December 6, 2007

World of Warcraft TCG Crafting Guide 2007

We’ve received quite a few questions about the new World of Warcraft TCG Player Crafted Items – specifically “How the heck do I get my hands on them? – and so we decided to make this one stop shop for all your TCG crafting needs. We break down the cards you need to collect, the items that are available to craft, and the mailing instructions on how to get them in your hands all in this easy to read reference pamphlet! So create a bookmark and enjoy.

The theme for the crafting program stems from the crafting system of the original World of Warcraft MMORPG: players in the game collect goods off of fallen monsters, or skin freashly killed animals, or pick herbs – all of which can be combined in specific formulas to produce player items. These items include Armor, Weapons, Potions, etc.

In the WoW TCG, just replace "animals" and "monsters" with Booster Packs, and there you go! Players collect trade goods cards contained within Booster Packs, and then combine them (mail them in) and UDE will award the player an item card. This first series is limited to special WoW TCG Armor cards and two Weapons which are all quite powerful, and we hope in future iterations – which there will be – the crafting will expand further, potentially releasing new potions and even stronger variety of weapon types.

The cards in the crafting system are all Purple - which means that they're super rare, epic even. . It also implies they're good, and thankfully they really really are a cut above the rest. Read on for more details.

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November 29, 2007

War on Terror Board Game

Here's one from TerrorBull Games for all you tongue-in-cheek cynics out there (nothing to be ashamed about -- we're with you). War on Terror [Amazon, Funagain] is a strategy board game that fits together many games we love, and themes it with modern day troubles.

The game nicely combines elements of Risk, with a simplified resource production similar to Settlers of Catan, and stuffs a bit of Diplomacy into it as well. Dark? Yes. Well executed? Definitely, though sometimes theres such a strong balance between two sides that games may last for longer than their expected two hour duration. One thing we really like though: there is a Hidden Message pad that players may use to communicate/conspire with each other, but watch out! Some cards allow players to read the secret messages allowed. Oh boy howdy, that's good stuff -- it reminds us of the communication vouchers from so many days playing the diplomatic game in A Line in the Sand.

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November 27, 2007

World of Warcraft TCG: March of the Legion

March of the Legion Starter Deck
Starter Deck [Amazon, Funagain]

March of the Legion Booster
Box of Boosters [Amazon]
Individual Booster Pack [Amazon, Funagain]

The next WoW TCG set was released over the weekend, and with it come some new keywords and new rules. Yes, just over a year after the original Heroes of Azeroth set release we finally see not just a injection of new content, but new mechanics which should add another level of interesting complexity to deck-building, and should make the gameplay a bit more dynamic than it was before.

This is definitely a good thing, because we started to get concerned that game might have stagnated otherwise. However, as of now these new rules are divided on faction lines of the new Blood Elf Scryer order versus the Aldor consisting entirely of Draenei (though these sides are neutral so Blood Elves could appear in Alliance decks and vice versa). Our concern is that these new gameplay elements will never mix, which could limit the gameiness of deck building more than it would have otherwise. We'll have more of our thoughts in a review once we've been able to put the set through its paces.

Read on for a description of the new rules, and links to every official March of the Legion feature article:

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November 21, 2007

Axis and Allies Guadalcanal

Axis and Allies Guadalcanal.jpg

This year's installment of the long running strategy game series that lifted us out of the Risk dark ages has now shipped to stores. Axis & Allies Guadalcanal [Amazon, Funagain] continues the line of focused battles, but this time heading to the waves in the first major engagement of American Naval and Marine forces against the Japanese Imperial army and navy just north of Australia in the Spring of 1942.

A&A; Guadalcanal includes many gaming elements new to the franchise. Players will now be able to construct destructable airfields on the various islands in the island chain, and a new dice box mechanic assigns hits and simulates the choas of combat. But don't worry, the girth and commanding presence of your major units factores into it all, so your battleship won't be sunk by a sleepy fishing trawler's harpoon gun.

Check out our other stories for more information on Axis & Allies Guadalcanal, or read on for the official game details:

  1. Axis & Allies Campaign Setting Timeline
  2. Axis & Allies Guadalcanal: Near Release Preview Blitz
  3. Axis & Allies: Guadalcanal - The Fog Lifts
  4. Axis & Allies Guadalcanal Announced

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November 20, 2007

Critical Gamers 2007 Holiday Gift Guide - Family Board Games and Card Games

For more great gift ideas across all genres of games please see our
Holiday Gift Guide Index

We kick off our series of Board Game Holiday Shopper guides with probably the most difficult of gaming archetypes: The Family Gamer. Our goal was to compile a list of fun games where each in the list spans the interest levels of younger players, and teens, and even become challenging and interesting for the elder folks playing them, too.

Our shortlist of criteria for the best Holiday Gift Family Games:

  1. Games that are interesting for adults, too. We play all of these games without any kids present because they're fun, and we're manly in our 30's.
  2. Games that are simple to learn - but yet interesting and offer a quite a few levels of depth. They have to be rewarding for everyone who comes to the table.
  3. Games that keep everyone involved from the first turn to the last, unlike the traditional family games from our past - like Monopoly.
  4. The games come to a conclusion in about an hour so they're easy to budget time for, and you won't feel that board game hangover as you burn the midnight oil.

There's no surprise that this list jives with many characteristics of Eurogames which came out of Germany in the 1990's - since they were designed for exactly this type of gaming. Also, these games listed here would be great for non families, too, like any social board game group looking to get together a few times a month to play games and just hang out.

And here's our list of Family Games for the 2007 Holiday Season without further ado:

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November 19, 2007

WoW TCG Feast of Winter Veil

The WoW TCG has just sent out a sweet little stocking stuffer for the Holidays. The Feast of Winter Veil [Amazon, Funagain] is somewhat of a first in the line of World of Warcraft Trading Card Game releases. It’s not a set, nor a raid, but instead a mini set themed release. It includes: ten rare holiday themed cards, a booster from each of the standard set releases of Heroes of Azeroth, Through the Dark Portal, and Fires of Outland, and it’s all packaged in a slick little deck box with which to lug around your favorite decks.

A very nice release we might say. In fact we do say. The cards are play dynamic on the gameplay front and are very well themed for both the World of Warcraft MMORPG Feast of Winter Veil content and for the true holiday season - which makes them fun – but they’re also quite useful, too. Going down the list we've all nod our heads in appreciation of how well these things fit into all of our decks. Plus a deck box carrying case to boot? Sign us up!

Here are the 10 cards in the Feast of Winter Veil mini-set:

  1. Hardpacked Snowball
  2. PX-238 Winter Wondervolt
  3. Greatfather Winter
  4. Great-father Winter
  5. The Abominable Greench
  6. Metzen the Reindeer
  7. Gingerbread Cookie
  8. Mistletoe
  9. The Reason for the Season
  10. Treats for Great-father Winter

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November 16, 2007

Catan 4th Edition Expansions: Seafarers and Cities & Knights

Following hot on the heels of the new release of Settlers of Catan 4th Edition these two classic expansions have new 4th edition treatments as well, shipping with all the new bells and whistles including new art and better materials than the all prior releases of the game.

In Catan:Seafarers [Amazon, Funagain] players compete to explore the islands surrounding Catan in order to reign in their resources and become the most powerful empire. Things take a progressive step forward in Catan: Cities & Knights [Amazon, Funagain] as players attempt to build-up their Settlements out of the dark ages; defending cities from ravenous barbarians while the market grows over more refined resources such as gold, paper and cloth.

If you haven’t played either of these fantastic expansions before then it’s new to you! Veterans will find that the rules of the new editions haven’t changed at all, and to you we have to be honest here: we don’t know if it’s worth throwing down the cash for a materials upgrade. But lucky for you – and for us - Mayfair has scheduled their 4th edition releases just in time for the Holiday gift giving / wish list extravaganza, and copies of the updated titles might somehow sneak their way onto our Holiday Wish List!

For more information about what’s inside the 4th edition releases, please see our Settlers of Catan 4th Edition story.

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November 15, 2007

Games Magazines Top 100 Board Game Awards 2008

Games Magazine has released their choices for the 100 Best games of 2007, which has been named "2008 Games of the Year and Other Awards". That seems a bit odd since none of the games came out in 2008, and the top games of 2007 can't yet be settled since the year isn't over. But hey, we can’t really complain because Games Magazaine has been doing this for so many years we can hardly say they're misguided, and we won't.

Especially since they’ve given Game of the Year to The Pillars of the Earth, which is easily one of our favorite games of this year, too. Maybe cross media adaptations ( in this case book->boardgame) aren't so bad afterall.

The main selections listed below are just the tip of the iceberg. has been kind enough to list all of Games Magazine’s selections from 1->100 including brief snippets of the games descriptions, which can be found on this page here. It’s the one-stop top 100 game shop for 2007/2008/Last 365 days.

Here are the top title awards:

Here's a link to the official story, though all 100 games are not listed.

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November 14, 2007

Starcraft the Board Game Video Overview

Fantasy Flight Games has produced a great board game overview of their latest big box title: Starcraft the Board Game [Amazon, Funagain]. This video does a fantastic job of going over the basic gameplay and rules, and depicting the pace of the game. This movie differs from the Starcraft Trailer released in October which was more about flashy images of the board and pieces.

Yep, Fantasy Flight sure is making good use of their movie studio.

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November 13, 2007

Cold War: CIA vs KGB

Here’s a slick two player strategy card game has been very well received since its release in October. Cold War: CIA vs KGB [Amazon, Funagain] pits the major cold war spy networks against each other in the cold war that fell out of the WWII.

In a series of rounds the players’ reveal an objective card, then chose one of their CIA or KGB agents to deploy to the field. Agents cannot be deployed in two objectives in a row, so strategic choices must be made to determine who to deploy and when. The Player’s agents are played face down and only revealed at the end of the round (which we’ll get into in a second). Some Agents have special abilities like Assassination who can take out competing agents, or double agents who allow the controlling player to peek at the opposition’s face down agent.

Then the main gameplay starts. The overturned objective card has a target stability number on it. Players take turns pulling group cards off the top of the deck - each with an influence value - to place the group under their control. The goal is to sum up the influence to reach the target stability number of the objective without going over. The group cards also have a faction associated with them, and a player can use their turn top tap their group to influence the game in varying ways, either removing cards (especially those that increase your influence total beyond the target stability), peaking ahead in the group deck, etc.

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