December 14, 2006

World of Warcraft TCG: Onyxia Week

Onyxia Smash!Caves are supposed to be dank, algae blanketed, stalactite-ridden, cavernous holes of the subterranean question mark - especially when they sit in a dead-end swamp. But with so many people running in n' out of Onyxia's Lair [Amazon,Toywiz] lately, the highly anticipated encounter seems a bit less foreboding. Instead we're in crunch mode.

As gamers we're elbow deep in determining the best way to tackle the Onyxia raid encounter from both sides of the fence. Entering the encounter as a group of WoW TCG players we're working hard to find the best combination of classes and abilities to meet Onyxia head-on. And while playing as Ony we're refining our play so that we realize the full potential of her abilities - so that she incinerates the players into neat lumps of ash as fast as she possibly can.

And what better resource on the matter is there but the words of the designers themselves?

That's right - there isn't. That's why Upper Deck has made this second week in December the official "Onyxia's Lair Week" on the World of Warcraft TCG website. And here are some of the good articles published this week that any WoW TCG aficionado should check out:

  • "Playing As Onyxia" starts things off with some hints on and tips how and when to play Onyxia's ability cards, and most importantly which of your opponents Ony should munch-on first. Sometimes it's not so obvious.
  • "Customizing Onyxia" is great for those groups who've already defeated Onyxia once, and are looking for a more challenging encounter the second time around. Remember: You can mix any number of cards from your first Onyxia Raid Deck into your second deck. Four Engulfing Flames should help to humble the inflated egos of your group.
  • "Treasure Pack Cards" goes through some of the fat loot you should expect to loot after downing Onyxia, and even better - how it should be used to bring her down even faster the next time around.
  • And going against the status quo is "Beating Onyxia" which offers help to those players who find the original deck too challenging (and for more hints check our Onyxia Raid Deck Review.
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December 8, 2006

World of Warcraft TCG Onyxia Raid Deck Review

Onyxia's Lair Raid DeckThe Onyxia's Lair Raid Deck [Amazon,ToyWiz] for the World of Warcraft Trading Card Came has shipped to stores, and most retailers have finally received enough copes to meet the preorder demand. We picked up our copy a few days ago, and we were like kids on Christmas morning. Immediately we tore into to our copy and ran the game through its paces.

The cards themselves are gorgeous - with some of the best artwork in the game to date. The deck comes in carrying-case that matches the same design as the World of Warcraft TCG Starter Decks [Amazon,ToyWiz]. The black dragon Onyxia is represented by an over sized Hero card, just as those that shipped with the starter decks, and her deck of cards is the same size as the normal WoW playing cards. But they sport a gold framing around them because they're special.

Now - if we were to sum up our experience in two concise words which lack any sort of elaborate details, then we'd have to say: "too easy".

Fortunately we're not dismissive jerks. We feel the game merits a far more detailed and constructive criticism than that, and we're more than willing to break-down our experience a bit more. Perhaps whatever you read here can make the Onyxia's experience a bit more challenging for yourselves than it was for us, and hopefully a bit more fun.

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December 1, 2006

November '06 Roundup

Roundup2.jpgIt's official - November is kaput, and now the chaotic Holiday Rush is in full swing. To ease you through the shopping mayhem we've posted our Holiday Gift Guide this month. We've also covered a lot of the holiday releases that deserve your utmost attention. For instance - all of Carcassonne and its expansions have been packaged into one nice giant box, the World of Warcraft board game has been expanded, and Axis and Allies received a nice new installment. Unfortunately the new Days of Wonder flagship title "BattleLore" hasn't arrived yet, but it's only days away from hitting retailers so the heart stopping prerelease anxiety is almost over.

In the meantime we've taken a short break to revisit some the best games of the year. We've been heads-down in the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game (and can't wait for the Onyxia's Lair Deck to finally arrive), and we've come up for a few gasps of air here and there by playing Ticket to Ride Marklin. We've also had a couple of great sessions with the recently released Blue Moon City - which has got to be one of the best four player games to come-out in the second half of 2006.

Here's our complete list of all the interesting news bits that occurred in the gaming holiday release rush of November. Enjoy!

Board Games

Collectable Card Games

Gaming Culture

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November 27, 2006

Board Game Holiday Shopping Steals at Settlers of Catan, Axis and Allies, Carcassonne, and More!

HolidayBuyersGuide.11.15.06.jpgIf you've spent the holiday weekend feasting on left-over sandwiches of Turkey and stuffing, and dozing on the couch in front of an endless parade of football, then you might have fallen a bit behind in your holiday shopping duties. Face it - the day after Thanksgiving is a day that plays host to some obscene shopping sales, but nobody in their right mind wants to plow through droves of anxious consumers at their local commercial mega-malls.

Instead, play it smart - sit back and relax - and check out these sweet deals at Amazon:

  • The Settlers of Catan [Amazon] : This is the game that started the modern board game craze in America, and it's currently highly-discounted at Amazon. If your loved-one is unlucky enough to have never played 'Settlers', then this is where you become their hero. Buy them a copy of this new modern classic with Monopoly-undertones at 34% off for only $26 bucks, and consider yourself done.

  • Carcassonne [Amazon] [Our Review]:
    Perhaps our favorite family-friendly eurogame, Carcassonne will remain atop our gaming stack probably for the next few years at least, and is definitely a steal at $17 bucks. In fact, this is the lowest we could find it in stock anywhere.

  • Axis and Allies Revised Edition [Amazon] : The revised edition of the WWII classic that anchored our gaming library for most of the early-to-mid 90s, this game will always remain great and for $33 it's indeed a steal.
    As we grew up and we realized that Risk was a bit too flat, Axis and Allies was there with deep gameplay including: economics, production, multiple unit types, naval actions, amphibious warfare, the works. Complicated enough to be interesting, yet easy-enough to be a key stepping stone from Risk on up, Axis and Allies is a great game to give to any young strategy gaming enthusiast.

  • Stratego [Amazon] : Another must-have in a traditional gaming collection, this version of Stratego packs away into a book-shaped case that fits upright on a bookshelf. Classy!

  • Ticket to Ride Marklin [Amazon] [Our Review] : Another perfect family game for under the tree, Ticket to Ride Marklin is $12 bucks off the standard price - which puts it at a measly $34. A great game for a great price - we're still playing this one seven months after release, and we continue to find new strategies here and there. One of our favorites of 2006 for sure.

Also be sure to checkout our Holiday Shopping Guide for other holiday gift ideas.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

November 17, 2006

Our Favorite World of Warcraft Combos - Rogue Burst Damage

Your shoe's untiedThis week for TCG It's Friday we thought it's high-time we share some of the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game card combos that we've come across. Like we said in our WoW TCG review we have a quite a few players involved in the online version of World of Warcraft, and if we've learned one thing dueling other players it's this: Never, ever, ever think a Rogue is a push over just because they're wearing soft and squishy leather armor, and never ever over-commit when fighting one mano-e-mano.

Rogues are all about pouncing on you when your pants are down, and then following through with a massive burst of damage. It's the old "You're shoes untied" hoodwink-move followed by a well-placed dagger where the sun don't shine. It's enough to ruin anyone's day and we think we've found the TCG equivalent. And best yet - all of the cards are either common or uncommon which means it's something anyone can get their hands on.

From our resident Rogue expert Chris:

Here's an Ally Combo for the Horde Rogue to toss around:

1: The Base Line
Populate your deck with as many Voss Treebender and Bala Silentblade cards as you can. The 2/1 (2-Attack/1-Health) Voss has the ability "When Voss Treebender attacks, you may exhaust target hero or ally." and Bala (who is a 1/4 default) gets a +3 Attack Bonus under the condition "Bala Silentblade has +3 ATK while attacking an exhausted hero or ally." This is a great way to put a a quick 4-point One-Two combination punch against a hero or ally.

Note two things : This is a great common-combo for any class, but you might also want to have a Protector Ally in play to ensure Voss doesn't kick-it before you can put him to good use.

2: Send in the Rogue
Here is where it becomes evil. In conjunction with the Voss / Bala combo there's a low cost big damage opportunity that opens up for the Rogue. In the case that you are going after the opposing Hero, have Voss hit the Hero to both to exhaust him and to cause 2 points of damage. Next have Bala hit the exhausted hero which causes 4 more points of damage due her +3 to Attack an exhausted target. Were' up to 6 damage now in a single turn.
Now comes your Rogue Hero who's wielding a a Barman Shanker (2 Damage at a cost of 2 resources to Swing, +2 against exhausted targets). That's four more damage, so we're now up to 10 damage.

3. Poison Makes it Sting
Now that you've hit a hero for Combat damage spend 1 to play Deadly Poison (cost of 1) which reads "Attach to target hero or ally that was dealt combat damage by your hero this turn. Ongoing: At the start of your turn, your hero deals 2 nature damage to attached character." It's the gift that keeps on giving.

4. And Stay Down
By now your opponent is a little hot under the collar, but you're about make matters worse with: Crippling Poison (cost of 1) which reads "Attach to target hero or ally that was dealt combat damage by your hero this turn. Ongoing: At the start of each turn, exhaust attached character unless its controller pays 3." Looking a little woozy there.

5. Not the Face!
If your opponent does chooses to get back up, then finish things off by hitting the Hero with: Gouge (cost of 1) which reads "Exhaust target hero or ally. It can't ready during its controller's next ready step." If he doesn't get back up, then gouge any protector ally standing in your way. Either way, ending with a Gouge sets-up the opposing hero for at least another hit from Bala for 4, and another hit for 4 from your Barman Shanker.

Total Damage:

  • Voss: 2
  • Bala: 4
  • Barman Shanker: 4
That's 10 points of damage this round, for the cost of only 2 Resources.


  • Deadly Poison: 2 more damage next round
  • Crippling Poison: Make them spend 3 just to Use the Hero
  • Gouge: They stay exhausted for the Rogue next round!

Not bad for spending 5 Resources!

I have 4 x of the Deadly Poison, Gouge, and the Barman Shanker in my present Rogue deck, and 2 x Crippling - so this isn't a difficult combo for me to pull off. And if I ever draw an extra Shanker when I already have one in play, then that it becomes an instant resource!

Yes, yes very nice, but now we wish Chris would freakin retire that burst damage Rogue deck until we storm Onxyia's Lair. We're seriously tired of thinking we're ahead in a game against him, and then losing in just a few turns.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

November 10, 2006

Battlestar Galactica CCG "Betrayal" Expansion Released

BattlestarGalactica.3.21.06a.jpgThe Battlestar Galactica Collectible Card Game has recieved its first expansion this week. "Betrayal" extends the BSG CCG plot line through the show's first season, starting with the initial cylon attack on Caprica on through to Starbucks' covert commando operations to acquire the Arrow of Apollo. We realize that sounds wicked dorky, but hey - BSG is one of the best shows on TV, so you probably already know what we're talking about.

Unfortunately the WizKids website seems to be a bit clunky these days, and the index to Betrayal's preview articles isn't anywhere to be found. But we can at least forward you to the latest two previews: "The Good Guys" takes a look at three personal cards in the new set, and "Strafe" breaks down three pieces of the fleet's military equipment. Here's the official word:

The Company Line: "Betrayal, the first expansion for the Battlestar Galactica collectable card game (CCG), is now available in hobby and game stores worldwide. Betrayal adds 165 new cards to the BSG CCG universe, and expands on the exciting intrigue and action introduced in the first Battlestar Galactica CCG set.

Each Betrayal Booster Pack contains 15 cards (11 common cards, three uncommon cards, and one rare card). The Betrayal expansion also features 500 hand-autographed, rare Crewman Cally cards, signed by actress Nicki Clyne. The promotion features mail-in cards randomly found inside Boosters that players and collectors can send in to receive the signed cards."

Boosters for the Battlestar Galactica CCG expansion "Betrayal" are on sale now at IconUSA for the cheap.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

November 3, 2006

World of Warcraft TCG Review

Wow.TCG.11.03.06.Title.gifWe had our first WoW Trading Card Game rumble last night. Five of us grabbed a Starter Deck [Amazon] and 3 extra Booster Packs [Amazon] each. Five hours later, in the dark hours of the morning, we reluctantly decided to call it a night. At 1:15 am - on a weeknight - we went our separate ways to sleep off the giddiness, but as early as 1:50 am some of us were already emailing each other with exciting WoW possibilities. No Joke.

Was all the hype for the World of Warcraft TCG worth the wait? You bet your sweat bippy it was.

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November 2, 2006

WoW TCG Shortage


Want to get started playing the WoW TCG? Then pick up a Starter Deck and a few booster packs. Also check-out Our Review.

You may have noticed that we've been a bit obsessed lately with the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game. Seems like we're not the only ones - just a week after the game's release the prices for boosters and starter decks has skyrocketed to double the MSRP. And that's if you can find a store to sell them to you. Vicious rumors have been circulating that Upper Deck is purposely starving the market as a publicity stunt, and that a new supply of cards wouldn't hit the market until JANUARY.

But we found some official words from Jeff Donais, the Director of Upper Deck's Game Development Group, that should lay those rumors to rest.

First off, a bit on the current starvation issue in retail stores:

" I did a little research today.

A few gaming stores ordered 600 boxes and many gaming stores ordered 1 box. Plus, everything in between.

Very interesting spread of order quantities, which makes it very hard for distributors to know how much to order.

Having said that, waves are going out each week for the next 3 weeks and a large wave is hitting a couple of weeks after that, which should accomodate almost everyone. " - From a post in the Official WoW TCG Forums

Also, Donais specifically addresses the current card shortages and skyrocketing prices at retailers:

" "We are releasing more product, which should lower prices a little.

Basically, our goal is to print exactly how much is needed, not less, not more.

This will keep card values high in the long run, but also accessible in the short run.

We are opening up our reserves next week, followed by some additional print runs in the coming weeks and months until everyone is satisfied.

Then, set #2 releases.

Interesting note - We doubled our original print run numbers, and then doubled them again after that and again doubled them after Gen Con Indy demos were so successful. So yes, we have a hit on our hands, hopefully people like the product and will stick with it for a long time. We certainly intend to support it for a long time. " - From a post in the Official WoW TCG Forums

It looks like those players wanting to break into the WoW TCG will get a chance to very soon, and you won't have to sell off your first born to do it. Double bonus.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

November 1, 2006

October '06 Roundup

Roundup2.jpgThis is it - we're heading into the Holiday season. Halloween was just a gateway event - a relatively sideshow compared to the upcoming Holiday season. We're about to head into bigger and better things as the Fall season releases continue.

Days of Wonder is boxing up the very large, and very delicious looking Battlelore. Rio Grande Games is prepping Yspahan, and is stuffing all of Carcassonne and its five expansions into one Big Box. Mayfair Games is churning-out copies of there upcoming titles Anasazi and Justinian, and Fantasy Flight Games is putting the finishing touches on Marvel Heroes and expansions for Wings of War, Twilight Imperium, and World of Warcraft.

Speaking of WoW, the TCG is selling like hotcakes. The game's retailers are having a hard time keeping the product on the shelves, and prices are skyrocketing with news that the Upper Deck factory warehouse has been stripped completely bare. We knew that the WoW TCG was going to be huge (and if our excitement over the title hasn't been obvious, then you're in optical prescription is past-due), but we didn't quite realize that the game would sell out in a matter of days. Hopefully this isn't a press stunt that was designed to garner publicity. At any rate, let's not make rain when there's the potential for some pretty intense sunshine. We'll have word on our WoW TCG experiences shortly.

Until then let's take a stroll down October lane to remember those calmer days of fall:

Board Games

Collectable Card Games

Gaming Culture

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 31, 2006

World of Warcraft TCG: Exactly What You'll Need to Get Started Playing


Want to get started playing the WoW TCG? Then pick up a Starter Deck and a few booster packs. Also check-out Our Review.

If you've heard good things about the WoW TCG and you're looking to break into the game but don't yet know how, then look no further. We've had numerous questions from our readers regarding 'how do I get my foot in the door?' in what is chalking-up to be one of the biggest gaming releases of the year. After you read over these three things you should be good to go!

1: First things first, get your hands on a World of Warcraft TCG Starter Deck [Amazon]. Each deck contains everything you'll need to start playing the WoW TCG out of the box, including: a Hero card that cements the foundation and focus of your deck; a basic deck of 33 cards that includes select equipment, abilities, and quests designed specifically for your Hero; two booster packs containing 15 random cards each (more info below); and an instruction booklet with rules to get you into the game quickly. There are nine varieties of Starer Decks at launch, covering the spectrum of classes from the World of Warcraft Massively-Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game.

2: You should also pick up two extra Heroes of Azeroth Booster Packs [Amazon]. Why? Well although the Starter Deck has everything you need, the individual cards that makeup the prepackaged decks aren't of the highest caliber. The Starter Decks are simply that: a start. However, every WoW TCG Booster contains a fair number of powerful cards which could replace some of the lackluster cards in the starter pack. Each booster also contains a wide variety of other common cards that could change the way you focus your deck, and it includes a new hero card which might inspire you to completely branch out and try something new with your collection.

Customization is an important aspect of the game - there are a lot of different ways to play the WoW TCG: at least nine classes to build decks for, and then you can toy-around with the internal designs and focuses for each of the classes, too!

3: Counters. You'll need something to represent the damage accrued to your hero and his henchmen. Sure - you could use stacks of pennies, but one of the game's heroes can accumulate 30+ points of damage before going down. That's a lot of pennies. Our favorite solution: grab a number of six-sided dice. If those Rush t-shirts in the back of your closet veil an dusty copy of Axis and Allies, then you're golden.


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