June 29, 2006

Now Shipping: Arkham Horror - "Curse of the Dark Pharaoh" Expansion

DarkPharaoh.6.28.06.jpgFantasy Flight Games has released an expansion to the very popular Arkham Horror, an H.P. Lovecraft themed cooperative board game. "Curse of the Dark Pharaoh" is the first expansion to the modern revision of Arkham Horror [Amazon, Funagain], and includes gobs of new cards and locations. Here's the official line:

It seems harmless enough. Just a room full of dusty old antiquities, dug up from some old tomb in Egypt. Miskatonic U's faculty are all a tizzy, of course, but why did Professor Armitage go all pasty-white when he saw the Pharaoh's sarcophagus?

The weirdness didn't start until the next night ...

Curse of the Dark Pharaoh is the first expansion for Arkham Horror! Focusing on the thematic game play, amazing art, and strange tales that made the original game such a fan-favorite, this expansion includes 166 new cards!

  • 22 Exhibit Items, ancient relics from the visiting exhibit.
  • 18 "Barred from the Neighborhood" cards for unlucky investigators.
  • 4 Benefit and 4 Detriment cards with new and intriguing effects.
  • 45 new Arkham Location cards, 27 new Gate cards, 18 new Mythos cards, 21 new Spells, and 7 new Allies to make Arkham Horror bigger, scarier, and more exciting than ever before!

Curse of the Dark Pharaoh is now available to order from the game's official site, and is available to preorder for cheap from FunagainGames (if you don't mind waiting for them to get the title in stock).

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

June 28, 2006

Magic: The Gathering Online Coldsnap Beta Signup

Wizards of the Coast has opened up their sign up page for the upcoming Magic Online's Coldsnap beta program. Coldsnap is the next set (due in July) in the Magic: The Gathering release cycle, returning the CCG to the Ice Age block from 1995 / 1996. The cards of Coldsnap should work off the existing cards from the Ice Age Set and Alliances expansion. Although that doesn't really help you with the Online Beta (since participants will probably only play with Coldsnap cards ), it is good news for those who haven't thrown away the box of old Magic cards hiding-out under the hat-pile in their attic.

The beta sign up includes a 10 question quiz which is pretty tough. We recommend using the Magic card database "Gatherer" as a reference for those nitpicky rules the devs throw at ya. Also, the beta asks if you have a 3D card, which probably means that the Coldsnap beta will include the beta test of much-delayed Magic Online Client v3.0. Here's hoping, anyway.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

June 26, 2006

"Marvel Heroes" Preview Part 3 from Fantasy Flight Games Designer

MarvelHeros.3.16.06.jpg A few weeks ago we reported on the two preview articles of Marvel Heroes (Fantasy Flight Games) written by game desginer Roberto Di Meglio had surfaced in the Boardgamegeek forums. We're not really comic book readers here, but we're excited that Marvel Heroes has the same design team that worked on "War of the Ring" [Amazon,Funagain] - a game that we hold in high regard. And those two preview articles painted quite the pretty picture for the team's next project.

Shortly after Roberto's first 2 posts, he threw up a third about the game's mission system (called "Headlines") which includes some juicy details about how to resolve the random setting of the game's battles. As in - who's the super villain, what's he doing in Time Square, and why is he wearing purple fishnet stalkings? Here's a snippet:

The first thing that happens when a Hero (or group of Heroes) try to solve a Headline is to generate how much Trouble he's getting into: this is done with a roll of the special dice included in the game. There are a few cards which can affect this roll, but most important is that on a Mastermind Headline the Nemesis of your team may put his own weight and try to increase the trouble by performing "Scheming" actions.

Every villain has his specialties, so of course expect bigger problems when facing a Crime headline if Kingpin is your Nemesis! After trouble is generated, the Hero uses HIS ratings to reduce it. If it's now zero, great! The mission is solved. But most often you will have trouble left: this means that some nasty super-criminal is in action and you've got to fight... From Marvel Heroes: "A Preview" by Roberto Di Meglio

We didn't post this one right away because we hoped Robert would toss-up a fourth installment shortly thereafter, and we wanted to digest this stuff instead of pinging you every time with a new article. But the fourth installment (on the combat system) never arrived. We'll keep an eye-out for it, and uh, ping you, when it does.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

June 20, 2006

Dreamblade Demo from Wizards of the Coast

Unspeakable FreakWe have to be honest with you - the collectible miniatures game Dreamblade was announced quite a while ago by Wizards of the Coast, but we haven't covered it much here. The main reason is becuase Wizards of the Coast hasn't released many beefy yet specific details about the game, but instead released images of their miniatures. They look great, but that's the catch - was this game just going to be eyecandy?

When Dreamblade was first announced we heard reports that the game plays like chess , and then not a few days later we get reports that those people are insane, and the game plays more like Magic: The Gathering meets the tactical Anachronism CCG. Turns out that these later people seem to have their head screwed-on straighter. You can see for yourself. This online demo walks you through a few turns of gameplay. Dreamblade is shaping up into something pretty unique.

Now, although the demo is a positive step forward from Wizards, it does have some faults. For instance, when you hover your mouse over a unit the demo provides details about the unit's casting cost, attack values, etc, but these values are denoted by icons instead of text. If you don't know a thing about the game, then you certainly haven't a clue what each of the icons means (a spiral squiggly means my brainchomper has a 17 what?). The demo also asks you to select units with a casting cost of 9, yet none of these icons have a 9 next to them, and none of the icons scream "casting cost" symbology, either. It's a bit frustrating, but if you guess wrong the demo will push you in the right direction.

There are other things, too, like the lack of an explanation of defense values, special combat dice, etc. So for a tutorial, the demo falls short in some areas, and we hope that Wizard of the Coast doesn't treat the final product so carelessly. But in the end, the demo shows the game board in all its tactical glory, which is something we've been looking forward to for quite a while.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

June 15, 2006

Age of Empires 3 Board Images

AgeOfEmpires3Board_fish.jpgPublisher Eagle Games, who released select illustrations of the upcoming Age of Empires 3 board and documentation a few weeks ago, have now also released an image of the entire game board. You can check it out in this forum post here.

The board does a great job to match the style of the nautical maps from age of exploration and early colonial periods. One thing we're miffed about though - all these regions of the Americas have really cool exports like Furs, Silver and Gold, Indigo, etc, but they smacked a giant cod down onto our hometown Boston. We realize that the New England fish industry was substantial during that time period, but did Eagle Games need to make the fish look like the President of the New England Colonies?? Look at him all smug in circular framing. Besides, New England has other great exports, too... like wood, and uh... neco wafers. Crap, they got us.

Anyway, you might have noticed that the board's spacing doesn't quite present itself to good wargamming play - that's because Age of Empires 3 has more of a Eurogame builder gameplay style (like Caylus) rather than a Risk-esque slugfest. Looking at the board in this context, it's really quite a pretty thing.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

June 14, 2006

Now Shipping: Memoir '44: Pacific Theater

Memoir44.3.31.06.jpgThe latest Days of Wonder expansion to their Memoir '44 [Amazon,Funagain] WWII tactical board game is now shipping to stores. Memoir '44 Pacific Theater [Amazon, Funagain] includes 8 historic scenarios including the battles of: Wake Island, Guadalcanal, Guam, and Iwo Jima. Of course the title adds new pieces (what expansion wouldn't?) including new destroyers, aircraft carriers, and for you land lubbers the new map add jungles, rice paddies, cave networks, field hospitals and HQ supply tents to the mix.

The Official Line: From the jungles of Japanese-occupied Burma to the desolate slopes of long-forgotten atolls, discover this latest exciting expansion for Memoir '44! The Pacific Theater expansion introduces new units (Chindits, Japanese Giretsu Special Forces, US Marines), new weapons (Mobile Artillery, Flame throwing Tanks), new terrains and features (rope bridges, aircraft carriers, warships, caves...) and new figures (Japanese Infantry, Ha-Go Light Tanks and 75mm AA Guns), and more...

Revive some of the most ferocious battles of WWII like Iwo Jima or Okinawa! Use new rules, like the Japanese "Banzai!" war cry or the Marines' "Gung Ho" rally cry to win the battle!


  • A complete Japanese Army set including 48 Japanese infantrymen,
  • 12 Type 95 "Ha-Go" light tanks and 6 Type 98 75mm anti-aircraft guns
  • New rules including: the Seishin Kyoiku Doctrine, Banzai & Gung-Ho War Cry!
  • New Night Attacks Data Sheet
  • 44 new double-sided Terrain tiles including: jungles, cave networks, rice paddies, HQ-Supply Tents & Hospitals
  • 10 Round Markers including: Japanese medals, targeting cross-hairs, camouflage battle stars & minefield tokens
  • 4 Obstacles including: rope bridges, & new War Ships - destroyers & aircraft carriers
  • 14 new Special Forces badges: including the Chindits, Japanese Giretsu & more
  • 8 Historical Scenarios: from the early landing on Wake Island to the heavy fighting off the slopes of Guadalcanal, from the Japanese counter-attack on Guam to the Meat Grinder at Iwo Jima. Also includes the landing at Peleliu in Overlord format!

Memoir '44: Pacific Theater is available from Amazon and Funagain Games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

June 12, 2006

"Marvel Heroes" Preview from Fantasy Flight Games Designer

MarvelHeros.3.16.06.jpgWe have something to get off our collective chests. Only a few of were into comics growing up. Wow, that didn't hurt nearly as much as expected.. in fact, it felt pretty good.

It's not that comics are awful, it's just that they're.. well, short. Back in the day we spent our hard-earned money (from mowing lawns) on other things, like renting Nintendo or Genesis games, purchasing Michael Jackson cassettes, and Friday-night monkey knife fights in Pine Forest. That didn't leave much room in our finances for anything else.

But from what we undertsand about the industry, there's a funny thing happening in comic world. Sales of comic books are decreasing, yet there's a noticable remergence of old-school comics in other parts of culture. Comic hero movies are kicking-butt in the box office, and now we see that Fantasy Flight Games placed their War of the Ring designers on a new Marvel Heroes Board Game.

The War of the Ring association is more than enough to make us non-comic heads stand up and take notice. There isn't much other information about the game yet, but judging from this two part post from designer Roberto Di Meglio, the game is shaping-up to be something quite nice.

*snip*There was another challenge: we wanted to keep all the game elements consistent with the stories, but we also wanted the game to be played with different teams and villains. So every element should fit any character - how could that be? Our first design did not address this problem properly, making everything too 'generic' to be meaningful from a thematic point of view, so we had to drop it (and a few months of work with it) and start anew.

The end result of many months of thought and labor is the design that we decided to develop and publish and which I will start to describe in these previews."From A preview (part 1)" in the BGGeek Marvel Heroes Forum"

Part 1 of the forum post focuses on their design decision for the setting of the game, some information about the round mechanics, and how they hope to keep everyone engaged in the game at all times.

Part 2 of the article goes into more detail about troubleshooting "Headlines" across Manhattan, scoping out how dangerous and encounter might be, and the mechanic of player versus player conflict through the control of heroes and supervillans.

The last we heard, Marvel Heroes was set to ship in July (we heard that back in March). Considering it's now June and Fantasy Flight Games doesn't yet have an official page for the game, we think that ship date will probably slip. We'll keep an eye out for any more official information for Heroes, including a release date, and of course part 3 of the design posts.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

June 9, 2006

World of Warcraft Boardgame: Complete Set of Limited Bronze Figures Released

Male_Paladin_thumb.jpgFantasy Flight Games sends word that their second set of the World of Warcraft Board Game [Amazon,Funagain] limited Bronze Figures are now available for purchase. The second set includes 8 new figurines, which are available for purchase individually (prices range from $8-$10) or altogether for $67.95, exclusively on the Fantasy Flight Games website.

The Official Line: Set Two
The stalwart faith of the Human Paladin. The savage and furious Orc Shaman. The wise and dedicated Night Elf Druid. The deadly cunning of the Troll Rogue. These heroes, and many more, come to life in Set Two, available now. Immortalized in bronze, these figures range from approximately 3/4 of an inch tall (2 cm) for the Gnome Rogue to approximately 1 3/4 inches tall (4.5 cm) for the Night Elf Druid.


Audience: MORE! MORE!
Mike: I don't know, Ian. I think they want more.
Alright, Mike. Act now and you can combine the complete first and second set of bronze figures for extra savings! The complete set of 16 figures costs just shy of a hundred bucks. If you've already purchased the first set at full price, and still want to cash-in on this amazing bundled offer, then Fantasy Flight Games can make your dreams come true. Here's how:

The Official Line Combined Set This package combines all sixteen hero figures into one set at a savings of over $50!

For customers who have already purchased Set One at the discounted price of $69.95, Fantasy Flight Games is offering a very special deal to match this complete collection offer. Customers who have already bought Set One may purchase Set Two for $30, bringing the total to $99.95, the same as the complete collection.

In order to receive this special deal, you must place your order through our online store with the same name that was used to purchase Set One.

Sorry about the Mike Levey tribute there... this week's barrage of new products left us flashing back to Sunday morning Infomercials of yesteryear. But seriously, if you're into collecting bronze figurines for general purpose gaming, then this Fantasy Flight offer stands pretty solid. Who would your rather be the next time you play Monopoly, a thimble or a backstabbing troll rogue?

Speaking of solid, watch as Auri 2000 protects the paint of this new-car while we ignite it with gasoline and then fry and egg on its hood...

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

June 7, 2006

Now Shipping: "Apples to Apples Party Box Expansion 2"

ApplesToApples.6.7.06.jpgOut of the Box Publishing has announced that the latest expansion to their award winning Apples to Apples party game has shipped to stores. Apples to Apples Party Box Expansion 2 [Funagain] extends the content of the original 4-10 player game by adding half a thousand cards to the mix. Yikes. That's uh, a boatload of cards.

The Official Line: The game of hilarious comparisons. The laughter continues! These beautifully crafted wooden creates hold the same cards as the Apples to Apples Party Box Expansion Sets. Mix the 576 new cards from a Party Crate Expansion Set with the cards from the Apples to Apples Party Crate for thousands of new and outrageous comparisons!

The original Apples to Apples [Amazon, Funagain] is a fast and fun word-matching card game meant for large groups of people. Players create comical associations of names (nouns) and characteristics (adjectives) in order to score points from the judge-player. The rotating judge mechanic means that players and constantly altering their creative juices to appease different senses of humor.

There's a great video tour of the game on OutOfTheBox Publishing's official web site. Or if you're gruff like we are, and you'd rather skip the smiling, laughing marketing-guy, then we also have a short overview of Apples to Apples here.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

June 6, 2006

Settlers of Catan Official Scenario Design Contest

CatanDesignContest.6.6.06.jpgMayfair Games has announced a Scenario Design Contest for their hit game Settlers of Catan. Those of you who've tweaked the Settlers' rules to compensate for any perceived holes in gameplay now have a chance to get their creations officially stamped by Mayfair Games' seal of approval, and also published in Games Quarterly Magazine. Not a bad deal.

Contest Details

Final Submission Date—October 31, 2006. We’ll announce the winner on April 30, 2007.

Grand Prize—The winning scenario will be published in Games Quarterly Magazine AND its designer will receive a copy of the special, limited, 10th Anniversary Catan 3D Collector’s Edition, plus a Catan Alumni khaki polo shirt.

1st Prizes (5)—These five scenarios may be published AND each winning designer will receive a Catan Alumni khaki
polo shirt.

2nd Prizes (10)—These ten scenarios may be published AND each winning designer will receive a printed University of Catan shirt.

3rd Prizes (50)—Each winning designer will receive a pin with the Mayfair Games Catan logo.

Some quick math says that come next April we'll all have 65 "good" Catan variants to toss around. That should keep you happy even if you don't win that swank Catan khaki Alumni Polo shirt.

The design contest is only for the original Settlers of Catan 4-player board game [Amazon, Funagain] in its purest form (with none of the expansions). For official entry rules visit the "First Ever Catan Scenario Design Contest" webpage at Mayfair games.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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