October 21, 2008

Cosmic Encounter Returns December 2008

CosmicEncounter.JPGOne of our favorite publishers Fantasy Flight Games - makers of Tide of Iron and the upcoming Battlestar Galactica board game - have announced a remake of the classic Cosmic Encounter for a late 2008 release. Even better, they've launched an Cosmic Encounter website.

Cosmic Encounter has traditionally been one of those games from the late 70s who's gameplay today still doesn't seem antiquated and cumbersome like some other hit titles from that period. The base rules are quite simple - use your armies to conquer five different planets outside of your home system. Each turn your randomly assigned another player to attack. You can persuade other players to lend their strength to help you defeat the other player. while your opponent can also lobby the player base to come to his or her own aid. The game is a mix of empire building, diplomacy, and luck.

But the game really shines in the powers that you're assigned. While the rules are simple, these alien powers go out of the way to break the standard rules of play in some very interesting ways, and extending the game by mixing and matching multiple cards can really make each game entirely different and incredibly enjoyable.

And while the launch of the Cosmic Encounter Website contains very little information, it does preview the first of these abilities: "Mind." Here the ability is fairly straight forward - peer into anyone's hand of cards before allies are invited into a battle. Foreknowledge of your enemies' capabilities is essential, but is it not just as important to know if your potential ally is a dud? Why commit forces to a conflict and diplomatically align yourself in process when your 'friend' may shoot corks instead of bullets? The Mind is a wonderful thing, especially when it can reach out and evaluate and predict the resolution of conflicts before they transpire. Plans within plans.

We'll have more information about what's in this version compared to the latest version of Cosmic Encounter as this new version gets closer to release, currently slated for December. Here are the official details so far:

"One of the classic science fiction board games returns from the warp in a brand new edition from Fantasy Flight Games!

A game that has endured for over 30 years, Cosmic Encounter has players take on the role of one of 50 different alien races in a struggle for cosmic supremacy, each armed with a unique and game-changing special power. No matter which alien they play, the players must use force, cunning, and diplomacy to ensure their victory."

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 17, 2008

Risk 2008 Edition IS Risk: Black Ops

Risk2008Edition.jpgWe've recently had some questions thrown our way about if Risk Black Ops is ever coming out, so let's put this one to bed: the latest Risk release
Risk 2008 Edition [Amazon, Funagain] is the store shelf incarnate of the underground prototype Risk Black Ops. Its the same game everyone has talked about minus the slick packaging and the cool name. In other words, what are you still doing here - go play it. Now.

You're still here. Well then that must mean you need a primer:

Black Ops was a promotional beta release from Hasbro Games, and was slated to be the next evolution of Risk in terms of gameplay design. It included new randomly assigned capital cities to each player, randomly drawn objectives for players to fight over, and randomly assigned rewards to entice players out of a standard Risk Turtle strategy. The game was a cult-hit for both its killer gameplay, slick name, and for it being nigh-impossible to actually find a copy to throw down.

Last month Avalon Hill released the sleepy Risk 2008 Edition.. With a dull name like that it was almost ensure that everyone would toss it aside, 'just another Risk iteration? Boring! Where's our darn beloved Risk Black Ops? I've heard great things about it!'

Well this is it. Risk 2008 is Risk Black Ops. Yes, now you won't need to seek out the seedy underground of Providence, pound out a yodling password to get access to a dark underground bunker where Risk Black Ops silently awaits your commanding presence beneath a downturned floodlight. That's 'cause it's actually on store shelves now.

Here are the game's official details:

"Can you accomplish the military objectives before your opponents? With an updated map and all-new playing pieces, increased rewards for bold moves, and easy to learn rules, you'll be ready to take on whatever lies ahead. Test your nerve with the Basic Training game--a quick and easy way to play. Or, see if you have what it takes to dominate in the fast-paced and strategic Command Room game. Finally prove your courage in World Contest-an updated edition of the classic Risk game. The decision is yours. The time is now. Do you have what it takes to win? Bottom line: Three ways to play, faster game play, and updated map and playing pieces. Includes game board, 7 dice, deck of 42 cards, 5 sets of colored units, 5 capitals, 15 cities, parts sheet and instructions. For 3 to 5 players ages 12 and up.

This classic game of global domination has led the world in military strategy games since 1959. Each player competes to capture all 42 territories in an effort to dominate the globe. All-new features include multiple gameplay options and two different levels - Bootcamp and Officer's Club. Includes 360 military miniatures. For 3 to 5 players."

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October 15, 2008

Axis & Allies Annivesary Edition Slated for November '08

Avalon Hill has announced a release date for this years Axis & Allies installment November 18th, 2008. This year
they're taking a step back, not visiting one of the major theaters or specific battles as we have in recent memory (Guadalcanal, Battle of the Bulge).

Nope, this time Avalon Hill is consolidating its gains. The new Axis and Allies Anniversary Edition will be a large step up from the standard Axis & Allies title in just about every dimension. It'll include new pieces, new units, and new mechanics gleaned from past few years of releases. And if that's not enough: there will be two new playable factions in China for the Allies and Italy for the Axis. Oh, and the game will be physically larger than ever, too, with a board that dwarfs all others at 2' x 4'. That's a good 6" sub larger than the Revised Edition, in both directions.

Expect the mammoth Axis & Allies Anniversary Edition in stores in just a few weeks. Looks like the long Thanksgiving homecoming weekend might include a few rounds of large scale world domination.

Here are the official details:

Axis & Allies celebrates 50 years of Avalon Hill games with this Anniversary Edition of the classic World War II strategy board game. Designed by Larry Harris, A&A; Anniversary Edition will utilize the standard D6 combat system found in Axis & Allies Revised, Europe, & Pacific. Italy will debut as the third Axis nation, China will be operated by the US player, and cruiser class ships will join the naval line-up for the first time. The largest board ever produced for an A&A; game, along with deluxe components will ensure this is the granddaddy of all Axis & Allies board games. Deploy your forces and prepare for battle!

Axis & Allies: Anniversary Edition details:

  • Designed by Larry Harris, creator of Axis & Allies
  • Italy introduced as the third Axis nation
  • Two set-up options: Spring 1941 and Spring 1942
  • Cruiser class ships join the naval unit line-up
  • China included as US controlled ally
  • New sculpts for Italy, China, and others
  • Game board measures ~ 24" x 46"
  • Over 600 game pieces
  • 48 page rulebook

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October 13, 2008

WoW TCG: Drums of War Preview Card in Stores Now!


Upper Deck has just announced a slimline promotion for it's next World of Warcraft Trading Card Game release, Drums of War. Those of you interested in getting a nice special run of The Last Barov - with slick extended art that screams collectible - and you can't or don't want to attend any preview events, then things just got easy for you:

"Want to get your hands on an exclusive promo card from the upcoming WoW TCG expansion, Drums of War? Head in to your local store and spend $10 on any World of Warcraft Trading Card Game products, and you'll walk out with an Extended Art copy of The Last Barov!"

The card The Last Barov is surrounded by a family fued between the last remaining Barov Brothers. There are actually two remainng brothers, but one of them is a walking corpse named Aelxi who can't vote, hold his liquor (literally), nor get health insurance, so he's not technically part of society. Therefore we can only assume The Last Barov refers to his slightly more pompous brother Weldon. More information on the Barov family tree and their influence on the Drums of War expansion can be found in the official Upper Deck Preview Article Player vs. Player Hater.

And you in regard to the giveaway program, check to see if your local game store plans to participate here. Enjoy!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 9, 2008

Battlestar Galactica Board Game Preview

BattlestarGalacticaBoardGame.jpgPublisher Fantasy Flight Games has begun its prerelease blitz of the Battlestar Galactica Board Game [Funagain] slated for release in early November. As you may recall, the game has players sit down as compatriots trying to save each other's butts in life and death struggle for survival?. Is that redundant? Probably - wait - well yes it is.

Things aren't quite so straightforward in the lovely, elegant, simplistic, savage, stinky, recycled -air int this mother f'er of an everlasting convoy that won't freaking end as it probes its way through the dark reaches of space. Apparently Earth is way over there - like four regular seasons away - and those pesky Cylons are a constant threat looming on the periphery the whole voyage. Not only do they periodically pounce upon your rag take fleet with their shoomlike nuke-carrying basetars, but they've also planted a decoy in your human ranks of players.

Yep - thats right - your best friend could be a Cylon. And you thought he was just after your sister. Nope, turns out that he wants you all dead, and has designs on blowing the Galactica and its hangers on to kingdom come.

Mechanically the secret Cylon player is determined randomly at the beginning of the game, so don't go for your baseball bat or golf clubs just yet. His or her job is to ensure that the rest of the players don't make it to Earth, either via subterfuge and physical or political/social sabotage. And if the paranoia weren't already as thick as a the fishbowl smoke in a volkswagen bus cursing the California desert, then here's even more for you to take in: halfway through the game another player could - or could not - become a secretly activated cylon. Ok.... exhale.

Now, the first of of what will surely be a series of Fantasy Flight Games preview articles goes over the character skills, which are randomly dealt from a character deck each session.

BStarBGCard1.jpgConsidering the mass appeal of BStar among a desperate population of friends, we were hoping things would kept relatively simple in this Fantasy Flight release. But, of course not. Thanks to some ingenious tinkering in the Fantasy Flight labs, it appears that we have gobs of decks, and draw states, and ... stuff to keep track of. When will they learn that sometimes keeping things simple might equate to some fun? For instance:

"Each player is dealt a hand of skill cards at the start of his turn, based on his character. Take Kara "Starbuck" Thrace as an example. Starbuck is dealt 2 Tactics skill cards, 2 Piloting skill cards, and her choice of either 1 Leadership or 1 Engineering card. If another player gets Leadership cards already, Starbuck may choose to take 1 Engineering card, thus giving the crew a good cross-section of skill cards."
- Preview #1: Skills at Fantasy Flight Games

Woah. That was pretty complicated. Naptime. No no no, get your own carpet square.

But we have a feeling Fantasy Flight can still make this one a classic. If not , it's back to Shadows Over Camelot [Amazon, Funagain] for our cooperative board gaming goodness, and that ain't bad. In fact, gaming life is good.

Battlestar Galactica the Board Game is slated to ship in Novermber, and is now available to predorder from Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 8, 2008

D&D; 4th Edition Adventure's Vault

DD4thEditionAdventuresVault.jpgHere's a sweet sourcebook pickup that extends the standard collection of Items and Magic Items found in the D&D; 4th Edition Players Handbook or the D&D; 4th Edition Dungeon Master Guide.

This D&D; 4th Edition Adventure's Vault [Amazon, Funagain] is perfect for anyone looking to find a larger selection of standard item types. It also extends some of the more expensive items including new armor and weapon types, which makes it a great starting point for new characters that plan to join higher level groups. Additionally, have the book details a wide collection of balanced magical items that could supplement work by the DM, or serve as a standard for a DM to make a set of balanced magic items of his or her own.

The items are presented in charts, so if you're looking for in depth backstory and details of the equipment then you may be disappointed. This isn't a huge deal to us, honestly; Half the fun is the creating the narriative to these items via interesting adventure creation from the DM, and the wants and needs, and styles of the Players themselves.

For more reviews checked the D&D; 4th Edition Adventure's Vault page on Amazon.
Here are the official details:

"Hundreds of new weapons, tools, and magic items for your D&D; character.

This supplement for the Dungeons & Dragons game presents hundreds of magic items, weapons, tools, and other useful items for your D&D; character. Whether you're a player looking for a new piece of equipment or a Dungeon Master stocking a dragon's hoard, this book has exactly what you need.

The book features a mix of classic items updated to the 4th Edition rules and brand-new items never before seen in D&D.;"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 6, 2008

New World: A Carcassonne Game


Rio Grande Games has brought an entirely new Carcassonne title to our North American shores. The New World: A Carcassonne Game [Amazon, Funagain] is set on the Eastern Coast of the unexplored Americas, but instead of constructing a series of cities and towns throughout a Medieval Countryside as play progresses, players lay down tiles to build and explore the New World.

The game's new collection of tiles sport a nice new facelift, and includes trade routes, cities, and farms, the latter of which behave much like the monasteries of the original game. The old-school farm mechanic has been simplified or even replaced entirely with new Fur tile pieces - a Trapper Meeple placed in a plain will score points for the number of furry creatures that populate their controlled land mass.

Finally a new Surveyor mechanic represents the settlements establishing themselves in the wild territory When a project is completed, a Surveyor piece marches west one column, blowing away all meeples currently working on projects both in the column of his new position, and eastwards to the coast. The race to complete projects is on!

Here are the game's official details:

"In this Carcassonne game, players begin as the early settlers of the United States did on the east coast of America. As they explore westward, they build towns, farms, paths, and compete to score more points than the others players. As exploration moves to the west, players who are slow to complete the features they have started will find themselves left behind - with no points! "
"The New World has been discovered! Now it is time to explore and settle it. The players explore and develop the New World beginning on the East Coast and moving westward, and deploy their settlers on the trails, in the town, in the farms, and on the plains. The skills of the players to develop the area and use their robbers, shopkeepers, trappers, and farmers will determine who is victorious. The players place land tiles turn by turn. As they do so, the trails, towns, plains, and farms emerge and grow. On these, the players can deploy their settlers to earn points. Players score points during the game and at the end. The player with the most points after the final scoring is the winner."
- Amazon.com
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October 2, 2008

Critical Gamers' September 2008 Gaming Roundup


This is it. September is kaput and we're rolling on into October now. Summer is over, Fall is here, and you know what that means; Its time for the Holiday Releases!

You may be thinking it's too early for such crazy talk, but things really do begin the yearly holiday ramp up in October. We should continue to see more and more D&D; 4th edition releases, but also new standalone franchises like the potential release Fantasy Flight Games' Battlestar Galactica board game. There's also a Halo board game cross over title slated for release this month, a title that honestly could very well flop on the floor like a dead fish; a new Ticket to Ride Dice Expansion, and Memoir '44 will expand into the Mediterranean Theater this month.

And there are even bigger releases coming down the pipe in November. Both the new World of Warcraft TCG set release and the new World of Warcraft Miniatures launch should hit stores in just a month's time. That means October should be full of juicy bits of preview news on both of these franchises, and after what was shown at the Penny Arcade eXpo, we're darn excited.

What We're Playing

Board Games

Collectable Card Games

Gaming Culture

Gaming News



World of Warcraft TCG

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

September 30, 2008

A Touch of Evil Board Game Just in Time For Halloween


The folks over at Flying Frog Productions rocked our world last year with the incredible Zombie board game Last Night on Earth, and now they've come back with another monster braining goodness. This time it's A Touch of Evil [Amazon, Funagain] gracing our Halloween playing tables. IT includes a new series of evil archetypes that hit the dark streets of Shadowbrook, 'causing mayhem and giving the town a bad AAA rating. It's not just about lopping off the heads of zombies anymore, with the major cast of villains including Vampires, Werewolves, and maybe a headless horseman or two for good measure.

As with the previous Last Night on Earth, players will take control of a characters pulled from a B-Horror Movie. Each sports their own special powers and abilities. The characters either play cooperatively to take down a boss villain and his minions, or play against one other to the the first hero to take down a specific villain. Meanwhile other players pull the strings of the bad guys, ensuring that darkness enshrouds the village and everyone inside becomes food for your pets.

And, once again, actors were hired to pose in costume bring some humanity to the gaming materials. And it's executing in a brilliant tongue in cheek fashion.

Here are the official details.


Tis the dawn of the 19th century; an age of science, superstition, and witchcraft. Howling fills the night as a full moon rises over the small, secluded village of Shadowbrook. Gruesome murders have become a daily occurrence and terror haunts the streets at night. An evil creature has taken up residence here and the countryside is engulfed by a tide of darkness. But all is not lost...not yet. A small group of heroic individuals, with the courage and strength to fight, have arrived in town. Some just passing through while others have come with a purpose; but all will be put to the test as they race to save this cursed town from falling into darkness. It will take a cunning mind and strength of spirit to determine who is friend and who is foe... to solve the mysteries and hunt the beast to its lair. But the secrets of Shadowbrook run deep. Gossip and rumors run rampant and these few Heroes may soon discover that they are outsiders here and this town is already so rotten from within there is little left to save.

In this fast-paced game of fiendish creatures, dashing Heroes, and high-adventure, each player takes on the role of a unique monster-hunting Hero, racing against time to stop the forces of darkness from claiming another foothold in the world of man. Players can race competitively to be the first to defeat the Villain and save the town, or work together cooperatively to defeat a much stronger Villain.

A Touch of Evil features a gameboard map of Shadowbrook and its surrounding countryside, eight Heroes to choose from, and four different Supernatural Villains to hunt, each with its own host of unique Minions and powers to drastically change the game.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

September 24, 2008

The WoW TCG Black Temple Raid Deck

BlackTempleRaid.jpgIts time to put your PvP WoW TCG decks down and start building something that covers your friends back; another Cooperative World of Warcraft Trading Card Game Raid Deck has hit the shelves, and rush decks will get slaughtered.

the Black Temple Raid Deck [Amazon, Funagain] is the 4th installment in a long line of very unique Cooperative TCG game experiences, which has leaned heavily on World of Warcraft MMORPG cannon from the Onyxia, Molten Core, and Magtheridon's Lair raids dungeons.

Things aren't so ho-hum traditional here folks. The Raid Deck is stacked with Traitor Hero Only ally cards for each of the WoW classes. That means that once the raid deck has been defeated, and once you've unwrapped the loot cards, had a scotch, and you just don't know what to do with your cards but have them shine down on you from the top shelf of your collection - you can give them new life. Ayep, you can take the powerful traitor-only trash mobs from this raid deck and slide them them into your Traitor hero decks from the Servants of the Betrayer and The Hunt for Illidan. And here we thought the whole Traitor thing was short lived.

Speaking of backstabbing SOBs, this time around players take on the traitor himself, Illidan, in the far reaches of Outland in his penthouse apartment of the Black Temple. This raid traditionally caps of the end-game content of The Burning Crusade expansion to World of Warcraft, and ends the Outland cycle of the WoW TCG. From here the Traitors are left behind when things head into new territory with the Drums of War PvP battledeck expansion in November.

If you would like to read more on the deck before you put your paws on it, then continue on for the Official Deck Description. Additionally, you can check out a series of Upper Deck articles for a more in-depth preview of the raid's trash mobs and loot card rewards Enjoy!

Black Temple Raid Deck Preview Articles

  1. New Traitors Among Us
  2. Making Friends with Trash Mobs
  3. A Cursed Glimpse of Treasure
  4. Weapons of Choice
  5. Warglaives of Azzinoth
  6. Black Temple Raid Decks Available Now!

Black Temple Raid Deck Official Details

"The final barrier has been breached as the Horde and Alliance pour through the cracks in the walls of The Black Temple. Illidan's most trusted servants prepare to obliterate all those who would dare venture into the depths of his stronghold!

The Black Temple opens up an entirely new dimension of the World of Warcraft TCG as, for the first time, certain Raid Deck cards will be tournament legal outside of the Raid Deck format, while cards introduced in the Servants of the Betrayer expansion can be used to customize the Black Temple Raid Deck!"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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