June 18, 2010

Days of Wonder iPad Give Away

Publisher Days of Wonder has promised a free iPad to anyone playing in the 20,000,000 game in their online board game system. This was announced a while ago, back when the counter was pretty far off from the end goal. But now the counter is getting really dang close. So start doing the tough work of playing excellent games to get you chance to what will probably become the first home-electronic board game platform!

If you haven't played on the Internets through Days of Wonder then you're really in for a treat. Dust off any of your Days of Wonder games in your closet and look for your online play code on the manual. Punch it at the Days of Wonder website and you've unlocked the ability to play that game online, anytime, with strangers and friends, for free.

And this is a stand up service. Days of Wonder has some great coders working for them. Anyone who has played on the online service, or has downloaded the Small World iPad App, will agree with us.

Good luck!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

June 16, 2010

Civilization 5 Preview Debuts at E3

It's Electronic Entertainment Expo again and that means all the news about this years releases for the PC gaming and console gaming market are hitting the newsstands right now. And as part of the show the game designing house Firaxis has released more details about the next installment in the Civilization series that's due out this fall.

Back in the early 90s Sid Meier's brought a turn based board game that put you control of a budding civilization that emerged out of the prehistoric age. Through your strategic planning of economies, population growth, scientific research and militaristic conquest, you could guide your civilization from the early age of horse back riding and writing to the space age. Every game was truly epic and engrossing, creating this well-known "just one more turn" addiction.

This upcoming 5th installment of the franchise streamlines the interface to allow players to focus much more on the tactical gameplay. Gone are the square spaces that dotted the land, and instead are the more wargame centric hex tiles, which should allow more free form and fluid movement. Also unit stacking is no longer allowed, so armies will need to take the field in carefully organized formations that guard each others backs, keeping those high priced catapults in the center of your army.

We'll have more news about all of the upcoming features of Civilization 5 before the release in September. For now just sit back and enjoy this sweet little Civ 5 Featurette.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

June 14, 2010

Smiley Face Family Card Game Announced

SmileyFaces.jpgIn a change of pace publisher FFG has announced a family friendly card game. Smiley Face plays like your normal trump-based game like hearts or spades or Euchre, bu where different suits score a varying about of points.

The suits, in this case, are a series of emotions. While there is no overarching trump emotion itself, each of the emotions is randomly assigned a point level at the start of each round. Say the 'Happy' emotion is assigned the trump position and gets +1 point for each card played, and 'Sad' is assigned the bottom rank and simply doesn't' count for anything.

Players take turns playing cards of the various emotions in an attempt to score as many points in a round as possible.

Various 'mischief' cards will then throw a monkey wrench into the mix. Each of these little guys has printed instructions on an interesting way the card could be used to mix up the round. And because you have it in your hand to start the round you can lie in wait until just the right moment and then --- pounce!The one example mischief card revealed thus far will reorder the scoring ranks of the different suits. Suddenly cards worth points might be worth less points, or even no points at all. Who's smiling now?

Finally, as an interesting twist: if you feel like you're buggered and there's no way for you to win, then you back another player and pass a card to them in the hopes that it helps them win the round. If so, then you score some points.

Overall this seems like it's going to be a very dynamic game. Light on the rules (ages 8+) and high on the dynamics this could be a great title for family game night. You can check out more information on the official Smiley Faces website, or on designer Burno Faidutti's website. Here's the official description:

"SmileyFace is a card game of face-to-face family fun for four to eight players. This clever family game by Bruno Faidutti includes 82 cards featuring dozens of quirky and colorful characters based on popular emoticons. Over the seven short rounds of the game, each player tries to collect the highest total face value of cards of a single type. Each round brings new surprises as the values of cards change and the wacky Mischief cards come into play. Only the player with the highest score for a round (and perhaps the player who lent him a helping hand) will win points! All the other players are out of luck. :(

We'll keep you posted of any more details as their emerge, and we'll let you know when Smiley Faces hits shelves later this year.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

June 10, 2010

Carcassonne Makes it to the iPhone, iPad to Follow

Game.jpgWe heard earlier this week that our favorite modern classic Carcassonne [Amazon, Funagain]" had finally made its way to the iPhone/iPod Touch. We held off pushing the story to the web so we could put it through our paces and decided to either endorse it or pan it.

Well good news! The Coding Monkeys have made a heckuva port of Carcassonne. The game is smooth, clean, intuitive, and polished. It even has voice overs in the tutorials! How about them apples?

You can play in a special solitare mode, or against AI. You could even create a game with your friends over the Internets and the the server will give you push notifications when its your turn. How cool is that?

Other features include online ranking, 8 different AIs to play against, and the promise of new expansions moving forward. Not bad for 5 bucks.

Finally something else worth noting: The Coding Monkeys are working on an iPad version of the game. If you order the iPhone/iPod Touch version now then you'll be able to download the iPad version for FREE later on. Now there's a nice consolation prize.

Carcassonne for the iPhone/iPod Touch
is available from the Apple App Store, and it's definitely worth your time if you or your family is into Carcassonne.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

June 8, 2010

Downtime Town Reviews Dixit, A Party Game

Each episode of Downtime Town is an experience. Host Robert Florence seems to be a gaming muse for our souls -- he's always spot on the details and the game's essence, heck he sells us on games we already own. And this review of Dixit [Amazon, Funagain] is no different.

Those of you who've enjoyed numerous sessions of Apples to Apples should definitely give Dixit a gander. It takes the base elements from that ground breaking franchise and slabs a gorgeous layer of icing over it. Instead of static, bare bones words printed on cards Dixit treats you to gorgeous and interesting illustrations. The other players are then fully engaged, more so than A2A, in almost all facets of the game. ginally described.

For more info check out the Downtime Town Review. Also here's the official details:

"Each player at his turn plays the storyteller. He is given a single picture, while the other players get a hand of six pictures. The storyteller says a sentence or a word connected to his picture, then each player chooses one of his pictures to bet upon. All pictures are showed face up, and every player have to bet upon what picture was the storyteller's. If nobody or everybody finds the correct picture, the storyteller scores 0, and each of the other players scores 2. Otherwise the storyteller and whoever found the correct answer scores 3. Players scores 1 point for every vote gotten by their own pic. The game ends when the deck is empty. The greatest total wins the game. "

Dixit is availble from Amazon and Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

June 7, 2010

A Preview of Battles of Westeros' Scenarios

BattlesOfWesterosBoxFA.jpgThe line of Battles of Westeros previews continues. This latest installment "A Clash of Swords" delves into what you should expect from the games various scenarios.

The article provides an example of the components and flavor of an early battle between the House of Stark and Lannister. And while the game will feature a long line of set pieces between these two Houses lifted straight from the Song of Ice and Fire series of novels, with new Houses to come in subsequent expansions, this base set will also ship with the framework to create random skirmish scenarios, too.

The selection and placement of a balanced series terrain tiles, victory conditions and commanders will be determined with the random draw of cards from the skirmish deck. Very interesting stuff.

Please see our previous coverage for more information about The Battles of Westeros:

We'll check back in with you once the title gets an official ship date. Until then here are the game's official details:

"Unfurl the banners of the Great Houses of Westeros! To secure power in the Seven Kingdoms and to ensure the survival of their lines, the Houses of Westeros each follow very different paths. Some forge strategic alliances, some create complex political intrigues, and still others use deceit and betrayal. But there is no more direct or lasting path to power than taking to the field of battle.

In Battles of Westeros, two players recreate the military conflicts set in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, taking part in battles directly from the books... or designing their own. In this epic board game of battlefield tactics, players control either..."

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

June 3, 2010

WoW TCG Wrathgate Expansion Hits Shelves

WoWWrathgate.jpgThe Summer is officially here. Every year the same thing happens. No, not that glorious Memorial Day weekend of BBQ and beers that denotes the passing of spring into summer for beach goers. That's too obvious. Plus we were supposed to be remembering our troops, not boozing it up for some sun, remember?

Nope, our new summer begins when the final chapter of yet another WoW TCG Cycle has been hoisted onto gaming shelves across the world.

And the WoW TCG Scourgewar Cycle has just come to a close with the latest Wrathgate Expansion [Amazon, Funagain] release. Boy howdy.

We're excited for a a few reasons. There's the usual giddiness over any new WoW TCG set release ( there are only three a year after all) . That's just a given. After all it's two things we love well balanced and then jammed into one small package that's well-deserved of a nerd frenzy.

Wrathgate is also a few landmarks for this franchise. First it marks the survival of the WoW TCG from what could have been a cataclysmic event when Upper Deck got sued for counterfeiting earlier this year. But Blizzard stepped up and spun off a new publishing company to keep the card game alive and well. And as proof -- here it is on gaming shelves near you.

Finally, in the WoW mythos, this release marks the Argent Crusades push into depths of Northrend to defeat the Lich King himself. With that now complete the the WoW TCG franchise has finally caught up to the World of Warcraft MMORPG. We're crossing our fingers now, but we expect the next cycle next fall to coincide with the upcoming Cataclysm Expansion for both the card and PC format. Oh baby, think about that!

So what should you expect from Wrathgate? Well the official previews have told us that the Nerubian faction has been all but tabled for now. Instead expect various Unique heroes from the Argent Crusade to be the beef of your deck, with numerous cards buffing any and all unique allies that you control. Also expect less of a focus on Death Knights and more goodness for the old school classes.

There won't be any new keywords introduced in set, but the designers have crafted up some allies that use interesting combination of the existing mechanics, some even invoking Death Rattle which was previous an ability card mainstay.

It all looks very promising, and should keep the summer months interesting at our gaming table. You can see for yourself at WoW TCG DB who've posted the Entire Collection of Wrathgate Cards.

Enjoy! WoW TCG Wrathgate is now shipping from Amazon (booster boxes) and Funagain Games (booster packs).

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

May 27, 2010

DowntimeTown Reviews Horus Heresy

As a companion piece to the review: publisher FFG just released a movie that details the backstory to their latest big box wargame Warhammer 40K: Horus Heresy [Amazon, Funagain]. While our previous coverage of the game has detailed the mechanics of the wargame, the FFG official 10 minute long featurette does a much better job of setting the stage for one of this year's biggest releases.

Back to the movie at the top: You just Gotta love DownTime Town's reviews. We sit around staring at the website test pattern waiting for another one to air. Welcome back! Oh, and ooo zaaa.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

May 25, 2010

Talisman: The Highland Expansion Released

TalismanTheHighland.JPGFFG has released another expansion to it's Talisman 4th Revised Edition dungeon romp adventure game. Talisman: The Highland [Amazon, Funagain] hits the rugged windswept mountaintops and can be enjoyed with a nice peaty scotch.

So what should you expect? "The Highland" adds on to the game board, introduces new characters, adds new end-game conditions, 100 new cards, new figures... in other words gobs of new content in highfalutin FFG style. Coupled it with the previous The Dungeon Expansion and you have yourself a nice rainy day gaming weekend.

Here's the official word:

Clouds enshroud the mountain's peak... Exhausted from the long ascent, you barely keep your grip as the stones beneath you give way and tumble perilously down the slope. But you still keep climbing... ...for the Highland beckons you!

Talisman: The Highland adds a new Region to the game for heroes to explore. A custom-fitted map board and over 100 new cards bring this mountainous realm vividly to life, while six brand-new characters, each represented with a superbly detailed plastic miniature, offer fantastic new playing experiences. Climb as high as you dare, and lay claim to the unimaginable wealth that awaits atop the tallest peak in the world of Talisman!

Also checkout this great Talisman: The Highland First Impressions from the BGG forums. Finally, FFG has also released a long line of preview articles. If you're looking to no more about the expansion before plopping down your cash, then look no further:

  1. Scale the Mountain's Peak Expansion's Announcement
  2. All That Glitters.. Characters
  3. Mistress of the Night Characters
  4. A Hearty Adventurer Characters
  5. Relics of the Eagle King Relics
  6. Sent From Above Characters
  7. A Map of the Summit Rules
Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

May 21, 2010

Dominion Alchemy Expansion Hits Shelves

DominionAlchemy.jpgHappy day of days. The long awaited 2010 expansion to the best game in years (that is Dominion) has been sighted in stores and is now shipping from online retailers.

Dominion Alchemy [Amazon, Funagain] pushes us into the laboratories of mad scientists as they try to use common potions to plot and scheme the uses of transmutation to create bigger and better things. And after all, isn't that the whole theme of Dominion in the first place?

We should note that this is a half-sized expansion (larger ones to come later this year), and so it requires either Dominion or Dominion: Intrigue to play. But hey, if you don't already have one of those then you have a lot of great gaming to pickup (start with the original Dominion).

Here are the official details about Dominion Alchemy:

There are strange things going on in your basement laboratories. They keep calling up for more barrels of quicksilver, or bits of your hair. Well it's all in the name of progress. They're looking for a way to turn lead into gold, or at least into something better than lead. That lead had just been too good of a bargain to pass up; you didn't think, where will I put all this lead, what am I going to do with this lead anyway. Well that will all be sorted out. They're also looking for a universal solvent. If they manage that one, you will take whatever they use to hold it in and build a castle out of it. A castle that can't be dissolved! Now that's progress.

This is the 3rd addition to Dominion. It adds new Kingdom cards to Dominion. As it is an expansion, you will need Dominion, or Dominion: Intrigue to play the game.

Dominion: Alchemy is an expansion, and can't be played by itself; to play with it, you need Dominion, or a standalone expansion to Dominion (Dominion: Intrigue). Those provide the Basic cards you need to play (Treasure, Victory, and Curse cards), as well as the full rules for setup and gameplay. Dominion: Alchemy can also be combined with any other Dominion expansions you have.

Dominion Alchemy is now shipping from Amazon and Funagain Games. For more information please see our previous coverage: Dominion Alchemy Teasers, Dominion Alchemy Expansion is Nigh and Designer's Breakdown of Dominion Alchemy.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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