Earlier this year, Cryptozoic Entertainment dove headfirst into the world of board games with several releases, marking a significant growth for a company known only as the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game publisher up to that point. Early releases included licensed properties such as The Walking Dead and the Penny Arcade web comic, as well as an original creation, Food Fight. The venture seems to have paid off, given that Cryptozoic has begun fleshing out a 2012 board game release schedule that will put 2011 to shame.

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Let's get this comparison out of the way immediately: Martian Dice from upstart publisher Tasty Minstrel Games looks exactly like last year's Zombie Dice from industry veteran Steve Jackson Games. On the surface, they are both cardboard tubes with 13 dice and a lighthearted genre theme. Gamers loved Zombie Dice, myself included, so the knockoff alarm was blaring at full volume as I tried Martian Dice for the first time.

The surprise? Martian Dice is the better game. Read on for the full review to find out why, and see how Tasty Minstrel put Martian Dice on the map as the Rocky Balboa of dice games.

Just the Facts:

Players: 2+
Playing Time: 10+ minutes
Age: 8 to adult
Publisher: Tasty Minstrel Games
MSRP: $14.95
Release: October 2011

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WizKids Games is preparing a second expansion for its hit dice game Quarriors!, filled with 40 new dice, a storage box, play mats, revised rules, and more "Qua-" puns than you can shake a stick at. Quarriors! Quarmageddon will be a mid-year release that looks to establish the definitive Quarriors! experience by adding more variety while also streamlining gameplay. Read More...

Over the holidays, Fantasy Flight Games CEO Christian T. Peterson took to the internet to address continued issues with the Mansions of Madness line of board games.

After receiving the original Mansions of Madness in an incomplete state (errata was already packed in the box and an extensive online FAQ was needed to clear up further game-breaking issues), fans where already on edge when the Forbidden Alchemy expansion was released with similar flaws.

The letter, displayed here in its entirety, was originally posted to the Fantasy Flight Games product news feed on December 21st:

Dear Mansions of Madness Player,

It has come to my attention that certain components and information in our recently released Mansions of Madnessexpansion, Forbidden Alchemy, have serious playability issues.

I am sorry and very embarrassed by this issue. Any issues with Forbidden Alchemy are especially egregious as theMansion of Madness core game was similarly afflicted. While FFG's work on Forbidden Alchemy was well intended, its content and scenarios both novel and exciting, it's obviously not acceptable for players to receive a product with serious mistakes.

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New box art for the upcoming Fortress America reprint

Classic board games have been enjoying a revival over the past few years, but the list of releases for 2011 and early 2012 represents a new peak. Fantasy Flight Games has been behind the majority of these releases, as they have produced new versions of Wiz-War, Kingdoms, Dune (re-named and re-themed as Rex), Nexus Ops, and Merchant of Venus. If you go back further, you'll see such revised classics as Space Hulk, Talisman, and Fury of Dracula. Read More...

In a crowded market of deck-building card games, Nightfall has emerged as one of this year's biggest success stories. With "take that" gameplay cranked up to 11, this game is now the poster child for deck-building with heavy player interaction. But what would you expect when vampires, werewolves, and humans are thrown into a pressure-cooker environment? There's going to be some bloodshed.

Nightfall: Blood Country aims to add a new thematic wrinkle to the series with two new short stories by famed author Kenneth Hite, both of which take the Nightfall mythos to small-town Oklahoma. Yes, that Oklahoma. In prior sets, Nightfall's humans were represented by heavily-armed SWAT teams and special agents, but this is Blood Country. As you can see from the game's cover, some good ol' boys with shotguns will be entering the mix.

Just the Facts:

Players: 2-5
Playing Time: 45 minutes
Age: 12 to adult
Publisher: AEG
MSRP: $29.99
Release: October 2011

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Hot on the heels of the very successful Innistrad set, Magic: The Gathering will soon be wrapping up the 3-set block of the same name. The second set, Dark Ascension, is still awaiting its February 3rd, 2012 release, but in a post to Wizard's Magic Arcana blog yesterday, Monty Ashley revealed the first details of Innistrad's third set, Avacyn Restored.

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This set is packed with Hulked Out Heroes, ripped from the pages of the World War Hulk miniseries

You won't like him when he's angry, but you'll love it when he's fighting for you. This month, HeroClix players are returning to the Marvel universe with the release of The Incredible Hulk set. And return in droves they will. WizKids has been on a roll as of late, announcing sellout after sellout of new HeroClix lines, so move quickly if you want to break into the game with this Hulk set.

Aside from the core Hulk characters and some of the World Ware Hulk figures seen above, characters are also pulled in from the Planet Hulk, Fall of the Hulks, and New Fantastic Four storylines. In total, 51 new models will be added to the HeroClix universe, including the A.I. Marine Hulk brick rewards figure (one included per booster brick).

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The space race is on, but do you have what it takes to make your rockets soar before it is too late? That is the challenge posed by freshly-minted publisher Stratus Games, who has had some early hits with Eruption [MTV Geek review] and Gold Mine [review coming soon].  But can Launch Pad take to the stars and earn a similar reception? Read on for the full review.

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A good chunk of December is behind us and you're still contemplating gift guides? Of course, there's nothing that screams holiday spirit like procrastination, but of all the people who will get gifts this season, its the kids who deserve the most thought.

Now that time is of the essence, consider getting them a game. Trust me, nobody ever got pepper sprayed while jockeying for a copy of Trivial Pursuit. Save yourself the hassle and head straight for the game aisle.

Consumers should proceed carefully, though: the game aisles in most stores are rife with horrible games. The mere fact that you are reading this post means it is now your duty to buy the cool game this season. So get out there and use my advise and heed my words of caution, but most of all, put a smile on some kid's face this year. Here are the games that can help you do just that.

Card Games:Redakai Trading Card Game
Ages 6+, $5-30 Read More...

The Mouse Guard RPG hardcover and accessories as seen at New York Comic Con 2011

Ever since its repackaging into a deluxe boxed set earlier this year, the Mouse Guard Roleplaying Game has been pickup up steam. Now, that buzz has manifested itself with sales data, as the entire first print run is now sold out at the distribution level. Not satisfied to leave customers out to dry during the gift-buying season, though, Archaia has already begun a second printing. New copies are expected to hit shelves before the holidays, so the game's brief absence from distribution should be of minor impact to consumers.

As an added bonus along with the reprint news, Archaia has thrown a bone to purchasers of the original hardcover edition by making the boxed set's dice and pawns available for purchase online, although in very limited quantities. You'll want to move fast if you plan on snagging those, and don't forget to pick up a PDF of the new rules and missions for a low $4.99 at DriveThruRPG.

In the meantime, if you absolutely need a copy as soon as possible, you may still have luck at your local game shop or designer Luke Crane's Burning Wheel web store.

I don't know what to tell you guys. You should have bought your copy when you had the chance!

Earlier this year, publisher Days of Wonder held a game design contest: create the next great Ticket to Ride map, and you could walk away with $10,000. Hundreds of submissions later, the results were so good that the company declared two winners.

The first of these winners, François Valentyne and his Legendary Asia map, have been paired up with original Ticket to Ride designer Alan R. Moon and his Team Asia map to create the first map pack for the popular franchise.

But how does a game such as Ticket to Ride continue to produce new versions while preserving the formula that garnered its original success? Read on for the full review to see how Ticker to Ride: Asia met this challenge or originality vs. faithfulness.

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Box art for the upcoming Nightfall: The Coldest War expansion set.
These vampires don't sparkle, they just wear furry hats.

Queue the Yakov Smirnoff jokes, because Nightfall is heading to Soviet Russia. Details are sparse at this point, but the set is confirmed to be a stand-alone expansion that adds at least a few new twists to the original game. So far, those include a brand new selection of six different starting minions, as well as new "moon phase" cards that will cause lasting changes to the game's rules. The wound cards will also be fully illustrated for the first time, although it is not clear whether these new wound cards will have any new in-game effects.

AEG's announcement sheds some light on the choice of setting:

Eastern Europe and the former Russian states are known as the birthplace of vampires, werewolves, and many fears that have been realized in Nightfall. Face those fears, and bring tactics used in generations past to fight the darkness.

More information on The Coldest War will be available in January, when AEG is scheduled to post the full rulebook and begin releasing card previews.

The Coldest War follows the original Nightfall, it's first stand-alone expansion Martial Law, and the recently-released small-box expansion Blood Country. Check back soon for a review of Blood Country here on MTV Geek.

For those geeks who consider board gaming their number one hobby, holiday gifts can be a minefield. Once someone is labeled as a hobby gamer, they become numb to the endless march of strange licensed Monopoly games thrown their way. But how can you blame the gift givers when the desirable games are so removed from mainstream consciousness? Strategy board games are a booming industry, but not one exactly at the peak of pop culture  they're not even stocked on the shelves at most stores.

If you're in the position of buying for a gamer friend (and you yourself are geeky enough to be reading MTV Geek) then you are that individuals's last hope to deliver the goods this holiday season. Read on, and I'll tell you exactly what is hot with the hardcore hobby gaming crowd this year.

Thematic Strategy Games:Game of Thrones andThe Walking Dead

Nothing is hotter than these two properties right now, making them both great themes for board games. It should be fairly easy to find out if your gamer friend is a fan, and If so, then these games will form the perfect intersection of geekdoms.

The Game of Thones board game is a timely choice, as the second edition just hit store shelves this week. In this new version, Fantasy Flight Games has completely re-done the graphic design as well as incorporating two existing expansions and some brand new content all in one box.

If your gift target is a big Walking Dead fan, then that poses a tough decision, albeit one that should not deter you. There are competing games published by Z-Man Games (based on the comic book, pictured above) and Cryptozoic Entertainment (based on the television show). Let your friend's preferred media format guide your choice.

Runners up: Discworld games (Ankh Morpork or Guards! Guards!), Penny Arcade the Card Game: Gamers vs. Evil

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Thirteen years after starting the Penny Arcade webcomic, writer Jerry Holkins and artist Mike Krahulik have more successes than anyone could have expected. Multi-million dollar charity? Check. Two of the largest gaming conventions in the world? Check.

The list continues, but these satirical critics of the game industry have never had much success making games of their own. Their video game series had a lukewarm reception and the original Fantasy Flight-published card game was a mediocre offering at best. That was then and this is now, though. Cryptozoic Entertainment holds the license and is taking another stab at making a PA-themed card game. Will it put previous offerings in its shadow? Read on for the full review. Read More...

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