November 10, 2011

2011 Holiday Gift Guide - RPGs

Tonight's Critical Gamer's 2011 Gift Guide is going to focus on RPGs, the old pen and paper staple. The Gary Gygax inspired, culture changing, hated by old religious ladies around the globe, RPGs. No reason to fiddle around, so let's get right to it!

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Dresden Files

I pretty much think the picture covers it, but I'll give you a quick synopsis anyways. Voted as the Best Game and Best New Game for the 2011 ENnies, Dresden Files takes players into Jim Butcher's mythical universe. Using the Fantastic Adventures in Tabletop Entertainment (FATE) system, DF is published by Evil Hat Productions. While also having very popular books and TV show, it's not hard to get into the universe that Jim has put together. Mix that possibility of playing a human, psychics, werewolf, Knights of the Sword,or a White Court Vampire with the FATE system and you have an award winning mix that has everyone excited.


Warhammer 40K: Black Crusade

Deathwatch is the 4th installment of core rules in the Warhammer 40K line and it doesn't disappoint. Not only does it take the established rules from the existing installments, but lets you play Chaos characters, either human Disciples of Chaos or Chaos Space Marines. One of the interesting mechanics in Deathwatch is that characters have a looming end above their heads. They will either accrue enough infamy (set by the GM) to become a Daemon Prince or hit 100 corruption and become a Chaos Spawn, either way that character is finished. I like that aspect as it forces action, no more sitting around in bars waiting for something to happen.



Ever Paizo Publishing brought Pathfinder to the scene in 2009, it's had a stellar run. Looking to expand upon the D&D; Revised 3rd Edition ruleset using the Open Game License, Pathfinder is meant to be backwards compatible with 3.5. If you have a friend or family member who enjoys D&D; and hasn't played Pathfinder, then this is a must have. In addition they are releasing Bestiaries and Adventure Paths, which only help to expand an already solid and fun system.

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August 9, 2011

New Marvel RPG Coming Early 2012


As seen on ICv2 - http://www.icv2.com/articles/news/20772.html

GenCon News--At GenCon Margaret Weis Productions announced the acquisition of the rights to create Marvel Heroes Role-Playing Game. Cam Banks, the line developer and Creative Director at MWP told ICv2: "Our biggest announcement is the acquisition of the Marvel Heroes RPG license, which we are making a 2012 release. There will be 16 books, and the first of them will be launched in February. The initial release is the Basic Game, a softcover $20 book. It will have the rule book in there as well as a sort of mini-event based on Brian Michael Bendis' New Avengers run, issues 1-6."

Banks explained the publishing strategy behind the new Marvel Heroes RPG, which is based in large part on major comic book crossover events like Civil War: "After the initial February release, we will have these big event books. The event books will be cornerstone products and each of them has three supplements. The first event book will be Civil War. There will be two versions of the event book. The Premium version will include the operations manual, the same rulebook from the basic game, and the Essential version, which has all the Civil War information without the rulebook. If you are interested in Civil War, you can buy the Premium Edition and all three supplements and you're fine, you've got everything you need to play. If you already own the Basic Game, then you just need to buy the Essential Edition of Civil War."

The softcover books, which include the basic game and the supplements for the event books will cost around $20. The Premium Edition event books, which include the rules from the basic game, will be $40, and the Essential Editions of the event books, which don't include the Basic Game, will be priced around $30. The next two event books after Civil War are Annihilation, which is based on 2006 crossover series by Keith Giffen and Andy Schmidt, and The Age of Apocalypse, which is based on the 1995-1996 X-Men crossover series.

Banks explained that the Marvel Heroes RPG will use MWP's Cortex Plus game system: "We will use our current system, which is called Cortex Plus. The way we do things now however is not to take the same rulebook and use it again and again for different games. We create a new game using those basic, underlying foundational rules. The Leverage and Smallville RPGs are a good indication of how we've done it so far. We modify the system to suit the material at hand."

A good example of the different versions of the Cortex Plus system can be seen in Dragon Brigade, which is based on the recently published novel Shadow Raiders: Book 1 of the Dragon Brigade by Margaret Weis and Robert Krammes. A core Dragon Brigade RPG book will be out by the end of the year. It will have a cover price of $40 and feature a version of Cortex Plus that has been modified to accommodate the swashbuckling action of the Dragon Brigade storyline. MWP plans on releasing one Dragon Brigade book a year for the next three years.

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July 28, 2011

Kickstarter Projects Worth Backing! - 7/28/11

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There has been a rash of great titles that have found their way onto the Kickstarter site. I can't highlight all of them for you here, so I'll pick a couple that I think are a few of the best. I really hope that this trend continues as I love to see the underdog succeed and this can really only continue to help our industry grow in scope of content and hopefully player base as we hit larger target audiences. One of the limitations of this service is that advertising for these campaigns will mostly have to be by word of mouth, hopefully that's where I can come in. Please, if you see a title that I advertise on here, make sure you tell your friends. That is the only way we will continue get great independent titles to market.

ArrowContinue reading: "Kickstarter Projects Worth Backing! - 7/28/11"

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April 30, 2011

Dragon Age RPG Set 2 Available from Green Ronin


Don't be put off by this RPG series, even though it is based off a video game from giant developer Bioware, as it has been dubbed one of the best introduction RPGs in the last 30 years and was nominated for Best Game and Product of the Year in the 2010 ENnie Awards. Dragon Age Set 1 was released in 2009 and set players on their path from levels 1-5. Set 2 continues the players journeys and advances them from levels 6-10. It includes instructions for playing the legendary Grey Wardens, a new mechanic of roleplaying and exploration stunts, 40 new spells, additional world info and character backgrounds, and the expansion of specializations to include arcane warrior, berserker, and assassin.

Dragon Age Set 2 is currently available only as a pdf [Green Ronin | RPGNow.com] or can be pre-ordered as a box set which will include an 80-page Player's Guide and an 80-page Game Master's Guide, two different heavy reference cards (with multiple copies of each to share around the table), and a poster map of the world of Thedas [Amazon | Green Ronin].

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April 11, 2011

Kickstarter Projects Worth Backing! Pt. Deux


Go figure, as soon as I post about some great Kickstarter projects, three more pop up that have many people excited. I can't say that I am surprised, really, as the amount of unbelievably creative people in our industry is nearly unrivaled. So if you enjoy being the first one on the block to have the latest products, I highly suggest that you check out the following projects.

ArrowContinue reading: "Kickstarter Projects Worth Backing! Pt. Deux"

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April 8, 2011

Kickstarter Projects Worth Backing!


If you have never heard of Kickstarter, then let me give you a quick rundown. Kickstarter is a web based funding project that allows creative individuals the opportunity to pitch their products online in an attempt to get their product published. The project will be posted and different levels of commitment are offered, which also determines what the supporter receives if the project is funded. This allows the individual to fund the design or publishing of their product, create a fan base and hype, and keep the copyrights to the property all in one fell swoop. It is a fantastic website and has already helped many inventors, designers, and others seek their dreams of publication. The following list are some of the awesome projects that can be found on Kickstarter that are looking for your support to bring to fruition and, honestly, we love the little guys.

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February 28, 2011

Newsapalooza - Critical Gamers 2/28/11


It seems like this might be turning into a somewhat consistent thing here at Critical Gamers. We are getting so much awesome news that if we don't post multiple times a day, we would never get it all out there. Why not just grab a bunch of the best articles and toss them together into a massive news update?

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February 26, 2011

Fantasy Flight Games Announces Black Crusade a Standalone RPG in Warhammer 40K Line


Yesterday, Fantasy Flight Games announced Black Crusade, the latest standalone RPG in the Warhammer 40,000 line. Black Crusade will offer players a unique experience in the conflict between the forces of Chaos and the Imperium of Man. Players will be able to play as a Disciple of the Dark Gods, as a either a Chaos Space Marine or a human Servant of Chaos. This latest edition gives us the ability to examine Chaos from a different angle. We will be able to learn out about their characters and what steered them into the path of corruption. Head over to the official Black Crusade website and get ready to surround yourself in Chaos this summer!

Black Crusade

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February 18, 2011

In-depth Look at WoW TCG's Latest Raid - Assault on Icecrown Citadel


First thing, the Lich King looks badass. However, we expect nothing less from Blizzard. Secondly, it appears that there will be 93 cards in the raid. While not called out explicitly in the article, the writing is on the wall, so to speak, well on the card at least. We will have to see how that plays out. Third, if you check out the article, it appears that the Lich King will be the only Boss Hero in this raid. Those familiar with the MMO will be quick to point out that this is not the case in the 10 and 25 man versions of the raid. However, Drew Walker, Creative Content Lead for WoW TCG and Lead Designer for Assault on Icecrown Citadel, has pointed out that Lord Marrowgar, Blood-Queen Lana'thel, Lady Deathwhisper, and the other raid bosses will still exist in this raid. Just their purpose will change a bit. Instead of taking them on individually, the Lich King, will be able to summon them throughout the battle.

Fans of the Grand Alliance have not been left out of this raid either, you will be able to play Lady Jaina Proudmoore, Dark Lady Sylvanas Windrunner, and Highlord Tirion Fordring. Each of the three iconic heroes also have their own weapons, Staff of Antonidas, Deathwhisper, and Ashbringer, respectively. Also, each hero comes with their own 61-card tournament legal deck. So if you have friends that don't have their own full decks, this raid will provide them for you. You can also replace Tirion, Jaina, or Sylvanas with a tournament legal hero of your own and those same friends can use the decks in a tournament. Pretty sweet.

Check out the press release for more details.


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March 29, 2010

Microsoft Surface, D&D; and PAX East 2010

A far more advanced version of Dungeon & Dragons on the upcoming Microsoft Surface was demoed at the Penny Arcade Expo in Boston this weekend.

Now we thought that the the Surface was going to be projection based, and the Philips Entertaible was the easier to use back-lit multi-touch display. But it seems that the Surface has also gone in this direction, too, using infrared to identify pieces and orientation.

This simply looks amazing. You should pay attention if you're not a D&D; fan -- this could be the future for all board games. While we're sure that some titles will still be on your shelf with full fledged pieces, think of the potential for new game systems designed specifically for these touch surfaces. Expansions, new scenarios, user content, multiplayer over the interwebs, and *Gasp* the ability to save your game and play multi-session epic board games. Massive battles, long term narrative, play with friends across the country. The skies are the limit.

Of course this thing is going to be uber expensive when it ships, and yeah ... there is that grey cloud on the horizon. You have to believe the technology will be cheap enough for the mass market within a few years after release.

Come on technology!

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March 16, 2010

"Sword And Poker" Stabs Its Way Into Our Hearts

SwordNPoker.JPGThis iPhone/iPod Touch game is something special. It's so simple, yet enthralling, highly addicting and fun. It's even got that "just one more turn" feel that make so many of the classic games .. well, classics.

Here's the elevator pitch: Sword & Poker one part an RPG character-building dungeon crawl, including gathering treasure and parlaying your riches into better items like armor and weapons, and one part Poker Matching Game.

And yes, the beef of the game is on a grid like poker board. You and a monster square off mano e monstero, taking turns trying to match 2 cards from your hand to make poker hands with the 3x3 grid of cards on the board. If you can make a match either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally then you deal damage to your opponent. Keep it up and soon you'll find yourself with a dead monster at your feet and a vast dungeon chalk full of riches waiting just for you.

SwordNPokerSS1.jpgThe amount of damage you do for any given hand depends on the rarity of the hand you played and the weapon you have equipped. At first scoring One Pair may knock the monster in the chin for 1 point of damage. But save up your dungeon booty, upgrade to a samurai sword, and soon you'll be hacking 10 points out of the baddie with a single pair of 2's. Something like a Flush may net you 30 damage, slicing some of the mid ranged monsters in half.

Of course the monsters are doing their best to deal damage back at you, and their abilities and capacity for hurt are closely tied to the type of critter you're fighting.

The game is well-flavored here. Heavy hitting monsters are the most straight forward. Hulking minotaurs and shambling mummies deal massive amount of damage with simple brutish hands. Dark, slinky creatures might not put up such a powerful upfront fight, but they'll make up for it with vampiric powers that siphon off your health, or through sneaky trixy plays like stealing cards from your hand. There are even funky spells that rearrange cards on the board halfway through a round, or spells that heal and steal. It's all there, and it's balanced very, very well.

Therefore we cannot recommend this game enough. If you have an iPod, if you like poker, and salivate over grinding through better equipment RPG style, then this game is totally for you. We give it 4.5 stars.

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March 9, 2010

30 Pounds of D&D; Nostalgia for Forty Bucks

TangaDnDBlowout.bmpTodays' Tanga.com Gaming Sale of the Day is quite an interesting nugget. Instead of being a mainstream game, or an standard overstock item, its actually a grab bag of RPG history. The Massive Dungeons & Dragons Dragonlance RPG Lot includes the following laundry list of materials:

  • War of the Lance hardcover supplement
  • Tasselhoff's Map Pouch: Legends loose/folio accessory
  • Tasselhoff's Map Pouch: Age of Mortals loose/folio accessory Spectre of Sorrows softcover module
  • Races of Ansalon hardcover supplement Lost Leaves From the Inn of the Last Home softcover supplement
  • Legends of the Twins hardcover supplement
  • Holy Orders of the Stars hardcover supplement
  • Dragons of Winter softcover module
  • Dragons of Spring softcover module Dragons of Krynn hardcover supplement
  • Dragons of Autumn softcover module Dragonlance Dungeon Master's Screen
  • Dragonlance Campaign Setting hardcover supplement
  • Bestiary of Krynn Revised edition hardcover supplement
  • Age of Mortals hardcover supplement
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November 27, 2009

Critical Gamers' 2009 Holiday Gift Guide


Welcome to the one-stop index page for all of our Holiday Board Game Gift Ideas for 2009! There have been some tremendous games that were released this year. Some released created new genres of games, others lovingly refined old formulas. We'll break down these top releases and let you know the perfect present for your gaming friend or love one, all while avoiding the frenetic crowds and annoying cell phone vendors at your crazy local mega mall.

So lets kick things off with our favorite game of the last year, Dominion, which has two new expansions this year!

ArrowContinue reading: "Critical Gamers' 2009 Holiday Gift Guide"

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October 19, 2009

SurfaceScapes' D&D; for Microsoft Surface

A few things before watching this:

If you haven't heard of it, Microsoft Surface is an ongoing project to deliver a consumer level multi touch table top display. The platform is designed for all sorts of uses and to be placed horizontally, not vertically like a TV. This and the Entertaible have some serious potential to be a very slick platform for board gaming goodness in the year 'The Future.' Imagine getting board game software packs for all your favorite games, and no cleanup!

Also we should note that the software that SurfaceScapes shows here is a Proof of Concept, and in no way a full fleshed out product. It shows potential. The dice spawning animation feels particularly gimpy. We know it's a proof of concept at all, but come on. MakeDiceFallFaster=true!

Still, we're very excited any technology like this to hit the market, and we're glad that someone out there has keep the gaming eye on the price as these platforms mature. Keep it up guys!

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