Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Labyrinth: Games Aplenty

Hey readerz!

I'm pleased to announce that up at the store we have a brand new, fully updated, list of games that will be coming out in the near future. Snatch up as many of these new titles up as you like as we'll be offering 20% off all items pre-ordered at the store.

Some of these new titles coming out include new expansions to Thunderstone, Arkham Horror, LOTR Card game and Resident Evil the card game. If lighter games are your thing then try Cthulhu Gloom. Just like the original Gloom it features your character's lives becoming horrible/miserable and then being killed off at their lowest moment. Food Fight is another fun little title that just like the name implies revolves around flinging food across the table at one another. If something more serious is what interests you then Ventura and Deadwood might appeal to you. The 1st title features a conquest and nobility theme where players are each noble families in 14th century Italy, vying for power over the country's ever expanding wealth, while the later title is a wild wild west shoot em up in which you compete for territory along the route where the railroad has arrived. Player get to be bands of renegades and desperados that are trying to collect as much wealth as they can while battling rival gangs in good old fashion gun battles.

All sound pretty smexy so far? But wait...there's morrrrre...
Some other expansions coming out will be the 7 Wonders: Leaders deck, Munchkin Zombies: 2 Armed and Dangerous and Survive the 5-6 player mini expansion.

Sweet titles one and all in my books! But light strategy...heavier Eurogaming... where's the SILLY! Where can I get the zany I'm looking for in gaming!
Well look no further I can garantuee some of these games will make you smile just asking your friends if they are up for a game.

It's a dice game. You and your friends are camping...and then there were bears.
Need i say more? fine...twist my arm.
You run around shooting bears for points, fleeing from tent to tent.
But if you dare to sleep through one of the bear attacks you can score big points!

Then there's Ant Assault the card game.
Literally you get to play as an ant colony and defend your hill from invading ant hordes.
Send out scouts, lead foraging parties, and launch your war teams to pit yourselves in insect on insect combats to the death!
Alright maybe that's not silly enough...

This next title will be impossible not to hear said out loud and laugh.
I promise...*clears throat*
Kittens in a Blender!

It's a fast paced card game where players LITERALLY are trying to prevent adorable fluffy kittens from being mashed up to gorey pulps in household appliances. Play your hands quickly and save the foolish felines before it's too late!
I love it mwhahaha

Wizard of the Coast has a new title Conquest of Nerath coming out. Everything fantasy dungeons and dragoney magic goblins elves etc. While Ystari has a very interesting title being released called Olympus. Colonize ancient Greece before your opponents do and advance your civiliztion through the years but do so in a manner that avoids angering the gods!
Fantasy Flight has been very busy indeed. In addition to several aforementioned titles they are coming out with a new standalone Smallworld Underground as well as Black Gold, an auction and bidding game set at the height of theTexas oil boom of 1922. With plenty of action cards and some bluffing elements that keep the flow of the game rolling along it looks to be another fast and easy to learn title prepped to grace our store's shelves.

Where does the list end?? o.O
It just doesn't really... there's too many to talk about in just one post but a few others include new Carcassonne Phantom and the Carcassonne Dice Game; Outpost a reprinted version of the 1991 game and Lancaster which is a Henry V territorial control game; Test of Fire First Bull Run being a civil war game and Mammut, a prehistoric bidding boardgame; a pattern/ design game called Seven Dragons and Croa, another abstract strategy game; Devil's Dice (similar to liar's dice) and Are You The Cultist? a title that mirrors Werewolves of Miller's Hollow but with a Cthulu/H.P. Lovecraft flavor; Balance of Power in which you are helping Europe in 1815 to recover from the ravages of war and Napoleon's reign along with Dark Eon Assassin Tyrant of Acheron which is a sci fi solitaire game; Zoch Verlog Games has Mille Grazie (A bluffing game) Mord im Arosa (A clue based listening game) Safranito (A manual dexterity game based on indian food) and Geistesblitz (another dexterity game for children with a ghostly theme); not to be outdone ZMAN has four new titles springing onto the scene as well, Dark Minions a dice game of being evil and pillaging towns, Equilibrian a co-operative card game that can also be played solo in which you need to find the balance between nightmares and good dreams, Walking Dead the Board Game which has been designed with scenarios based directly off the comic book, and Guards! Guards! a Diskworld themed game where players embark on an epic quest through Ank-Morpork.

Phew... pass me a drink, that was a lot to go over.
That pretty much concludes it for this week that's all the games that are coming...
There's more?!? Why...dear god them out...1 per week...*sighs*
Never fear I've savd some of the best titles for last.

Iello is a company I had not heard of until this week...but they have quickly earned my resect with a solid title of one of their new upcoming games. King of Tokyo!
Nah it's not feudal Japan with samurai and a ruling shogun it's even better.
The game is a dice/card game where monsters, giant killer robots, and aliens battle it out for supreme control over Tokyo.

And last but not least there is a game called Ikusa that has been announced.
It, unlike King of Tokyo! IS all about samurai and the ruling shoguns vying for power over feudal Japan!! Everyone remember the old Avalon Hill game Shogun? The one that got renamed to Samurai Swords? Well it's been renamed Ikusa and been given a brand new paint job with mostly the same old rules as far as I can tell. Anyone else as ecstatic as I?
It's one that I've loved to old copy has a pizza-stained frayed edge and armies with broken daimyo flags. A new and shiny copy of this is one that I strongly advise adding to everyone's personal wargaming collection and one that I will most likely be writing up more extensively in the near future!
It's one that I'd offer a 9/10 rating for!

That's it for now gamers!
There were a few titles i couldn't manage to sneak in here but I should mention that the full comprehensive list of write-up of all upcoming releases is at the front counter at the store.
So swing on by, check out the list, and lets start the waiting game together.
It's going to be an interesting few months!
And as always...

This has been the labyrinth and I'm Henry McCulloch. Game on!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Labyrinth: One Dark Night on the Fell

Hey all!
This is a creative posting this week to throw in a plug for D&D encounters that gets run every Thursday night from 5 till 7ish.
I mentioned before in my first insta-post that we could use a few new faces around the gaming table. It's a great chance to try out 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons if you've never played or as a seasoned adventurer that wants to go on a spooky romp in Evard's footsteps.

It's a 4th level dungeon delve which should conclude aound 6th level and you can dream up your own character if you have access to the builder or the books. If you aren't capable of making your own or don't have the time, there are several shadowy themed characters available as premades to try out.
Just bring a pen and paper some imagination and any dice that you have kicking around.
It's going to be one of the best seasons to date for the encounters event.
Dont miss out!

And now... I mentioned a creative side to things. A short story!
This week is the 1st installment of the writing corner!
It's a peice i threw together quickly for those that aren't sure what D&D is all about but have always been interested. Read on and we look forward to seeing you on thursdays.

Smoke curled from the gnarled pipe.
Taking a deep drag from the tip he regarded the quiet structures below, that stood so out of place from the gloom of the sinister river valley.
His exhale was slow and drawn out as the traveller reflected on the curious change to his surroundings. It was certainly worth investigating.
The red embers of the pipe stub flared briefly and then disappeared as the smoke that hung in the air enveloped him. Shrouded from sight by the shadows... he was gone.


"Get some light going witch..."

"It IS on you pint-sized pinhead!"

"Both of you move, we need to find out what's going on..."

"If you're already casting your light then why is it still dark you hag!"

"Ware your words infant or I'll strike you blind and you'll be forever seeing the dark."

"Do you always speak in riddles? or is this another one of your senior moments?"

"Do YOU always speak without thinking WORM?! You insult a wizard...I could turn you to ash with a thought!"

The door to the inn's upper suite swung open, a faint light glowing weakly from the tip of an elderly elf's staff. Behind her a squat little halfling shuffled along in her wake, treading on the hem of her robes. Glistening from head to toe in full plate, a human with dark chocolate hair and a sweeping mustache brought up the rear as he collected his helm and shield.

Adventurers all, they had awoken from their sleep in the dead of night.
All subconciously privy to the same unexplainable notion that something had changed.
Something was horribly amiss.


Hard and motionless
Thoughtless and without breath
In an instant that had all changed.

What it meant...they cared little.

The result was all that mattered.
Existing as something more than their stiff, emotionless, previous selves was what made their shadowy faces light up in a mutually shared grin.

What it meant...tonight they would feast.


"Remind me to give you a bath if we live through the night reek!"

"Blah Blah insert arrogant elven comment here blah blah some more then... 'oh gee this girdle of giant strength sure does make my ass look fat...' seriously give me a break Ariel."

"For a race that is reknowned for their quick wit and charm you certainly know how to flatter a girl in unusual ways Feris."

"HA! girl...hah! She's SO old I bet that you could turn undead her Cale..."

"That's it...I've changed my mind...I think I'll forgo saving my most powerful spells and instead use them to rid us of our rodent infestation."

"Would you two cut it out", Cale whispered hoarsely "something is seriously up and we need to get to the bottom of it...I can't see very well out here in the hall but I think I can hear movement below."

"By can't see because it's still dark...can you PLEASE use your light spell already?"

"I already AM using it you annoying little runt!"

"Calm yourselves...something must be dampening Ariel's light...and the lamps on the street as well by the looks of it. If it's strong enough to effect her magic then whoever is behind this must be powerful."

"Oh it's powerful alright..."came an eire voice from the windowsill behind the trio.

They whirled around just in time to see a shadowy form manifest in the dark hallway behind them, stowing a pipe inside his pack carefully.

"But it isn't a much as a where..."

"Oh great, he's like prisy boots, he also likes to talk in riddles..." groaned Feris.

"Wait... are you implying we might have left the town of Duponde stranger?"

The cowl silhoetting his face pulled back slightly, revealing rows of blackened teeth, a grey-skinned dwarf grinning ear to ear.

"Ahhh a quick one I almost guessed it but no....this town is Duponde sure as can be. What I implied was simply that the where had changed...Duponde itself is what has left, so to speak."

Ariel's eyes widened in sudden realization and horror, clapping a hand over her mouth as she stiffled a loud gasp.

"Oh good she's having a heart attack a last...I mean you hold out hope, and you pray to the gods every day...but you're never really sure if your dreams will come true in the end."

"What is it?" Cale asked her nervously as he rested a plated hand on her shoulder.

"Ah she's figured it out..." The dwarf crowed, his black eyes sparkling mirthfully to match his black grin.

"Somehow...during the night the town of Duponde experienced a shadowfall..."

"A shadowuzzit?" Feris chirped in.

Glaring at the halfing Ariel elaborated.

"The shadowfell is a parallel world of existence...think of it like a sphere, super-imposed over our world but invisible when on the prime material. It is a shadowy mirror image of the world we know. Through powerful latent magic or with the help of rituals it's possible to open a small rift between these worlds. It is extremely rare...but every so often this happens. Entire acres of land have been known to tumble free from existence and wind up a part of the shadowfell. This is what we spellusers refer to as a shadowfall...a worse nightmare would be hard to conceive. All the residents of Duponde are in GRAVE danger!"

"Not to mention are all ALSO in grave danger." The dwarf said menacingly as he drew forth a pale blue sword that pulsed with magical energy.

Fell runes decorated the pommel and hilt as wisps of black mist plumed outward from the blade's edge, filling the hallway.

Cale leveled his holy symbol of Pelor, the God of the Sun, squarely at the dwarf's chest.

"I don't know who you are...but be warned. We are prepared to defend ourselves to the last. Should you think of us as easy prey then I would suggest that you think again!"

The supernatural grating chuckle that issued forth from the dwarf's throat gave the trio chills.

"Hmmmm well worded and boldly stated cleric...there is bloody work to be done tonight but it is not you that I must attend to. A butcher's job is never done I stand aside if you wish to save the townsfolk."

Cale rose one eyebrow, still suspicious of the odd newcomer.

"Stand aside? Save the townsfolk? What do you mean...speak up dwarf!"

As though in answer a bloodcurdling sceam echoed through the inn from the pitch black commons room below.

"You see in the shadowfell the statues aren't JUST for decoration...your gargoyles that normally sit perched upon the inn's roof...have already animated. And they hunger."

To be continued...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Labyrinth: Frodo of the nine fingers and the ring of doooom!

One game of cards to rule them all!
One box in which to find it,
One co-operative hug to bring us all,
and during Minotaur's games night try it!

What do you want from me?
I'm no Shakespeare...I'm not even a monkey with a typewriter.
Not like Tolkien's rhyming was much better -_-
But it gives me great joy to talk about a Lord of the Rings title!
*queue sappy flashback music*
When I was a wee boy my father read me tales of the hobbits, orcs, elves and Nazgûl; and by the age of about 3 or 4 i was struggling along to read through Tolkien's works myself. Then, years later, along came the movies.

Peter Jackson, while delivering a more hollywoodish version of the tale than some would have liked, delivered a a visual cinematic without compare. The sight of rolling New Zealand's...i mean Middle-earth's, scenery was so gorgeous that it took my breath away. Much of the trilogy was exactly how I had always pictured it. The dark oppressive halls of Moria, the vast expanse of Khazad-dûm, the glistening boughs of Rivendale, the magic of Lothlórien, and the pearly white ships that would collect the heroes from the Grey Havens. Simply spellbinding!

But now without further ado the new card game!

LOTR the card game is a solo or 2 player game that runs about 30mins to an hour I'd say, though the box does say that some could last as long as 90 minutes o.O
This new release in some ways is just an ordinary game...but much of the magic that the Lord of the Rings imparts through its written text and through the movies can be found hidden beneath the card stacks. Right off the start the art work is stunning. If you're already a fan of the 2-5 player fantasy flight board game this card game is going to be one of your all time favorites. Which also guessed it!
Co-operation time!

So if you have a slightly dingy boot room in your house, a gnarled staff and pipe, and a white beared friend with an affinity for wearing pointy hats...
Then grab a chair and lets play!

Game review inc.. Pro vs Cons!
Lets see the breakdown...

The game plays in many respects like magic the gathering, with familiar terms like exhausting a hero or ally card after it performs an action. (IE: tapping the card by putting it on it's side) Things that might exhaust your character cards are actions such as aiding in the current quest or engaging a monster as well as in order to fulfill the cost of certain event cards. Some of these event cards can be played at any time, regardless of what phase of play you are in, while others can be played when a certain requirement is met, such as when you defeat a monster or when you draw resources. As such these event cards are very much like your 'instant' or 'sorcery' spells from magic. Item's can be attached to you heroes to buff them up which are very similar to equipment in MTG and to top things off there are 4 schools of player cards to choose from when constructing your decks. These schools are called spheres of influence and each has its own distinct flavor and identity as well as its own unique icon and color.
Hmmmm....I'm getting a strong deja vu feeling, something's changed in the matrix!
*Pats the brick wall behind him in fear*


Be wery wery quiet we're mimicking popular game elements!

While there are many similarities it's good to keep in mind that there are several distinct differences as well that make it a semi-unique experience. The main appeal to add the game to a home collection, in my mind, lies in LOTR's cooperative game mechanics. It feels a little more satisfying to team up with a partner in a bid at tackling the forces of Mordor together. Success isn't guaranteed, similar to a run through of pandemic on hard difficulty or a good game of Shadows Over Camelot. Only through good teamwork, strategy and a little bit of luck can you both triumph over Sauron. When you compare this new system to the alternative, (listening to bragging and bickering sweaty teenage magic players discuss who has the more expensive tournament deck) it should be considered a refreshing change of pace.

The game has many layers of complexity to it, in the sense that it can be as simple or as diverse as you need it to be when picking what deck to construct and how it will synergize with your ally's selections. The basic game suggests that you remove the shadow mechanic from the combat phases and start with three heroes all in the same sphere of influence. These two quick alterations to typical game play makes it easy to try out the 1st scenario with less fear of unknown attacks killing a hero and it completely eliminates the chance to have dead cards in hand.

The first scenario is the passage through Mirkwood and should be an easy first challenge for new comers to the game! All the scenarios have plenty of cool imagery on the event cards that really makes you feel like you are treading upon JRR Tolkien's world. I was also impressed to see that the first quest card featured a quote directly from the pages of the novel The Hobbit. Kudos fantasy flight...kudos. The artwork on all the cards is gorgeous as mentioned earlier and so to me that was another saving grace for LOTR the card game. Had they been drab and unappealing I think it would have been impossible to motivate myself to connect with the new card game mechanics which are, at times, a bit clunky.

Things to look forward to in the near future are a vast array of expansion decks already coming out to support the fledgling game. The nice thing is that it can easily be expanded already if you desire to play with 3 or 4 players by buying a 2nd copy of the base game. But the new expansions will provide new quest areas since there are only 3 inside the core set as well as new heroes, monsters, items and events. The last thing that i thought of when sizing this bad boy up was how much i would need to spend to make this enjoyable versus TCG's. These core boxes and expansions are going to be very much like Dominion, in that once you buy them you have the spending sprees required to try to collect a handful of rare cards like in MTG... no dealing in cards in the city's back 80 bucks a pop!
"pssst hey buddy...need some jace's?"

But it's rating time!
All in all...good. It's flashy but it's not novel or groundbreaking but it is a good game.
I really think it's one that the more you play the more enjoyable it becomes.
a solid 7 out of 10 and one that I'm eager to try now with a non-basic deck.
I want to hand-pick the cream of the crop when it comes to heroes and try tromping down the Anduin river.

This has been the Labyrinth and I'm Henry McCulloch. Game on!

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Labyrinth: Insta - Post!

A happy Monday to all ye gamers!
Mother's Day has come and gone.
Here's hoping you all remembered a bundle of flowers, a sweet and thoughtful card, or at least a hug / friendly phone call for your mummies out there.

Today on the Labyrinth I'm featuring my columns 1st INSTA POST!!
That's right it's fast news, its blurringly fast updates, it's coming at you at the speeeeed of liiiiight!
It's like powerthirst on a web page...
It's like trying to read but your eyes are melting off from trying to read all the informtaion and you're like...
sllLLLoOoOwwWW doOOowwWwNN
but a Kenyan is kicking you in the crotch with his ENERGY LEGS...

God i havent watched that in forever...
But no seriously there's plenty of things i wanted to throw out there since a tuesday post didn't make it up last week.

1st off!! You want some MTG?
Did you never get enough of the Besieged set?
Well we have plenty of pre-made decks and boosters left all marked down dirt cheap.
Why bother telling you all? A valid question!
No... it' not a shameless plug for merchandise... I myself am constantly being tempted to blow a bunch of money on them myself each time i come to work and i want them gone >.<
Buy them to save meeeee.

We have another Settlers of Catan pre-qualifier coming up for the June Settlers Qualifier.
Its on may 28th!
It's also 8 bucks to enter!
There will be no John Dupont present i promise! :P
No garantuees though...since Patrick might come down and sweep the next one...he would though wouldn't he? That's just his style.
Although I know Ada wants to enter too but she shall be in Venice so we're safe.
Mwhahah! Victory can still be ours.

There will be a new post going up in the next few days about a gaaaaaaaame *GASP*
What game you ask?
Hmmm well it's's a card game...there's been a bunch of hype about it on the geek and in store! I dunno...does Michael and I playing it count as hype? I like to think it is.
But here's the inside scoop to see if you should be opening those purses and wallets.
LOTR the card game reviewed right here on The Labyrinth!
MTG meets middle earth? Kinda...heh, you shall have to be patient as all shall soon be revealed!

and 4th!! - ly !!
Or lastly i suppose...
D&D encounters!

Those are the questions you are dying to have answered i can tell.
Well are you a fan of original D&D? Did you play 3rd ed and 3.5 till your eyes bled ?
Well here's a great chance to come out and try 4th ed; the most streamlined comprehensive system since THACO!
Eww...comon, UP guys...AC guys UP to get better, not into the negatives... le sigh.

It's every thursday at Minotaur Games + Gifts on games nights. 5pm -7pm
I run the encounters and its very 'new player' friendly!
So if youve always wondered what Dungeons and Dragons is all about don't be shy...we can always use fresh BLOOD!
*cackles maniacally*
It's gonna be a sweet story line if anyone is a fan of the wizard Evard and the Shadowfell features heavily as well so get ready for some truly terrifying twists to this tale.
You can roll up your own 3rd level character if you have access to the books or character builder or alternatively just show up and play a premade one that I'll provide you with.

And that's right i said THIRD level.
Im messing with the module! Im being a rebel...come and get me Wizards...I know you have me under surveillance... stealing all my ideas.

Phew there we go instant news instant updates all the time!
The insta-post is now in effect...
We are at a yellow threat level! The decoys have been deployed and the monkeys are in the kitchen with the spatulas... engage all hostiles at your own discretion..
That's all for now stay safe out there gamers!
And as always...

This has been the Labyrinth and I'm Henry McCulloch. Game on!