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

Saturday, 29 August 2015

The Yellow Meeple's First Impressions - Week Commmencing 22nd August 2015



Another week has gone by with a ton of new games seeing table time. After a good weekend with our Sunday gaming group, it was quite a quiet week until Friday evening was spent with the Broken Meeple for a ‘two-player game night’.

·         Small World is one of those games that most people around me seem to have played, but I finally got my chance. In small world you choose a race and an ability with which to conquer regions of a map. You will have a limited number of ‘troops’ dependent on the race/ability combination you choose and you gain control of a region by having the most tokens in that region. You can knock your opponents out of a region by outnumbering them. However, one army can only be spread so thin, so you must carefully time at which point in the game you put your army into decline and choose a new combo. Points are obtained for the number of regions you control each turn, and this can be boosted with special abilities. I definitely enjoyed the game and would love to play again, but I’m not sure how well a 2-player game will work, even though you are given a smaller map to work with, so I will hold out on adding this one to the Game Shelf.

·         Last Will is a game about spending (or wasting) as much money as possible more quickly than your opponents. You do this by making bad property investments, paying the extortionate upkeep rates on those properties, going out on fancy day trips or taking your horse to dinner or to the theatre! I really enjoyed how the game combines hand management and worker placement and flips standard scoring rules on their head.

·         Ghost Stories is the newest co-op in our collection. We’ve played it twice this week, once 2-player and once with the full complement of 4-players. Needless to say that the game’s reputation s holding true and we haven’t won yet! In the game 4 ghost hunters are trying to fight the never ending stream of ghost who are haunting a village. If you can survive long enough then the aim of the game is to fight and kill the incarnation of Wu-Feng who is a much harder boss. The game is primarily about making the right move at the right time to gain special abilities, assist your opponent and take on fights with the most urgent ghosts, before village tiles get haunted or before you all run out of ‘Qi’ and die horribly. We really loved our 4-player game, it constantly felt like a lost cause, but we held on for a very long time, which was exciting. However, the 2-player variant from the instructions just didn’t work for us. You are supposed to play with two neutral boards which can get overwhelmed with ghosts but can’t particularly help when it comes to fighting them off! Next time we play 2-player it will just be playing a 2 characters each, which I’m sure will work much better.

·         Samurai Spirit is probably the newest co-op by Antoine Bauza (the designer of Ghost Stories, above). Once again he kicked our butts, twice! In this game you each play samurai, trying to protect a village from a bunch on bandits. Each samurai is unique and also has a second incarnation as an animal. As an animal you are much stronger, but you are also much closer to death and if any player dies the game is lost. In each round you draw bandits from the central pile and can either choose to fight them or defend against them. It is important that each player defends the villagers and their buildings in particular so that fewer get destroyed at the end of each round. If all buildings and villagers are destroyed the game is also lost. The game appears to be difficult to win, but is an enjoyable puzzle, determining when it is best to push your luck, when it is best to help your fellow samurai and when it is best to give in and pass for the rest of the round to avoid certain death. Samurai Spirit doesn’t jump straight up the list of my favourite co-ops, but does feel quite different to many other co-ops so I’d certainly enjoy playing it again.

·         Jaipur is a pretty quick 2-player card game that appears to get rave reviews. I opened my copy with excitement this week and brought it to the table at our 2-player game night. It was definitely a hit. It’s a light game of set collection where you are trying to collect together as many goods of one type as you dare before selling them at the market. When a type of good has been sold at the market it’ value decreases, quite rapidly in some cases, so the urge is to sell quickly, but if you can build a bigger set of 3, 4 or 5 then there are bonus tiles available which can be worth a lot of points. It’s also tense deciding which goods to take from the central market of 5, when one good can be taken for free, more than one good should be traded with some from your hand, or you can take all of the camel cards into your herd, which then form nice trading fodder for later in the game. If you take camels or one card though, your opponent gets to see the new goods from the top of the deck which might be exactly the ones they’re looking for. Jaipur has enough tough decisions to keep the game interesting, whilst being fast paced and lightweight. I think this will become one of our go-to 2-player games.

·         Summoner Wars has been on my list of 2-player games to try for a while and I’ve almost bought it on a couple of occasions. After my first game, I’m glad I’ve not bought it yet. I don’t dislike the game, but I’m just not sold on it. The game is definitely one of tactical one-on-one combat and involves a lot of fore-thought about cards placement, movement and the triggering of special abilities. However when it comes to actual combat you’re relying on the luck of the dice.  Although it is quite different, I think that X-Wing Miniatures fill this niche in our collection quite nicely. I’d like to try some more factions, but I know at least two people with the game who’d be up for more two-player sessions.

In the coming week it’s unlikely that we’ll get to play anything new, but the following week we’re heading to New York and I definitely plan on spending a day at The Uncommons board game cafe and trying a load of new games and hopefully a couple on GenCon releases!

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