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Game Review: Dominion

20131116-124827.jpg“You are a monarch, like your parents before you, a ruler of a small pleasant kingdom of rivers and evergreens. Unlike your parents, however, you have hopes and dreams! You want a bigger and more pleasant kingdom, with more rivers and a wider variety of trees. In all directions lie fiefs, freeholds, and feodums. You will hire minions, construct buildings, spruce up your castle, and fill your treasury. You want a Dominion!”

Late last year my brother was visiting while on break from college. Though I’d heard him rant and rave about a card game he was obsessed with, I hadn’t really thought about it until he placed a rather large square box on the table and said, “we’re playing.” It was called Dominion, and when I played my first card it was like the food critic in Ratatouille who took a bite and was instantly transported to his childhood. I was flooded with memories of my grade school days playing the Star Wars Customizable Card Game, Legend of the Five Rings, and X-Men trading cards. He went on to show me his trunk full of expansion boxes (did I mention he was obsessed?), but the overall experience was, sadly, short-lived. He left and I didn’t really give the game a second thought until a couple months ago when I was handed a large, square present on my birthday…and that’s when Dominion really entered my life.

I’ve seen it written that Dominion is the first game of its kind. Though one would think something similar existed prior to 2008, this is certainly the game that kicked off the deck-building phenomenon. Designed for 2-4 players, it lasts approximately 30 minutes and is meant for ages 13 and up (though slightly younger players could certainly hang). The 500 card base set consists predominantly of Treasure cards (Copper, Silver, Gold), Victory cards (Estate, Duchy, Province), and Kingdom cards (various action/reaction cards). These are known as the Supply, and are laid out prior to the start of the game. Only 10 piles of the 25 different sets of Kingdom cards are used each game. While this can be any 10 of your choosing, the instructions recommend 5 different sets to highlight card interactions and game strategies. I strongly suggest playing these sets first before creating your own, they aptly display the full spectrum of card capabilities and interactions.

Each player starts with 10 cards (7 Coppers and 3 Estates), face down in a pile, and draws 5 cards each turn. A turn consists of an Action Phase, Buy Phase, and Clean-up Phase. Additional Treasure cards must be purchased in order to purchase additional Victory cards or Kingdom cards which go to your discard pile and eventually get shuffled back into your deck. The various Kingdom cards, when played, can put more cards in your hand, add money to your buy phase, affect other players, etc. As the game type suggests, over time your deck builds and will quickly change the entire play of the game. The game ends when either the pile of Province cards is empty or any 3 Supply piles are empty. The player with the most victory points (from the Victory cards) in his or her deck at the end wins.

Do you buy Treasure cards first or Kingdom cards first? Do you attempt to ‘attack’ your opponent or just leave him alone and concentrate on your deck? Whatever strategy you use, when people start buying Province cards…you’d better have a plan. That is an undeservedly brief description of the game, but in the interest of space and time, believe me when I say the mechanics and strategies of Dominion are both addicting and endlessly fun (even my wife loves to play).

Not all is good in the kingdom though. From a collecting, transporting, and overall storing perspective, the Dominion box is entirely too big. Though the storage tray nicely separates the card piles, you can’t exactly throw the game into a backpack when heading out of the door. Also, the two separate instruction booklets is puzzling. One describes the overall gameplay and the other gives examples of turns and describes individual cards. Why it wasn’t combined into one booklet is beyond me. Lastly, while not a con, please note that the majority of the expansions require the base set of Treasure, Victory, Curse, and Trash cards to play.

Retailed at around $30, Dominion is well worth the money. With a light, almost inconsequential medieval theme, this card game has a high replay value, detailed illustrations, and exceptional expansions (I just cracked open Seaside). I know I’m late to this party, but for those in the same boat, this game needs to be a part of your upcoming holiday season. And next time a sibling says they’re obsessed with a game…hear ’em out, it just might be worth your while.

Designer: Donald X. Vaccarino
Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Street Fighter Heroclix


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Street Fighter is getting the Heroclix treatment courtesy of Wizkids.  What’s even cooler than the figures is the fact these will be fully compatible with other Heroclix sets.  You can pit Ryu, Ken, Guile and the lot versus your favorite Marvel, DC and other comic characters.

The expansion and game will be released on August 10 and feature 27 sculpts.  The figures will be sold in single boxes for $2.99 which will get you a random figure.  The Capcom Street Fighter HeroClix figures are also available in a Starter 6-Pack.  The starter set retails for $19.99.  Much like the other starter sets players will be able to play right out of the box.  The starter set includes characters like Guile, Ryu, and Blanka that are “completely redialed” and feature alternate paint schemes from those used in the base set. In addition the Starter 6-Pack includes character cards, 4 exclusive maps, 2 custom dice, and a 2011 HeroClix rulebook.

Check out the pics released so far.

Street Fighter Heroclix Booster DisplayStreet Fighter Heroclix BoosterStreet Fighter Heroclix Starter Pack

Street Fighter Heroclix KenStreet Fighter Heroclix E HondaStreet Fighter Heroclix Akuma

synDCon 2011


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I’ve wondered what a Washington, DC gaming convention would be like.  I decided to check out synDCon II this weekend, “Wasington, DC Area’s Premier Gaming Convention!”  Considering I can’t even name a second gaming convention, this one gets that title by default.  I expected a pretty low key event, but low key would be giving this convention too much credit.

The event took place in Rockville, Maryland at the Hilton and ran from April 1 to 3.  The convention was billed as “April Gaming Fools.”  I was the fool for going, and would of been better off spending the time going to my local comic shop.  I spent more time traveling to the convention, than actually at the convention itself.

Three days of normal gaming is more of a better description as to what I witnessed.  A corridor of a beautiful hotel which permeated “gamer stench” along it’s ways.  The convention, brought together by Gamers’ Syndicate, reminded me more of the local game conventions I witnessed in Buffalo and Rochester.  The last of those I went to over a decade ago were better organized with more offerings and events.  They were also put together by college students and their gaming groups.

Most of the rooms lay empty while I was there, except one, which I believe was filled with individuals playing D&D.  I didn’t see any pick up games of Magic or really any other games and the panels seemed to be limited.

While I was there I saw about 50 individuals playing various games and a dealer room consisting of six tables, of which were only two or three real stores.  The gaming itself was sparse, mostly D&D, some Magic, some open board games and lots Living Forgotten Realms.  Each day had about 3 seminars (most big conventions have three seminars running at a time).  This was definitely not worth the cost, especially the $20 for one day.

There were about a dozen tournaments, mostly were Magic.  The game choice as a whole was pretty poor.  I’ll have to say though, the people were fairly friendly, though typical “gamers.”

What’s disappointing is the abundance of riches in the Washington, DC area.  SPX and Magfest both draw hundreds of individuals, great guests and have so much going on, you can’t catch it all.  There’s also at least a couple dozen game, video game and comic book stores within 30 miles of the city.  this convention took place a bit outside of the city (which might be part of the problem).

Distance is a weird thing in DC.  Even though the location was metro accessible and you’re rarely 20 miles away from the destination you want to go to, travel can take hours (it was 30 to 45 minutes for me) depending on how you go.

Why isn’t there a major national convention for the geek industry in our nation’s capital?  There’s a thriving indie comic book scene and a major convention to that.  A great video game music fest, and attempts at a game convention.  I can’t but think that combining all of these events into one weekend would be a major draw.  Move them all downtown and you have a national (and maybe international) event that’ll draw big names.  But, until then, here’s looking forward to Gen Con, a real game convention.

synDCon 2011synDCon 2011synDCon 2011synDCon 2011synDCon 2011synDCon 2011

Cryptozoic Entertainment and Gen Con

Official Press Release

Gen Con LLC and Cryptozoic Entertainment™ partner to grow the business of games at Gen Con Indy 2011

SEATTLE – (March 31, 2011) Gen Con’s Entrepreneurs’ Avenue is a special area in the annual game convention’s exhibit hall that supports new game and gaming-culture oriented businesses. Entrepreneurs’ Avenue launched successfully in 2010 and in its second year will be completely full. Cryptozoic Entertainment, a growing force in the game and entertainment publishing industry, has committed to sponsoring the Entrepreneurs’ Avenue in 2011, and is returning to Gen Con Indy as a Contributing Sponsor of the convention at-large.

Gen Con awards Marketing Fellowship awards to the top six applicants from Entrepreneurs’ Avenue. These awards afford the selected companies the opportunity to gain better exposure for their businesses through on-site marketing and expanded space in the exhibit hall. This year, Cryptozoic will select the best Marketing Fellowship recipient based on show presentation at Gen Con Indy 2011 and will provide a marketing grant valued at $5,000 toward the selected company’s presence at Gen Con Indy 2012. “We understand very well the challenges of launching a new business based on games. Cryptozoic wants to support companies that have ingenuity and passion, but that need that extra push to help them reach their next level of success. A strong presence at Gen Con is a key component of that success,” said Cory Jones, President and Chief Creative Officer for Cryptozoic Entertainment.

In addition to the marketing grant, the six companies from Entrepreneurs’ Avenue that are selected for marketing fellowships will have the opportunity to schedule pitch sessions with Cryptozoic’s executive team. “Cryptozoic’s team takes creating fun seriously. We are fortunate to have a strong partnership with a company whose strength and expertise supports the continued growth of the gaming industry as a whole. We appreciate Cryptozoic’s commitment to supporting both Gen Con and the companies that make our convention possible,” said Adrian Swartout, CEO of Gen Con.

About Cryptozoic Entertainment
Cryptozoic Entertainment was founded in 2010 on the core principle of “fans first.” The
Cryptozoic staff consists of fans who are dedicated to producing the highest quality product and community experience possible. Visit www.cryptozoic.com for additional product and event information.

About Gen Con
Gen Con, LLC produces the largest consumer hobby, fantasy, sci-fi and adventure game
convention in North America. It was acquired in 2002 by former CEO and founder of Wizards of the Coast Peter Adkison, who owns the company headquartered in Seattle, Washington.  Gen Con is a consumer and trade experience dedicated to gaming culture and community. For more information visit the website at www.gencon.com. For up-to-the minute details, find us at www.facebook.com/genconindy and at www.twitter.com/gen_con.

Gen Con Announces Charity for 2011

Official Press Release

School on Wheels Named As Charity Recipient for Gen Con Indy 2011

INDIANAPOLIS – (March 16, 2011) As in years past, Gen Con LLC chooses one charity to raise funds for during the Best Four Days in Gaming. This year Gen Con is excited to announce it has selected School on Wheels, which enhances and enriches educational opportunities for school-aged homeless children. Last year Gen Con raised almost $16,000 for the Pajama Program and is looking forward to another great year. Gen Con Indy 2011 celebrates its 44th convention August 4-7 at the Indiana Convention Center.

“School on Wheels does such an amazing job helping Indianapolis’s homeless kids with their education,” said Adrian Swartout, CEO of Gen Con. “Each year our attendees are incredibly generous, raising thousands of dollars and spending countless hours for the charity we support.”

The School on Wheels story began in 2001 when Sally Bindley learned that there are over 3,000 homeless children in Indianapolis and half are under the age of 12. Providing supplemental educational services for homeless children is a big job and until School on Wheels was formed, no one was doing it. That’s when Sally hit the streets literally, and began tutoring homeless children. School on Wheels was founded and received 501(c)(3) status in 2001. During the first year, two part-time staff members and four volunteers provided tutoring for 50 homeless children at one shelter. Today, School on Wheels has a staff comprised of 13 talented and dedicated employees and over 500 volunteer tutors serving at 11 locations in Indianapolis.

During Gen Con, funds for the charity will be raised in a variety of ways, many of which have been running for years in support of charity. 100% of the proceeds from the Ace of Aces X, Cardhalla XIII and the Charity Auction will go directly to School on Wheels. In addition, attendees can look forward to other activities to help the charity including Jail-n-Bail, visiting the School on Wheels booth in the Family Fun Pavilion, social networking promotions and writing “Hope Notes” to encourage the students throughout the year.
Gen Con has had a long history of supporting charities at their event and will continue the tradition this year and in the future.

For 44 years, Gen Con Indy has been creating trends and breaking records in the hobby gaming industry. Last year, more than 30,000 unique attendees experienced Gen Con Indy. In 2011 Gen Con Indy will consist of exciting events, hundreds of exhibits and plenty of ways to give back to the community. For registration and more information visit www.gencon.com.

About School on Wheels
School on Wheels serves homeless children in Indianapolis homeless shelters and believes that all children, regardless of socio-economic status or housing situation, deserve a proper learning environment and educational support. We’re on a mission to break the cycle of homelessness through education. To learn more about School on Wheels, visit www.indysow.org, follow us on Twitter @Indy SOW and “Like” us on Facebook.

About Gen Con
Gen Con, LLC produces the largest consumer hobby, fantasy, sci-fi and adventure game convention in North America. It was acquired in 2002 by former CEO and Founder of Wizards of the Coast Peter Adkison, who owns the company headquartered in Seattle, Washington. Gen Con is a consumer and trade experience dedicated to gaming culture and community. For more information visit the website at www.gencon.com . For up-to-the minute details, find us at www.facebook.com/genconindy and at www.twitter.com/gen_con

Heroclix – Caliban and Wolverine


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Wizkids has released a preview of it’s latest creation for the Giant Size X-Men Heroclix, Caliban and Wolverine.

Heroclix CalibanHeroclix WolverineFrom the Wizkids website:

Caliban brings quite  variety of powers to the battlemap.  His early dial represents his time spent living under New York City as a member of the Morlock community with Stealth representing his penchant for staying in the shadows, and Combat Reflexes demonstrating his wiry ability to avoid being captured.  Exploit Weakness represents a lesser known aspect of Caliban’s power, which was to absorb and re-direct Psionic Fear upon his targets.Mid-dial, Caliban switches to his first Horseman persona, that of Death, with a jump in his damage and attack values along with the inclusion of Super Strength to demonstrate his amplified physique.  Caliban also trades his Combat Reflexes for a denser hide in the form of Impervious.  And after a brief stint as Death, Caliban trades roles to become the new Pestilence and his powers adapt accordingly.  At this stage, Caliban adds Poison and Invulnerability to his arsenal.

That’s not all though! Throughout Caliban’s dial he benefits from his Mutant Tracker trait which allows him to use Charge.  Even better, if his target has the Brotherhood of Mutants or X-Men team ability or keywords, you may remove an action token from Caliban once the action has resolved!

and

Wolverine is a deadly close-combatant as Death.  His early-dial is chock full of dangerous powers like Death Comes Swiftly special power which enables Wolverine to use Charge and Flurry.  Combine that with Exploit Weakness and a respectable damage value of 3, and Wolverine is ready to dish out some hurt!After his first click, Wolverine adds Steal Energy to his arsenal lowing him to potentially heal back up to his first click.  He switches to his trademark Blades/Claws/Fangs mid-dial for some swordplay while  Toughness keeps Wolverine safe from some harm as his armor absorbs some of the damage from opposing attacks.  Late dial Wolverine picks up Regeneration and the Brainwashed special power.  Don’t want to spend your action regenerating Wolverine? Field a friendly piece with Mind Control and have them do it for Wolverine instead!

And let’s not forget that Wolverine also has The Fourth Horseman: Death trait.  K.O. an opposing figure and instantly all of Wolverine’s combat values are modified by +1 until the end of the turn!

Heroclix – Aaron Stack and Elsa Bloodstone


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Wizkids has released a preview of it’s latest creation for the Giant Size X-Men Heroclix, Aaron Stack and Elsa Bloodstone.

Heroclix Aaron Stack

Heroclix Elsa BloodstoneFrom the Wizkids website:

Aaron Stack is a veritable tool chest of useful powers and abilities.  He starts off with with some great close-combat capabilities thanks to early-dial Charge and Super Strength.  After the first couple of clicks, Exploit Weakness and Blades/Claws/Fangs demonstrates how effective Aaron is in melee against the “Fleshy Ones”.

Mid-dial Leap/Climb allows Aaron to get where he’ll do the most good for your force, and sets him up nicely for his Extendable Body Parts special power which allows him to make ranged attacks with a range value equal to his click number! Combine that with some Penetrating/Psychic Blast and Aaron makes an exceptional secondary range attack piece.

Alternating between Invulnerability and Defend, Aaron Stack is able to mix it up with opposing figures as well as help protect his teammates, while late-dial Regenerate allows Aaron to get bck up to his mid-dial for more “useful devices” action!

Lastly, Aaron Stack’s keyword selection enables him to theme on a variety of great teams which only increases the usefulness of this utility piece.

and

Elsa is an expert at battling monsters and a dangerous close combatant.  Her Monster Hunter trait allows her to deal penetrating damage against figures who’s point values are more than 250 pts, while her attack value gets a +2 boost versus giant and colossal figures or figures with the Monster keyword.   Talk about a deadly accent!The fun doesn’t end there though.  Early-dial Charge and Blades/Claws/Fangs demonstrates Elsa’s mastery of combat techniques while Combat Reflexes reflects her many years of training.  Mid-dial Willpower gives Elsa the opportunity for that extra push, whether it be to shoot a monster in the face or attck it with her trademarked spade.

Late-dial Flurry and Regenerate both keep Elsa in the fight, and her very consistent combat values ensures Elsa will be a threat to opposing figures no matter where she is on her dial.

Heroclix – Karima and Cable


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Wizkids has released a preview of it’s latest creation for the Giant Size X-Men Heroclix, Karima and Cable.

Heroclix Karima

Heroclix CableFrom the Wizkids website:

Karima is definitely ready to bring the fight to the enemy.  Early-dial Running Shot and an 8 Range allows her to move into position, and while on the way to set up the shot, Karima can pick up an object with Super Strength for an up close and personal special delivery.  Shape Change gives her that additional edge should your opponent attempt to target her, and if an attack gets past her disguise, her Invulnerability will protect her.

Mid-dial Karima switches tactics somewhat and trades Super Strength for Penetrating/Psychic Blast and also picks up some handy Force Blast to keep your foes at bay (and set them up for nice ranged attacks).  Toughness continues to afford some protection against opponents’ attacks as well.

Karima’s end-dial represents her short run as a member of the Maruaders while possessed by Malice.  She adds Mind Control to her arsenal and Pulse Wave ensures Karima remains a deadly threat.  Lastly, Regeneration allows Karima the opportunity to get back up to her early-dial.

At 118 points with consistent combat values, the Indomitable ability, a host of useful keywords and dual Police and X-Men team abilities, Karima will be a very useful addition to your X-collection!

and

At 140 points, Cable is certainly ready to join the fight.  Striking from the shadows with some opening clicks of Stealth, Cable demonstrates his proficiency with firearms with Ranged Combat ExpertStealth gives way to Charge and Cable picks up Close Combat Expert as he moves in for the melee.

Early-dial Toughness protects Cable from some harm, and mid-dial Regeneration allows Cable to potentially return to his first click.  However, should Cable choose to not heal, he will find that he will undergo a fantastic transformation!

Charge gives way to Hypersonic Speed as Cable takes on a whole new persona via his Lord Protector of Providence special power which allows use of Barrier, Defend, Leadership, and the Flight ability! If that weren’t enough, Penetrating/Psychic Blast and Impervious ensure that Cable will be deadly, enduring threat on the battlemap.

Hypersonic Speed gives way to Phase/Teleport allowing Cable to continue to move freely on the map, while Impervious is traded for Invunerability on the end-dial.

Aggressive combat values and an impressive power selection makes Cable a very potent addition to any force.  And his keyword selection allows Cable to theme on a number of impressive rosters!

Heroclix – Deadpool and Archangel


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Wizkids has released a preview of it’s latest creation for the Giant Size X-Men Heroclix, Uncanny X-Force’s Deadpool and Archangel.

Heroclix DeadpoolHeroclix ArchangelFrom the Wizkids website:

It’s great to see Deadpool in his X-Force uniform and he certainly brings an arsenel of explosive one-liners and witty weapons.  His dial opens with Stealth (as he sneaks-sneaks-sneaks around), Toughness, and his New Writer special power that allows you to add a little deus ex machina to your games by choosing the power set that will help you out the most during your game.

Stealth gives way to Running Shot as Deadpool leaves the comfort of shadows for a full-frontal assualt, while Toughness gives way to some early-dial Regeneration (handy to get back up to those first clicks), and Perplex allows him to add that little bit of extra help where it’s needed most.

Deadpool’s late-dial brings Charge and then Phasing/Teleport as well as some Blades/Claws/Fangs to the battlemap and Regeneration makes another appearance as well.  However, if Regeneration isn’t sufficient to get Deadpool’s dial to where you want it, there’s always his X-Men team ability which allows you to share clicks of health with other figures with the team ability.

Lastly, Deadpool’s trait allows him to ignore the effects of Poison, Mind Control, and Penetrating/Psychic Blast

and

Archangel joins his X-Force comrades striking from the shadows with early-dial Stealth.  If your opponent tries to base Archangel, their figure must then contend with Warren’s Combat Reflexes and Quake, hardly an incentive to engage in close combat!

Archangel’s mid-dial gives him access to his Razor Wings special power which allows Archangel to use Blades/Claws/Fangs while using Hypersonic SpeedCombat Reflexes gives way to Toughness as Running Shot and Incapacitate demonstrate Archangel’s paralytic “move and strike” techniques.

Finally, late-dial Regenerate and the X-Men team ability allow you to continually get Archangel to where he’ll do the most good.

Around the Tubes


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I got my comics for the week, did you?  Reviews will be Sunday as usual, but they might be at a decent time (earlier in the day) than the 6ish time period like last week.  If you haven’t picked yours up yet, check out Takio, it looks pretty entertaining.

Other than that, the Emerald City Comicon is this weekend, which means expect to see other blogs’ coverage over the next day here (not like we’re there).

Around the Blogs:

ComicsbeatMarvel Month-to-Month Sales: January 2011 -We don’t have the patience to go over the month to month sales, luckily others do!

ICv2First Look at Wizkids’ ‘Captain America Boosters’ – We love our Heroclix and ICv2 just happened to snap some photos of the upcoming Captain America line at Toy Fair.

Comics Alliance10 of “Wizard” Magazine’s Most Dubious Moments – Wizard is dead, but the bizarre reporting lives on.

Arts BeatEven Superman had a Mom, and Diane Lane Will Play Her – Hmm, we love Diane Lane, but Superman’s mom should not be this hot.

Comic Book Resources SpinoffAvengers To Shoot in Cleveland – A great excuse to visit where I was born and grab some good food.

Around the Tweets:

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