October 27, 2006

World of Warcraft TCG: Launch Links


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

It's official: The World of Warcraft TCG is now in stores, and actually, should be in your living room right now. If you've cracked open your Starter Deck and sifted through a few boosters, and wonder if there are other cards in the Heroes of Azeroth Set that might be useful in flushing-out your deck, then we have a few links that might fit your fancy.

Card Databases
Wev'e found two great sites where you can browse the entire first set of WoW TCG Heroes of Azeroth cards. WowCards.org is our database of choice because it's got a slick site layout, and a nice card zoom-in feature. Meanwhile WowTCGdb is a bit bland on the eyes in comparison - with stronger empathises on a textual layout - but it let's you poke through all of the cards in each of the nine starter decks. Very nice.

Official Feature Articles
This week also marks the first in what we're sure will be a long-line of weekly feature articles from the designers of the game. Wizards of the Coast does a similar thing with its Magic the Gathering design staff, and it's created one heck of an online resource over the years. We hope the World of Warcraft team from Upper Deck keeps up what seems to be a very good first round of info:

  • Ryan O'Connor starts off the new series with "One Card at a Time: Parvink" which investigates the weight of card advantage on WoW TCG gameplay.
  • Then William Brinkman gives us the skinny on some cards you should always keep on your Heroes of Azeroth collection radar. "Lazy Peon's Perspective: Release Celebration Top 10 Commons and Uncommons" pretty much says it all.
  • Finally Jason Grabher-Meyer lays-down the foundation of WoW TCG ideology with "Starting from Scratch: What’s a TCG?", covering the enticing elements of a TCG: Customization, Collecting, and Social Gaming. This might sound trite to some CCG veterans, but we're starting a TCG system from scratch here, and it's great to hear these things from the horse's mouth.

Onyxia.10.27.06.jpgOnyxia's Raid Deck
This last bit of news isn't a link but it's exciting all the same. Upper Deck recently sent-out release emails that detail the upcoming Onyxia's Lair Raid Deck for the TCG. For those of you unfamiliar with the World of Warcraft MMORPG: Onyxia is a very, very mean Black Dragon who acts as one of the first bosses in the gamem and takes takes nearly fourty players to kill. She acts as the gateway to raid organization, cooperation, and is a stepping-stone to even more difficult battles.

Onyxia will also be the first raid boss in the WoW TCG. You and your friends can purchase an Onyxia raid deck, and instead of bashing each other's heads in the standard Player vesus Player gameplay, you can team up and bring down Onyxia together. The reward for your efforts: a special cold foiled loot deck that comes with the Onyxia boss set, which contains some powerful and rare cards. Here are the details:

The Company Line: In the charred, desolate Wyrmbog, deep in Dustwallow Marsh, lies the lair of the black dragon Onyxia. Many bands of heroes have journeyed there, only to fall under the dragon's claw. Now take on the role of Onyxia and face the latest group of heroes brave enough to challenge the Black Dragonflight. Open up a whole new facet to the World of Warcraft® Trading Card Game (TCG).

One player takes on the role of an epic foe that only multiple heroes working together can even hope to challenge. With a successful raid on Onyxia, the heroes can win the chance to crack open the enclosed "Treasure Pack" and reap spoils not found anywhere else.

Each deck includes 110 Onyxia Game Cards plus one 10-card "Treasure Pack" and three oversized Onyxia raid boss cards. This limited edition raid deck requires players to build their raid parties by using cards from the World of Warcraft® TCG: Heroes of AzerothTM.

Available to ship: Nov. 22, 2006!

That's less than a month away. Start practicing those heals!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 20, 2006

World of Warcraft TCG Hands On Product Details


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

The World of Warcraft Trading Card Game is still one week from it's official World Wide Release. Somehow, somewhere, a few lucky people have already received their preorder shipments and they're laying down PvP smack down even as we speak.

Thankfully one of these lucky ducks posted a video of himself sifting through the TCG packaging, opening the starter decks and posting images of some of their booster cards - a lot of these cards haven't yet been detailed by the official website's card previews, nor anywhere else on the net for the matter.

We recommend skipping ahead to 2:40, which is when Mr X pulls apart the WoW TCG Starter Deck packaging. The stuff looks like it's made of high quality materials, and acts as a deck transport box to boot. Very, very nice.

There are also some great image uploads of other 'new' booster cards at zyeye.com.

Finally - we did some sifting of our own and found one of the better preorder deals online. As usual we found that IconUsa.com has the best prices on starter decks, boosters, and Onyxia's Lair raid deck preorders. The box of 24 boosters is nearly 40% off MSRP, which is nothing to sneeze at.

The World of Warcraft Trading Card Game officially launches next Friday.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 13, 2006

World of Warcraft TCG Prelease Deals at wowtcgstore.com


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

Upper Deck's World of Warcraft TCG is only two weeks away from release. Holy smokes, time flies, huh?

If you're scratching your head regarding where to pick up your cards for release, then put down the topical cream because wowtcgstore.com just sent us word of some prerelease specials and a contest that might net you gobs of free cards.

The Company Line: wowtcgstore.com is giving away a whole box of boosters (24 booster packs) for the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game to one lucky customer! To enter this contest, add the coupon code "BOXCONTEST" at checkout to any pre-order, or send an email to [email protected] and include in your message any other coupon code listed on our site. Only one entry per customer, please.

The site also has some other great mass purchase prerelease deals posted on their front page in case your entire group or office is thinking of playing:

  • NINESTART: Buy eight Starter Sets, get a ninth FREE!
  • NINEBOOST: Buy eight 15-Card Booster Packs, get a ninth FREE!
  • NINEBOXES: Buy eight 24-Pack Booster Boxes, get a ninth free! (A $71.99 value!)
  • FIVESTART: Buy four Starter Sets, get a fifth at 50% OFF!
  • FIVEBOOST: Buy four Booster Packs, get a fifth at 50% OFF!
  • FIVEBOXES: Buy four Booster Boxes, get a fifth at 50% OFF! (A $36.00 value!)
  • THREEBOXES: Buy two Booster Boxes, get a third at 25% OFF! (An $18.00 value!)

The cynic in us feels that we should say: we won't get a dime for any subsequent referrals from our site. These are simply good deals that we thought you should know about!

We'll keep an eye out for any more good online deals for the WoW TCG, and we'll let you know as soon as we find them.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 6, 2006

Timespiral's Release and Theme Decks

TimeSpiral.jpgToday marks the world wide release of Magic the Gathering's latest block, Time Spiral. If you're not already sifting through tournament and booster packs, then you might want to give a quick look at the block's four prearranged theme decks.

We're excited to see that the collective organisms known as Slivers (a creature type where each sliver buffs every other sliver in the game) have not only made a strong reemergence in Time Spiral, but they also get their own theme deck! You know what htey say, the only bad Sliver is a dead Sliver (especially when it pours out of the box into your breakfast cereal).

SliverEvolution.jpgSliver Evolution

Slivers share a hive mind. Whatever one thinks, they all think. Whatever one can do, they can all do. Slivers have mutated over the years, and the “Sliver Evolution” deck shows off their new, deadlier skills. But they still think the same thing they always did: “Smash anything that’s not a Sliver.”
As soon as the game begins, start building your Sliver collective. Gemhide Sliver is especially good early since its mana ability helps you play other Slivers. Don’t take any risks in combat with your first few Slivers. If they’re still in play a few turns later when their friends show up, even the most mild-mannered Sliver will turn into a ferocious attacker.

FunWithFungus.jpgFun With Fungus

Fungus doesn’t think or sleep—it just spreads and devours. The “Fun with Fungus” deck lets you take the reins of a post-apocalyptic rampage of Thallids, and these freaky fungus fiends won’t take “Eeeeewww!” for an answer.

In the early going, play as many Thallids as possible so they can start building up spore counters. Waiting three turns for enough spore counters to make a single Saproling might seem slow, but when you have three or four Thallids budding at once, you’ll soon have more creatures than you know what to do with.

ArrowContinue reading: "Timespiral's Release and Theme Decks"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 2, 2006

September '06 Roundup

Roundup2.jpgWe can sum up September with two words: Sucker Punch. In high hopes of something stellar, we trusted some preview news that Lost the Game would be a release that bridges the gap between mainstream media and board gaming goodness. Unfortunately we found the game was lacking in just about every way. Our guess: Lost was rushed into production so that it would ship before the new season starts. That's a shame, too, because the title has potential on all fronts, but also has a general lack of polish to the game's key mechanics and content.

But on a lighter note, September was a nice little ramp-up to two huge Collectable Card Game releases. That's right - October marks the release of both Magic: the Gathering Time Spiral, and the World of Warcraft TCG. And starting late October and early November, we should start to see some fresh releases just in time for the Holidays.

Hold on to your butts!

Board Games & Party Games

Collectable Card Games

Gaming Culture

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

September 29, 2006

Time Spiral's Purple Hourglass and Keywords

TimeSpiralBooster.9.8.06.jpgThe Time Spiral pre-release weekend has come and gone, and Wizards of the Coast no longer has any reason to keep hush-hush over Time Spiral's inner workings.

Curious players can nwo sift through the alphabetical listing of all Time Spiral's 407 cards (yes 407) in the Time Spiral Sortable Spoiler. Those of you who hate spreadsheets can use Gatherer, the online searchable Magic the Gathering card database, to filter through card names, colors, etc.

Note that there are essentially two different sets of cards in the initial release of the Time Spiral Block. The "Time Spiral" set contains 281 new cards that introduce three new keywords (below) and borrow select keywords from past MTG blocks. Then there are the 121 "Time Shifted" cards, which are throwbacks to classic cards of old. The Time Shift cards have a new purple rarity symbol, evens the playing field across all these cards despite their past rarity levels. The purple cards will appear one per pack. Confused? Lead Designer Mark Rosewater explains the nitty gritty in his article for the week "Purple Reign".

So what are the new Time Spiral rule mechanics? Well, the major thing that we're excited about is seeing all of the old mechanics compliment each other in new ways. On top of that there's three new temporal rules that we all get to poke with a stick:

Suspend "Suspend N--[cost]" means "If you could play this card from your hand, you may pay [cost] and remove it from the game with N time counters on it. At the beginning of your upkeep, if this card is suspended, remove a time counter from it. When the last time counter is removed from this card, if it's removed from the game, play it without paying its mana cost. ...If it's a a creature, it gains haste until you lose control of it."

You may play this card any time you could play an instant.

Split Second
As long as this spell is on the stack, players can't play other spells or abilities that aren't mana abilities.

You can find more official definitions of these rules in the Time Spiral Rules Primer.

Time Spiral goes on sale worldwide next Friday, October 6th.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

September 22, 2006

World of Warcraft TCG: Molten Core Raid Deck and Dark Portal Expansion


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

Upper Deck Entertainment started pinging retailers yesterday with product information about two World of Warcraft Trading Card Game releases. The World of Warcraft TCG is still not yet in stores, but set to ship in October of this year.

The first new release coming down the pipe is The Dark Portal Booster expansion, which is set to ship in March 2007.

The Company Line: A storm rages in the Blasted Lands as evil stirs within the Dark Portal. Bloodshed in Azeroth intensifies as the Blood Elves and Draenei join the fray. Already, the great conflict spills over into the other world . . . the Burning Legion looks on and plots its next move. Grab your weapons and make ready, the darkness is upon us!

Heroes will be made. Legends will be written.

Heed the Call! The Dark Portal Expansion includes everything one player will need to join the struggle.

The release of The Dark Portal falls somewhat in line (at least thematically) with the late November release of Burning Crusade expansion, which extends the World of Warcraft Massively Online RPG. In the Burning Crusade players will enter the Dark Portal to travel to new world zones (regions) of high-end content. Their characters will grow more powerful, gain new armor, weapons, spells and equipment as they play through the new content and level up their characters. A Dark Portal TCG tie-in seems like an obvious extension of the WoW TCG, and is well-timed for a few months after both the initial World of Warcraft TCG release the Burning Crusade expansion to the MMORPG.

Shortly after release of the the Dark Portal expansion, Upper Deck will release the second in the series of Raid Decks: The Molten Core Raid Deck.

ArrowContinue reading: "World of Warcraft TCG: Molten Core Raid Deck and Dark Portal Expansion"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

UFS: TCG Climbs the Charts

Mitsurugi.9.22.06.jpgWord hit the press this week that Sabertooth Games has recently positioned itself as the Number Three competitor (in sales) in the Collectable Card Game war. That's pretty darn noteworthy in such a large market if you ask us.

The main Sabertooh gaming product is the Universal Fighting System which acts as a CCG card framework for any sort of themed fighting game. Currently Sabertooh has latched on to some of the more popular arcade fighting game franchise and has succesfully brought two in to the world of Collectable Card Games.

Thire current lineup includes the fighters and fighting styles of the arcade classic Street Fighter II, and Soul Calibur III. It's funny to think that during last game-night we actually debated which of these were the superior arcade rumbler. In the end we decided "to each their own" as each has a unique feeling and playstyle, and we're sure that Sabertooth is glad to have both popular sides of the arcade fighting genre under their belt.

Sabertooh Games intends to extend their franchise this Winter with the introduction of two more franchises: "Samuari Shodown V", and "The King of Fighters 2006". They also hint to more Fighter franchises in the future. We're crossing our fingers for a reincarnation of a Mortal Kombat CCG, but uh.. considering the market strength of that franchise, we won't hold our breath that Midway will outsource it any time soon.

The official press release from a proud Sabertooh's (regarding their market share) can be found here Other related links:

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

September 15, 2006

World of Warcraft TCG - FAQ, Hero Builder and Interview


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

The release of WoW is shaping up to be one of the biggest things in TCGs this fall, and we thought we'd end the week with some World of Warcraft TCG links that surfaced over the last few days. First up is an unofficial WoW TCG FAQ that an industrious dwarf named 'ripark' put together and then posted in the game's official forums. The FAQ borrows info from company literature, game manuals, and incorporates posts from WoW TCG Designers to create what seems like the most comprehensive guide about the game to date (other than the rules, of course). Here's a bit that we found settles a few questions that we had about the girth of the first release and future expansions for the game:

How many sets a year are going to be released? I can't keep up with 50 sets a year! Good news then, UDE has said that they will be sticking to a 2-3 set release schedule.

How many classes are going to be represented in the initial set?
All of them. There will be one Hero card for each class/faction combo. So, eight classes on Horde side and eight classes on Alliance side in the Hero card variety.

How many cards will be in the first set?

How about rarities?
Currently we are looking at 5 different rarities, each color coded based on how items are color coded in the WoW MMO. Common is white, uncommon is green, rare is blue, epic is purple and legendary is orange. There will be a little over 20 epic cards in the first set and will include the Thrall card and about 100 rares. The epics are printed at twice the rarity of a rare so you can expect around 3 epics per booster

Next up is a Hero builder. Those of you with your ear to the ground will recall that the focus of a WoW deck is the a hero. Each hero sports specific traits like race, faction allegience, class, class specializations and trade skills. Now, unlike most cards in the game, the hero cards don't seem to have rarities yet (so we don't think creating your own is that big of a problem). Also each booster will come with at least one hero, so they'll be gobs of heroes spilling out into your collection when the game ships. But due to randomness you might not get the hero card you're looking for. So why not create your own?

Enter The World of Warcraft TCG Database Hero Creator, which lets you customize your own hero card's name, art, specializations, ability text, the works. Don't want to play with Ta'zo the Troll Mage, but instead you want to throw down your Undead Warlock from the online game? No problem!!

Well, actually... slight problem. Not all of the race/class combinations have art assets yet, probably due to the lack of variety in the game's initial run of heroes. Still this tool is a pretty freakin cool way to bring your World of Warcraft MMORPG hero into the World of Warcraft TCG.

If you're still reading this that means you're truly interested in the WoW TCG, and we saved this last bit for you true believers. Fist Full of Comics, a comic book blog with a touch of gaming news, has a podcast interview with a few World of Warcraft TCG desginers. Now, these guys only have two TCG/CCG stories on their website, and they refer to World of Warcraft as "Worlds of Warcraft" in multiple locations, so don't expect this to be a punchy Tim Russert Interview full of hard hitting questions. The interview starts off relatively standard (and if you've seen the WoW TCG session video then some of it may seem repetitive), but there's still plenty of cool info to glean once the designers get going about half of the way through.

Enjoy the weekend!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

September 8, 2006

Magic The Gathering: Time Spiral

TimeSpiralBooster.9.8.06.jpgThe four day week means it's TCG It's Friday again, and guess what! Wizards of the Coast has opened the lid on the latest Magic the Gathering block: Time Spiral.

For those new to Magic - WotC has a tradition of introducing new card blocks in the fall months. The first release sets the theme and contains about 200-300 cards. A smaller expansion then plays off the same theme in the Winter with about 100-200 cards. A final expansion caps it all of in the Spring, just as the crappy weather subsides and the outdoors become welcoming again. Yes, even the Wizards marketing team, of all people, hint that Magic Players should get some sun and fresh air in the summer weather.

Last year Wizards of the Coast shook up the design team a bit, and scored a hit with the block design of Ravnica: City of Guilds. Head Designer Mark Rosewater is also leading the way through the Time Spiral block, but this time he's not constructing an entirely new world from the ground up. Instead, he's revisiting the original Magic The Gathering world of Dominaria. We won't completely dork out on Magic The Gathering source materials, lore, etc, but for those of you who want to catchup on the story so far checkout the article "Time (Spiral) Is On My Side". It will fill you in on just about everything.

So what's new in Dominaria? Well, due to a few explosions at the tin foil mill, and an instant coffeee accident at a microwave factory, a fissure has emerged in the fabric of space time. The past has caught up with the present, the present has folded over the past, and it's raining bionic toads from the future. Total bummer, we know -- those things dent cars. So is there anything good to fall out of this Magic chronological stew?

ArrowContinue reading: "Magic The Gathering: Time Spiral"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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