Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

Get in touch by emailing thegameshelfblog@gmail.com

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Fiona's Board Game Christmas Wish List

For someone like me, with an addiction to buying board games, it can be very hard for my friends and family to identify good board games to give to me at Christmas! However, during November and December I try really hard to not buy too many games and to keep a Christmas wish list, for different Secret Santa gift exchanges and for anyone else who feels generous and wants to buy me a game at this time of year. (Any family reading this, please note that Secret Santa has delivered on of these games already!)

This year my list includes a lot of new Essen releases, some of which may not be release in time for Santa to load them on his sleigh, but here are five games that are definitely available and that I’d be very happy to see wrapped up under the tree this year!

Fabled Fruit
Fabled Fruit is the first in a line of ‘fable’ games – a new concept from prolific designer Friedemann Friese. We got the opportunity to play this card game at a board game cafĂ© recently and really enjoyed the experience. Game one is a simple card game where you are taking one of the available actions each turn to manipulate the fruit cards in your hand to enable you to make different juices with your different fruit combinations. However, the fabled system means that the game evolves. During play you bring out more action cards from the deck and at the end of each game, the game state is saved so that that’s how your next game begins. We’re really excited to explore this system more in Fabled Fruit and also to try the new fable games – Flee, Fear and Fortress.

Magic Maze
Magic Maze is another game we’ve had the chance to play on a couple of occasions, however the second time we played it was a massive hit and that’s what has placed it firmly on my wish list. In Magic Maze you’re working cooperatively to get four fantasy characters to collect items and escape from a shopping mall. The theme is slightly odd, but the mechanics are fantastic. The game is a timed game and rather than each taking control of a character you are each taking control of different kinds of movement, up down, left right, escalators and portals. We love cooperative games, we enjoy real time and this game was great with friends, even those not that familiar with gaming. It has none of the downfalls of cooperative games where one player takes over and it even cures slow players – I can’t wait to play more Magic Maze and if Santa gifted me the new Maximum Security expansion too, that would be great!

The Voyages of Marco Polo
Sometimes you play a game at a board game club and you think it’s fantastic. Then it goes out of print for one or two years and you still remember that it’s fantastic but you can’t remember why…that’s how I feel about The Voyages of Marco Polo. Then you tell your wife that you really want to buy The Voyages of Marco Polo and she asks you why and you have to confess that you don’t know why, so instead of making an impulse purchase you put Marco Polo on your Christmas wish list!

Robinson Crusoe
Robinson Crusoe is a game I’m reluctant to buy for myself and sometimes that is why games end up on my Christmas wish list. The reason I’m reluctant to buy it is because we have a preorder of the newer implementation, First Martians, which just arrived at our doorstep. We chose First Martians because Amy prefers the theme, but I’d still like to try the original. Robinson Crusoe is a notoriously difficult cooperative game, but that’s no bad thing in our house and I’d be very happy to have it in our collection.

Unearth is a game I haven’t had the opportunity to play since it was released earlier this year. It was on my most anticipated list for releases at Gen Con 50, but I’ve been waiting to play it since. The main reason I’m attracted to the game is its beautiful artwork – I just love the geometric style. I like dice placement, but I am slightly concerned by comparisons to Smash Up, so for me it’s a game I have been nervous to invest it, but sometimes a gift is the opportunity to take a punt on a game. Since I’ve not seen any copies in my gaming circles, it would be a chance for me to try Unearth.

Friday, 15 December 2017

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Letter Tycoon

Game:Letter Tycoon

Publisher: Breaking Games and Squirmy Beast

Designer: Brad Brooks

Year: 2015

Imagine if you owned the rights to letters of the alphabet, every time someone wanted to print a word they'd need to pay you to do it! This business is lucrative, but every other person with a printing press is competing to buy these patents first - the competition for the common letters is hot, but if you spend a long time saving up for the letter 'E', your competitors might buy up a few uncommon letters and get ahead in the printing game.

Letter Tycoon is visually fantastic for a word game, with a kind of steam punk machinery style that evokes the Victorian printing press for me. It mixes the mechanisms of classic word games some speculation and economics that makes you think even harder about the words you can make. I was interested to find out if this game fell into the trap of games like Scrabble where the player with the better vocabulary will always have the upper hand or if it would successfully incorporate more modern board gaming mechanics to compete with a game like Paperback, where a word game becomes a little less one sided when you're playing against the same opponent.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Legendary: Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Game: Legendary: Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Publisher: Upper Deck Entertainment

Designer: Travis R. Chance, Nick Little

Year: 2017

I have not watched many popular geek culture movies/TV shows. As such the many different versions of Legendary don't hold much appeal from a thematic point of view. I enjoyed Legendary Encounters: Alien from a gameplay standpoint, and we own Legendary Marvel, in which some of the characters are familiar. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a show that I have never seen and I don't understand a single reference, but I was surprised to find that my wife used to love the show and was keen to try it. So here is a review of Legendary: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the mechanics version!

Legendary Buffy is a deck-building game in which each player is forming a deck of good guys to defeat a villain and their evil plot. As with most deck-building games, each player starts with a small deck of very basic cards and it is typical to try and get rid of these basis cards as the game progresses and to replace them by purchasing  stronger cards. Some cards are focused on generating you the money to buy more cards, whilst others are focused on giving you attack points, which you spend to attack the mounting pile of smaller villains or henchmen. Ultimately you're trying to get enough hit points in a single hand to punch the big bad, since that is worth the most end game points and punching them 4 times will mean you collectively win the game.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Awoooooo... *guitar solo* :- Legendary: Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Game: Legendary: Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Publisher: Upper Deck Entertainment

Designer: Travis R. Chance, Nick Little

Year: 2017

Legendary: Buffy The Vampire Slayer is a 1-5 player semi-cooperative deck builder in which you recruit the help of Buffy the Scoobies, and some of their photo-phobic pals in order to dust vamps and save the town of Sunnydale. Legendary: Buffy The Vampire Slayer takes the core Legendary ruleset and adds a few thematic twists to complement the Buffy theme.

For those already familiar with the Marvel version of Legendary you will already know 90% of the mechanics, so feel free to skip the next two paragraphs.

Legendary: Buffy The Vampire Slayer works as you'd expect of many deckbuilder, you start the game with a deck of 12, pretty bad, starter cards and each turn you will draw 6 cards from your deck. Once you play these cards you can spend the two main resources, attack lets you combat the vampires and demons, as well as eventually taking on the "big bad", which you must defeat 4 times to win the game. Each villain gives you a number of victory points, and should the good guys win the player with the most points is the overall winner. Recruit points allow you to add new cards to your deck which have improved abilities. At the start of each turn you must draw a card from the villain deck, this largely comprises of villains that you can fight, but also contains scheme twists which bring the villains closer to winning and master strikes which allow the big bad to attack you personally. To counter these enemies the hero cards you recruit can combo off each other in many ways, either based off their faction (Scoobies, Slayers, Vampires, etc) or their card colour.