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.

Board Games

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Cheap Deals & Sales

Collectable Card Games

Gaming Culture

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World of Warcraft TCG

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

December 30, 2008

Whats Slated for the World or Warcraft TCG in 2009?

WoWTCGDrumsOfWar.jpgIt's hard to believe that we're entering the third year of World of Warcraft Trading Card Game is entering it's third year. Yep, our favorite modern TCG came out in '06 - if you can believe it - and with Drums of War we're already entered the third block of cards heading into the Winter.

The big question is what next? What have the Upper Deck designers concocted in that backroom laboratory of theirs to keep us focused on the TCG, especially when the new WoW Minis are the latest hot franchise that may distract us (WoW Mini's Review coming early in the new year).

Well the official Upper Deck feature article "World of Warcraft TCG 2008 Year in Review" has some answers. While it catalogs the year past, the latter half also lays down some expectations for the first half of 2009, and all the releases slated for this new set.

Some quick backstory: The main theme of the World of Warcraft massively online roleplaying game was centered around groups of players attacking AI controlled monsters through teamwork Later Player versus Player combat was added along with its perks: battlegrounds, honor rewards, and armor and weapon sets gained in the gladiator centric Arena battles.

The recently released WoW TCG Set: The Drums of War expansion began a new cycle, and it's centered on the Player versus Player material of the MMORPG. Continuing that line will be the Blood of Gladiators expansion slated for a March '09 release. It introduces elements from the World of Warcraft close-up and personal 2v2, 3v3 and 5v5 Arena combat. Then in June or July, Fields of Honor will include aspects of the MMORPG Honor System and larger scale PvP battlegrounds. The expansion will also include a new mini-game type modeled after one of the battegrounds: Warsong Gulch.

DeathKnight.jpgThe Wrath of the Lich King expansion that added gobs of new content to the MMORPG in November has introduced the Death Knight class to the game, and 2009 will see its introduction to the WoW TCG as well. The Death Knight Deluxe Starter is scheduled to ship in June '09, and comes with a kick-start to its set of cards to ensure your Death Knight is viable against your current hero collections. It also includes two Death Knights, one for Alliance and one for Horde, so it's a complete Death Knight kit in one. Should be an interesting New Toy to play around with, but of course we're concerned with the balance. Adding a whole new approach to battle with a new class is always a risk proposition.

Finally, a bit of interesting news that should shake things up: A new World of Warcraft TCG Game format will hit tables in May. Here are the details::

May 2009--Arena Grand Melee: A fun new way to use your World of Warcraft TCG cards! Mix in a little MMO humor, some crazy new mechanics, and a few friends--good times are sure to ensue. Tournament players will also get new content in the form of "preparation" cards for each class that can be played for free and two new heroes with a twist. Also included are two new mini pet cards.

Details are light for sure, but coupled with the Warsong Gulch mini game, this maybe just what the franchise needs in order to keep parity with the dynamics of the WoW Minis game, which has some pretty freeform rules that allow for all sorts of easily-created game types from the community base.

In all, the franchise seems strong. We weren't quite a fan of the Traitor Mechanics from the 'Burning Crusade block', but he last few expansions have remained strong, and we really liked the Drums of War release. Considering the pedigree, some team based mechanics and a continuation of top notch gameplay, art, and materials should knock us off our feet this year. iIt better, considering the number of games competing for our dollar these days.

Here's to next year!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

December 10, 2008

World of Warcraft Minis Deluxe Edition Hits Shelves


It's been a month since the release of WoW Minis. As a group this was our first dive into the world of miniature games, and we're absolutely loving this initial release. It's fast, it's fun, each of the nearly 70 characters is very different from the rest - which is saying something - and best of all its expandable enough to add our own inventive custom game modes.

This week Upper Deck has rintroduced the game with new World of Warcraft Miniatures Deluxe Starter Set [Amazon, Funagain] which has good stuff for both the WoW Mini newcomer and veteran alike.

It sports everything you & a friend need to get playing, including six characters (3 from two factions), with two guaranteed rares or epics for both faction. The set also ships with one of three new maps on board stock: Ashenvale, Tanaris, or Winterspring, which is a definite upgrade from the flimsy board of the standard starter set. So much so that we feel slightly ... slighted. This is also the best way to get your hands on the new Monster Faction UBases.

Alternatively if you're short on cash and only looking for new maps, then you can also print the Ashenvale Map yourself, as Upper Deck's publicity department was nice enough to post its map kit on their website. You sacrifice the level of quality of the Deluxe Starer's new board stock, but hey - free is free.

All in all this seems that this new starter set should be the best way to introduce yourself to the game if you haven't already. Fans like us will find enough good things in it to add to both their miniature collection, and the enough UBases and maps to make the Deluxe Set more than worth the while.

The official product information can be found on the Upper Deck Website, here.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

December 1, 2008

Cyber Monday Board Game Sales on Amazon

CyberMondayJackson.jpgThe everything superstore Amazon has been growing in the world of board gaming the last few years. Not only have they been stocking titles of their own, but the third party suppliers have shown up in force this year.

And for Cyber Monday they have a special deal: Each of the Discounted Virtual Storefronts in Amazon's Toys & Games section has Free Shipping on orders of $50 or more.

We dug into the storefronts to find which have the best board gaming titles up for grabs:

There is some fine print: You'll have to check for items in the stores that state the $50 free shipping offer (check for the "Special Offers Available" link near the product image). Also, the deal doesn't count across stores, so you'll need to have at least 50 bucks in one store for that store to ship to you for free. Seems reasonable. Finally, the order has to ship all to the same address.. and that, too, seems like a no brainer.

That's basically it. You can checkout the full terms of the holiday shopping deal at the Main Holiday Shopping Toystore Index

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

November 27, 2008

Critical Gamers 2008 Holiday Gift Guide - Board Games, Strategy Games, and Card Games Galore

We know how important it is to find the right game for the right person - it's hard work. And so once again we've lovingly crafted individual guides chalk full of selections tailored for various specific of gaming styles and genres.

Rest assured that you'll find the right game for the right person for some unwrapping goodness come December. Your anchor is this page. Everything you'll need to shop for a gamer spirals out from here, linking to all of our selections for best-bet titles to gift wrap this holiday season.

And here they are:

Critical Gamers 2008 Holiday Shopping Guides:

If you haven't found exactly what you're looking for then please also check out our 2006 Holiday Gift Guide and our 2007 Holiday Gift Guide. They're both also chalk-full of great game ideas with staying power - we still play many of these games even years later!

Happy Holidays folks!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

November 11, 2008

WoW Minis Launch Hub - Everything You Need to Know


It's here! The biggest release of the year is here!

World of Warcraft Minis follows hot on the heels of the successful Upper Deck smash-hit World of Warcraft the Trading Card Game, which has impressed us immensely from both a gamer's perspective and from a World of Warcraft fan's perspective.

Now it's time for Upper Deck to bring us into the world of World of Warcraft once again, and this time it's in 3D. WoW Minis sports spacial tactics, rarity scales, collecting, and even 100% cooperative raid content.

Just about every aspect of the game is top notch. We had a chance to put our hands on the game at this years Penny Arcade Expo, and we walked away very, very impressed and more excited than we had ever expected to be.

Today we'll cover all the info you need about WoW Minis to get started, including the various kits, rules, and a listing of all the official feature previews that have been published so far - all in a nice completely page of WoW Mini goodness. Enjoy!

ArrowContinue reading: "WoW Minis Launch Hub - Everything You Need to Know"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

WizKids Ceases Operations

HaloActionClix.jpgIn a sad bit of news in a downtrodden economy the The Topps Company announced that its gaming division WizKids will no longer be alive to compete with Upper Deck's gaming division. Unless an angelic company swoops down to pickup the orphaned properties, then the Starwars PocketModel TCG, HeroClix, ActionClix (including the Halo series) and Battlestar Galactica TCG series will probably soon go the way of the dodo.

While we commonly regarded WizKids as producing B-Side games when it came to ongoing support, quality and subject matter, they still were an important player in the gamespace. They will be surely missed.

Here's the official WizKids press release pulled from their website:


"The Topps Company announced today that WizKids will immediately cease operations and discontinue its product lines.

Scott Silverstein, CEO of Topps, said "This was an extremely difficult decision. While the company will still actively pursue gaming initiatives, we feel it is necessary to align our efforts more closely with Topps current sports and entertainment offerings which are being developed within our New York office."

Upon notifying our partners, Topps will immediately pursue strategic alternatives so that viable brands and properties, including HeroClix, can continue without noticeable disruption. To that end, WizKids will continue supporting Buy it By the Brick redemptions for Arkham Asylum, and the December Organized Play events for HeroClix.

For consumer announcements, please refer to www.wizkidsgames.com over the coming days for further information."

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

November 3, 2008

Dominion - A Standalone Collectibe Card Game in a Box

Dominion.jpgThose of you looking to get your hands on a TCG or CCG that doesn't require you plop down gobs of cash, then you might have found just what you've been looking for. The new card game Dominion [Amazon, Funagain] has often been lovingly described as a collectible card game in a box, and a good one at that.

The game is being published by Rio Grande Games and designed by Hans im Gl├╝ck, a pairing that has brought us the delicious Carcassonne series.

Dominion is an entirely card-based game that is played in short spurts ( < 30 minutes ), which is a fantastic amount of time since the game is all about building up a small kingdom from virtual nothing, and doing it in new, unique ways every sessions.

Throughout each round players draw cards from their basic deck to both act against other players, and to aid in the purchase of even more cards to add their deck. Dominion empowers players to construct their own custom dominion (deck) throughout play. A player's decision of which cards to purchase from a set of randomly drawn cards each turn is based on many different factors -the collection of cards that are currently available for purchase (using in game cash), how do the cards complement what the player's current deck is tailored to do, what are your opponents trying to do and how can you stop them, etc. Your deck starts small, and when it's exhausted the discard is shuffled back together into a deck along with all the cards you've purchased, and play continues. Think of it as a snowballing effect - your dominion becomes more powerful as you slide new resources and prized possessions into the fold as play progresses.

The game has been received extraordinarily well by gaming community. For more information checkout this great Dominion user review on BGG. And - as always - here are the game'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! 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."

Dominion is now shipping and available from Amazon and Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 29, 2008

WoW TCG: Drums of War

WoWTCGDrumsOfWar.jpgWhen it rainsit pours. Upper Deck has released the first installment in the 2008-2009 set of the World of Warcraft TCG. The Drums of War is looking nice. Real nice. Not only does it include a new Location Card Type, and faction-specific weapons, but the standard class roles are definitely kicked up a notch.

The set is available in three forms: a Drums of War Starter Deck [Amazon, Funagain], in standard individual Boosters of 19 cards [Amazon, Funagain], or the value saver Drums of War Box of Boosters [Amazon].

Like all new cycles Drums of War introduces a new set of keywords. Gone are the ways of the Traitor, now replaced by Shadowmeld, Diplomacy and Berserking.

An ally with Shadowmeld is both elusive and untargetable while it's in the ready state (ie: not exhausted). Get your Aldor Inspire ducks in a row. Example: Cymbre Shadowdrifter

WoWTCGSouthshore.jpgAn ally with Diplomacy lets you spend 1 less to recruit other allies of that same race or faction, depending on the card. This ties resource acceleration and themed decks together quite nicely.. though do we need stronger rush decks? Example: Envoy Samantha Dillon.

Finally, an ally with Berserking adds +1 to their attack value for each damage he's holds. Example: Nok'tal the Savage , a troll who plays quite well with Kray'zin Firetusk if we do say so. And we do.

You can check out the entire Drums of War set of cards on WoWTCGDB.com in a nice pictoral layout that's easy on the eyes. Man we love that site.

Here are the official details:


"The thundering drums of war echo throughout the land of Kalimdor. New warlords ride through the gates of Orgrimmar, eager to serve the warchief and leave their marks on the pages of history. Small battalions of Alliance soldiers arrive at outposts throughout Azeroth. It is only a matter of time until the piercing battle cries, roaring magic, and crashing steel evoke the symphony of war once again. When the dust settles, will you be remembered, or will you fade into oblivion?"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 24, 2008

WoW Minis Preview Hits Stores This Weekend

WoWMinisStarter.jpgThe gaming news site GamingReport.com has seemingly posted verbatim what appears to be a press release from Upper Deck stating that demo kits of World of Warcraft Miniatures will hit stores this weekend.

So if you're looking to get an hands on experience with the game before it ships in a few weeks, then you're chance is now!

Here's the meat and potatoes of the press release on GamingReport.com:

" Make sure to add the new World of Warcraft Miniatures Game to your weekend plans! Starting this week, hobby stores around the country are offering free demonstrations of this brand-new game. Stop by your local hobby store and get a taste of all the amazing game-play action and high-quality figures that the World of Warcraft Miniatures Game has to offer. Visit WoWMinis.com to find a hobby store near you!

WoWMinis.jpgLaunching on Tuesday, November 11, World of Warcraft Miniatures Game will be available in four-figure Starter Sets and three-figure randomized booster packs, all featuring amazingly detailed figures and innovative, engaging game play. Visit WoWMinis.com for more information about this great new game!

Upper Deck has provided free World of Warcraft Miniatures Game demo kits to more than 1,500 hobby stores across the country. The kit includes a Starter Set, offering everything two people need to play right out of the box, and a four-page quick start guide, making this kit a great way to experience the most anticipated Minis game of the year.

Each of the 70 figures available in the World of Warcraft Miniatures Game reflects the imagery and style of the popular World of Warcraft online game characters, including such fan-favorite characters as Leeroy Jenkins, Warchief Thrall and Varimathras. Each miniature can be mounted on a uniquely engineered, removable base, allowing it to serve as both a game piece and a standalone collectible."

Have a good weekend!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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