August 4, 2008

Cluzzle the Sculpting Party Game

Those of you who don't know Cluzzle [Amazon, Funagain], picture it as 21 Questions meets the sculpting phase of Cranium, and you got it pretty much nailed spot-on in your brain. But then there's a somewhat more intriguing twist, Players win points for sculpting objects that take the most attempts to guess. This means players try to sculpt somewhat close to reality, but not make an artistic masterpiece. For instance, if you're sculpting a turtle that looks just like the spitting image of a turtle, and someone guesses it straight away, then you win but you only win a crusty highly oxidized penny.

And if nobody can determine your abstract mashy lump of clay is supposed to be a water borne reptilian, well then you don't get any points at all.

On the other side of the fence are the guessers. The fun trick here is that players will try to phrase their question in such a way as to not lead-on the rest of the players, so that they might use your guess as a clue of their own. Sure, it's nothing buried crazy-deep in the index of the player's guide to game theory, but it's still fun to try to twist your words in a fast social game like this one.

There is one catch though, and it's why we're writing about this game now instead of say.. in 2007. Due to packaging concerns, or cheap materials, or severe draught , the clay that ships in most editions of Cluzzle is usually hard enough to flog a titanium mule. To alleviate this problem, Funagain Games is shipping copies of Cluzzle with side kits of different colored Playdoh packs, which is always top notch fresh and ready for the sculpting. And at no extra charge to boot!

Here's Cluzzle's official details:

"Cluzzle is a fun-filled game that combines creativity, communication, strategy, and self-expression. In Cluzzle, players outwit their opponents through obscure sculptures, tricky questions, and insightful guessing.

The game has two fun phases: sculpting and guessing. In the first phase, every player creates a Cluzzle, a clay puzzle, from one of the subjects on a random game card. Then comes the guessing. There are three rounds in which players ask yes/no questions to figure out what you have created.

A good Cluzzle is one that cannot be solved until several yes/no questions have been asked. In fact, you get more points the longer it takes others to figure out your sculpture. So why not make a horribly unrecognizable blob? The kicker is that if your Cluzzle is not correctly guessed by the end of the game, then you'll receive zero points for it! A perfect Cluzzle is one that is not immediately recognizable but also not too obscure.

Cluzzle is a fast-paced game filled with laughter and incredulous eye-rolls as players fumble their way to deciphering your clay puzzle!"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

August 1, 2008

Critical Gamers' July 2008 Gaming News Roundup

RoundUp.jpgAnother month of gaming down and five more to go. This month was pretty busy on the release front. The Settlers of Catan 4th Edition expanded with Catan: Traders & Barbarians, the new World of Warcraft Adventure Board Game was released, and the Merlin's Company Expansion finally ratcheted Shadows Over Camelot to eleven.

Meanwhile we're still ga-ga over the release of D&D; 4th Edition last month. The first module was longer than we expected, which is good in many ways but we're lagging a bit behind on our progress through the second module Thunderspire Labyrinth. The third one is just around the corner, too -- the whole thing seems like more D&D; content than we ever imagined, and if they keep on publishing top notch materials liek these, then D&D; 4th edition should have some staying power in our group.

That's the bright side of the issue, now here's the dark: with the Closing of Gleemax, it seems as though Wizards of the Coast's digital department has fallen on hard times, and now the D&D; Insider tools may be in jeopardy, too.

In other dark news we're still awaiting the release of Ticket to Ride Europe for Xbox Live Arcade, that was slated to ship on Wednesday. That's last Wednesday. Here's hoping it comes out sometime this month... though we probably shouldn't cross our fingers.

What We're Playing

Board Games

Card Games

Collectable Card Games

Gaming Culture

Gaming News

Party Games



World of Warcraft TCG

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

July 16, 2008

Scene It? Box Office Smash! Announced

The massive Electronic Entertainment Expo is going down in LA this week. Huge announcements have come out of the show focusing on a stack of big budget first person shooters, real time strategy and survival horror games.

And during the first keynote of the show Microsoft (read XBox360 ) announced a new edition of to their Scene It? line: Scene It? Box Office Smash! [Amazon]. The fact that a second Scene It? title has somehow bubbled to the top of the show's opening presentation exemplifies how much Microsoft continues to flex it's muscle trying to get a foothold in the board game and party game genre. Obvious note: that's the genre of games we cover here.

This marketing movie (above) shows a slew of smiling out of work actors going about their fake daily business until accidentally charmed by Scene It? at their local Best Buy / Circuit City A/V department. Even grandma gets into the formulaic action. Its a bit too much but at least there's quite a bit of game coverage between the fake laughter. Scene It? Box Office Smash! should be a natural extension of its Xbox 360 predecessor Scene It? [Amazon]. Expect more questions, new clips, and leveraging those customized buzz-in controllers that came with the original title.

No news on when the game should ship, but we'll definitely keep you posted.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

December 11, 2007

Cranium WOW You're Good

Cranium hit the table a few years ago and quickly usurped Trivial Pursuit from the party game trivia thrown. With clay sclupting, sketches akin to Picktionary, and trivia and word games - Cranium seems like modern high-energy step forward that tunes into our bright and colorful pop culture blood pumping through our veins..

Now Cranium updates itself with Cranium: WOW [Amazon]. With 600 more questions and updated pieces that let you personify yourself like a parade of 1000 Nintendo Mii's, Cranium WoW is a a considerable update on your previous version. Plus a fresh injection of clay comes just in time to save the drying lump of purple sand barely hang-on in our current box.

Here's the official word:

"Cranium WOW is the newest version of the outrageously fun, smash-hit board game that brings friends and family together through a variety of activities that celebrate all of your interests and strengths. Whether you're an aspiring actor, artist, data hound, or wordsmith, Cranium gives you and your team a moment to shine.

You were born to play this game. Maybe you¿ve always wanted to use your best friend as a puppet to act out "milking a cow." Or you want to prove you can draw "bed head" with your eyes closed. Perhaps you¿re eager to show off your vast knowledge of "The Hoff," YouTube, and which came first, the toaster or sliced bread. If any of these are true -- and even if they're not -- you need to play Cranium WOW immediately. You shouldn¿t wait to show off your hidden talents when they're so impressive. Cranium WOW features 600 brand-new-we-swear-you¿ve-never-seen-them-before-unless-you-peeked-somehow cards and new movers so cool you might forget to actually play the game for a little while (but we hope you'll eventually remember).


  1. Game board
  2. 600 new cards
  3. 10-sided die
  4. Tub of purple clay
  5. Timer

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

November 23, 2007

Cyber Monday and Holiday Board Game Sale: Free Shipping

The online game site BoardGameUSA is offering free shipping on all orders over $99.00. They're also offering extended discounts off nearly 50% off a rotating Game of The Day.

We have to be honest, BoardGameUSA has quite the selection going on. They have your American classics like Monopoly, Sorry!, Life!, etc, which you could find just about anywhere. But they also have an extensive collection of Eurogames. There are 4 pages of games from Mayfair, including titles like Settlers of Catan, Domaine, Bang!, and Tigris & Euphrates. If you're more a Rio Grande Gamer then their Rio Grande collection includes 10% off on: Carcassonne, San Juan, Shadow of the Emperor, and Puerto Rico.

You just can't go wrong.

If you're looking for more gift suggestions the please also checkout our own 2007 Critical Gamers Holiday Gift Guide.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

Cyber Monday and Holiday Board Game Discounts:

The online mega store is running a sale on select board games and toys, with some titles up to 60% off.

The sale includes nearly 150 items, including new games and old American classics like Monopoly, Scene It?, Sorry, Life, and titles from the Cranium Series. No Eurogames for dinner parties and the elder generations (except for Scene It?), but some great discounts for those classic family games we all grew up with.

No coupon codes required. Have at it!

If you're looking for more gift suggestions the please also checkout our own 2007 Critical Gamers Holiday Gift Guide.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

November 20, 2007

Critical Gamers 2007 Holiday Gift Guide - Party Games

For more great gift ideas across all genres of games please see our
Holiday Gift Guide Index

Sometimes a gamer only shows their true colors in a group. These are the exhibitionist folks who like the social elements of gaming far more than the cerebral head game of strategy games and wargames. And sometimes the night dynamic doesn't present itself well to static boards, either, so even the social elements of family board games seem too dull and mundane for the midnight oil.

In our continuing series of 2007 Holiday Gift Guides we dive into the world of party games and arm you with the best suggestions for giving that party gamer the best gift this December. And for those of you who are also looking to host a bitchin' Holiday / New Years Party: we also have something for you, too.

We have to warn you though: even though we're mainly a board game site, some - but not all - of these party games require electricity from the magic wall holes.

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Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 31, 2007

October 2007 Round Up

Happy Halloween folks! Today also marks the end of another month of gaming, so here's our monthly index of gaming news and reviews.

The gaming world had quite a few releases this month. Our favorite recently-released game this Fall goes to the zombie laden Last Night on Earth - which technically came out last month but we've been playing it mainly throughout the month of October. Following up as a close second is the latest Ticket to Ride: Switzerland, which is one of the better elegant Eurogame pickups to come along in quite a while.

Meanwhile we're still standing by for our blasted WoW TCG Magtheridon' Lair raid deck. Upper Deck has remained tight lipped about yet another WoW TCG release and it's really beginning to rub us the wrong way. We thirst for prerelease news and details, and this seemingly lazy handling of Magtheridon's Lair really makes our blood boil. Thankfully Fantasy Flight Games seems to be treating the other major Blizzard franchise right by previewing Starcraft the board game in a series of great articles. Heck , the game even has a trailer! That title is shaping up to be quite the looker, and it should ship in next month just in time for Holiday gift giving and the Winter gaming season.

Speaking of gift giving - the Holiday Shopping season is upon us and prepping the roll out of our annual Holiday Buyer's Guides. Look for a series of them over the next two weeks. Each one will be targeted for a particular gamer type so that you can rest assured the gift suggestion will meet the gaming styles of the giftee.

Here's our flashback at the stories of October:

What We're Currently Playing:

Board Games & Card Games

Collectible Card Games

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

October 24, 2007

Wits and Wagers Review

Self-captioned “Trivia for people who don’t know stuff,” publisher North Star Games’ Wits and Wagers [Amazon, Funagain] attempts to mix things up the trivia genre. Instead of players straight-up answering stock trivia questions on pop culture or mainstream history, the questions hit the edge obscurity requiring players to ballpark a guess at the answer. This increased challenge is balanced by betting phase where people stake points on which guess is the closest answer without it going over (every answer is a numerical value). This layer of abstraction keeps everyone involved and entertained throughout, and makes Wits and Wagers a great addition to anyone’s stack of party or trivia games. In fact, it conrasts some older titles in the trivia game genre, making them seem like the dinosaurs that they are.

Yes Trivial Pursuit, you dice tossing and inconsistently challenging spawn of ancient early-1980s gaming culture, we’re looking at you.

Slightly tarnished by the inclusion of some cheap components, Wits & Wagers’ gameplay shines through its foggy exterior to deliver a fast paced and most importantly fun 20-30 minute trivia party game that's well worth your time.

Read on for a more detailed breakdown in our full review.

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Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

September 24, 2007

Kill the Hippies Card Game Released

A while ago we received a prerelease copy of Kill the Hippies [Amazon] for our internal review, and we must say we quite enjoyed this satirical card game. Obviously anything entitled “Kill the Hippies” must be taken with a grain of salt, and with an open mind it really tickles the dark side of our funny bones.

The players act as religious fundamentalist who are attempting to convert a series of Hippies from their pagan ways. At their disposal are a set of cards which convert the hippies either through enticing peaceful means, or through cleansing them with fire (read: blunt weapons, guns, and hand grenades).

The humor stems from the combinations of characters and weapons. For instance the Open Mic girl hippie is immune to thrown-bottle and can weapons, and the King James Bible deals more physical damage than its power to convert people.

There are event cards as well which make certain conversions impossible, or protects the Hippy from successful conversion. In the end, the person who lands the most “killing-blows” wins the hippy, and the player with the most hippies at the end wins the game.

In the preview release that we played the game sported a few too many game-breaking cards. For instance some cards would cause players to lose some of their converted hippies, putting them back into the deck and making the game last for far longer than intended. Other cards kept Hippies alive for far too long. We offered our beta feedback to Golden Laurel, but we’re not yet sure if this is fixed in the release.

Therefore we have to recommend this as a good bar-game; a setting where the resulting gameplay isn’t as important as talking over a game and having drinks while humorous things happen on the tabletop below. Those looking to sit down for a serious / balanced game will probably be disappointed after so many wins occur out of left field over a few sessions. But the humor is fantastic, and uh, not a game for kids.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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