April 24, 2007

Where is BattleLore Heading?

BattleLore:  A Fantasy Combat SystemIt seems that the BattleLore board game system designers at Days of Wonder have recently come under a bit of fire about the game’s seemingly shallow and stagnant setting since its release six months ago, and the lack of PR communication about where the BattleLore system is headed. People have also been stamping their feet, comparing the BattleLore [Funagain,Amazon] system to the very robust and installed Warhammer Franchise which has more than enough content to go around.

The designers have responded with a post “The Long View” on the BattleLore official blog. In it they cite numerous projects they’re working which should flesh out a lot of the core system, with the goal of installing a larger source base before branching the system with some mondo-sized expansions. They also list the releases slated for release this year, which includes: the soon to be released Call To Arms expansion; a print version of Epic BattleLore, which provides rules for players to combine multiple sets of BattleLore to form huge multiplayer battles; and the mid summer release of the Specialist Packs which will introduce new units to the game. The designers also note that the online scenario editor is up and running, which should serve as an outlet for those who want to work their creative side.

Also upcoming are newly announced Hero characters. Currently the details are somewhat lacking, but it seems like the designers will use Heroes as a tool to add a stronger narrative to each of the battles.

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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.

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April 20, 2007

Axis & Allies Guadalcanal Announced

U.S. Marines rest in the field on Guadalcanal, circa August-December 1942Some very cool news comes our way via a scooping post by BoardGameNews. Larry Harris is continuing his legacy of Axis and Allies work with Avalon Hill, with a new battle-level installment to the franchise ( a series that started with D-Day in 2005, and continued with the Battle of the Bulge in 2006). This time around the element of water is added to the mix, as players now have to balance their resources and equipment across the seas of the Solomon Island chain as they slug it out in the battle of Guadalcanal.

The gritty details of the game are still up in air. At this point he most detailed information can be found on the Axis & Allies 2007 release schedule page of the Avalon Hill website.

"A sweeping conflict in the South Pacific where naval might leads to air superiority. Axis and Allies: Guadacanal challenges you to control sea zones and island groups while managing troop and supply transport and directing land, sea, and air forces in one of the decisive campaigns of the Second World War's Pacific Theater.
  • Created by Larry Harris, designer of the Axis and Allies board game.
  • Incorporates crucial elements that were key factors in the historical campaign, such as air strip construction, troop and supply transport, and furious land, sea, and air battles.
  • Introduces the Cruiser unit as well as mechanics for land, sea and air combat in the South Pacific using a randomized casualties system.
  • Provides fans with the historical counterpoint to the World War II experience offered by Axis and Allies: Battle of the Bulge.
  • Available September 2007"

We'll keep you posted as any more news about the title comes our way.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 19, 2007

The Pillars of the Earth Board Game


The Pillars of the Earth board game is a title based on the bestselling novel by author Ken Follett, which explores the life and art of three main characters as they strive to complete a 12th-century cathedral in the fictitious town of Kingsbridge, England. Like the characters of the novel, the players act as master artisans who compete to be the most influential on the cathedral's final construction.

The Pillars of the Earth [Amazon, Funagain] has been released to critical praise by many game reviewers, and after the first quarter of the year it's a strong contender for many people's Game of the Year 2007.

Most gamers have noted that the gameplay and theme borrows heavily from the modern classic board game Caylus. The more hardcore gamers still prefer Caylus for its deeper - and slower - gameplay, but they do admit that The Pillars of the Earth has extracted some of the best elements from it's spiritual predecessor, and that it does indeed lend itself better to both lighter gaming groups and family style play.

Most gamers have noted that the gameplay and theme borrows heavily from the modern classic board game Caylus. The more hardcore gamers still prefer Caylus for its deeper - and slower - gameplay, but they do admit that The Pillars of the Earth has extracted some of the best elements from its spiritual predecessor, and this abstraction lends itself better to both lighter gaming groups and family style play.

Currently the title’s BGG rating rests at a very solid 7.7 after 700+ votes, which is a solid score for such a critical group of players.

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April 18, 2007

Bang! Now Available at Amazon

Bang.jpgThe popular card game Bang! [Amazon] published by Mayfair games has finally been pushed up to Amazon.com. Players are assigned roles in a Western gunslinger theme: Sheriff, Outlaw, Deputy, and Renegade. Each role is kept secret and has a unique victory condition. For instance, the Sheriff has to kill all of the Outlaws, the Renegade has to be the last to survive.

It’s a regular Good, Bad and the Ugly.. with a Deputy side-kick thrown in for good measure.

From the back of the box:

"The Outlaws hunt the Sheriff. The Sheriff hunts the Outlaws. The Renegade plots secretly, ready to take one side or the other. Bullets fly. Who among the gunmen is a Deputy, ready to sacrifice himself for the Sheriff? And who is a merciless Outlaw, willing to kill him? If you want to find out, just draw (your cards)!"

Bang! has been out for a few years now, so it's a bit late to Amazon's stage. If the Amazon reviews don't fill your engine, then checkout Bang's page at BGG. It's chalk-full of useful information and user critiques.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 17, 2007

The Wargamer Interviews Tide of Iron Designer John Goodenough

TideofIronRules.JPGTake a knee Tide of Iron fans. Wargamer.com has posted a great interview with Tide of Iron [Funagain] designer John Goodenough about the upcoming WWII board game slated for release this May.

The interview’s topics include details of future expansions (first up is a North Africa Campaign), John’s compare & contrast summary of Tide of Iron versus the Days of Wonder hit Memoir ’44, and the evolution of ToI’s Command System.

Not being huge fans of hex-based wargames, or games that give you too much to chew on between turns, we were happy to run across this soothing statement:

”I believe most wargames do not appeal to the average gamer simply because they seem too complicated. Their rules tend to be very long and detailed with special conditions to maintain historical accuracy. With Tide of Iron, we tried to strike a balance between incorporating historic details and streamlining the system so that the game does not get bogged down with the rules. Players will still feel the historic references without being overwhelmed by them.”           ~ John Goodenough, Fantasy Flight Games

Good stuff.

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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.

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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

April 11, 2007

"World of Warcraft TCG: Through the Dark Portal" Hits Stores

World of Warcraft TCG Through the Dark Portal ships in AprilThe friendly Winter armistice is bursting at the seams with the burden of cabin fever and internalized anxiety. Soon the blood feuds will begin anew. Your best friends will become your worst enemies. New vendettas will form, erupting with the pounding fury of angry fists on oak. Drinks will tumble. Words will be said, faces slapped. Cards will fly. The stage is set for a series of brutal summer evenings.

Or maybe you don't take this stuff as seriously as we do.

Either way - the Wow TCG is back, and The World of Warcraft TCG: Through the Dark Portal [Starter, Booster] has shipped to stores! In it you'll find 319 new cards, including new abilities, races, quests, allies, weapons and equipment for your Hero, all pulled from the World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade Expansion.

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"Thurn and Taxis: Power and Glory" Expansion Released

Power and Glory: The first expansion to the smash hit Thurn & TaxisIt’s the 15th century. Your pigs are fat, the crop is just about ripe for the harvest, and Oktoberfest is only a month away. Life is good.

It strikes you sometime between gargling your AM ale and chomping down your lard toast: cousin Martijn should come down for the harvest and join-in on the Barvarian bierfest celebration! But uh, the German postal system doesn’t quite reach across the country, let alone extend all the way up to Holland. How the heck are you going to reach cousin Martijn to tell him to get his skinny butt down to Bavaria, post-haste! Freaking 15th Century red tape. Time to change it!

If you're scratching your head wondering what in the heck we're talking about, then let us fill you in. Thurn and Taxis was released last year to a welcoming audience of players ready to compete in to create the most comprehensive postal delivery network in 15th Century Germany. People who like Ticket to Ride have found Thurn and Taxis to be a great take of the route-connecting genre of games, with more family friendly elements and a particular de-emphasis of direct competition in gameplay.

Thurn and Taxis: Power and Glory [Funagain] expands the original game, replacing the board with a new series of postal routes that stretch into the northern reaches of Germany and into Holland. Also included is a new optional horse mechanic which changes the way some of the longer routes are won.

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