April 9, 2007

Games Quarterly Magazine Closes Shop

GamesQuarterly.7.28.06.jpgWord has it on BoardGameNews that one of our favorite newstand gaming rags is closing shop. A bit of depressing news for sure. It kinda throws the expression "any news is good news" into a bin of crumbled up scrap paper.

We really did enjoy the magazine's recent string of embedded board game expansions for our favorite Eurogames. And it's sad to think that all those folks who brought us good content over years will be hanging up their pencils without the chance for an official farewell letter.

We guess we'll start our search for something that picks up the slack. Hopefully someone will.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 6, 2007

World of Warcraft TCG: Official Podcast Launches

World of Warcraft TCG Through the Dark Portal ships in AprilIt was only a matter of time, really. In a world where a trading card game spawns from a virtual online entity, you should have been scratching your head wondering why this wasn’t started at the game’s original launch last year. But now we’re at the eve of the second set, and Upper Deck is starting to roll out a community friendly underground marketing tool to do things right this time around. And we’re pretty excited, because now we can hear words of wisdom directly from the mouths of the game’s designers. And that’s never anything to shake a stick at.

The inaugural podcast [link] interviews Brian Kibler – Lead Developer of the WoW TCG – about the upcoming release of the WoW TCG Through the Dark Portal expansion. Can’t say that we’re not surprised since the expansion is set to ship Wednesday, April 11th – in 5 days.

Specific Topics include the new paradigm of WoW TCG set releases, which should be released every four months from now on, the adaption of new class abilities like Dual Wield, and their ideology of translating the established content from the MMORPG while keeping it fresh, and new in the TCG.

The hosts also discuss the new Racial Champions that will be in the upcoming release. These guys are powerful ally cards that can only be played by particular races. The goal is to make each race/class combination unique, and bring a bit of story and gaming context to the various races of Warcraft in the TCG. Currently they’re just pretty pictures, so this is a step in the right direction in our opinion.

Also this week: the Upper Deck website has posted new official articles around the new upcoming Through the Dark Portal set:

  • Head of the Class: Rogue Boost: details the new Rogue hero cards, some of their new abilities. More interesting - though - is how the existing abilities from the Heroes of Azeroth block will complement the new cards in Through the Dark Portal.
  • Back to the Future: breaks down how the class/faction specific cards really open up now that the Allies can play Shamans, and now that the Horde can build Paladin decks.

Have a good weekend!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 5, 2007

Games for the Classroom

Damn StraightIt's raining right now. And though the average age of our group rounds out at about 30, we can't help but flashback to 20 years ago to our dreadful indoor recess. It was always a drag to have to spend your one daily break sitting around the same desks you spent the other 7.5 hours of the day sitting around. Melting crayons on the radiator can only provide so much entertainment. Eventually, you run out of crayons.

So if you happen to be a teacher, or a parent who likes to keep your kids occupied with games which teach history, or vocabulary, or mathematics, then you checkout the article posted on BoardGameNews by fellow gamer Giles Pritchard, entitled "Teacher’s Corner: An Overview of Modern Games and How to Use Them in School."

In it you'll find recommendations for every age group of kids from eight plus, through high school. Giles has even been nice-enough to file games into categories sorted by subject matter, too.

The history buffs in our group scowled at the fact that the post doesn't include a list devoted to their favorite subject. We tried to tell them that most kids taking history classes have grown beyond the age where they get outdoor recess, and thus rain doesn't dampen their spirits quite so often. But then they put a bayonet to our necks.

So for those history teachers looking to *ack* fill their bookshelves with some historical gaming then check out *noof..* easy... check out the BGG gaming lists: "History of Western Civilization", "Games in the History Classroom", and "European History: The (semi?) Educational Game(s)".

Okay, we did it - now put that thing away. Didn't your parents give you guys love and attention? Someone needs a hug.. woah, sorry! Backing off. Sheesh.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 4, 2007

Now Shipping: "Scene It?: 007 Collector's Edition"

SceneIt007.jpgScene-It, the makers of the best-selling video trivia franchise, has hooked up with Q-Labs to bring you the 007 Collector's Edition [Amazon,Funagain] - a trivia game that plays on any common household TV and DVD Player. Think that you're a bigger bond fan than you're father, well now you can prove it.

And it's all here: from Gemini capsule eating rockets, to laser table death traps, to the casino-based ballistic defense simulation with pain amplifying joysticks. Classic.

And if you ever find yourself in a pinch, loosing the game to your kids (who were born in the Timothy Dalton era), then just activate the disc's self destruct mechanism. Simply whistle three times and say "Roger Moore" with a scotch laden slur, and grab some cover. Smashing, yes.

Here's are the officials:

The Only True Bond

The Company Line: A must for the true Bond aficionado, this Collector's Edition of Scene It? is loaded with new trivia questions, puzzlers, and clips, including images from Casino Royale. This game will even give seasoned Bond fans a run for their money.

  • Collectible Tin
  • 1 DVD
  • Certificate of Authenticity
  • Flextime Game Board
  • Party Play200 Trivia Cards (25% more Trivia Cards)
  • 30 Q Cards
  • 4 Reference Cards
  • 1 Six-Sided Die
  • 1 Eight-Sided Die
  • Set of Game Rules

007 Collector's Edition [Amazon,Funagain] is now shipping from Amazon and Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 3, 2007

Condottiere 3rd Edition Website Launches

CondottiereIn our humblest of opinions, the game of Poker requires money to be fun. Without stakes, and the ebb and flow of pots, what element of Poker acts as the glue that lends a story to the night's series of hands? Absolutely nothing, that's what. Plus, in the world of modern family games, you wouldn't want to take a step backwards and play a gambling game with your kids, would you?

There have been a few card games over the years that have tried to create a meaningful setting around the Poker style of play. These games usually remove the morally confusing elements of betting in the process, which makes them family safe. We're talking about Collectible Card GAmes, either. We're talking about cards games that involve the standard circle of friends, gabbing some beers (or soda with the kids), sitting down, and bluffing your way to victory. Havoc: The Hundred Years War immediately comes to mind, as that seems to be the most recent popular title to meld together Poker with modern gaming elements.

But around the same time that Havoc was released, there was a similar title called Condottiere [Funagain], which was a winner of the 1994 Concours International de Créateurs de Jeux de Société (that's French for "good") award, thing. And now publisher Fantasy Flight Games has picked up the rights to print the 3rd edition, and they've just launched their official website showcasing their latest face lift of the game.

The Condottiere series is centered around the warfare of the various city states in Renaissance Italy. The term Condottiere stems from the mercenary army commanders of the time period, employed by the various city states to act as their hand in the field of battle. The new edition sports new art work, and new game elements and card types, but we’re not yet sure of any of the specifics. Still - even if the changes are minor tweaks those who are new to the game will find plenty of good stuff to be had (if it’s new to you!).

Condottiere1a.JPGPlayers of Condottierre will immediately find similarities to Havoc: The Hundred Years War, but under closer inspection tthey’ll find even more things different. In Havoc players partake on a series of pokeresque rounds of play. Each round represents one battle, and players aim to take a series of battles of to collect the most victory points in order to win the entire war. Condottiere swaps out the victory point structure for a meta map depicting the regions of Italy as they existed during the Renaissance. Whoever wins a round takes a territory, but also becomes the Condottiere who chooses the next region to fight over. The winner is the player who can connect 3 territories in a row.

We know this sounds stupid, but: we seriously like meta maps. Like a kid drooling over an oversized lollipop, we stare at meta maps with widened eyes. And the great thing about this one, it's in game where you wouldn't expect it to otherwise appear. What else brings meaning to a series of poker hands? How about a territorial map with Italian city states carved into it waiting to be conquered?. Heck yeah. That'll do.

ArrowContinue reading: "Condottiere 3rd Edition Website Launches"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 30, 2007

World of Warcraft TCG: Through the Dark Portal

World of Warcraft TCG Through the Dark Portal ships in AprilFinally the concealing smock has been lifted from the World of Warcraft TCG: Through the Dark Portal expansion display table, and the juicy details from WoW TCG official website have started to flow. It’s been quite a long time coming, as the expansion has been not only highly anticipated, but the internals have been a closely guarded secret. Only now, months after the original Heroes of Azeroth release, can we finally focus our keen eyes on the new series of cards marching their way toward release this April.

The thing that has us a bit disheartened, though, is that this initial series of previews (links below) don't introduce any new gaming elements that significantly change the way we play the game. Instead it seems like the expansion provides more content based on the same systems from the initial release. In comparison, the Magic: The Gathering preview articles have always started-off with the introduction of 3-4 new keywords that seriously switch-up existing elements of the game. But with this round of WoW TCG class preview cards, we see a bit more of the gameplay elemets as before. Perhaps Upper Deck is trying to 'take it slow’ as to not alienate those players who are just starting out in the world of TCGs? Or maybe their holding onto their new ideas until after this weekend’s Sneak Preview Event. Either way we wouldn't mind seeing the game kicked up a notch, if not only a small one.

ArrowContinue reading: "World of Warcraft TCG: Through the Dark Portal"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 29, 2007

Now Shipping: "The Pillars of the Earth" Board Game

PillarsOfTheEarth.jpgIt looks like Mayfair Games has another hit on their hands with their latest cathedral building title The Pillars of the Earth [Funagain].

Pillars is based on the bestselling novel of the same name, in which author Ken Follett 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. If you think this is some cross branding Caylus ripoff then think again, and please stop being so cynical. That's our job, and we're proud of it, so knock it off and read on because we're quite convinced otherwise.

The idea behind the novel, and likewise behind the game, immediately piqued our interest - being the history buffs that we are - but that doesn't mean the game is great, right? Well if you hate hype then perhaps the endorsement of the gaming guru himself Tom Vassel is good enough for you. The following comes a man who plays games for a living, and so plays gobs of different titles a year, and he has this to say about Pillars in his review:

"Few games blow me away with positive impressions as Pillars of the Earth did. Not only do I consider it one of the best games of 2007 – award worthy, even – but also it could easily become one of my favorite games." - Tom Vassel

If that's not a ringing endorsement of a game, then obliviously we don't know the English language from a whole in the grind.

ArrowContinue reading: "Now Shipping: "The Pillars of the Earth" Board Game"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 28, 2007

Tide of Iron Delayed 'Till May 2007

TideofIronRules.JPGNot a happy bit of news, but it's news all the same. Fantasy Flight Games has decided to delay the release of Tide of Iron [Funagain], a big box WWII war game set in the Western Europe that we've been drolling over for almost a year! According to the official website, Fantasy Flight had encountered some difficulties from the initial run of the game: the boards warped easily. And instead of the PR nightmare of releasing a shabby war game system, they've elected to retool the factory machines to produce boards of higher stock. A good bit of news there, if you're an optimist.

So now the release of the game is set for early May, 2007. Patton would scowl and squat a brick on this delinquency, but he'd also probably slap a Warped, Spineless Board, too. 'Lack of quality is a lack of good, morale fiber!' /George C. Scott.

So.. we'll just have to sit quietly and be content with our WWII at Games By Email for now.

In the meantime feel free to peruse our previous coverage of Tide of Iron from the last few months:

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 27, 2007

Freeverse Launches Big Bang Board Games Beta

Big Bang Board GamesThe company Freeverse, who are responsible for numerous casual online and Play By Email games, has just launched their latest service: Big Bang Board Games. The software is only in Beta for now, but it’s free, and you can read more about joining it by checking out this post in the Freeverse Forums.

What’s so special about Big Bang Board Games? Glad you asked. The service integrates with iChat, iTunes, and iSight, which means you can easily play a game of chess to complement your normal everyday discussions with your friends. And because BBBG is a framework, look for more advanced titles to start making their way onto the service.

BBChess.jpgAnd that’s probably the biggest draw for us: the potential. Most people have a piece of software on their machines that’s a gateway to communicating with friends, and now comes a framework that we’ve wanted for years. BBBG is something that fits into the normal communication tools and allows you to play a few games of Chess, with people in your social circle without a huge front end. And who knows, soon we might be able to play a Risk variant , or maybe eventually stuff like Carcassonne, Axis and Allies, or Twilight Imperium ..? Heh, a game that complex is wishful thinking, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

Here’s to the future!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 21, 2007

Four New Kids Titles from Blue Orange Games

Froggy BoogieWe love war games, we love strategy games, adventure games, party games (especially those that involve beer), and maybe an R rated movie or two. And though we cover Family Games, most titles have a complex set of rules requiring players to reach the wise old age of 8. Doogie Howser and Mitch Taylor, excluded.

But as our group continues to squirt out the little hooligans we're becoming a bit more sensitive to the fact that our board game coverage is leaving our titles for young kids. Of course we assume the little geniuses aren't reading our site, but parents are. And in a time of war, political scandals, and football's off-season roster movements, won't someone please think of the children!?

And this of course leads into four new kids titles that shipped this week from publisher Blue Orange Games. We don't have to tell you game-players that board games teach social respect, sharing, turn taking, planning, and math skills. Plus they're colorful, and fun to boot. Some even taste good.. better than paste and construction paper sandwiches, and spicy thumbtack surprise.

Here are four of their latest:


Bendomino Jr. [Amazon,Funagain]

Easy to learn, Bendominoes play just like regular dominoes. Watch a new pattern being created each time you play as pieces will curve and twirl around the table. The curved pieces can also block your opponents if they don't have the bendomino that fits. Bendominoes' original design creates a fun and twisting game that is entertaining for the entire family!

ArrowContinue reading: "Four New Kids Titles from Blue Orange Games"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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