November 18, 2009

Dominion Seaside Video Review from The Dice Tower

Tom Vasel from The Dice Tower has done a nice job breaking down the major points of latest Dominion expansion: Dominion Seaside [Amazon, Funagain] in his video review (above).

We have to agree that Seaside trumps the previous Dominion Intrigue expansion when it comes for bang-for-the-buck and the sheer number of new, interesting elements that extend the base set. Not that Intrigue is a slouch.

We're also huge fans of the way the direction the game, adding interesting turn order mechanics and the element of persistence to the already fantastic suite of cards. This set also brings the number of different combination of cards in any given round to 954,526,728,530. Yes, 954 Brazillion. You could buy insurance on 'no two games ever being the same', but you would be throwing your money away.

We love Dominion, and we're loving Dominion Seaside. BTW Tom: nice tie.

76 card types discounting curses, money and the three standard victory points, and 10 cards in a round. 76*75*74*73*72*71*70*69*68*67 / 10! = 954,526,728,530
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November 12, 2009

Warhammer LCG's First Expansion on the Horizon

Sometime in November - so sometime very soon - the first Living Card Game expansion to Warhammer LCG is slated for release. We've really been digging the Warhammer Invasion Base Set since it came out last month, so we're really looking forward to seeing how this game moves forward with their expansion model.

Just a reminder: Living Card Games don't have the rarity curve that Collectible or Trading Card games have. When you buy a booster for a Living Card Game, you receive all the cards of the set. Basically think of each of these booster injections that push your base collection of cards through a long term story arc, introducing new characters, abilities, locations, etc, along the way.

So where do we stop first? With an invasion of rat people of course. The Skavenblight Threat kicks off the 7 installment Corruption Cycle. Here are the 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.

For more indepth information, checkout the Fantasy Flight Games' feature preview article Sounds Like Rats.... We'll let you know as soon as it ships!

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October 23, 2009

Dominion: Seaside Expansion

DominionSeaside.jpgThanks for the large collection of card types, last year's fantastic 'card game in a box' Dominion [Amazon, Funagain] can be played countless times without ever running into the same game twice. Then Dominion Intrigue [Amazon, Funagain] hit the shelves and added 25 new card types. Seeing as you only play with 10 randomly selected card types in any given match, the chances you'd play a game with the same collection of cards is nearring same probability that Burt Reynolds will make appearance as a nun in a fat suit in Martin Scorsese's premier rock opera.

So when we heard that the Dominion: Seaside Expansion [Amazon, Funagain] just washed up on shores (Dominion Intrigue launched only 3 months ago), we were wondering what the point was. We could play Dominion and Intrigue for 30 years, build a time machine, and go back to 1984 and continue playing for the next 30. Chances are we'd still be playing the game with new and interesting card combinations.

Thankfully Dominion Seaside doesn't just add more content inside the current idea of Dominion, but changes the meta rules of the game. We'll quickly explain.

Seaside is themed with oceanic travel. Pirates, islands, merchant ships and ghost ships. What's interesting is how these themes play into the elements of the game. Most importantly are the new card mechanics that effect both your turn, and your NEXT turn, like tides rolling in twice. Or the light house card that remains in play until it's your turn again, keeping a watch out for you against attackers. There are definitely some interesting game changers that are implemented in interesting ways.

Our frustration subsided once we learned all this. Checking into player experiences with the game, early-bird gamers seem entirely satisfied and enthusiastic about where this series is going. Its not just a shotgun blast of more cards but the game is changing with this expansion - just as a CCG would and should do with its next set release.

Bravo. That's just what the doctored ordered. And it seems to have been very well executed to boot.

Here are the official details:

All you ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by. And someone who knows how to steer ships using stars. You finally got some of those rivers you'd wanted, and they led to the sea. These are dangerous, pirate-infested waters, and you cautiously send rat-infested ships across them, to establish lucrative trade at far-off merchant-infested ports.

First, you will take over some islands, as a foothold. The natives seem friendly enough, crying their peace cries, and giving you spears and poison darts before you are even close enough to accept them properly. When you finally reach those ports you will conquer them, and from there you will look for more rivers. One day, all the rivers will be yours.

This is the 2nd addition to Dominion. It adds 26 new Kingdom cards. Its central theme is your next turn; there are cards that do something this turn and next, cards that set up your next turn, and other ways to step outside of the bounds of a normal turn.

We should point out that Dominion Seaside is an expansion, and requires either Dominion or Dominion Intrigue to play. Enjoy!

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August 26, 2009

Dominion Sale - Act Fast

Dominion.jpgThe critically acclaimed card game in a box Dominion [Amazon, Funagain] is one of our favorite new games on the block, and today lady luck is shining upon you because Dominion has been severely discounted at the online sales website Tanga. Check it out here.

As of 10:30 am this morning they're selling the original copy of the Dominion Card Game you've been reading so much about at 32.99 bucks. This is one of those short term 'while supplies last' sales so check it out sooner rather than later. The deal also includes gobs of card sleeves in case you want to get keep your decks safe and sound from random spills and wild flailing card tears due to high-richter earthquakes or drunken chair falls.

For more information about Dominion, check out our release story: Dominion - A Standalone Collectibe Card Game in a Box

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August 10, 2009

Warhammer Invasion LCG Rules are Online

WarhammerInvasionBox1.jpgBoy howdy, that was fast. The rules to the Warhammer Invasion Living Card Game are already online. You can peruse the 24 page rulebook here.

The rules themselves are very clear, and well formatted, and aren't a dry read as some other leading CCG brands. The game actually looks very, very interesting, too. (for general information on Warhammer Invasion and Living Card Games, checkout our previous article "First Details" ).

Unlike other CCGs and TCGs where players protect a hero, players of Warhammer Invasion control and upgrade a home city. Different facets of the home city can be built-out, strenghting buildings and upgrading production capacity (by playing cards face down in the different zones), and these various facets help buff a player's war machine. The city is also the main target of your opponent; if 3 sections of your home city are razed, then you lose. End of story.

Players will play cards representing Units (allies and heroes), Actions (Abilities or Spells), Quests, and Support Cards (Enchantments, Artifacts and other ongoing goodness) to build out their war effort. At the end of a player's turn he/she declares a zone of an opponent's capital city to fight over. Any Units defending this area will enter into battle to protect the city, absorb damage, and deal hurt back to the attacker. And so the larger battle of two major cities unfolds over numerous turns.

The cards a player selects to build their deck is tied to a faction included in the base set, which encompass all the major parties of the Warhammer Fantasy setting: Empire, Choas, Dwarf, Orc, High Elf and Dark Elf. Most of these factions start with their own captial city setup, save for the two Elf factions who'll get their just deserts in an expansion later this year.

The first set's keywords are easily approachable:

  • Counterstrike: The Unit deals immediate unpreventable damage to an attacking character, then the counterstriking character enters battle normally.
  • Scout: A scout who survives a battle forces the opponent to discard a card.
  • Toughness: Prevents a set amount of damage during combat.

Seems simple enough, and playing off these combos could be interesting enough, too.

The initial Warhammer Invasion LCG base set is slated for a November release. We'll let you know if any interesting info hits the net before then. This will surely make a killer stocking stuffer come Christmas. For one the game has a great setting, seems approachable, and has the rule set to grow in complexity. And two: the game is a LCG, which has a lot less wallet impact that a Trading Card or Collectible Card game... oh baby, late 2009 is going to be nice.

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July 23, 2009

Warhammer: Invasion LCG First Details

Some more information has been posted about the upcoming Warhammer: Invasion Living Card Game announced earlier this month. The preview article "The Invasion Is Coming" doesn't yet start breaking down the detailed rules, or card types, or anything that partciular and juicy, but sets the expectations of what this LCG product line will look like over its life time.

The game will ship with a core set that has decks for 4 different races on the side of Order (Dwarfs & Empire) and Destruction (Orcs & Chaos). The core set will include cards for both the High Elves and Dark Elves, too, but these guys won't receive a full showing until a later expansion down the road. The core set will also include all of the play materials for each of the four races, and enough materials for 2 players.

What sort of materials? Well the game isn't like Magic the Gathering or WoW TCG where players simply play allies and spells to beat the living snot out of each other. Instead this game combines those elements with elements of the old Lord of the Rings CCG, where players expand their kingdom, its economy, etc, all being tracked on a series custom of boards and pieces laid before each player. Here's some of the skinny on why the designers chose that path:


Although the goal of the game is quite clear and exactly what you'd expect (burn down your opponent's capital), I wanted players to have more to worry about than simply massing troops to kill each other. You need to defeat your opponent, but have to worry about managing your own kingdom while you're at it. If you don't have enough resources to build an army, you can't win. And if you can't have your units complete quests, you won't be able to draw enough cards to give you the options you need.

Of course you want to do all of these things, but therein lies the dilemma: which careful balance do you want to strike in order to defeat your opponent?"

So you have the base set of cars, that includes 4 different decks to play with. Then what? Well in the Living Card Game fashion, each month will see new, 'cheap' injection of cards that will update your collection, tell more of the overarching game's story, and add new mechanics to the game. Traditionally these packs sell for around 10 bucks, and deliberately include every single card so there's no wasted money pinata hunting for epic rares.

One last major thing of note: the game is designed around 2-Players for the start, and it won't ship with any multiplayer rules out of the box. This is a bit of a let down - our TCG nights always become cumbersome when an odd number of players show up to the table, and we'd love to see one of these new-fangled card games break that legacy problem. Instead they keep making the same mistake.

Still, the game looks very promising, and we're going to continue following the details as the emerge. Warhammer Invasion is slated for a release later this year.

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July 13, 2009

Dominion: Intrigue Expansion Hits Shelves

DominionIntrigue.jpgThe first follow-up expansion to 2008's game of the year Dominon is now in stores, and it very well might be the best release of the summer.

Dominon: Intrigue [Amazon, Funagain] adds 25 new card types to the already fantastic collection of interesting Dominion cards, which means there are all sorts of new quirky combinations added to a game that already has some amazing replayability.

Intrigue also expands the number of players to 6, which is a welcome bonus. The only drawback of the original Dominion that we've found is the limiting 4-person maximum. Well, no more! And If you combine the original Dominion set, you can even play in a special 8 person format. How about them apples?

Here are Intrigue's official details:

You are a monarch, like your parents before you, a ruler of a small pleasant kingdom of rivers and evergreens. Unlike your parents, however, you have hopes and dreams! You want a bigger and more pleasant kingdom, with more rivers and a wider variety of trees. You want a Dominion! You will bring civilization to these people, uniting them under your banner.

Dominion: Intrigue adds rules for playing with up to 8 players at two tables or for playing a single game with up to 6 players. This game adds 25 new Kingdom cards and a complete set of Treasure and Victory cards. The game can be played alone by players experienced in Dominion or with the basic game of Dominion.

Dominion: Intrigue is now shipping from Amazon and Funagain Games.

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July 9, 2009

Warhammer Invasion Living Card Game Announced!

WarhammerInvasionBox1.jpgFantasy Flight Games has announced a whole new franchise that has us stoked for both its subject matter and for its distribution design. The Warhammer Living Card Game (we'll talk about what that means in a moment) called Warhammer: Invasion will pit the factions of Order and Destruction against each other in the Warhammer Fantasy universe (sorry, no Warhammer 40k love, yet again). Each faction will have multiple races, with which you can mix and match, but 'Good' has to stick with their fellows, and 'Evil' sticks with their own.

The franchise is helmed by the designer of the Call of Cthulu and A Game of Thrones living card games, so there's a bit of pedigree going on here, which is nice.

So what separates a LCG form a Trading Card Game or a Collectible Card Game? Think of the set releases being small, self contained updates that come out a little more frequently, but only retail for about 10 bucks or so. Each of these injections include new updates to the story and factions that keep the game fresh and moving along. The Game of Thrones LCG, for instance, also follows a themed narrative of the G.R.R. Martin A Song of Ice and Fire series of novels, and we assume that the Warhammer LCG will also follow a long, epic plot as well.

Aside from the narrative, the best thing about LCGs is in the pricing and distribution model: you wont't have to drop a ton of money on a set of boosters hoping that you get some sweet epics. Instead you get everything you need in one box, for the price of only 2 boosters. This is fantastic, since it won't bite into our WoW TCG budget, like, at all.

For the preliminary information on Warhammer Invasion, checkout the official announcement story and this fairly in depth game overview. We'll keep you posted on the key details as more are released.

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July 8, 2009

Dominion Wins Game of the Year

Dominion.jpgThe preeminent board game award committee the Spiel des Jahres - or German Game of the Year - has chosen Dominion [Amazon, Funagain] as the best game of the 2008. Having obsessed over it ourselves over the last few months, we concur. Dominion is the freshest set of gaming fun to come in a box since the NES shipped back in 1985.

OK, perhaps that's an overstatement. But man, Dominion has grabbed us by the hair and bonked our heads around the room. It's just flat out surprising many options there are in any given game, how each game seems very different and very interesting from the last (randomly drawn configurations of the games pieces), and the speed at which the game unfolds, all make it one of these best games we've gotten our hands on since we started playing Eurogames and board games oh-so-many years ago. Plus, it's approachable as all heck, and that's nothing to shrug off, either.

The only drawback is that the game was designed for only 4 players. That's just not enough for our standard group. Thankfully, the first Dominion expansion is slated to ship in about a week, and that ratchets up the number of participants to a more comfortable 6 players ( and perhaps even more with alternative rules ).

Dominion has also won a few other awards of note, including like The Dice Tower Game of the Year nomination, and a Mensa Select winner for 2009.

We highly recommend that you check out Dominion if you haven't already. More information can be found in our previous coverage Dominion - A Standalone Collectible Card Game in a Box. Also, here's some flavorable official details pulled from Dominion's game page at Funagain Games:

You are a monarch, like your parents before you, a ruler of a small pleasant kingdom of rivers and evergreens. Unlike your parents, however, you have hopes and dreams! You want a bigger and more pleasant kingdom, with more rivers and a wider variety of trees. You want a Dominion! In all directions lie fiefs, freeholds, and feodums. All are small bits of land, controlled by petty lords and verging on anarchy. You will bring civilization to these people, uniting them under your banner. But wait! It must be something in the air; several other monarchs have had the exact same idea. You must race to get as much of the unclaimed land as possible, fending them off along the way. To do this you will hire minions, construct buildings, spruce up your castle, and fill the coffers of your treasury. Your parents wouldn't be proud, but your grandparents, would be delighted. Dominion is not a CCG, but the play of the game is similar to the construction and play of a CCG deck. The game comes complete with roughly 500 cards. You select 10 of the 20+ Kingdom card types to include in any given play -- leading to immense variety.
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January 1, 2009

Critical Gamers' December 2008 Gaming Roundup

RoundUp.jpgHappy New Year!

Ok, now exhale. It's ok -- the slew of holiday parties is over, so relax and let the drumstick hangover set in. Don't fight it! There you go. Nope, that wasn't a kick and you're not pregnant, that's just grandma's pecan pie repeating on you. Ok, inhale again.. but slowly.

Thankfully there were tons of games that released in December to ease the burden of these next few digestive winter months. Battlestar Galactica hit table tops in Decmeber, just a month before the final season airs, the cult hit Talisman received a substantial facelift, and with the release of Chicago Express we finally saw the emergence of Eurogame that's once again worth your time. Plus, the WWII tactical slugest "Tide of Iron" expanded once again, and that's always a good thing.

Looking forward to January, we'll be keeping our eye out for more details on the upcoming Age of Conan board game, and keep an eye peeled on what's next for World of Warcraft Minis, have a review of that franchise as well, and start looking toward the significant Empire Total War PC release.

Stay frosty till then.

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