October 2, 2006

September '06 Roundup

Roundup2.jpgWe can sum up September with two words: Sucker Punch. In high hopes of something stellar, we trusted some preview news that Lost the Game would be a release that bridges the gap between mainstream media and board gaming goodness. Unfortunately we found the game was lacking in just about every way. Our guess: Lost was rushed into production so that it would ship before the new season starts. That's a shame, too, because the title has potential on all fronts, but also has a general lack of polish to the game's key mechanics and content.

But on a lighter note, September was a nice little ramp-up to two huge Collectable Card Game releases. That's right - October marks the release of both Magic: the Gathering Time Spiral, and the World of Warcraft TCG. And starting late October and early November, we should start to see some fresh releases just in time for the Holidays.

Hold on to your butts!

Board Games & Party Games

Collectable Card Games

Gaming Culture

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

September 29, 2006

Time Spiral's Purple Hourglass and Keywords

TimeSpiralBooster.9.8.06.jpgThe Time Spiral pre-release weekend has come and gone, and Wizards of the Coast no longer has any reason to keep hush-hush over Time Spiral's inner workings.

Curious players can nwo sift through the alphabetical listing of all Time Spiral's 407 cards (yes 407) in the Time Spiral Sortable Spoiler. Those of you who hate spreadsheets can use Gatherer, the online searchable Magic the Gathering card database, to filter through card names, colors, etc.

Note that there are essentially two different sets of cards in the initial release of the Time Spiral Block. The "Time Spiral" set contains 281 new cards that introduce three new keywords (below) and borrow select keywords from past MTG blocks. Then there are the 121 "Time Shifted" cards, which are throwbacks to classic cards of old. The Time Shift cards have a new purple rarity symbol, evens the playing field across all these cards despite their past rarity levels. The purple cards will appear one per pack. Confused? Lead Designer Mark Rosewater explains the nitty gritty in his article for the week "Purple Reign".

So what are the new Time Spiral rule mechanics? Well, the major thing that we're excited about is seeing all of the old mechanics compliment each other in new ways. On top of that there's three new temporal rules that we all get to poke with a stick:

Suspend "Suspend N--[cost]" means "If you could play this card from your hand, you may pay [cost] and remove it from the game with N time counters on it. At the beginning of your upkeep, if this card is suspended, remove a time counter from it. When the last time counter is removed from this card, if it's removed from the game, play it without paying its mana cost. ...If it's a a creature, it gains haste until you lose control of it."

You may play this card any time you could play an instant.

Split Second
As long as this spell is on the stack, players can't play other spells or abilities that aren't mana abilities.

You can find more official definitions of these rules in the Time Spiral Rules Primer.

Time Spiral goes on sale worldwide next Friday, October 6th.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

September 28, 2006

Now Shipping: "Emira"

Emira.9.28.06.jpgMayfair Games has announced that their new board game "Emira" [Funagain] is shipping to stores.

Players of take on the role of desert sheiks fighting for resources to build up their own fortunes, palace, and status. During each round, players try to woo once of a various princesses randomly drawn from a deck. The gameplay seems to have stripped-out the historically accurate objectification of women, but still incorporates something not very popular to some in the states - non monogamous marriages, and so the game has stirred a bit of controversy up until it's release. But initial reports suggest the gameplay is tastefully, and more importantly entertaining and rewarding.

The game reviewing machine (with a heart of gold) known as Tom Vasel has written an Emira review, which can be found here. It's a great read, as are the user comments pertaining to the potential knee-jerk reactions of the subject mater.

Emira is currently available to order from the Mayfair Games webstore, and is also available to preorder from Funagain Games, Ishak.Pasa.Palace.9.28.06.jpg
which should be shipping the game in the next few days. The Funagain game discounts the title's MSRP by about seven bucks, which is a pretty good deal so long as you don't mind a few day's wait.

The Company Line: Emira is a satirical, historically themed game about desert nobles trying to attract princesses to join their household. The game is also the winner of the 1st place prize at the 16th Game Authors Competition of the Hippodice Spieleclub e.V.!

As a wealthy desert sheikh, you have many needs. Perhaps you need a wise advisor, or a talented cook, or maybe a well-organized housekeeper? Or, maybe you seek the romance of a beautiful companion?

But are you attractive enough to convince the princess to join your house and provide you with the skills you need to achieve your secret goals? Only a lucky or resourceful sheikh can hope to welcome an Emira into his palace. Because in this distant desert land, it is the princess who chooses which palace she will join!

As a desert sheikh, you will need to invest in the lucrative spice trade to furnish yourelf with the wealth to improve your appearance, enlarge your palace, and expand your status in the kingdom so that the princesses will choose you instead of another sheik. But you will have to mind your funds carefully: these independent and self-confident princesses will not stay if you cannot provide them with the life of comfort that they have come to expect!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

September 27, 2006

Now Shipping: "Terra Nova"

TerraNova.9.27.06.jpgImmortal Eyes Games has shipped their latest board game title to stores. Terra Nova [Funagain, Amazon] is an area of control game where players push around fence building meeples to capture terrain. As soon a constructed fence corners off a part of the board, the meeples within are tallied, removed from the board, and scored based on the number of terrain types contained within.

Players must jockey for position across the map, creating their own fenced areas, infiltrating other players terrain with their own meeples, and building fences to impede an opponent's designs. Sounds good!

The Company Line: Players lead nations in this new world where the most valuable resource is the land itself. The clever system of movement and boundary-building gives you the tools you need. However, it is your strategic vision which will ultimately decide whether or not you will rule Terra Nova.


  • 1 game board
  • 80 border stones
  • 44 pioneers
  • 4 scoring markers
  • rules

Terra Nova is now shipping from both Funagain Games, and from Amazon.com.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

September 22, 2006

World of Warcraft TCG: Molten Core Raid Deck and Dark Portal Expansion


The WoW TCG Molten Core Raid Deck has been released, and is now available from Shopzilla and Funagain Games.

Upper Deck Entertainment started pinging retailers yesterday with product information about two World of Warcraft Trading Card Game releases. The World of Warcraft TCG is still not yet in stores, but set to ship in October of this year.

The first new release coming down the pipe is The Dark Portal Booster expansion, which is set to ship in March 2007.

The Company Line: A storm rages in the Blasted Lands as evil stirs within the Dark Portal. Bloodshed in Azeroth intensifies as the Blood Elves and Draenei join the fray. Already, the great conflict spills over into the other world . . . the Burning Legion looks on and plots its next move. Grab your weapons and make ready, the darkness is upon us!

Heroes will be made. Legends will be written.

Heed the Call! The Dark Portal Expansion includes everything one player will need to join the struggle.

The release of The Dark Portal falls somewhat in line (at least thematically) with the late November release of Burning Crusade expansion, which extends the World of Warcraft Massively Online RPG. In the Burning Crusade players will enter the Dark Portal to travel to new world zones (regions) of high-end content. Their characters will grow more powerful, gain new armor, weapons, spells and equipment as they play through the new content and level up their characters. A Dark Portal TCG tie-in seems like an obvious extension of the WoW TCG, and is well-timed for a few months after both the initial World of Warcraft TCG release the Burning Crusade expansion to the MMORPG.

Shortly after release of the the Dark Portal expansion, Upper Deck will release the second in the series of Raid Decks: The Molten Core Raid Deck.

ArrowContinue reading: "World of Warcraft TCG: Molten Core Raid Deck and Dark Portal Expansion"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

UFS: TCG Climbs the Charts

Mitsurugi.9.22.06.jpgWord hit the press this week that Sabertooth Games has recently positioned itself as the Number Three competitor (in sales) in the Collectable Card Game war. That's pretty darn noteworthy in such a large market if you ask us.

The main Sabertooh gaming product is the Universal Fighting System which acts as a CCG card framework for any sort of themed fighting game. Currently Sabertooh has latched on to some of the more popular arcade fighting game franchise and has succesfully brought two in to the world of Collectable Card Games.

Thire current lineup includes the fighters and fighting styles of the arcade classic Street Fighter II, and Soul Calibur III. It's funny to think that during last game-night we actually debated which of these were the superior arcade rumbler. In the end we decided "to each their own" as each has a unique feeling and playstyle, and we're sure that Sabertooth is glad to have both popular sides of the arcade fighting genre under their belt.

Sabertooh Games intends to extend their franchise this Winter with the introduction of two more franchises: "Samuari Shodown V", and "The King of Fighters 2006". They also hint to more Fighter franchises in the future. We're crossing our fingers for a reincarnation of a Mortal Kombat CCG, but uh.. considering the market strength of that franchise, we won't hold our breath that Midway will outsource it any time soon.

The official press release from a proud Sabertooh's (regarding their market share) can be found here Other related links:

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

September 20, 2006

"Marvel Heroes" Official Website Launches

MarvelHeros.3.16.06.jpgFantasy Flight Games has launched the official product website for the upcoming board game Marvel Heroes. The website has an extensive About page that does a great job of detailing the game from top to bottom. There is also a Marvel Heroes forum, which is realatively empty at this point ( it has the obligatory "First Post!"), but we're sure it'll become alive with strategies and variants as soon as the game ships.

Marvel Heroes looks to be a fast, but yet relatively complex game. Because it comes from the same design team responsible for the complicated (yet extremely entertaining) War of the Ring, we would have a hard time recommending this title to kids. However, young adults and Marvel comic book readers should definitely check this game out.

Most of the Marvel Heroes information released up until this point has come in the form of design articles by board game designer Roberto Di Meglio. If the new product page website suits your fancy then you should definitely give Di Meglio's articles a once-over.

Marvel Heroes is set to ship in November. It's currently available for preorder from Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

September 19, 2006

IGA 2006 Honors "Caylus" and "Twilight Struggle"

TwilightStruggle.8.14.06.jpgThe International Gamers Award 2006 commite has announced the winners of the Best Mulitplayer Game 2006, and the Best 2-Player Game 2006 in the category of General Gaming.

The cold war themed Twilight Struggle [Funagain] gets the honors for best 2-Player game of 2006, while the Cathedral construction game Caylus [Funagain, Amazon] walks away with the Best Multiplayer Game of 2006 award.

Twilight Struggle has already received honors for the IGA's Best Historical Simulation 2006.

The German game Calyus (which has english editions) has already won the 1st place prize in the Deutscher Spiele Preis 2006, and the Spiel des Jahres 2006 Special Prize for Complex Play. These are the two most prestigious board game award organizations in Germany, the country from which a majority of Eurogames (like Carcassonne and the Setlers of Catan) are shipped from.

Here's the details for Caylus and Twilight Struggle:

ArrowContinue reading: "IGA 2006 Honors "Caylus" and "Twilight Struggle""

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

September 18, 2006

"Lost The Game" is Back in Stock

Lost.Boardgame.8.23.06.jpgA few weeks ago we mentioned that the TV Show Lost had received a board game adaptation. Usually we're skeptical of TV / board game cross overs, but apparently "Lost the Game" [Amazon, Target] has gotten some good press. At that time it was really difficult to get a your hands on a copy of the title, but it seems that more trucks rolled out of the warehouses and dropped their Lost cargo in stores. You can find it at both Target and Amazon, both having it in stock.

Our copy has just arrived, and before we throw it down on the table we wanted to let you know that we found some user-submitted rules that configure the game the run with only Season 1 content. If you're catching up on Lost then you're probably still making your way through the Lost Season 2 DVD that just came out. These rules will strip all of the Season 2 content form the game, making it relatively spoiler free. We're not sure if the altered game is well-balanced, however, so use at your own risk!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

September 15, 2006

World of Warcraft TCG - FAQ, Hero Builder and Interview


Want to get started playing the WoW TCG? Then pick up a Starter Deck and a few booster packs. Also check-out Our Review.

The release of WoW is shaping up to be one of the biggest things in TCGs this fall, and we thought we'd end the week with some World of Warcraft TCG links that surfaced over the last few days. First up is an unofficial WoW TCG FAQ that an industrious dwarf named 'ripark' put together and then posted in the game's official forums. The FAQ borrows info from company literature, game manuals, and incorporates posts from WoW TCG Designers to create what seems like the most comprehensive guide about the game to date (other than the rules, of course). Here's a bit that we found settles a few questions that we had about the girth of the first release and future expansions for the game:

How many sets a year are going to be released? I can't keep up with 50 sets a year! Good news then, UDE has said that they will be sticking to a 2-3 set release schedule.

How many classes are going to be represented in the initial set?
All of them. There will be one Hero card for each class/faction combo. So, eight classes on Horde side and eight classes on Alliance side in the Hero card variety.

How many cards will be in the first set?

How about rarities?
Currently we are looking at 5 different rarities, each color coded based on how items are color coded in the WoW MMO. Common is white, uncommon is green, rare is blue, epic is purple and legendary is orange. There will be a little over 20 epic cards in the first set and will include the Thrall card and about 100 rares. The epics are printed at twice the rarity of a rare so you can expect around 3 epics per booster

Next up is a Hero builder. Those of you with your ear to the ground will recall that the focus of a WoW deck is the a hero. Each hero sports specific traits like race, faction allegience, class, class specializations and trade skills. Now, unlike most cards in the game, the hero cards don't seem to have rarities yet (so we don't think creating your own is that big of a problem). Also each booster will come with at least one hero, so they'll be gobs of heroes spilling out into your collection when the game ships. But due to randomness you might not get the hero card you're looking for. So why not create your own?

Enter The World of Warcraft TCG Database Hero Creator, which lets you customize your own hero card's name, art, specializations, ability text, the works. Don't want to play with Ta'zo the Troll Mage, but instead you want to throw down your Undead Warlock from the online game? No problem!!

Well, actually... slight problem. Not all of the race/class combinations have art assets yet, probably due to the lack of variety in the game's initial run of heroes. Still this tool is a pretty freakin cool way to bring your World of Warcraft MMORPG hero into the World of Warcraft TCG.

If you're still reading this that means you're truly interested in the WoW TCG, and we saved this last bit for you true believers. Fist Full of Comics, a comic book blog with a touch of gaming news, has a podcast interview with a few World of Warcraft TCG desginers. Now, these guys only have two TCG/CCG stories on their website, and they refer to World of Warcraft as "Worlds of Warcraft" in multiple locations, so don't expect this to be a punchy Tim Russert Interview full of hard hitting questions. The interview starts off relatively standard (and if you've seen the WoW TCG session video then some of it may seem repetitive), but there's still plenty of cool info to glean once the designers get going about half of the way through.

Enjoy the weekend!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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