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 18 months and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every other 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

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

The cake is a mirage!:- Forbidden Desert






Game Title: Forbidden Desert


Designer: Matt Leacock


Publisher: Gamewright


Year: 2013

‘Batten down the Chronotron’ he said. ‘We’ll make it so long as the power crystal holds out’ he said. ‘The only way out is through’ he said. And now here I am, the finest engineer my guild has ever seen, and what am I doing with my life? Digging, with a shovel no less, through this gods-forsaken desert in some vain hope that I’ll come across our engine. The Sun beats down like a raging inferno, the desert winds do little too cool me off and, of course, that damn dust storm covers up ground twice as fast as I uncover it. ‘You get the engine’ he said, running off with both our sand blasters and the reserve “water” supply, which we all knew was gin ’I’ll get the rest!’. If we get out of here alive I swear I’m throwing the captain back overboard.

Forbidden Desert is a 2-5 player cooperative game about the crew of a crash-landed steampunk airship. You need to search the desert for the missing components of your ship, desperately digging them out of sand that keeps piling up and trying to chase them down in an ever-shifting environment before the sandstorm truly picks up and all chance of leaving is lost. The game certainly feels a lot like Matt Leacock's previous game Forbidden Island, but refined, made more difficult, and with a cute airship model.

The game consists of a 5x5 grid of tiles (with a gap left in the centre) which all feature desert on one side and a feature on the other. Thee of the tiles have a small water drop on them indicating that they have water on the reverse side, however only 2 actually do, one is a mirage. The feature side of the tiles can be wells; which restore water to everyone on the tile when they are revealed, tunnels; which provide fast travel across the desert and shelter from the harsh sun, empty bits of city which provide an equipment card, and clues which tell you which row/column a ship part is in. Find both clues for a ship part and you place it at the intersection of the clues, all that’s needed then is to go there and collect it.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Over-thinking by the Yellow Meeple: The Dice Tower Awards 2015



As a new gamer who only really entered the hobby late in 2014, board game awards are less a chance to be annoyed that my favourite game didn’t win, but more a chance to find out what I really should have played from the previous year(s) and thus add some great titles to my collection or at least add them to the ‘to play’ list and hope I see them at a game group soon.

So this morning I watched the live stream of the Dice Tower Awards taking place at Dice Tower Con. I was a little disappointed to realise how few games I have played, but also pleased with myself that the hours I spend watching game reviews gave me enough insight to be able to predict many of the winners (though not quite as many as Eric Summerer).

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple: Targi



Game Title: Targi
 
Designer: Andreas Steiger

Publisher: Z-MAN

Year: 2012

Targi was first recommended to me by the good people at Ecclectic Games in Reading, UK. At the time I decided against it, because a somewhat unique style worker placement sounded like a risk when I had never tried the genre before. Targi did however stick in my mind as a game I’d like to try. As a 2-player game it hasn’t made an appearance at either of our board game groups, so I had to wait for my first opportunity to try it on a visit we made to the Thirsty Meeples board game cafe in Oxford. The game was hit and a copy came home with us.


Targi is a two-player worker placement game, played on an ever changing board of 9 cards. The central 9 cards are surrounded by a border of 16 tiles which denote the rounds in the game. In each round, players take turns to place one of their three Targis (workers) on one of the border tiles to obtain a special ability. Each space may only be occupied by one Targi and this includes the robber which occupies a different border tile each round. Targi’s may also not occupancy opposite border tiles. Not only do the Targi’s obtain the special abilities of the border tile on which they are standing, but they also receive the two central cards which lie at the intersecting locations of their workers.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Dude where's my camel?!:- Targi



Game Title: Targi
 

Designer: Andreas Steiger


Publisher: Z-MAN


Year: 2012


These lands had been our home for centuries, from the sea to the West to the mountains in the East, every grain of sand belonged to our tribe. But then the foreigners came, dressed entirely in white, ravaging the already barren land to beyond breaking point. We have to face a fact, there isn't enough food here for our noble tribe to survive alongside these foreign devils, but our leader won't accept war. So we will do only what we can, we will starve them out! We shall prosper while they shrivel away and then this land shall truly be ours again.


Targi is a tactical 2 player game that has you each tacking control of a desert dwelling tribe who eat only dates with a varied amount of seasoning. Throughout the game you will collect goods in the forms of gold coins, salt, pepper and dates and then spend them on buying Tribe cards which grant you victory points and sometimes bonus abilities. These tribe cards get displayed in a 3x4 tableau, the game ends when either player fill this up or when the Robber token has done a full roatation around the board, which comes to 12 turns.

The main game area consists of a 3x3 grid, made up of Goods and Tribe cards, surrounded by a 5x5 border. The interesting thing is you cannot place your Targi (meeple to you and me) on the inner 3x3 area, you can only place them on the border cards. Each turn you get three Targi to place, taking it in turns to place one at a time, each round the first player changes so no-one should have an on-going advantage. In order to claim the inner area you must draw imaginary lines from each of your Targi and wherever these lines cross you place a tribe marker which claims the tile for you. After you claim a card you replace it with one of the other kind, preventing players from amassing too many goods in rapid succession and keeping the game flowing.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Talisman



Game Title: Talisman 4th Edition


Designer: John Goodenough & Robert Harris


Publisher: Fantasy Flight


Year: 2007


Talisman recently came up as part of a Humble Bundle, which Amy installed on her PC since Smallworld was a game we wanted to try and Talisman was a bit of a bonus. The PC version of the game was quite difficult to follow, with no instructions, just hints and tips as you started to play the game. Because of some of the automation, it was often difficult to see why an AI opponent was able to play spells when you were not and to understand why certain actions were taken, especially on the corner spaces. There were also issues with the scale of the game, even on a large monitor, so whenever you needed to read the text on a space to decide where to move, you need to zoom in on each space which can make the game take a lot longer than necessary.

We knew the game was a long one when we started to play, however 2 hours later, I was still hanging around the outer ring whilst Amy had managed to progress to the middle ring. We decided we had tested the game enough and should call it a day, but for some reason we still had that ‘one more turn’ mentality, which told us that perhaps we could grow to like the game. When the opportunity came up, a few days later, to buy the base game and Reaper Expansion at a good price, we decided to take the plunge.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The Adventures of Mr. Toad:- Talisman 4th Edition






Game Title: Talisman 4th Edition


Designer: John Goodenough & Robert Harris


Publisher: Fantasy Flight


Year: 2007


It had seemed too good to be true, a map to the legendary Crown of Command, and for only 2 gold coins? I'd have been mad to turn it down, unfortunately the person who wrote the map must have been mad too. Walk for five miles it claims, but I'll be damned if it gave me a direction, I'd been guessing the whole way and yet somehow each time I followed it's cryptic advice a new clue appeared. Whether that meant it was working or I was being played for a fool I had no idea, but with a prize as grand as the Crown of Command, surely any chance is worth taking? I looked down at my regular map. Five miles to the east there's a small tavern, a harmless enough place to spend more gold than you meant to. To the West was The Sentinel, a huge gateway which rumours persist was made by daemons. Glancing at the magical map again I knew only one thing... I really needed a drink.

Talisman is one of Games Workshop’s classic board games from back in 1983. Sometime in the past 30 years they decided that games that require only a handful of miniatures that were all included in the box wasn’t a good enough way to extract money from small children, and so they dropped Talisman (and many others). The game is now sold by Fantasy Flight and I have to say they did a good job, the game is rather well designed with nice graphics, well sculpted miniatures (particularly the toads) and a generally high production value.

Let’s start by saying the game play does show it’s age, players each choose a character with a special ability then take turn moving it around the board and adventuring with the ultimate goal to reach the central space, claim the Crown of Command and use it’s magic to kill everyone else. Movement is based on a dice roll (you move d6 spaces in one of 2 directions around the board, no more, no less), then you encounter the space you land on. Encounters tend to be drawing an adventure card which can be items to help you, monsters to fight or other random events, the interesting part is that if a player doesn’t fully resolve this action then it hangs around and anyone else who lands on the space gets a chance to take the item/fight the monster etc. As the game goes on the board starts to evolve, certain areas can be filled with tough enemies, while others might have shops and healers hanging around.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Elder Sign



Game Title: Elder Sign

Designer: Richard Launius & Kevin Wilson

Manufacturer: Fantasy Flight

Year: 2011


Elder Sign was one of the first co-operative games we were introduced to back in 2014. Once we got a little more addicted to gaming it was near the top of our ‘to buy’ list. Realising that the game was pretty much out-of-print we actually happened upon it by chance when visiting Skipton in Yorkshire and stepping into Strange Games. This shop was an awesome find in such a small town and really astonishing given that large cities like Southampton, where we live, still don’t have a board game store.




In Elder Sign each player takes on the role of an Investigator, each of which has a special ability which might help them to heal or improve a dice roll in the game. The goal for the Investigators is to defeat the Ancient One before it awakens, which is done by collecting a prescribed number of Elder Signs. Elder Signs are collected when an Investigator completes the challenge in one of six random rooms in the game at any one time. Completing these challenges can also give a player special items that can be used to improve their chances of staying alive, defeating monsters or being successful in further rooms. However, if an investigator fails to complete a task then there are negative effects such as loss of Stamina, Sanity or the appearance of monsters or Doom Tokens which advance the progress of the Ancient One.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Night at the Museum 4:- Elder Sign



Game Title: Elder Sign
Designer: Richard Launius & Kevin Wilson
Manufacturer: Fantasy Flight
Year: 2011

It had previously taken a considerable amount of cunning to infiltrate the museum after dark. I'd all but given up on getting in tonight after the death of the night-watchman yesterday. You'd expect a police presence, you'd expect nosy reporters, but there were none... unless you counted me. How could they have covered it up? There were paintings drenched in the man's blood, you can't just clean that up before opening time! But tonight I could practically waltz right in, where there was normally an unnaturally muscular guard, tonight there was no-one. I took my opportunity and sprinted through the museums back doors, taking a glance behind me to check that no-one had seen, I almost missed what was in front of me. This wasn't the same back room as the night before and that disgusting statue wasn't... did it just move?




Elder Sign is a cooperative horror game where you take the role of a detective investigating occult activity emanating from a museum. The game has a heavy H. P. Lovecraft theme, ultimately your goal is to seal away one of the big, bad, world eating, unpronounceable horrors before it awakens and starts lunching on cities and flossing with power-lines. To do this you need to collect a series of Elder Signs before you amass a critical number of doom tokens. There are several Ancient Ones that you can face, each has unique powers, requires a differing number of Elder Signs to seal away and a different number of Doom tokens to awaken.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Thoughts from the yellow meeple:- XCOM



Game: XCOM: The Board Game

Designer: Eric M. Lang

Manufacturer: Fantasy Flight

Year: 2015

XCOM was a present for Amy based on her love of the original PC game. I didn’t expect to enjoy it, but agreed to a single play through of the game, but no more. This game is the second biggest gaming surprise I have had thus far, second only to Battlestar Galactica (who would have thought I could enjoy a 5 hour game based on a Sci-Fi series I’ve never seen, played with people I’ve never met). From the first play through of XCOM, I loved it!



The game is a 4-player co-op where each player becomes a different character in the XCOM team, with differing responsibilities, all working to prevent alien invasion and prevent the different continents of the word from going into Panic. The Scientist researches tech for all four team members, which will generally provide additional special abilities for combat with aliens or with UFOs on earth or in orbit. The Commander is responsible for the budget, the fighter jets and also for causing crises within the game. The Central Officer relays information from the app to the team. The Squad Leader deploys troops to fend of alien attacks on the base and also on the mission.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Roll for Humanity: XCOM the Board Game



Game Title: XCOM: The Board Game

Designer: Eric M. Lang

Manufacturer: Fantasy Flight Games

Year: 2015


The sirens blazed above the usual racket, another two had arrived. The holograms flickered to life above Portland and Miami on the war map. Our interceptors could be there in 3 hours, but by then for many people it would be too late. Then there were the abductions in Madrid, the skyranger had just taken three of our best to head those off. We had to send our best, because frankly almost everyone who wasn't our best was already dead. At this point we'd take almost anyone who could hold a gun if we thought they'd survive more than 30 seconds in the field. New sirens cut across the noise in the control room, the sound of gunfire rattled through the air, they were here! My grip tightened on my pistol, ballistic rounds didn't do much damage to these extra-terrestrials but it was my last hope, just as we were the last hope for Humanity.



XCOM was a game that I was looking forward to for a long time, I’m a big fan of the PC game that this takes after (and for people who are curious the game is solidly based on the modern XCOM computer game) and I really wanted to see how the board game would bring across some of the elements from its source material. Before we bought it we’d seen a few people playing it at game groups and honestly that hadn’t given us high hopes, Fiona was put off somewhat by a theme she didn’t care about and perceived complexity. Having played the game though, all was forgiven.