cycle places an emphasis on the natural rivalries that take place between the six factions in the game - Dwarfs vs Orcs, Empire vs Chaos, and High Elf vs Dark Elf. What's more, the Battle Packs will contain a series of short stories that serve as a primer for those of you Invasion fans who aren't entirely familiar with Warhammer Fantasy but want to learn about your favorite faction."

We love some good back story to why orcs are motivated to bash dwarven heads in -- that's a nice touch! We'll keep you posted as more details emerge.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 11, 2010

Deathmaster's Dance Jigs Your Way for Warhammer Invasion

The latest expansion to the Warhammer Invasion Living Card Game has hit shelves. The Deathmaster's Dance [Amazon, Funagain] is the game's 4th release and includes 40 more cards to fill out the premier Corruption Cycle.

And of course in true FFG style there are preview articles for you to read and get a taste before you buy. First up the Chaos get a giant Nurgle of doom with the Great Unclean One. We dare you to french kiss that hot sauce. Meanwhile the Empire previews include the group buffing Ulric's Fury which gives a band of your defenders a temporary counterstrike ability, Flagellants meat shield.

Here are the expansion's official details:

"The Order forces have put up a valiant fight against the relentless spread of the Skaven, but now a new threat has arisen, a threat that goes by name of Deathmaster Sniktch...

The Deathmaster s Dance is the fourth 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."

For more information about the expansion check out the official FFG Article: The Master of the Pack. The Deathmaster's Dance is now shipping from Amazon and Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 2, 2010

Warhammer Invasion LCG Expands with Tooth and Claw


The surprise hit Warhammer Invasion Living Card Game continues to .. live with the third Skaven themed expansion in the premier Corruption Cycle. Tooth and Claw [Amazon, Funagain] includes 40 cards, that cover 41-60 of the set. Here are the official details:

"The first battle pack, The Skavenblight Threat, saw the emergence of the diseased and squabbling Skaven. The second battle pack, The Path of the Zealot, brought new forces for the Skaven and the witch hunters. Now, new heroes are rising to do battle with the growing rat menace.

The Skaven will not give up the gains they have acquired, however, and are bringing the power and ferocity of the Rat Ogres and Gutter Runners; meanwhile the might of the heroic Gurni Thorgrimson and Ugrok Beardburna explode on the scene!

Tooth and Claw is the third 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."

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 8, 2010

Some Dominion Alchemy Teasers Hit the Net has word that the Candian publisher for Dominion has posted a preview about the upcoming Dominion expansion.

Called "Dominion: Alchemy" the new set will contain a smaller set of cards than we're used to (12). Apparently this smaller expansion is a move to appease some of the international publishers who figured their customers would rather purchase a smaller set of cards instead of expansion the size of a standard main set. Why? We haven't the faintest clue.

But don't be too worried, more details were posted to Board Game Geek by the game's designer Donald Vaccarino who quickly stated that the franchise will receive some more large boxed expansions, too. And he even hinted that the franchise has the legs to least a few more years. Excellent.

From the BoardGameGeek Forums:

"We are still doing 300-card sets as well. The expansion after Alchemy is the normal, larger size. If I had to guess I would say we'll alternate sizes for a few years, but nothing is set in stone past the expansion after Alchemy. I think that expansion may be announced at Nuremberg, so we'll leave that one alone for now."

Also based on a translation of the French gaming site Tric Trac, we should see the Alchemy 'small expansion' hit the shelves in the spring. We can't wait. More - and hopefully interesting - Dominion content with new mechanics is something we'd love to have kickoff the new gaming season once things ramp up again after the holiday hangover.

We'll keep you posted of more details as they emerge.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 5, 2010

The Wings of Naxxramas Revolutionize WoW TCG's Raids

NaxxramasRaidDeck.jpgThe whole notion of a cooperative raid deck to a standard 1v1 Trading Card Game still remains an exciting prospect to us, even after the long series of raids over the years. They have had some drawbacks though. Some raids are long, arduous affairs that you might spend all day on. Others are just plan impossibly broken hard.

Thankfully the latest Naxxramas Raid Deck [Amazon, Troll&Toad;] fixes a lot of the things we find lacking in others, and then some. Here are top 5 reasons why we think its head and shoulders above all of the other raid deck experiences to date:

5. Variety Most of the raid decks have a plethora of bosses all under the umbrella of a specific theme. Well Naxxramas is composed of four different wings of bosses , each falling under the same Undead Bastage theme, but each wing providing a different attitude toward bad guys. The Spider Wing is littered with quick acting bosses that attach multiple times, the construct quarter is full of hard hitting, high health scary behemoths that would make Jack Palance crap twinkies, and so on. Each wing challenges your group in different ways for a spurt of 3-4 bosses, and that makes the whole deck building experience pretty darn interesting.

4. Multiple Climaxes These Wings we spoke of also change the flow of the raid entirely. The standard practice of multiple boss raids like Molten Core or The Black Temple had players run full gamuts of 10+ bosses in a row, and then hopefully the players had enough left in them to take on the final boss in a climactic battle of epicness. Problem is, Upper Deck's cramming of 10 bosses in a row required some of the bosses to be pansies and ultimately forgettable in previous raids.

Not so in Naxx. Whenever your group finishes a wing, everyone reshuffles their deck and starts anew on the next wing. The net result: Upper Deck has scaled up the bosses, each becoming more difficult, lethal and ultimately a more interesting fight. And on top of that, the game is balanced to make the final boss in each wing become a climatic fight of epicness, because why not? -- the game is going to reset after you defeat him anyway. So that's 4 times the climactic, tough battles, condensed into bar form.

3. Treasure Packs Sold Separately
While each raid deck ships with its own treasure pack, you can buy additional treasure packs separately, too. The implications for collectors is obvious, but for gameplay it's even better: You can reward your players phat loots after every wing. While technically you're not supposed to let players alter their decks between wings, traditionally in the MMO that's just what happened: your raid would tackle one wing, grab the loot, and use that loot to help defeat the second wing. And that's truly what raiding is all about - the getting to the next wing, raid, boss, etc.

2. The Raid Leader and Strategery
A new and very welcomed move in this raid deck is the addition of a Raid Leader. Every once in awhile one of the raid events will engaged the Raid Leader and have him make some pretty interest decisions. Things all the way from the Leader choosing to discard multiple cards himself, or have each raid player discard a single card, etc. These events are also sometimes beneficial, so directing the beneficial ability to the correct player at the correct time could mean the difference between success and failure.

But that's just the icing on the cake. Each of the themed wings also provides a buff to the raiders once the wing has been defeated. Some add damage to abilities, others increase the effectiveness of equipment, etc. It's up to the raid leader to decide which wing to tackle and in which order, using bonuses from one to defeat one of the harder wing, or to even bypass some wings all together and push to the final boss fight. The strategy lies within these choices and weighing such variables as what sort of classes you bring to the raid, how many people are in your party and the quality of their decks. Yep, there are definitely some good decisions to game.

1. Multiple Sessions
Raid Decks require a huge block of time - like upwards of four hours per session. Traditionally they were reserved for special weekend game night sessions, or we would hold off to play them on our quarterly dork fest, scheduling them between smaller games. In the weekend gaming sessions WoW TCG Raids landed somewhere on our Saturday mornings (through afternoon) gaming calendar like a giant gorilla dropped from a 747 flying 10,000' over a Saturday brunch in the country.

But this notion of Naxxramas wings, each a complete prepackaged experience, and when complete include a step where players reshuffle their decks to reset the state of .. everything, and start anew, is a mechanic that happens to provide an incredibly perfect breaking point. Now Raid Decks can be on normal game nights without the risk of our players becoming dead beat dads, or lining themselves up for an early 30's divorce.

In other words an already amazing experience has just become more approachable and game night friendly. It's also become an epic experience that occurs over multiple days of fresh, rested layers, instead of dragging in one long, tiring block. And that is an absolutely fantastic win-win for gamers.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 3, 2010

Thunderstone: The Next Deckbuilding Game After Dominion

Thunderstone.jpgWe had a chance to sit down and play a few rounds of Thunderstone [Amazon, Funagain] this week and we were quite impressed.

While not directly linked this new title bases itself on a foundation of Dominion, where you build your deck by buying cards and then snowball those cards into better cards. There are two major differences however. First: instead of picking 10 random cards to place in the 'store', there are a set number of particular types cards that you must have. For instance, there's always four heroes types in the store when you setup the game. While those four types of heroes are randomly picked, you guaranteed that each game will have at least and at most four. This nicely balances out the card population and avoids defense or attack card overdose that's inherent in Dominion.

But more importantly Thunderstone gives you two different options during your turn . Each card has a gold value and you could visit the store in Dominion fashion, playing your hand to buy more cards that fold into your deck. OR... you can use the offensive capabilities of your cards to delve down into a randomly dealt dungeon to kill monsters and collect booty.

Yeah, that's right. Instead of buying Victory Point cards, you can bypass a store on your turn and use your hand to take on beasties in a randomly drawn dungeon. Each evil minion has a victory point associated with them, and each vanquished foe you have in your deck at the end game pushes adds to your victory point total.

Thunderstone2.jpgOn any given turn the heroes, weapons, and spells that you purchased and folded into your deck could appear in your hand. If you think they've granted you enough strength to take on one of the beasties in the dungeon then you can try your hand in some really quick and simple combat Or, if you think that zombie with the Burt Reynolds moustache might be too much for you to handle, then you instead head to the store and use the coin value of your hand to buy new cards at the store. It's all up to you!

Thunderstone is definitely a step up from Dominion on both the complexity scale and the dork scale. While Dominion remains the new gateway game of choice - highly approachable and downright fun - Thunderstone kicks it up a notch. While the RPG narrative of the game is something our group truly likes, it might not be very interesting to all.

We think it's a sweet move, however. The theme is so much stronger than Dominion and the game hits just the right level of complexity to keep things interesting. Games last longer, are balanced better, and no two games are alike. There are expansions already announced, too, so as we play this where smiling knowing the franchise is going somewhere cool.

For a more in depth review, check out the Thunderstone review by The Dice Tower. Here are the official details:

"For ages the vile Doom Knights have sought to gather the remaining Thunderstones to fulfill a prophecy of corruption over the lands. Now the first Thunderstone has been discovered in the Dungeons of Grimhold and the Doom Knights have sent their minions to claim the relic. The Villagers of Barrowsdale gather brave souls to face the dungeon and keep the Thunderstone out of the hands of the Doom Knights.

Thunderstone is a new and exciting fantasy deck-building game from Alderac Entertainment Group. Fight the evils of the dungeon to prove your worth. Gain powerful weaponry and level into new and mighty hero classes. Claim the best cards and survive to take the Thunderstone. Featuring beautiful art from Jason Engle, Thunderstone is a welcome addition to any fantasy gamer's collection."

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

January 19, 2010

Mayfair Games Announces Pillars of the Earth: Builder's Duel

BuildersDuel.jpgIt's been a while since we've heard of anything really worthwhile from Mayfair games other than the Pillars of the Earth franchise (the latest World Without End) or the rehashing of the classic Settlers of Catan. Now we have word that the next title that's soon to be released is a Pillars of the Earth rehash. Surprise!

Builder's Duel is a 2 player card game that pits the two major figureheads of The Pillars of the Earth storyline against one another. One player takes on the role of Prior Phillip, a respected member of the church who's in control of the monastery building the cathedral, and the antagonizing Bishop Waleran who's pushing his own ego upon the construction project. It's a game of competition in resource collection and the playing cards to convert those resources into various subprojects of the cathedral's construction.

There's a bit of an annoying gameplay element that we should mention which centers around tossing awkward gameplay components for a random result. This ... poor design can somewhat iced over by replacing it with a simple dice role. We thought it was worth mentioning, however.

Here are the game's official details. For further research there's a great rundown of user impressions found on BGG.

Builders Duelâ„¢ is a two player card game based on Ken Follett's award winning book Pillars of the Earth.

England in the 12th Century. The players take on the roles of Prior Philip and Bishop Waleran. Philip wants to build the most beautiful cathedral in England. Waleran is planning his own project, a mighty fortress.

Both players try to simultaneously build their buildings. To construct your building, you must obtain raw resources and convert them into building materials. You are supported by your friends and powerful allies, but are constantly opposed by dangerous foes. If you manage to overcome and build your building first, you win!

Pillars of the Earth Builder's Duel is slated to ship later this week. We'll let you know when it's actually sighted on shelves!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

December 10, 2009

Wahammer Invasion LCG The Skavenblight Threat


First up are the nasty, highly aggressive, and diseased ridden ratmen of The Skavenblight Threat [Amazon, Funagain]. These guys are the dregs of society. We're talking punch a baby in the face rotten, and they're not afraid to show it.

In fact, some of the skaven have a nasty little trick up their sleeve: they're willing to corrupt themselves if it helps the great good. Or at least what they conceive to be the greater good , which is probably eating rights to a moldy piece of blood sausage.

Fantasy Flight Games has released a series of previews detailing some of the marquee cards of the expansion:

  1. The Alpha Rat
  2. Fight With Your Bear Hands
  3. The Hunters Become the Prey

Here are the official details:

The armies of Order are locked in a fierce struggle with the forces of Destruction. And now a new threat, the Skaven, make their way into the Warhammer: Invasion card game.

The Skavenblight Threat is the first monthly Battle Pack installment of The Corruption Cycle, a 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 Skavenblight Thread is now shipping from Amazon and Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

November 30, 2009

Cyber Monday Board Game Sale at Funagain Games

CyberMonday3.jpgThe good folks at Funagain Games have posted their Holiday Buyer's guide (not to be confused with ours). You can check it out here.

Some of the games are on the older side, but they're still some of the best classics around. Games like Ticket to Ride, Puerto Rico, and Power Grid (which made our Holiday Guide, too).

But that's from their General Holiday Guide. They also have Holiday Guides for kids, family games, party games - the works. Just check the bottom of the page here.

Be sure to checkout our 2009 Holiday Gift Guide for more gift ideas.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

November 27, 2009

Critical Gamers' 2009 Holiday Gift Guide


Welcome to the one-stop index page for all of our Holiday Board Game Gift Ideas for 2009! There have been some tremendous games that were released this year. Some released created new genres of games, others lovingly refined old formulas. We'll break down these top releases and let you know the perfect present for your gaming friend or love one, all while avoiding the frenetic crowds and annoying cell phone vendors at your crazy local mega mall.

So lets kick things off with our favorite game of the last year, Dominion, which has two new expansions this year!

ArrowContinue reading: "Critical Gamers' 2009 Holiday Gift Guide"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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