February 26, 2008

Ticket to Ride: The Card Game Preview at BGN

TicketToRideCardGame.jpgThe Ticket to Ride Card Game [Funagain] was officially announced by Days of Wonder yesterday. Intended for a smaller group of 2-4 players when compared to the original Ticket to Ride games, this card game variety ditches the board - which makes it perfect for gaming on the go - while still maintaining the enjoyable route building and color matching theme.

Players draw route cards and collect train cars of specific colors, and play them in a similar draw-two or play-route turn mechanic that should keep things steaming along quite nicely.

The game will also sport new gameplay mechanics which match the card game motif and offer what could be some surprising depth. Colors that players use to lay tracks may solidify them as a current color leader, and make it difficult for another player to claim routes requiring the same color. Its a land grab of colors and routes that could have players weighing the benefits of laying may smaller routes earlier in the game instead of saving up for the big ones at the end. This mechanic is balanced by a train robbing effect where a player can aggressively attack and dismantle routes that other players have left unprotected.

How's this done? Welll Check-out the Game Preview: Ticket to Ride Card Game on Boardgame News [link]. It explains it all, and more, and includes some great shots of the art of the cards.

The Ticket to Ride: Card Game is slated to ship in May, and is available to preorder from Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 25, 2008

UGO Sits Down with Magic the Gathering Online v 3.0

MTGOnliner.jpgAny Magic Online fan frustratingly knows a MT:G Online face lift is a long time coming. The game's current engine has been in the same clunky state nearly-since it first launched, with a confusing and archaic interface that was only tolerable because of it's adaptability to new rules, and because - honestly - Magic The Gathering is such a great game.

It seems that the next installment of the client is coming out "soon", and that's definitely good news. It aims to make games cleaner, easier to understand, and just plain more enjoyable.

Yes, we know that Wizards of the Coast has said the the engine is "coming soon" for quite a while now, but we're starting to really think it's true - and it looks gorgeous.

UGO recently got to sit down with the client. Here's some of what the review site said:

"And now Magic Online is poised to ramp up the standards with the much anticipated and very long awaited version 3. Players have been chomping at the bit for this latest update and several delays in the release have only made the masses more anxious for this long promised third edition. However, after checking out a demo of version 3 at the New York Toy Fair this week, we think it's definitely worth the wait. Wizards has indeed been listening to the players and taking diligent notes. With version 3, the user interface is revamped to allow players to customize the in-game "real estate" to their liking. Stability issues that plagued previous incarnations of the game will also be worked out. After all, more players online should only make the game better, not bring the whole thing down, right? And players can now buy cards and event tickets in game, instead of having to log onto a separate site. These improvements along with other on-going tweaks currently being tested, should give players a smoother, more streamlined game."

Seems like any day now. Really.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 20, 2008

Lascaux - A Bidding War Over Ancient Cave Art

Lascaux [Funagain] is about a 30 minute contest that pits 2-5 players against one another as they bid on cave drawings of the ancient caves of Lascaux in southwestern France. Players earn points by building collections of cards that depict particular animal paintings as they were rendered by what are commonly dubbed humankind's first artists 10,000 year ago. Aside from the visuals on the cards, the game's theme doesn't go much deeper into the lives of the Lascaux cave dwellers.

The core of the gameplay comes from bidding smartly in each round and reading your opponent's motives. The game requires you to create your collection of cards, but starve you opponent of the ones they require. Now we've heard mixed-things about the game due to its thin façade of a theme, but in this dry-season Lascaux might hit just the right spot for a somewhat light family-friendly game.

The official details:

"In 1940 four teenagers discovered a complex of caves in southwest France, at Lascaux. The caves are famous for their paintings, consisting mainly of realistic images of large animals which are known from fossil evidence to have lived in the area at the time. They date back to the Upper Paleolithic era, somewhere between 13,000 and 15,000 B.C.

In Lascaux, the game, the players place a certain amount of cards in the center of the table at the start of each game turn. Each card depicts an animal and two colors. The players secretly choose one color and then place stones into the ceremony bowl. As more and more players drop out, some will win the animal cards at the end of each game round. At the end of the game each player receives points for animal "types" in which he has a majority. The winner is the player with most points."

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 19, 2008

Magic: The Gathering Coming to a PC/Xbox360 Near You

MagicTGRavnica.jpgTrading Card Games on Windows and console systems seems to be all the rage these days. But this news is substantial.

via GamingReport.com:

""We're excited to bring the Magic brand to new platforms and give our fans new ways to experience this great property," said Jared Gustafson, Brand Director for Magic: The Gathering at Wizards of the Coast. "It's partnerships like these that will advance the strategy games category and transform it to meet the needs and desires of today's digital gamers.""

Magic: Online is getting pretty dated, and the "new" revision has been in the work for years now. Years! Like two to three. The fact that Wizards of the Coast hopes to expand their enterprise onto multiple systems leads us to believe they're finally getting serious about bringing the game into the digital forefront. Good for them, and good for us. Now Upper Deck just needs to make an online game out of the World of Warcraft TCG franchise and we'll call it a clean sweep.

Oh wait.

Tomorrow we promise to get back to some board gaming news, but for today this was too big to pass up.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 18, 2008

Saga Release Date Set for MMO RTS / TCG

Saga - the PC based Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) Real Time Strategy Game (RTS) with Trading Card Game elements (TCG) not only has more acronyms than an attack submarine's diagnostics guide, but should also set the bar pretty high for the budding TCG / Computer Games market.

Also don't confuse Saga with Culdscept Saga. As we reported a few weeks ago, Saga is one of the most anticipated TCG games this year, and soon we'll all be able to get our own hands on the final project. Saga is slated for release March 4th, 2008.

We do have some reservations at this point mainly stemming with the uncertainty of the quality of the game at release. Saga is produced by a somewhat unknown gaming house who's flown under the radar in most computer gaming sites thus far. MMO fans know that release week for a new game is chalk full of server crashes and client issues. Additionaly their website is extraordinarily bare bones website (almost a blog) for an online-only enterprise, and the graphics are pretty low-key and dated even for an expandable engine. But the proof is in the pudding, and maybe all these things will melt away when the mayhem starts in a couple of weeks. We'll keep you posted as the title launches and the reviews start rolling in.

Until then check out these Saga links:

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 15, 2008

D&D; 4th Edition Wizards Presents Worlds and Monsters

DD4thEditionWizardsPresents.jpgWe're mid February now which means we're only 3 months away from the release of D&D; 4th Edition. Honestly, we can't wait. Wizards of the Coast has openly stated that they've focused on the roles and personalities of monsters, and their gameplay mechanics, so that you're not just fighting an AC/ToHit stat war against the spreadsheet monster X. Instead we should be looking forward to combat mechanics that bring forth each monster type's personality and attacking styles. This sort of background on races, classes, and monsters should carry on into the non combat gameplay as well, creating a much more rich gaming experience from day one.

Now June is still many torturous months away, so Wizards of the Coast has thrown a bone to ravenous gamers with Wizards Presents: D&D; 4th Edition [Amazon], a 100 page book detailing the decisions that were made to focus on the overhaul of the D&D; franchise, and what to expect in the results of their work. They've also posted an interview with designer Jennifer Clarke Wilkes who describes the book and offers a glimpse at some of the design decisions covered.

Here's one that we found to be pretty darn interesting:

"Q: Wizards of the Coast: As we move a bit more from the worlds to the monsters, what could be a more iconic monster to the game than the dragons--what insights might the book have to offer on these legendary creatures? For instance, I hear that metallics aren't quite the same dragons anymore?

A:... Metallic dragons have traditionally been good-aligned. While flavorful and important to the "ecology" of dragons, the practical effect was to remove half of the available dragons in the Monster Manual as opponents. How often do PCs go up against good creatures? In 4th Edition dragons are more, well, dragonish. They are all ferocious and greedy creatures, with chromatic and metallic dragons distinguished more by personality than alignment. While chromatics tend to be destructive and cruel, metallics focus more on control and power. These differences are reinforced by the dragon's special powers. The varieties of metallic dragon have undergone a revision as well, with some less well-defined kinds giving way to new ones with distinctive natures.

We always enjoyed the good dragon versus evil dragon fight, but in the end dragons ended up being rather generic, and Jennifer Clarke Wilkes is right - their stats really weren't used very often. The change of making dragons more "ferocious and greedy" exemplifies the types of things that are being done to bring personality to the races and monsters of D&D;, and we're seriously all for that.

We'll see how it officially pans-out in June of 2008, when the 4th edition Players Handbook launches and brings D&D; 4th Edition to the world.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 14, 2008

Immortal Eyes Games' demo team Wants You!

UncleSamWantsYou.jpgOur friends over at Winning Moves and Immortal Eyes Games are looking for a few good gamers to help demo their lineup of games. These "Immortals" will get a free copy of either Terra Nova or Conquest of Pangea, a demoing T-shirt and some gaming materials to spread the good word IG. Points are awarded for each demo, which can be scheduled for game clubs, recreation centers, classrooms, even your own game group.

And of course the points can be redeemed for complimentary games from any product in the Winning Moves / Immortal Eyes catalog.

If you're interested in learning more, then please contact Craig Brooks who will send even more nitty-gritty details. He also had these nice pleasantries to say:

"To help in getting the Immortal Eyes name and games more public, we¹re starting up a volunteer demo team called the Immortals. Immortals will receive a starter kit with a T-shirt, copy of a game (either Terra Nova or Conquest of Pangea), game aides, small posters, and an easel display. The hope is that Immortals will go to local stores, conventions, game days, etc. and demo and/or hold tournaments. In exchange, Winning Moves will compensate with points that can be turned in to receive any product in our catalog, T-shirts, and more.

Thank you very much and keep on gaming!"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 13, 2008

Tide of Iron WWII Board Game System Expands Big Time with Days of the Fox

TideOfIronDaysOfTheFoxPrototypeCover.jpgSweet day of days. The Expansion to Tide of Iron - our favorite wargame of 2007 - has shipped to stores. Days of the Fox [Funagain] includes gobs of new armor units, vehicles, and a new set of board tiles for the North African Campaign scenarios included within. The game also ships with a few Panther Tank pieces for future expansions and custom scenarios ( since the Panthers didn't quite make it to Africa

As you may recall in our prerelease coverage the game also ships with new Anti Tank guns, which could be quite the explosive joy to play with. The King of the Battlefield in the traditional Tide of Iron game was the machine gun nest which pinned down and mowed through infantry squads (especially lethal when combined with a mortar barrage). Now we have a new dynamic - Anti Tank weapons donning hillsides and covering open stretches of both the barren African terrain, and the green fields of France and Belgium in the original Tide of Iron set. Things are going to go big badda boom.

So many new possibilities and new scenarios of fantastic WWII action that it makes our heads spin.

DaysOfTheFoxBox.jpgHere are the official details:

"Across the Mediterranean lie the deserts and mountains of North Africa where soldiers of the British and German armies fight the greatest war in human history. Field Marshal Erwin Rommel leads a brilliant offensive against Commonwealth forces, far exceeding his orders and earning himself the nickname "The Desert Fox".

The Tide of Iron line expands with the addition of Days of the Fox. This first expansion for Tide of Iron features the introduction of the British army and the North African campaigns, including new terrain tiles, new rules, new units, and new scenarios.

  • Nine new geomorphic double-sided map boards.
  • The all-new British army, including new soldiers and vehicles.
  • New rules, new scenarios, and new units.

Tide of Iron Days of the Fox is now shipping from Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 12, 2008

The Eye of Judgement (...and Culdcept Saga)


When we posted our story about Culdcept Saga last week - the Xbox 360 title that's TCG meets Board Games - we didn't mean to turn a cold shoulder the already established Eye of Judgment [Amazon] franchise on the Playstation 3. The Eye is something that any TCG should at least poke their nose into, because it really is a whole new world of gaming.

The truth of the matter is that none of us in our group actually own a PS3, and we didn't want to hype something with ground-breaking and potentially gimmicky mechanics (more later) when we very-well knew we'd never get to play and break down the gameplay ourselves. But then we got questions and concerns after our story last week: 'If you're covering Culdscept Saga, then you're ignoring the console-based TCG war going on right now!' And we have to admit, we were wrong to not to post at least one story on the franchise until now. Yes, we're admitting error - mark your notebooks. It was a poor editor decision that we hope to fix starting right now.

First and foremost some resources: If you need a full breakdown of the game mechanics then checkout the Eye of Judgment Wikipedia Site. It contains the key details of the gameplay. Also, check out this review from Game Trailers. Watch and listen as you read on.

Eye of Judgement is a TCG played on a 3x3 mat in front of your TV and PS3. The map is fought over as creature cards jockey for position across the field, moving and orientating themselves to guard against and exploit potential flanking maneuvers, and capturing spaces of verying colors. The game's 'thing' is a camera - called The Eye - that's included with the base set. When attached to the PS3 the Eye overlooks the special game board . And no, this is not photo-evidence device designed to prove to an online opponent that you actually have a card. Oh no, it's so much more.

When everything is setup properly you can see your cards reflected on the screen, and the mat is replaced on-screen with the map of the match. Because the game board is a filled-in version of the mat on screen, the PS can skin the board any way it likes.

Here's the kicker - each card, sold in stores in booster packs, contains a special visual pattern encoding on the card. When shown in front of the camera the game unlocks a creature shown in 3-D on the TV, hovering over the card in real space. In front of you is a 2D board with cards, and on your screen is a mix of reality and virtual creatures akin to R2D2 and Chewbacca playing chess in Episode IV.

The Eye of Judgment is one of those crazy idea elevator pitches that just might work. It's different and new, and it looks [em]really[/em] cool. We'll let the VG review sites fill you in on how well the game pulls it off.

How does it stack up against Culdscept? Well here's the deal: Culdscept is one bundle of 450 cards at a price tag of 40 bucks. Currently there aren't any expansions slated for release, so it's pretty much one shotgun blast of balanced cards meant as a single stand alone release. Meanwhile, The Eye of Judgment comes with a stock of 100 cards, and will be expanded by new set releases and booster packs of random cards of varying rarities, just like a standard TCG / CCG release.

One is a game release, the other is a new way of life. Should these games be compared head-to-head? We think: no. They each have their own place in gaming.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 11, 2008

Growing Hunger's Zombies Loom on the Horizon


The Last Night on Earth was one of those perfect surprises in box form. Released near Halloween the customizable Zombie board game was wonderfully produced, dripped theme, and delivered a perfect zombie movie experience - in board game form - at just the right time of year.

And it didn't stop there: the Last Night on Earth is one of the better board games to come out of 2007. Yes, the whole year. Not only did the scenarios and mechanics play off our the stories and horrifying scenes of the best zombie movies from childhood past, but every session unfolded in it's own entertaining story. Each time we pick-up the game it became a complete different zombie-braining experience, and we're still active playing it, and that's saying something.

We're hungry for more like a fire axe longs to be embedded into a zombiefied brain, and it looks like our thirst for braining will soon be fulfilled. The first Last Night on Earth expansion Growing Hunger is slated for a release in March. Here are some of the official details:

"As the living nightmare of the Zombie attack continues, the bitter struggle for survival grows increasingly deadly. Desperate for flesh, Zombies swarm over the town of Woodinvale, leaving a gruesome wake of death and destruction in their path. With nowhere to hide and a renewed determination, the remaining Heroes add more survivors to their ranks and find new weapons to fight back the growing hunger of the dead.

The Growing Hunger Expansion introduces new game mechanics and three exciting new Scenarios to challenge players as well as a two-player mini-game. Take control of four new Heroes, each with a highly-detailed plastic miniature as well as seven new Red Zombies for use as Plague Carriers, Grave Dead, or to increase the Zombie Horde. New modular game board sections expand the town and feature unique buildings such as the Supermarket, Library, and Antique Shop. New game cards give Zombies a chance to steal weapons from the Heroes and add powerful Double-Handed weapons to the Heroes' arsenal, such as Garden Shears and the Fence Post."

Last Night on Earth Growing Hunger is currently slated for a March release, and is now available to preorder from Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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