April 26, 2006

Change the Face of Monopoly Forever

Monopoly.4.26.06.jpgHasbro has scheduled a face lift to bring Monopoly into the modern era before Christmastime 2006. It seems that the young whippersnappers who hang-out at night in the Dunkin' Donuts parking lot don't know where the A-Train on Reading Railroad goes anymore, and we've heard the Political Conservatives are lobbying to rename the "Luxury Tax" to the "Beer and Pretzel Tax" in hopes the working class will move to repeal it.

The good news is that Hasbro has created a web poll where the public can vote for the new spaces of the Monopoly Here and Now edition. When you visit the official polling site, you can zoom-in on a few major American cities and vote for 1 of 3 landmarks for each location. Folks can vote once per day between April 24th and May 12th.

Some of these choices are pretty cool - Boston's Fenway Park is an obvious no-brainer, as is the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. But the idea of landing on a "Disneyworld" space and paying rent, or the thought of purchasing a hotel in the "Mall of America" makes the anti commercialism portion of our psyche cringe just a bit.

Still - it's all good fun. Vote early, vote often!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 25, 2006

Dissension in Detail

Dissension.4.24.06.jpgWizards of the Coast has no reason to keep Dissension under wraps now that the Dissension prerelease weekend is over, and thankfully they realize this, too. Not only do they have an alphabetical list of cards and their abilities on a nice clean web page, but the Dissension cards have also been incorporated into Gatherer, the online database of all things Magic: The Gathering.

We're drooling over the Simic Guild (Blue/Green) - not becuase the glowing mound Experiment Kraj is quite the Simic badass, but becuase of the cool little things like this guy: Omnibian. A cute frog with a kiss of death.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 19, 2006

Now Shipping: Carcassonne the Tower

carcassoneTower-4-3-06.jpg We love Carcassonne, and the time has come for taller, better things. Gamers rejoice. The "Carcassonne: The Tower" expansion is now shipping, and we haven't been this excited since Christmas. No, seriously.

If you haven't already picked up a standard copy of Carcassonne (our review) then you're missing-out on one of the most simple and fun games around. We haven't tested "The Tower" yet, but we've got high hopes for the title until we can get a copy in for review.

The game's new tower pieces (images found here) allow you to kidnap and ransom opposing player's farmers. The taller the tower goes the more farmers it steals. Considering how powerful farmers are in the original version of Carcassonne, these new peasant vacuums should definitely stir things up quite nicely.

Pick-up a copy of "Carcassonne: The Tower" for the cheap - here.

The Company Line:Players may capture opponents’ followers, holding them in prison. Later, the players may arrange a prisoner exchange, to the advantage of the players involved. Also, a player may arrange to pay ransom for the return of an imprisoned follower.

Fans of Carcassonne will enjoy the new tactical opportunities offered by this expansion. The expansion also includes a special tower for storing the landscape tiles, giving players a convenient way to draw tiles during the game.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 17, 2006

Battlestar Galactica CCG - New Article and Official Rules

BattleStar.2.28.06a.jpgSome great stuff coming out of the official Battlestar Galactica Collectable Card Game website.

First up is a new feature article "Challenging your Opponent in the Battlestar Galactica CCG". If you pay close attention to life then it might have hit you the blond reporter on BS:G is Xena Warrior Princess. If you're playing even closer attention then you might also realize that has absolutely nothing to do with anything. That's exactly why you've gotta keep on your toes -- Cylons are a tricky lot, and if you spend too much time sidestepping the closed fist flying at your face then you might overlook that Cylon basestar which warped in behind you. It just launched a nuke straight-up your tucus. Ouch.

Confused? Read "Challenging your Opponent in the Battlestar Galactica CCG"; it'll clear some things up for you.

We're also treated to another new BS:G CCG Oracle: Wizkids has released a digital version of Official Rules booklet (pdf) that will ship with the game. Sure it's drier than the standard feature article treatment, but hey - short of a game demo, you can't get a better grasp of how fun a game will be.

Oh baby, we're definitely getting close to launch.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 13, 2006

A Storm of Swords Expansion Info

AGameOfThrones.3.16.06.jpgFantasy Flight has posted more information about their Games of Thrones series, including the upcoming expansion,"A Storm of Swords". First off is an update the A Game of Thrones FAQ page (pdf), which includes some great info. But the beef of the update is this prize of a link: the complete rules for the Storm of Swords expansion (pdf).

What better way to try before you buy than to read the whole rules?

Bullet points from The Company Line:
  • A new variant game with a new map, pitting Houses Stark, Lannister, Greyjoy, and Baratheon against one another for control of King's Landing and the Riverlands.
  • New neutral houses to sway to your cause in the variant game, including House Arryn, House Frey, House Tyrell, and the many brigands, mercenaries, and broken men that people Westeros!
  • Powerful new tactics cards for use in both the variant and classic games.
  • New, alternate Westeros decks.
  • Robb Stark, Jaime Lannister, and many others take the field directly with the new Leader rules, including two Leaders for every house (including Martell), for use in both the variant and classic games. Take hostages and execute prisoners for the first time!
  • New House cards for every house (including Martell), for use in both the variant and classic games.
  • A new deck of Wildling cards, making each Wildling assault a unique event!

A Storm of Swords is set to ship this June.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 12, 2006

"Ticket to Ride: Märklin" Ships

TicketToRide.4.11.06.jpg Days of Wonder's latest installment to the popular Ticket To Ride series Ticket to Ride: Märklin is now available from the official online website. The website lists a price of $39.95 for their own personal stock. FunagainGames.com will ship the product soon (they're currently only in the preorder stage right now), for a considerably cheaper price of $31.95.

The titles of the Ticket to Ride series have been received incredibly well by the gaming community as a whole. Ticket to Ride is known for it's approachable and fun gameplay. If you have even a tad of rail baron blood in you then do yourself a favor and check-out this short visual overview of the game (it's one of 'dem der new fangled Moving Picture machines).

If you're afraid that a movie box might steal your soul then take a Geritol, sit back, relax, and read this peaceful analog gist instead.

Too much? Here's our short short-version: Players of Ticket to Ride construct a personal rail network with a secret agenda during the age of steam. The goal is to earn victory points by successfully routing trains to various cities on the board. Ticket to Ride is played on maps of well-known geographical regions, specifically the battlegrounds of the the great rail wars that took place in the 19th century United States and Europe. Ticket to Ride: Märklin ships with a new board of Germany, and adds two new freight types: passengers and merchandise. Here's the official skinny:


The Company Line: Ticket to Ride - Märklin Edition is the third installment in Days of Wonder's best-selling boardgame series that has won 14 international game awards, including the prestigious Spiel des Jahres. The boardmap for the Märklin Edition is based on a map of Germany and introduces Passengers and Merchandise to the Ticket to Ride gameplay.
Passengers are used to pick up merchandise worth different numbers of points along the routes that they claim. Varying stacks of merchandise tokens with different point values are placed next to the different cities on the map. Players can place one of their 3 Passenger tokens on any city along a route that they claim. On his game turn, the player can choose to then move one of his passengers from the city it currently occupies along any or all of his continuous routes, picking up Merchandise Tokens from each city he moves through. Of course he'll always take the highest remaining tokens. The point total of the tokens is then added to his score.

Sounds fun.. just watch out for German Hobos. No matter what they say, their "Hobo code" does NOT apply to outsiders, and they'll certainly cut you faster than you can say "Landstreicher!".

Learn more about Ticket to Ride on the game's official website.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 11, 2006

Ravnica: Dissension Revealed

Dissension.4.11.06.jpgMagic The Gathering's preeminent themed block "Ravnica: Ciity of Guilds" hit store shelves last October. It included four Guilds - each a themed set of cards representing a color pair from Magic's 5 element colorspace : red, white, blue, black, and green. The initial installment focused on the parings of the Red/White Boros guild (power through order), the Green/Black Golgari (growth through death), the Blue/Black Dimir (focused on deck trickery), and finally the Green/White Selesnya (growth and order).

Then Guildpact was released. Expanding on Ravnica's base collection of cards, Guildpact adds three more guilds to the mix that serve to create a far more aggressive form of Magic gameplay. The White/Black Orzhov gain both power and life through their own death, the Red/Green Gruul combine quick attacks with sudden giant growth, and the Blue/Red Izzet rain-down direct pain through the manipulation of non combative game mechanics.

Guildpact is still in full swing, but so is Wizard of the Coast's design team; the first news of the final Ravnica expansion "Dissension" is reaching the official Magic the Gathering website this week.

Lead Magic Designer Mark Rosewater's feature article "Seeds of Destruction" introduces the design team working on Dissension and summarizes the various philosophies of the three new guilds. The demonic Black/Red 'Rakdos' gain physical power to damage their opponent through death and sacrifice. The White/Blue 'Azorius' guild created the laws of the fictional Ravnica world, and so their goal is to win through the manipulation of game rules. And the Green/Blue 'Simic' are backyard chemists who evolve and augment living organic substances, to create powerful creatures which grow powerful over time. The new game rules Hellbent (Rakdos), Forecast (Azorius), and Graft (Simic) have only been announced in name thus far, but it doesn't take much imagination to guess how they might play-out given the three guild's philosophies. Finally, the article unveils one of Dissension's new rare cards, the Experiment Kraj which has gotta leaves quite the stank in Simic's cafeteria.

The other article of interest is Rei Nakazawa's "Dissension in the Ranks". This article treats us with descriptions of the guilds' various mindsets, and also introduces the Rakdos the Defiler. Granted, the Rakdos art is a bit of a Peter Jacksion Balrog ripoff, but damn he's sexy in that 7/6 flying trample "I'll swallow your children and crap-out round torment pies" sort of way.

Wizards of the Coast will host a Dissension Worldwide Prerelease event on April 22nd and 23rd. Dissension officially launches this May. Will keep you apprised of more interesting news as it's published over the next month.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 7, 2006

BS:G CCG - Two New Official Feature Articles

BSG.4.7.06.jpg Wow, they really keep cranking out the feature stories at official Battlestar Galactica card game website. We have two new preview articles, including some pretty darn nice card previews.

"They Look and Feel Human" focuses on the Cylons and how they can be used to effect your opponent, how you can use them to boost your own influence, shoot at toasters, sleep with deck chiefs, pilots, etc.

From "They Look and Feel Human": The risk-reward ratio for including Cylon cards in your deck is dramatic. Most players will include a few Cylon cards, but some will build a deck around the Cylon base star and fill their decks with nonhuman cards. The Cylons keep things interesting. You’re never quite sure what effect they’re going to have on the game.

BSG.NO6.4.07.06.jpgThe latest article "Home Is Where You Park Your Vipers" runs-over the game's Starbase mechanics. The starbase anchors your deck, incorporating your starting influence, maximum hand size, and your resiliency to Cylon attack. Influence, as you recall, is similar to a health mechanic; when it hits twenty you've become the next FDR and win, but if it reaches zero you'll yourself at washout bar, pulling back drinks with Michael "Brownie" Brown.
From "Home Is Where You Park Your Vipers": Whether you’re a Cylon infiltrator, a politician making a grab for power, or a member of the military just out to protect the fleet, your base will undoubtedly be the first thing you choose when building a deck, because without putting careful thought into which base you use, you’re going to be at a significant disadvantage. Besides, it would be mighty embarrassing if you didn’t have somewhere to park your viper after a grueling day flying CAP.

We're surprised at the variety of base cards that will be available at launch. We got a vibe from the previous feature articles that the Cyclons were going to be released a future expansion. We were also half-expecting a single base-card for each of the Adama and President Roslyn starter decks. But now we know that the first release will have at least 7 base cards, including 2 different Battlestars and a Cyclon Basestar. Variety is the spice of life, and looks like a pure Cylon deck is a completely viable option.


All your Basestar are belong to us.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 5, 2006

Magic TG: Guildpact Draft Strategies Part Two

GuildpactDraftStrategies.4.5.06.jpgWizards of the Coast (WoC) posted a great article a few weeks ago about eight player draft strategies for certain Guildpact Guilds and cards. Actually, it's more of a take-home exercise than a strategy guide, custom tailored for folks like us who are constantly in search of more Guildpact know-how.

Why should you care? Well the original questions remained mere questions, until now. The polls are in, and WoC Magic expert Noah Weil wrote up a great article of reactions and analysis. He seems like such a friendly guy - he didn't freak-out over his disagreements with public opinion.

Speaking of nice guys, we'd just like to say that if you never bothered to take the original survey but decided to skip straight-to the answers anyway, then we 're going to go ahead and call you "a lazy bum". Sure, it lacks tact, but we are critical. Don't come crying to momma when you decide to draft a "Pillory of the Sleepless" to deal with large creatures instead of a "Douse in Gloom", and a common "Absolver Thrull" bites you in the tucus. Yikes, did that just come out of our mouths?

We joke because we love... but seriously, you're a lazy bum. Hey, are those beers?

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 4, 2006

"Carcasonne: The Tower" Ships April 12th

carcassoneTower-4-3-06.jpg We love Carcassonne. The game is just absolutely fantastic, crazy amazing. We could break this thing out anywhere and still have fun with it; at the dentists', during an IRS audit, on-stage at a Gwar concert - anywhere. So we're drooling in anticipation over anything that might expand upon this trophy of golden gameplay goodness.

The release date for "The Tower" has shifted twice now, and we weren't sure if the latest prediction of "April" would hold water. But FunagainGames.com posts a true date: April 12th. Sweet crap, that's like next week.

The Company Line: In this Carcassonne expansion, players erect towers, employ followers to stand guard on the towers, and capture opponents’ followers, holding them in prison. Later, the players may arrange a prisoner exchange, to the advantage of the players involved. Also, a player may arrange to pay ransom for the return of an imprisoned follower. Fans of Carcassonne will enjoy the new tactical opportunities offered by this expansion.The expansion also includes a special tower for storing the landscape tiles, giving players a convenient way to draw tiles during the game.
CarcassonneTower-tile-4.03-06.jpg We'll definitely get this one in for review.

You also might want to check out these related stories:

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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