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

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Flash Point: Fire Rescue



Game Title: Flash Point: Fire Rescue

Designer: Kevin Lanzig

Manufacturer: Indie Boards and Cards

Year: 2011


We really enjoy co-operative games. I think it’s because it avoids any risk of a sad-faced Yellow Meeple. So far we’ve also found that all of our co-ops work great for just 2-players. I’ve listened to a few ‘Top Ten Co-operative Games’ videos and podcasts, from the Dice Tower and the Broken Meeple to name just a couple, and Flash Point came up on a fair few lists. With these credentials and its pretty unique fire fighting theme it went straight to the top of my list of games to play and perhaps purchase. I patiently waited for it to be brought to a board game group (perhaps waiting as long as 3 weeks!!) and then caved and bought myself a shiny new copy. Needless to say, a week later someone brought it to the group, but did I regret my purchase?



Flash Point: Fire Rescue is a co-operative game for 1-6 players. In the game you are a team of fire fighters whose aim is to rescue at least 7 members of the family whose house is on fire. You must do this by carrying victims to safety, whilst ensuring that the house does not collapse and that you minimise casualties of the fire. Each fire fighter has a number action points to spend each turn which they can use to put out smoke or fire, move through the building, chop down walls, open doors, carry people or hazardous material out of the building or drive the ambulance or fire engine and even use the fire engine’s water cannon.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

And they called it puppy love:- Flash Point

Game Title: Flash Point: Fire Rescue

Designer: Kevin Lanzing

Manufacturer: Indie Boards and Cards

Year: 2011

My most memorable fire? Probably the place on Northfield road. It was a student party, someone left the gas on, someone lit a rollup and the rest is history. Must have been 7 or 8 of them that didn't get out by themselves. I'd just carried a particularly rotund gentleman to the ambulance when Henry radioed through, he'd heard a scream coming from the lounge. I rushed in, smoke so thick you could taste it through the respirator, and you'd only see 10 feet in front of you. I just about reached the lounge door when it blew open in a massive fireball. Time froze for a second, before a scream from inside the room snapped me back to reality. I ran into the bedroom next door and brought my axe down through the plasterboard, squeezed through and surveyed the room. To my left was the shredded remains of a keg, to the right do you know who was screaming? A goddamn TV, they'd been playing a drinking game to the horror channel. I was just about to turn around and leave when I saw her huddled in the corner. She must have been six weeks old, a black lab. The students weren't allowed to keep her, so... ever since then we've been the best of friends. Isn't that right girl?"
*Woof*

Flash point is a 2-5 play co-operative fire fighting game. You'll have to balance your time carefully in order to control the blaze, investigate points of interest and rescue survivors all before the inferno destroys the house for good.Each turn you have a set number of action points depending on your role, these can be spent to move around, open/close doors, fight fires, operate the fire engine's hose and a variety of other tasks. Not all actions are equal in Flash point, walking around might only use 1 action point, but if you want to do it while carrying a victim then that costs 2. However you can be prepared for this, if you don't use all your action points on one turn you can save them up to spend on future turns when you need them more.

Ultimately your true enemy in Flash Point is the fire, and this is a losing battle. Every turn you roll the 2 dice which give you a grid reference to spawn 1 smoke tile. If you roll a tile that has already got a smoke card then that ignites and becomes a fire, roll a tile that already has a fire and you get an explosion, which causes 4 fire tiles to be spawned (one in each cardinal direction). If an explosion would hit a wall then you put down a damage token instead, if all of the damage tokens are on the board then the house falls down, killing everyone inside and losing you the game. Since one of the more useful actions is to cut holes in walls with your axe, which causes damage tokens, this lose condition can come faster than you think. In addition there are hazardous containers which cause explosions as soon as they are rolled, though you can take them out of the house. There are also Hot Spots which make you roll a second time when you roll them, after placing your second roll you place another hotspot down on that area, just to encourage you to win quickly.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Over-thinking by the Yellow Meeple:- Top 10 Most Anticipated Games of GenCon 2015



So, since we live in the UK, any idea of going to GenCon is a dim and distant dream. Not only that, but I think that for me GenCon might just be too overwhelming, with too many people preventing me from really enjoying games. Nevertheless, GenCon 2015 is my beacon of hope that the year is about to come alive for me in terms of new games. I don’t think I’m wrong in saying that there is only one game on our shelves released this year and that’s X-COM: The Board Game. This can probably partly be blamed on the fact our collection has a lot of catching up to do in terms on filling in the gaps of the last 10-20 years of board gaming, but I also can’t help but feel that nothing has got me that excited so far in 2015.

So here is my opportunity to write my first top ten list! What I am most looking forward to being released at GenCon or am I simply more excited about writing the list?

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Alhambra



Game Title: Alhambra

Designer: Dirk Henn

Manufacturer: Queen Games

Year: 2003


We purchased Alhambra a couple of months ago as it was one of the games on Amy’s wanted list. It joins the list of Spiel des Jahres winners on our shelf, finding a spot amongst Ticket to Ride, Catan, Kingdom Builder, Carcassonne and Dominion. As we get more involved and invested in the gaming hobby, I am beginning to realise how this collection of games really does fall into the simpler, family games category, however I still enjoy playing them and they make great introductory games for some friends who are either non-gamers or less invested in gaming.


Alhambra is a tile laying game where each player is building their own palace to try and obtain points in different categories. There are six different types of tile which can be played; Pavillions, Seraglios, Arcades, Chambers, Gardens and Towers . Each building type is of varying value and scarcity and tiles are of varying cost depending on this and how easily they fit into an Alhambra. On each turn, players have a choice of 4 tiles to buy. Each tile must be purchased in the correct ‘currency’ (red, orange, blue or green cards) and the tiles cost must be paid. If a player pays exactly for the tile, they may take another turn. Alternatively on your turn you may take additional money or restructure your Alhambra.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Getting exactly what you paid for:- Alhambra






Game Title: Alhambra

Designer: Dirk Henn

Manufacturer: Queen Games

Year: 2003


The construction of the Alhambra had called skilled masons from around the globe, but they all insisted on being paid in their local currency. Pounds!? Dollars!? Who had even heard of this stuff? What did they even think they were going to do with it when they were living in the south coast of Spain for the duration of construction? Not to mention they are all so stingy they want paying down to the ha'penny. I'll be damned if know if that's the big gold one or the small silver one anyway. Still if I can use them right then I'll create the most glorious site that the world has ever known, much better than that ramshackle 'construction' they have started up on the hill.

Alhambra is a tile laying strategy for 2-6 players, in it you will be competing to earn money, and then spending it on buildings to add to your ever growing Alhambra. Seems simple enough but with buildings needing to be bought in 4 different currencies, scoring rounds appearing semi-randomly, rewards based on your opponents buildings and restrictions on how you can build things soon get strategic.

The game consists of 3 main play areas. The money will be laid out over the centre of the board, there is always 4 cards face up on display to choose from in 4 colours and values ranging from 1-9. It might seem best to always take the 9's but if you take smaller denominations you can take multiple cards (up to a total value of 5) in addition there is a trick to spending money that makes what you take less clear cut. The second area is the Market, here there are 4 buildings assigned to the 4 currency colours. Each building is a tile which has a number (the cost) a building type and 0-3 walls which are important for placement. The final game area is your personal Alhambra, this starts from the famous Fountain of Lions and spreads out as you purchase and build new buildings, there is also a storage area for buildings you can't place/don't want to place right now, but bought to prevent other people from getting them.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Machi Koro



Game Title: Machi Koro

Designer: Masao Suganuma

Manufacturer: IDW Games & Pandsaurus

Year: 2012 (?)

I recently picked up Machi Koro in a charity shop in Cambridge, UK for a bargain of just £1. However much bad press I have heard from fellow gamers about the game, especially since its Spiel des Jahres nomination, £1 is an undeniable bargain and I was therefore happy to give the game a chance and form my own opinion after playing the game.




Machi Koro is a card and dice game in which each player is developing their own city to please the city’s demanding inhabitants and increase the cities wealth. Each development is represented by a card, available to be bought by any player from the central tableau of 15 cards. There are 6 of most types of card and when they have all been bought, the supply of these buildings runs out, much like in Dominion. Players may also choose to build their landmarks, which are four cards that each player can buy to gain a special ability. The first player to build all four landmarks wins the game.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

"We built this city, We built this city on a good roll":- Machi Koro

Game Title: Machi Koro

Designer: Masao Suganuma

Manufacturer: IDW Games &Pandasaurus

Year: 2012 (?)


"I remember when all this was wheat fields, we would get up at the break of dawn, farm all day then go to sleep. Back then you'd take your wheat to the bakery, the only one in town, and they'd give you back some bread, and if you were lucky maybe an iced bun! Of course these days you young'uns are spoilt with your shopping mall and your amusement park, bah, no respect for the simple things in life! Of course when I was older they set me to work in the mines you know, that's when things really started changing around here. We stuck gold one day, figuratively speaking of course, and since then this town has been richer than you can imagine. Did I tell you about when this was all wheat fields?"

"Yes Grampa, that was 30 minutes ago"


Machi Koro is a fast paced card and dice game where you try to improve your cities to make the most of dice rolls while, if at all possible, hindering your opponent. Each turn you will roll the die (or both die later in the game), activate the relevant buildings, and then spend your hard-earned money on new constructions. The new constructions generally make dice rolls more profitable which in turn leads to more money and better buildings. Keep going until you have built the best town of all.



Every building has an effect printed in text at the bottom of it, a cost to buy and a dice roll that will activate it. Early on in the game players will be playing with 1 dice so all numbers 1-6 are equally good, but later on when 2 dice start coming into play then cards that activate on a 1 suddenly look less appealing. You'll pay a premium for the cards that can only activate on 2 dice, but then can often have powerful effects. Ultimately you need to buy the 4 special buildings that each player starts with a copy to construct, each building gives you a power once built (the cheapest one allows you to roll both dice if you want to) and the first player to build all 4 wins.


Thursday, 9 July 2015

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple :- Dominion



Game Title: Dominion


Designer: Donald X. Vaccarino


Manufacturer: Rio Grande


Year: 2008


We were first introduced to Dominion before our craze for board games took off. My housemate enjoyed collecting the Spiel des Jahres winners and introduced us to this one. We played it once, got a bit confused, got comprehensively beaten, but the game did stick in our minds. We asked Santa for a copy in 2014 and because we’re very good, he came through for us. We possibly played this 3 or 4 times on Christmas day alone as a 2-player game.



Needless to say this is still one of my favourite games and it’s hard to put my finger on why. It certainly can’t be described as thematic, however I have consulted the instructions and I understand that in Dominion, you are a monarch with hopes and dreams of ruling far and wide, capturing small hamlets and their people within your Dominion. To do so you must hire minions and construct buildings, and of course collect enough money to do so, along the way building decadent Provinces. Other monarchs have the same idea and are trying to do the same. The monarch with the most decadent kingdom will reign supreme.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Every turn I'm Shuffling:- Dominion



Game Title: Dominion


Designer: Donald X. Vaccarino


Manufacturer: Rio Grande


Year: 2008


It's important to remember where you came from my son. When I was your age our treasury was all but empty and all we owned was a small section of the countryside. Now we have chests full of gold and we own everything from the far mountains to the river A'rn. Hard work and wise investments, that's how we made it my son! It doesn't hurt to get down and dirty with your populace too, every so often you'll need a woodcutter who owes you a favour. I know it's easy for us to rest on our laurels and enjoy the good life, but that isn't the life I want for you son. Someday you'll thank me, but for now take this bag of coins, and the deeds to New Arden and the surrounding lands. Until the day you can rival me in wealth you are no-longer my son!


Dominion is a 2-4 player deck building game where you play as medieval land owners with grand dreams of power. You must aim to be the player who owns the most land (green cards which gives you victory points) by the end of the game. This is made more complicated as the green cards are entirely useless in your deck until the game ends, so it's important to get a good balance between useful cards and game-winning victory points.



To give the basic premise, everyone starts with 7 copper coins (worth 1 money) and 3 estates (worth one victory point) in their deck, they shuffle this and draw 5 cards. They then use the money cards to buy improvements to their deck, giving them more money or special actions to play. These new cards go into the discard along with the hand they just played and then you draw the next 5. After the second hand of 5 you won't have a deck to draw so you'll shuffle your discard pile to make a new deck which includes the new cards you bought. By repeating this you end up getting more and more good cards and hopefully a stronger deck that can win you the game. 

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Forbidden Desert



Game Title: Forbidden Desert


Designer: Matt Leacock


Publisher: Gamewright


Year: 2013



Forbidden Desert was a recent upgrade to Forbidden Island. We haven’t got rid of Forbidden Island yet, and in fact in got some play just this week, but, as the world of reviewers had made clear to me, Forbidden Desert is more of a game for gamers – something which I now consider myself to be. So when the opportunity came up to pick up a second hand copy of the game for around £10, who was I to say no?




In Forbidden Desert you are the crew of a steam punk air-ship which has crashed in the desert. The 4 key components; the Power Crystal, the Propeller, the Compass and the Engine have fallen to the ground and been buried by a terrible and unpredictable sand storm. Your goal is to locate these elements, attach them back to your ship’s hull and fly out of the Forbidden Desert before anyone in the team dehydrates, before you are overcome by sand or before the fierce storm consumes you all!
The reward for a group of successful explorers - a complete ship for your escape!