March 12, 2007

Critical Gamer's Weekly Digest

A Letter From the EditorAttention K-Mart Shoppers!

We want to keep you up to date on the best gaming news and views from around the world. And to that end, we've been hard at work in the back room creating tools that'll make your reading experience more enjoyable and even easier than ever.

Our solution is the Critical Gamers Newsletter: a weekly email digest of the posts on Critical Gamers signed, sealed, and delivered directly to your email inbox every Monday morning. That way, you can keep up with every bit of gaming news you might have missed during your busy work week.

We promise not to bombard you with email or sell your name to evil marketers. We just want another way to communicate with you - our reader. So checkout the right sidebar and enter your email in the Mailing List section to join our weekly digest, simply click here.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 28, 2007

February '07 Roundup

Roundup2.jpgFebruary is cold, sleepy and if it isn't snowing, or raining, or sleeting, then there's slush melting in the backed-up street gutters. Thank goodness that month is over!

We have to be honest, even given the short month, the number of releases in February didn't blow our minds. The most substantial was the release of the next title in the long line of Catan games: Catan Histories: Struggle for Rome. Romping through the Apennine Peninsula should tide us over until Spring when even more titles start churning off the factory line, including Days of Wonder's stadium building title Colosseum, the space opera Galactic Destiny, and the WWII tactical wargame system Tide of Iron. Plus we'll be soon slaying demons and kicking WWI butt in the upcoming Fantasy Flight translation of Tannhauser, and how could forget the long awaited news on the upcoming World of Warcraft TCG expansion The Dark Portal. It's about time Upper Deck loosens its lips about that title and spills the details; the set is due April/May, so if not March then when?

Even more important is this: When will then be now?

Board Games

Collectable Card Games

Gaming Culture

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 27, 2007

World of Warcraft TCG "Fires of Outland" Announced

FiresOfOutland.gifUpper Deck has released details on the next set release for the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game: "Fires of Outland". And when we say "next", we actually mean the next-next release.

Details are still up in the air about the upcoming release of "The Dark Portal" Expansion, and the upcoming "Molten Core Raid Deck". And now Upper Deck releases teaser news of third upcoming release for the Fall?? That makes us feel a bit hollow on the insides. Upper Deck: Could we lay down some groundwork for the next 2 Spring releases before announcing a third, please?

Anyway, enough squabbling. If these Spring expansions are as good as the game's original Heroes of Azeroth content, then we'll be happy that the publisher has already signed the dotted line to produce more content for the fall.

And here are all of the official details:

"After the opening of the Dark Portal, the battle rages on and Upper Deck Entertainment Introduces….

World of Warcraft "Fires of Outland™" Booster Packs

Rush to war as the conflict is joined in Outland! The armies of Azeroth lay siege to the mysterious world, while the Burning Legion throws its might against the Stair of Destiny.

Prestige and glory await those who are bold enough to join the fray. Let your battle cry be heard as echoes of war engulf the blood-soaked world.

Heed the call!

Fires of Outland™ is the third set in the World of Warcraft® Trading Card Game, which is based upon the award-winning massively multiplayer online role playing game, World of Warcraft®.

Key Features:

  • Uniquely coded rare Loot™ cards feature cosmetic upgrades for your World of Warcraft online character. New Burning Crusade content now available!
  • Collect UDE Points cards with unique codes in every pack of the World of Warcraft® TCG. Enter those codes on your online account and earn special TCG cards, promotional materials, and distinct cosmetic upgrades for your online World of Warcraft® character!
  • Play as your favorite class and race, including the new Draenei and Blood Elf races, and experience all the depth of World of Warcraft® in a TCG!
  • Compete in Darkmoon Faire and other robust World of Warcraft® TCG Organized Play programs and win amazing prizes
  • 15 game cards & 1 UDE Points card per pack
  • 24 packs per display
  • 12 displays per case.
Arrival date: August 2007"

Looks like there aren't any Starter Packs for this expansion, and beyond that - that's all we know. We'll check back in with the WoW TCG when we learn more about the upcoming Into the Dark Portal expansion, and the upcoming Molten Core Raid Deck. Catch ya latah mon.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 16, 2007

World of Warcraft TCG Molten Core Raid Preview Pt 3

World of Warcraft TCG: Molten Core

The WoW TCG Molten Core Raid Deck has been released, and is now available from Shopzilla and Funagain Games.

Over the last two weeks we've gone over some of the lesser bosses and trash mobs who inhabit the fiery underworld of Wold of Warcraft known as The Molten Core. Our goal: to get any non World of Warcraft MMORPG players in the know before they dive into the upcoming Molten Core Raid Deck for the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game that we all know and love.

So far inside the Molten Core we've seen living flames, giant dogs, magma men and maybe a giant flamewalking salamander or two. This week we finish off the list and get to the final Lord of Fire himself: the magma giant Ragnaros, a guy just found out there is no topical cream for what burns, and he's looking to work out his pissiness on something roughly the size of your face. This guy could melt the paint off your house and given your family a permanent orange afro.

So you, there in the back with the fake tan, yeah: you might want to educate yourself on what Rag might toss your way in the Molten Core TCG Raid Deck before you get all cocky, flipping your collar up and trying to generally hip. A glass of seltzer water isn't going to kill this guy, so listen up.

Anyway, where were we? Ah yes. Chapter the first:

We start off the day with another wyrm of doom, and of course being further down the list he's the most dangerous one so far. Shazzrah does two major things to ruin your day. First he loves to do an Arcane Blast in a radius around his.. feet-things, blasting people for about 1/3 of their health. Most raid groups tend to have a tank deal with him up front, and everyone else form a circle around to stay back as far as possible. The trick in his second act: He loves to teleport himself to the feet of anyone in the raid group, thus pouncing on softy cushy types and blasting them to hell.

Raid Deck Notes: Expect Shazzrah's to be avoid any protectors, and on attack he'll blast the entire party with gobs of damage. Your best bet is to have someone exhaust his wormy butt ahead of time.
ArrowContinue reading: "World of Warcraft TCG Molten Core Raid Preview Pt 3"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 9, 2007

World of Warcraft TCG Molten Core Raid Preview Pt 2

World of Warcraft TCG: Molten Core

The WoW TCG Molten Core Raid Deck has been released, and is now available from Shopzilla and Funagain Games.

Last week we presented the trash monsters of the Molten Core in our first installmenet of World of Warcraft TCG Molten Core Raid Deck preview. But don't let the 'trash' term fool you: each of these guys is literally 40 times toughter than any one whelp from Onxyai's Lair, and eventhough most Core Hounds, Molten Giants and Lava Annihlators would chew-up any normal character in seconds, the real challenge of a Molten Core raid run still slithers deeper in the shadows.

We're speaking of the raid bosses of course. These guys form the first true challenge of a 40-man raid in the World of Warcraft MMORPG. They can take-in and dish-out mammoths amounts of damage, and they require discipline and teamwork on a massive scale in order to defeat.

None of these bosses can be taken-on with the straightforward "tank and spank" tactic (that is, warrior protects while everyone else pumps the boss full of lead). Blizzard designed each of these Guys to have special abilities that will throw a monkey wrench in any standard tactic up until now, and we assume the Molten Core Raid deck from Upper Deck will have the same sort of quirks to keep you on your toes.

It's always been Molten Core's place in the World of Warcraft universe to mix things up. So before your teammate turns into a bomb and blows up your entire raid, or before you're feared into a flaming pile of dog poo and say that we didn't warn yah, be sure to read on.

LucifronLucifron: Right away we hope the upcoming Dark Portal expansion set includes resistance cards, specifically shadow resistance. This guy looks like a giant fire salamander but don't be fooled: he's a master of shadow magic. And aside from spiking you through the head with a giant trident, he also has three pretty sick indirect ways of casting crap that can seriously mess with your day.

First up is a shadow shock that pulses every few seconds hitting anyone standing nearby with some pretty painful stuff. In the raid deck this might be a passive ability of Lucifron, inflicting shadow damage on anyone who engages him in hand to hand combat. Next up is a curse ability that he places on nearby players that increases the cost of spells and abilities by 100% Make sure to get this off your healers and mages fast, or your entire party will flounder, gasping for resources. Finally Lucifron has a damaging curse that lasts 30 seconds (a few turns) at which point it slams the target with 2000 hp of shadow damage. In the MMORPG that's about 1/3 a warrior's health and nearly half the health of any other class.

And if that's not bad, then we should mention that Lucifron is flanked by two guards who can mind control any player in the party. Usually these guys are brought-down first, as they can wreek havoc on your group behind the lines, turning warriors and rogues on clothies, or by pulling healers away from their bandaging duties.

Magmadar.jpgMagmadar: The dog-like pet of the boss Ragnaros (who is the final boss of the raid). Magamadar has behavioral issues, probably due to neglect.

Not only does he spit fire from not just one, but two mouths, he also poos fire, too. We're not talking about jets of hot plasma, but boulders of flaming flatulence that stick to surfaces until they burn themselves out. Anyone running into one of these things becomes burnt toast, and fast.

Oh, and every thirty seconds or so Magmadar throws a fit on a massive scale - tearing into the garbage can, chewing on the couch, etc. This tantrum instills terror into the hearts of even the bravest adventurers, sending them running scared in random directions. And probably, you guessed it, into a flaming pile of doggy poo.

We think this could playout like Onyxia's Lava Cracks ability, which assigns a six-sided die's roll of damage to every hero. This one is a bit more humiliating, however.

ArrowContinue reading: "World of Warcraft TCG Molten Core Raid Preview Pt 2"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 2, 2007

World of Warcraft TCG Molten Core Raid Preview Pt 1

World of Warcraft TCG: Molten Core

The WoW TCG Molten Core Raid Deck has been released, and is now available from Shopzilla and Funagain Games.

Upper Deck still has it's lips sealed about regarding the contest of the World of Warcraft TCG Molten Core Raid Deck set to ship sometime this Spring. As we, too, anxiously await along side you for official details of what will surly obsess over within a few months time, we thought it would be a good moment to share some of our expectations of the expansion.

Most of us here are World of Warcraft players, in some capacity or another. Some of us are casual players, others raiders, and even a few of us help organize raiding guilds up through the content in Naxxaramas (which also means we have no life).

Some of us have literally spent days gaming in the Molten Core, and we thought that we'd take this lull before the storm to tell you what to expect from the Molten Core Raid Deck come Spring. In this multipart series we'll run through the ten bosses that players tackle in a standard Molten Core run - and which Upper Deck has also hinted will exist in the the 2 decks that makeup of the Molten Core raid experience for the WoW TCG.

The Molten Core Overview
Anyone who's had high school Earth Science class knows that the most of the Earth is made up of molten rock, churning and bubbling in the depths thousands of miles below our feet. Its pretty scary to think that we're all floating on molten rock. But then imagine a series of angry Gods living down in it, and how PO'ed they must be not to have Central Air, and how scary that must be and you pretty much get the setting of the Molten Core.

Adventurers trek deeper and deeper into the cavernous earth to fight firey beasties with the ultimate goal of meeting the Fire God Ragnaros, servant of The Old Gods of World of Warcraft. But perhaps we're getting ahead of ourselves. First, you have to fight through his minions, each of which is looking to turn you into fiery poo. Starting with:

Ancient Core HoundAncient Core Hound: Before you even think of taking out one of Rag's captains, you have to fight through what we lovingly call "trash mobs". First on the list are these two headed beasties that stand three-men tall. He breaths fire, stuns opponents, and ignites anyone who touches him (like most things in the core). If your group isn't expecting this guy then he can seriously ruin your picnic.
Attacks: Bites, claws, knocks you on your tucus, then breathes fire on your sorry butt for some area of effect eyebrow singeing fun.
Passives: Every time you hit him, it burns. Oh it burns.
Weakness: Scooby Snacks, but since they don't exist: None.
ArrowContinue reading: "World of Warcraft TCG Molten Core Raid Preview Pt 1"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 1, 2007

January '07 Roundup

Roundup2.jpgOver all not a bad month, we'd say. Despite the fact that January traditionally stands in the cold shadow of the huge holiday season - when publishers push titles out of the production pipe just in time for shoppers, and then rest and sip a scotch for a few - this January '07 has had quite the collection of cool news of titles coming our way in the near future.

January has seen the wraps have come off Fantasy Flight Games' Tide of Iron, and publisher Days of Wonder didn't rest after its release of BattleLore and is now gearing up for Colosseum. Also we received word that a new Thurns & Taxis expansion is coming down the pipe for March '07.

And February doesn't looks so bad herself. We're getting two new Catan games: Catan Histories Struggle for Rome is due out any moment now, and the Xbox Live Service is slated to release their "Catan" title on a Wednesday near you. Plus, sometime in the next 28 days expect Upper Deck to pop the lid off the World of Warcraft TCG: Molten Core Raid Deck and WoW TCG Dark Portal Expansion.

Oh yes, very tasty! Very tasty indeed.

But let's not look to far into the future until we realize where we are now. Here's the stories that made January 2007 such a great month:

Board Games

Collectable Card Games

Gaming Culture

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

January 23, 2007

World of Warcraft TCG: "One Card at a Time" Class Roundup

Valamos.jpgThe World of Warcraft TCG has a lot going on between the nine different classes a player can create a deck around. Thankfully Ryan O'Conner, staff writer at the Official World of Warcraft TCG Website, has been hard at work writing his One Card at a Time series which breaks down key elements of each of the various hero types.

Granted that at this point in time we're pretty sure that WoW players are pretty good at controlling their favorite class. But we also assume that serious players like you have stacks of cards in reserve that could be used to build alternative hero decks. This series will get you started with building a deck for a hero that you might no know from head to toe; not only profiling the card stated within the title, but also detailing other class-specific and ally cards that you should use in conjunction with it.


One Card at a Time Class Articles (in reverse chronological order)

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

January 16, 2007

World of Warcraft TCG Deck Tuning: Probability Primer

WoWStarter.7.3.06.jpgBalancing a Deck is hard work, and the choices are rough. Should you put more quests in your deck of 60 cards? Add a few more allies to the mix? Perhaps you feel like your deck is light on the weaponry, but then again will adding more weapons upset the balance of Ability cards?!

We've always wondered what the right mix of our World of Warcraft TCG cards should be, and if you're lazy like we are then you probably don't ever, ever, ever want to sit there and derived the the math behind the probability of drawing any card during a game. That would like, take two bar napkins and probably three scotches, and by then we'd be scribbling down names of our ex girlfriends instead of worrying about World of Warcraft TCG draws.

Thankfully the mathematician Doombringer over at has written an article "Probability and the WoW TCG" for the masses of interested - but not die hard - World of Warcraft TCG players who want to tweak their deck for efficiency. We must warn you though, this article ranks a solid 8 / 10 on the scary math scale, and it gets a bit heavy at the end. Thankfully there's some great stuff to read early-on, before we start calculating the Gaussian surface of Elendril's left eyeball in section 2.11b.

RealGenius.jpgHere's a snippet from "Probability and the WoW TCG":

"Now let’s look at resources, specifically quests. Quests serve two purposes: to avoid using other valuable cards as resources, and to provide some additional firepower such as card draw. How many quests you need in your deck has been a subject of great discussion. Obviously weenie and low-resource cost decks don’t need as much. Control and build decks may need more. You don’t have to play a resource every turn, especially if you’re short on cards in hand. But if you wanted to play a quest every turn through turn 10, how many would you need in your deck?"

Great question, and the article has some great answers. It explains how you can derive the average number of cards you'll draw in a 10 round game (given the cards of cards that you've added to your deck to let you draw more cards than usual) - and given that - your chances of drawing a particlar card in a game, or having a weapon in your hand on turn one, etc.

The article even explains how to use an Excel macro to quickly and easily calculate the probability that you'll draw a particular card on your first turn given the frequency of that card in your deck. Sweet stuff.

If you're scared of math then here's a quick tip to keep in mind while you're reading all of this. Given a 60 card deck, your chances of drawing a specific card is 1/60. The trick is, your chances of drawing a specific card after that is 1/59, because your original draw consumed 1 card from the deck of 60.

That's why these probabilities are so complicated, but getting your noggin around that one simple principal will help you with the entire article. Enjoy!

Similar World of Warcraft Trading Card Game links:

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

December 15, 2006

Last Minute Gaming Gift Ideas at Amazon - It's Zero Hour Ladies and Gentlemen

HolidayBuyersGuide.11.15.06.jpgThese next two days mark the last full-weekend of Holiday Shopping for the 2006 Christmas Season. Of course you could count next weekend - which shares a day with Christmas Eve - but only high-anxiety holiday power shoppers hit the mall with all the crazies on that day.

For you sane folks: here are some last minute sales and gift ideas and that should help you tie up any loose ends. And be sure to check out the comprehensive Critical Gamers Holiday Gift Guide for a more in depth look at our gaming recommendations.

Happy Holidays Everybody!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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