April 3, 2006

March '06 Roundup

Roundup2.jpgMarch was quite the busy month at Critical Gamers. We received the first good details of the upcoming World of Warcraft CCG. Battlestar Galactica also became credible when their website launched and their feature articles started pouring out, and Fantasy Flight Games revealed a monster lineup of boardgames scheduled for a 2006 release. We're pumped.

But most important of all -- Critical Gamers (that's uh, this site) officially launched mid March. It's been a long time coming and we're damn glad to be here. *sniff*

Ok, hug-time is over. Let's get down and boogie:

Collectible Card Games

Board Games

Gaming Culture

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

April 1, 2006

Memoir '44 - Pacific Theater Announced

Memoir44.3.31.06.jpg"The gaming company Days of Wonder have posted to their website the first information reagarding the fourth expansion to the Memoir '44 series of games, Memoir '44: The Pacific Theater.

The Company 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 Theatre 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!

The Pacific Theater will include 8 historic scenarios out of the box, including the battles of: Wake Island, Guadalcanal, Guam, and Iwo Jima. The game will ship with new destroyers and aircraft carriers (please, how could you have a war in the Pacific without them?) And for you land lubbers- the new map tiles will add jungles, rice paddies, cave networks, field hospitals and HQ supply tents.

You can read more about The Pacific Theater at the official Memoir '44 website. If you're new to the whole Memoir '44 wargamming thang, then you might want to also check out the series of Gameplay Overview webpages. They're not as boring as they sound. =')

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 30, 2006

Warhammer Marches on PCs this Fall

Warhammer-3-30.06.gifThe gritty table-top universe of "Warhammer" is slated to get two PC treatments within the next year. Warhammer: Mark of Chaos, a PC real time strategy game from Namco and Black Hole Games, is scheduled for a Q3 2006 release. This should be the closet thing to the Warhammer tabletop experience that the PC has received to date. Players can paint their various unit types using a virtual paintbrush (more like selecting from a color wheel), and provide units with different weapon sets, shield emblems, armor - the works. There should be gobs of options, enough-so that your multiplayer units will have a unique coloring and style and will be easily recognizable on the battlefield

Mark of Chaos will include four Warhammer races from the system's fantasy setting (not the futuristic 40K universe): the human empire complete with rifles and cannons, the fantasy-themed high elves, the rat-men scaven, and the dark human Chaos. The game will sport an overarching strategic battle map that drills-down to the tactical level for the gorgeous real time battles of smoke and blood. Consider miles of rolling terrain in which you position troops to garrison buildings, construct forts, etc, or line-up your forces behind rivers, walls, and hills to ambush your opponent when his army makes that inevitable march into your territory. This isn't a base-building real time strategy title (like Relic's PC Warhammer title Dawn of War), but an army pushing set-piece war. Yes, Mark of Chaos is turning into quite the looker.

Also coming down the pipe is Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, a massive online role playing game (MMORPG) from the folks at Mythic Entertainment (Dark Age of Camelot). Information about this title has been sparse until about a week ago when the first true details were released to the press.


From the official press release: It is a desperate time for the Emperor. A terrible Chaos Plague defiles his lands, ravaging the populace and weakening his armies. Meanwhile, the Dwarf holds in the nearby World's Edge Mountains have come under siege by a massive greenskin horde. Honor-bound by an ancient oath, the ruler of the greatest nation of men in the Old World has dispatched several regiments to assist the embattled Dwarfs, further depleting the Empire's already thin defenses.

In this dark hour, a new threat appears. Under a sky darkened by a crimson eclipse, a great warhost erupts from the wastelands of the north. Bearing the banner of Tzeentch, Changer of the Ways, the army of Chaos marches south for the borders of the Empire, crushing everything in its path.

Mythic also recently released the first trailer for the game, here. It's short, and definitely a good start graphically, but the trailer doesn't serve as a technical demonstration on how the game will play. Will the MMORPG conversion do justice to the massive battlefield of Warhammer's table top standard? This is a major concern for us, but considering Mythic's massively online RPG track record, and Dark Age of Camelot's groundbreaking player versus player war modes, we're content to wait patiently for a little while more.

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning is slated for a 2007 release. We'll keep you posted as more information is released about the title, probably at the Electronic Entertainment Expo mid-May. For now you can find more information and sign-up for their monthly newsletter on their official website, here.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 28, 2006

Battlestar Galactica CCG: "Focus on Resources"

BSG.CCG.3.28.06.jpgThe official website of the upcoming Battlestar Galactica Collectible Card Game has posted their second feature article "Focus on Resources" which discusses the game's resource-card mechanics.

Think of resource production in BS:G as your faction's ability to gear-up for war. Your main base (the Battlestar Galactica, for instance) will be your major production house at the start of the game. Each turn it'll produce some of the game's various resource types (3 in all) which you spend to bring more cards into play.

Some of your other cards will be specialized production houses of their own that add to your resource-pool each turn. These production centers are important since you'll need their extra oomph to play the game's beefier, more powerful cards.

If you find yourself in a resource rut, then you can also discard any card from your hand and place it face-down underneath one of your existing resource producers. This destroys your discarded card for all intents and purposes, but grants that resource production stack a +1 bonus on all subsequent turns. You can continue to grow any one or you stacks by repeatedly burning cards to boost its power.

From "Focus On Resources" In the Battlestar Galactica™ collectable card game (CCG), controlling the flow of resources is just as important. There are three resources: persuasion, logistics, and security. Persuasion is linked to the decisions made by influential individuals, and it also illustrates the insidious plans of the Cylons. Logistics covers the management of supplies and equipment. Security is primarily the projection of military force, using fighters, scout craft, and heavily armed pilots and marines.

The game's mechanics seem to be shaping up quite nicely. We now have fewer questions about gameplay, but the ultimate question still remains: Does the game have enough content and twists to be a fun game for the long-run.

We need to see more cards to answer this question. Unfortunately, the official site's card gallery isn't up yet.

Inquiring minds want to know!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 26, 2006

"Axis & Allies Miniatures Contested Skies" Released

P51DMustang3.26.06.jpgThe collectible game Axis and Allies Miniatures expands this weekend with 45 new units in the new "Contested Skies" booster series. The main focus is on the main fighter and ground attack aircraft of WWII: The United States receives the P-51D Mustang (of course), the Soviet Air Force - the IL-10 Sturmovik, the Germans get both the JU 87G Stuka diver bomber and the Bf109E fighter, and the Japanese receive the Mitsubishi A6M Zero.

The expansion includes ground forces for each these factions, and more (!), including the lumbering French bathtub Char B1 tank, and various anti-aircraft guns and vehicles. The official website has a complete Gallery of the 45 miniatures which make-up the set, and also lists each piece's rarity (note: all aircraft are 'rare').

The Contested Skies expansion ships in the form of booster packs, which are on sale now.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 24, 2006

Ventures of Argent - Open Beta

Ventures of Argent is a fantasy adventure board game currently available for free (in beta form) from the game's official website. We know what you're thinking - free board games tend to lack polish, but you'd be smacked-wrong if you applied that generalization onto Ventures. This game may be in black and white but it's gorgeous - the documentation is chalk-full of great content like flavor text, detailed maps, and great illustrations. The tangibles are on par with (if not surpass) most budget games out there, and it could show some premier titles a thing or two, too.

Players of "Ventures" create a group of 5 characters (called.. uh.. "ventures") who travel as a party through the regions of the game's world map. The venture group is free to explore various locales including towns, forests, and dungeons as they level up for the big boss battle at the end of the game. Movement on the main map might incur a random combat encounter (decided by a factor of location and the roll of the dice at the end of the turn). The game has a simple yet flexible combat system, complete with positioning and targeting mechanics, a damage and healing system, and item rewards.

Ventures of Argent is currently in open beta and is available to download for free(!) from the game's official website. The download (a .zip archive) contains a collection of printable Adobe PDF documents including the game map, character sheets and documentation (there's also collection of unit markers that you can print, cut-out, and fold, but we'd recommend that you stick with figures or tokens from another game until you've decided pursue that arts and crafts project). You'll need WinZip and Adobe Acrobat to open and print these files.

The game is meant for a a group of 5 friends to huddle around a table and play, but also has a solo mode and a campaign mode if you want to add persistence to your characters.

Finally, just inferring from the layout of the game's website, Ventures might be only one game in a series of titles that take place in the detailed World of Argent. We'll see if dig up any information on anything else coming down the pipe from designer M.A. Snowden.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 23, 2006

Chose Your Own Adventure Books - Welcome Back!

ChoseYourOwnAdventure.3.23.06.jpgSandwiched somewhere between Tintin on the left, and Bunnicula on the right, the line of Chose Your Own Adventure books were the missing links of children literature. Sure, you weren't really reading an entire book at once, but with CYOA's you explored 'literature', playing through a book like it was a game. There was something so very new and exciting about that.

Then just as suddenly as a suspended vat of acid spilled and killed you off on page 64, CYOA books disappeared from the face of the Earth. It was bizarre - they just upped and vanished like they were part of Steve Guttenburg's private library.

But now they're back. It's 2006 -- holy smokes and Happy days. Kids the world over can bask in the same young-adult lit freedom that broadened our minds some 20 years ago. We might pick up a few copies ourselves for old time's sake.

Barnes and Noble has exclusive rights to 18 titles available today from their online store, and the books will be available from other retailers near the end of May.

From an official press release by Shannon Gilligan, Executive Vice President of Chooseco "For over 25 years, CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE has captured our imagination and our spirit for adventure as we have read and collected the many treasured volumes of this series. These unique books empower and challenge 7-12 year olds with decision-making throughout each story. After initial publication in 1980, the series quickly became a cultural phenomenon. The interactive adventures feature multiple choices, multiple endings, and countless story variations with “you” – the reader – as the protagonist of the story. The Choose Your Own Adventure books have over 250 million copies in print worldwide, and each book of the first 15 titles is at least a one million copy bestseller. Featuring new illustrations and covers, all of the texts have been updated for a new generation to reflect technological advances, recent historical discoveries and current political realities."
Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 21, 2006

Battlestar Galactica CCG: "Welcome to the Combat Information Center"

BattlestarGalactica.3.21.06a.jpgThe first feature article on the official BS:G Collectible Card Game website has been published. "Welcome to the Combat Information Center" does well to solidify game details which have already been released in fractured previews here and there, and it lays the groundwork for future upcoming feature articles. If you haven't read-up on this game yet then "Welcome to the Combat Information Center" serves as a great starting point.

From "Welcome to the Combat Information Center": The complex storyline of Battlestar Galactica call for constantly changing situations. We create a similar experience in the game by providing an interactive sequence of play. So, instead of using the terms “your turn” and “my turn,” we use the term “our turn.”
See, space isn't so vast and lonely if we all gather around for a quick hug every once in a while. But don't cluster -- Cylons have nukes.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

Refurbished Games from JRC Collectibles

Midway.3.21.06.jpgWe just unwrapped a copy of Midway! (1964) that we purchased anonymously from JRC Collectibles' eBay store, and we're floored how lovingly refurbished this copy is. JRC told us that they took the choicest bits from multiple copies of the same board game. These lesser versions sacrificed themselves to create this final polished collection of pieces, boards, rules-- the works. They even gave us the original paper pads that game with the game over 40 years ago.

You can almost feel the post World War / mid Cold War American propaganda particles jump off the paper and onto your skin. This has that old board-game smell that all the pre-Regan titles have. It was only 40 bucks, and that friend's - is insane.

We found JRC while searching for some recent out of print titles. What we found was 8 pages of vintage board games from the hay day of our youth (and even further back in time). If you're looking for something from your childhood, or something to add your "History of Board Games" collection, then definitely check out their online auction store.

Note: JRC isn't paying us, at all. We're just happy with the product the sent us. :')

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 20, 2006

World of Warcraft TCG Interview

World_of_Warcraft_Logo.3.6.06.jpgWe're big fans of the World of Warcraft online role playing game, so the WoW TCG has always been more than just a blip on our fall '06 radar. And when GamingReport.com posted this great WoW TCG interview with Upper Deck's Cory Jones (Director of New Product Development), we frothed at the mouth, read it thrice, and then enjoyed a cigarette for peaceful reflection. World of Warcraft the TCG is a huge title coming down the pipe with what seems like tons of content and a very strong backing from Upper Deck, and reading this great stuff only makes us want it more.

The interview brings special attention to how well the card-art is shaping up for this game. Upper Deck has signed famous talents like Spawn artist Todd McFarlane, fantasy artist Boris Vallejo, and the guys at Penny Arcade to make art for the individual cards. Upper Deck hasn't had problem signing artists for two reasons: there are a ton of famous artists who love the World of Warcraft Massive Online PC Game, and who are more than willing to contribute to the TCG version, and also because it's rumored that Upper Deck has spent four times the art budget of any of the previous titles in their "Vs." line of trading card games. Four Times!

WoW_Mike.3.20.06.JPGAs a cool variant to normal gameplay, the WoW TCG will also have Raid Decks (the dragon Onyxia was named for example). In a raid you and your friends will customize your character decks to work together as a party to solve specific challenges of the raid. Each raid deck will come with a gold foiled wrapped treasure chest collection of cards that will contain special item rewards for your group when it completes the challenge. It was slightly unclear if raids will only be held at sanctioned tournaments, or if these raid decks will be available for personal purchase (hopefully). Either way, it's a freakin' cool side mechanic, and it complements the game's overarching character development.

Some products will also have special scratch card rewards, either as part of purchased decks, or as tournament rewards. These scratch cards will contain codes that unlock content for players in the PC version of WoW.

The WoW trading card game is shaping up to be fantastic blend of social card gaming and World of Warcraft character building goodness, and every new bit of information makes this game sound better and better. Read more of the interview here.

The WoW TCG is currently slated for a late-September/early-October 2006 release.

That's Sarya in bear-form. She likes to gnaw on the heads of children who dont sit still.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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