March 27, 2006

Spice up your Scrabble with Wildwords

WildWords.3.27.06.jpg Scrabble's random draw of tiles, well-designed board, and game play that shifts the context of the game after every turn makes it one of the most replayable games in history. But If you're anything like us then you've grown a bit tired of the same common Scrabble pitfalls. We hate festering through an entire game hoping to pickup that elusive 'U' tile to match the 'Q' we drew in the first round. That's just not fun, nor is getting a Z and all consonants. Frustrating indeed, and we've all been there too often. Yes, we know that "Qat", "Qintar" and "Qaid" are all valid Q-words, but they only get you so far, and Qat usually doesn't net very many points.

Enter Wildwords, a game that thwacks your frontal Scrabble lobe with the wooden stock of an elephant gun. No longer will you play with only the letters in the tray in front of you -- now the voices inside your head get their turn, too (and the leprechaun with the super nova eyes told us that's healthy.)

Wildwords adds Asterisk tiles and the new wild card squares to the Scrabble board. Both of these wildcard elements can represent either a single letter, or a series of letters. You don't have to declare what a word is when you play a wild card. However an opponent may challenge you immediately after the play, at which point you're forced to declare what the word is (or was, or will be if you've gotta be like that). If you can produce a legal word then your opponent loses their turn. They had it coming.

The rules for the Wildwords Scrabble variant are actually quite simple, and are perfectly described on the game's official web page. They even host a short video tutorial (streaming) and a sample game in case you're still skeptical. But how could you be?

Wildwords is available is on sale now on the game's official website. G*e it a go!

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 10, 2006

Rubik's Cube Coffee Tables

RubiksCubeTable.3.10.06.jpgGizmodo has a great find on a set of Rubik's Cube Styled Coffee Tables.

These things don't shift and twist like the true game, but they're certainly the spitting image. Best of all, they're available for purchase online! Jellio, the creator of the table, has some other freakin' cool things they've dipped into vats of acrylic, including a "Light Table" very reminiscent of a giant Light Bright, and a series of coasters made from laminated ViewFinder discs. Sweet.

You can never go wrong with ViewFinder discs.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

March 1, 2006

Guildpact Hits Magic Online

RumblingSlum.jpgOkay, okay. Guildpact MTG:O went live on Monday, but today the bell strikes leagues o'clock. We're not rich enough to throw money at online just-for-fun-cards, but now we gots a reason to pay and play. Leagues!

The Leagues open at noon PST, which is only a short time from now. You'll need the normal Event Tickets (2), Ravnica Tournament Pack (1), and Guildpact Boosters (3), all of which are available via the MTG:O webstore.

Each league will launch when full (256 players), and is scheduled to last one week with a total of 5 matches to play. These Release Leagues pay 2x the normal prizes, and also unlock avatars for participation. And If you're so freakin' good that you can go 5-0, then you'll get a special avatar: Rumbling Slum. He sounds gorgeous.

The other Release Event signups open at 9:00am PST and include draft tournaments and Flights that pay 2x, 4x, or 6x the normal number of booster pack prizes. See the Magic Online Guildpact Release Event page for a complete list of relaese events requirements, schedules, and payouts.

Good luck in the pact... but not too much luck. We'd hate to lose to you.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

February 22, 2006

Urban Dead: 243,575 dead and rising.

urbandead.gif Urban Dead is a free massively multiplayer online web-based game set in the fictional (duh) post-apocalyptic zombie infested city of Malton. The struggle of humans versus zombies has been going strong for almost three quarters of a year now, and on any given day there nearly 50,000 players shooting, biting and infesting their way through hospitals, malls, police departments, libraries, mansions... you get the idea.

Urban Dead isn't something that you devote multiple hours of your day to. This is slow game played over months of your time. Each day the system grants you only 50 action points to spend as you see fit - either killing, searching for ammo, or running away from the zombie hordes. A day's turn usually last about 5-10minutes of real time.

Players drive both the Human and Zombie sides of the conflict, and are given an option to join either during character creation. When a Human dies, he's forced to join the zombie horde. However, dead characters arn't trapped in zombie form forever (thankfully). Players who work for the NecroTech Corporation can rummage through the post apocalyptic refuse to find revivification syringes. This are consumable items that bring other zombie-characters back to world of the living.

Each side's gameplay is considerably different. The Humans can operate guns, barricade buildings, speak to each other, and run relatively freely through the streets. Zombies spend more action points to lurch around from point-to-point, and can't use weapons.. which is a bit of a downer. On the upside a zombie's bite can infect humans, who'll bleed to death unless they find medical attention. And when a zombie dies, he can get right back up.. a hauntingly nonhuman 'skill '

The game's graphics are fairly nonexistent (A simple clickable map is used for navigation), but that's okay. This one is all about the fight of Zombies versus Humans, and the social dynamics that evolve out of that conflict!

Some recommendations:

  • Join a clan to make the game a more social and immersing experience. Clans use message boards to coordinate attacks, defenses, quick raids, etc, - which is an especially useful tool for the zombie hordes (Z's have very limited verbal skills). You can find a list of existing clans here. Clicking on any of the clan names brings you to their homepage.
  • Start as either a scout or a fireman. The scout lets you run between buildings without going outside. This means safer travels since you can circumvent locked doors which can lock you outside in the cold. The Fireman kit is a great first choice for the more aggressive folks. He starts with a fire axe; the best non-ammunition weapon around. Shotguns require to you find shells, pistols require clips, but a fire axe is always ready to hack away few more Zombie limbs.
  • Play with friends - this game could get old quick if you're not watching someone else's back, coordinating with other people, etc.
  • Don't rest for the night in Hospitals, Malls, or Police Stations. These are prime targets for zombie attacks.

Good luck. Try not to get any red on you.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

January 19, 2006

Puerto Rico PC Game Giveaways

Puerto Rico Cover.jpg
A druken Intern at Eagle Games must have stumbled into the Puerto Rico Marketing Machine, knocking its lever off 'blitz' and locking it to 'testosterone'. There are ads splattered everywhere on the net, and we've also found two gaming sites showerin' the masses with prizes of boxed PC gaming goodness. is running a Puerto Rico PC Game giveaway contest. Registered members of the site can answer 10 Trivia questions about Puerto Rico's history ( will help you out big-time here.) Each correct answer lands an entry into the 20-game raffle on the eve of the game's launch, January 30th.

The online store Funagain Games has contest cogs churning-out sweet deals of their own. Preoders of the PC Game are discounted 10 bucks off the regular price (now $29). This is an obvious no-brainer for loyalists who'd rather forgo the contest bureaucracy for the assurance that they'll receive a copy as close to the game's launch as possible. Also, a preorder at Funagain automatically enters the purchaser into a raffle for one of 10 free copies of the game.

We'll keep you posted wiith any other deals we come across in the upcoming week.

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

January 14, 2006 Makes Risk Fun Again

O.K., Risk has always been fun, but with so many complex wargames out there these days we find it near impossible to revist our childhood favorite . And let's face it -- it'd seem a bit anticlimactic to toss out the ole Risk board when gaming night rolls around. Everyone craves something new, and Risk is a bit of an old dog.

But that doesn't mean the game isn't fun anymore. In fact, after playing a few online sessions we're amazed at how well the game holds up. It's simple, pure aggression (no wonder we enojoyed this as adolescents). There aren't any complex combat phases which would require a defender react (like say, removing destroyed pieces in Axis and Allies combat), so there's absolutely nothing lost in the asynchronous play of this online version.

ArrowContinue reading: " Makes Risk Fun Again"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

November 28, 2005

Research Your Magic The Gathering Combos

About a week ago we turned a critical eye toward Magic The Gathering Online. We wanted to see how the Game has held-up these three years since release. Our Initial impressions: the game has an aged graphics engine, a small library of uninspired sound FX, and a needlessly cryptic interface that makes Naked Lunch seem obvious. But beneath that murk lies a game just as addictive as the original 'Magic' collectible card game itself, and it's a title perfect for anyone looking to get back into the franchise.

Our full review is still forthcoming. For now we're willing to lift our obsessed little heads out of the Ravnica-block dredgefest to send some useful deck-building links your way.

ArrowContinue reading: "Research Your Magic The Gathering Combos"

Critical Gamers Staff at Permalink social bookmarking

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