April 22, 2007

Talisman Board Game Bound for XBox Live

Last week the gaming sites Joystiq and IGN both reported that the classic board game Talisman is now part of the long list of upcoming board games for XBox live. This is some pretty big news, not only because the list has quickly grown from a sprinkling of games to hefty list of six board game titles, but because Talisman is easily in a different class of complexity. Most of the other games coming down the pipe fall into the Eurogame genre of titles, which have streamlined mechanics and relatively simple visual presentations. However, a port of Talisman to a set top box doesn't seem as straight forward as others, and it will be interesting to see how well publisher Capcom can bring this game to the console platform.

Something that should help with the complexity is that gamers might be able to save the game on the XBox live servers, and take their turns offline whenever they're ready. Or perhaps we've misunderstood what IGN means by "taking the game offline". If this refers to hotseat play than that's a pretty big letdown. On the bright side: at least the cat won't be able to eat the pieces.

Currently Talisman for Xbox Live is scheduled for a Winter release, which will coincide with the release of the 4th Edition of the board game title. You can read more information on both Joystiq and IGN, and as always we'll keep you posted of any more details as the emerge.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 16, 2007

Designer Games from Zontik

Zontik's Rubik's CubeFace it: the gaming world is full of manufactured plastic bits and cheap cardboard spewed from giant factory lines. We understand why it must be, and we’re OK with it. Bbut sometimes we want to wrap your hand around something that smacks of quality. Zontik is a company that aims to fill that niche.

Everything that comes from Zontik is hand-made, and custom crafted based on your designs. Frames are constructed of solid wood, stained, and then wrapped in Dauphin calf leather. Call us suckers, but we're pretty that anything with word "Dauphin" in it means it's 110% classy. Put on your smoking jacket and get ready for some very civilized gaming.

ArrowContinue reading: "Designer Games from Zontik"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 15, 2007

Carcassonne Live Preview on TeamXbox

Carcassonne All Digital-likeSweet digitty. While we've anxiously awaited the release of Catan Live for XBox 360 online service, we've totally forgotten that Carcassonne is also getting an online treatment as well. We would feel more ashamed that we've neglected one of our favorite Eurogames from the list of new board game titles for Xbox Live, but the details of the upcoming Carcassonne Live release have been kept so hush-hush that it simply slipped off our radar.

But now we have some pretty detailed screenshots of the release scheduled for this June. It's colorful, but to be honest: we feel that there's a bit too much eye trickery going on here. The 3D cites make our eyes go all googly like we were just hit on the head from behind with a case of scotch.

Hopefully the game's visuals will be a bit easier to understand once we play it in person. Speaking of playing the game in person, where the heck is our "March" release of Settlers of Catan? Sheesh

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

Ukraine is Game To You?

Urkaine thinks it's time to put the hurt on You!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 9, 2007

Games Quarterly Magazine Closes Shop

GamesQuarterly.7.28.06.jpgWord has it on BoardGameNews that one of our favorite newstand gaming rags is closing shop. A bit of depressing news for sure. It kinda throws the expression "any news is good news" into a bin of crumbled up scrap paper.

We really did enjoy the magazine's recent string of embedded board game expansions for our favorite Eurogames. And it's sad to think that all those folks who brought us good content over years will be hanging up their pencils without the chance for an official farewell letter.

We guess we'll start our search for something that picks up the slack. Hopefully someone will.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 6, 2007

World of Warcraft TCG: Official Podcast Launches

World of Warcraft TCG Through the Dark Portal ships in AprilIt was only a matter of time, really. In a world where a trading card game spawns from a virtual online entity, you should have been scratching your head wondering why this wasn’t started at the game’s original launch last year. But now we’re at the eve of the second set, and Upper Deck is starting to roll out a community friendly underground marketing tool to do things right this time around. And we’re pretty excited, because now we can hear words of wisdom directly from the mouths of the game’s designers. And that’s never anything to shake a stick at.

The inaugural podcast [link] interviews Brian Kibler – Lead Developer of the WoW TCG – about the upcoming release of the WoW TCG Through the Dark Portal expansion. Can’t say that we’re not surprised since the expansion is set to ship Wednesday, April 11th – in 5 days.

Specific Topics include the new paradigm of WoW TCG set releases, which should be released every four months from now on, the adaption of new class abilities like Dual Wield, and their ideology of translating the established content from the MMORPG while keeping it fresh, and new in the TCG.

The hosts also discuss the new Racial Champions that will be in the upcoming release. These guys are powerful ally cards that can only be played by particular races. The goal is to make each race/class combination unique, and bring a bit of story and gaming context to the various races of Warcraft in the TCG. Currently they’re just pretty pictures, so this is a step in the right direction in our opinion.

Also this week: the Upper Deck website has posted new official articles around the new upcoming Through the Dark Portal set:

  • Head of the Class: Rogue Boost: details the new Rogue hero cards, some of their new abilities. More interesting - though - is how the existing abilities from the Heroes of Azeroth block will complement the new cards in Through the Dark Portal.
  • Back to the Future: breaks down how the class/faction specific cards really open up now that the Allies can play Shamans, and now that the Horde can build Paladin decks.

Have a good weekend!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 5, 2007

Games for the Classroom

Damn StraightIt's raining right now. And though the average age of our group rounds out at about 30, we can't help but flashback to 20 years ago to our dreadful indoor recess. It was always a drag to have to spend your one daily break sitting around the same desks you spent the other 7.5 hours of the day sitting around. Melting crayons on the radiator can only provide so much entertainment. Eventually, you run out of crayons.

So if you happen to be a teacher, or a parent who likes to keep your kids occupied with games which teach history, or vocabulary, or mathematics, then you checkout the article posted on BoardGameNews by fellow gamer Giles Pritchard, entitled "Teacher’s Corner: An Overview of Modern Games and How to Use Them in School."

In it you'll find recommendations for every age group of kids from eight plus, through high school. Giles has even been nice-enough to file games into categories sorted by subject matter, too.

The history buffs in our group scowled at the fact that the post doesn't include a list devoted to their favorite subject. We tried to tell them that most kids taking history classes have grown beyond the age where they get outdoor recess, and thus rain doesn't dampen their spirits quite so often. But then they put a bayonet to our necks.

So for those history teachers looking to *ack* fill their bookshelves with some historical gaming then check out *noof..* easy... check out the BGG gaming lists: "History of Western Civilization", "Games in the History Classroom", and "European History: The (semi?) Educational Game(s)".

Okay, we did it - now put that thing away. Didn't your parents give you guys love and attention? Someone needs a hug.. woah, sorry! Backing off. Sheesh.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 1, 2007

March '07 Roundup

Roundup2.jpgMarch was a month of ups and downs. More ups then downs, really, when you consider how many new releases there were. Things kicked off with the Catan-like , and was followed by the party game Cineplexity from the makers of Apples to Apples. Then Mayfair finished off the month with their cathedral builder Pillars of the Earth, which is more approachable than similar themed Caylus, but yet delivers a game with enough depth to keep things interesting in the long run.

But then Tide of Iron was delayed, and some unrelated news broke that Microsoft's Xbox Live service is snatching up the exclusive rights to make popular board game titles. On one hand we love the idea of a new market for board game players, but on the other hand they're destroying numerous communities in the name of 'progress'. It's like tearing down forests to build schools for little children. The whole thing leaves a bad taste in our mouth in "Puerto Rico to Join Xbox Live Eurogames, But at a Cost".

But Spring has sprung and not everything is dreary and gray. The World of Warcraft Trading Card Game expansion: Through the Dark Portal ships this month. So does Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Agmar - which is something that we haven't talked about much, but we'll be sure to clue you in on our thoughts regarding the latest and greatest MMORPG from Turbine. And of course we'll keep you up to date with the latest in board game news throughout the month of April!

Speaking of which, don't forget to sign up for our weekly digest. Coffee on Monday morning is a heckofalot better when there's a slew of gaming news waiting for your in your mailbox!

Game Releases

Board Game News

Collectable Card Games

Gaming Culture

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 27, 2007

Freeverse Launches Big Bang Board Games Beta

Big Bang Board GamesThe company Freeverse, who are responsible for numerous casual online and Play By Email games, has just launched their latest service: Big Bang Board Games. The software is only in Beta for now, but it’s free, and you can read more about joining it by checking out this post in the Freeverse Forums.

What’s so special about Big Bang Board Games? Glad you asked. The service integrates with iChat, iTunes, and iSight, which means you can easily play a game of chess to complement your normal everyday discussions with your friends. And because BBBG is a framework, look for more advanced titles to start making their way onto the service.

BBChess.jpgAnd that’s probably the biggest draw for us: the potential. Most people have a piece of software on their machines that’s a gateway to communicating with friends, and now comes a framework that we’ve wanted for years. BBBG is something that fits into the normal communication tools and allows you to play a few games of Chess, with people in your social circle without a huge front end. And who knows, soon we might be able to play a Risk variant , or maybe eventually stuff like Carcassonne, Axis and Allies, or Twilight Imperium ..? Heh, a game that complex is wishful thinking, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

Here’s to the future!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 15, 2007

Alan R Moon's Four Years at Avalon Hill

Avalon Hill.JPGAlan R. Moon, the designer of some classic board game titles like the Ticket to Ride series, and the WWII strategy game Midway, has dropped off a bit of a historical treat in the Board Game Geek forums.

We've all had our slow starts, working for less money that we'd like to, sacrificing financial security for a more fulfilling work day. And although we don't want to throw words into Alan's mouth, it seems like he was paid peanuts at AH. The major driving force in his early days was his love of the genre.

And to ensure that he won't forget those good glory days from 20 years ago, he's created a list of the titles he helped shape during his stay at Avalon Hill. His narrative spans from the early weeding-out of classic titles from unsolicited fan submissions he found in a forgotten AH storage closet, to play testing other Avalon Hill titles in development. Like the classic Civilization, for instance, which has had a massive impact on the gaming community for decades.

Altogether Alan R. Moon has thrown together a great catalog of gaming history.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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