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.

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Saturday, 21 November 2015

The Yellow Meeple's First Impressions - 7th November - 20th November 2015

It’s been two weeks since I’ve written a first impressions piece – I’ve been finding it harder to get new games to the table and feeling a bit less motivated to do so. As we play more games we find that one game is like that other game we played 3 weeks ago and I preferred the other and that makes me more keen to play my old favourites, rather than trying something new every time. However this weekend we had a very long gaming session on Sunday afternoon and tried a few more games than normal.

·         For Sale has been on my list to try for a long while, but given that it is for 3 players minimum, I’d never got the opportunity. It’s a card game of two halves – the first being an auction phase where you bid to buy properties from the central market and the second being more about hand management and reading the other players as you try and obtain the best value for the properties in your hand. The game is very simple and can be quite tactical. The auctions are fast enough not to be frustrating and I really quite enjoyed this one as a light filler. I doubt we’ll add it to our collection but I’d like to play it some more.

·         Monopoly Deal was greeted by our board game group with a chorus of groans, but I have actually heard some gamers giving Monopoly Deal some praise, so decided that a quick game was worth my time. The game is a quick set collection game with a large dose of ‘take that’. You are trying to be the first player to have 3 complete sets where the sets are the traditional monopoly property colours eg. both of the dark blue cards – Mayfair and park Lane. However, standing in your way is not only luck of the draw but also your opponents who will have birthdays, causing you to give them money or property, or they might steal cards, switch cards etc. to try and prevent your victory. This is honestly a perfectly good card game – it’s nothing new or exciting, but it’s a million times better than its name sake.

·         The Voyages of Marco Polo is a pretty highly rated for a 2015 release, but as a dice worker placement game I wondered how different it would be from games like Kingsburg, which we recently replaced in our collection with Alien Frontiers. In Marco Polo you are trying to travel to different locations on the board to obtain end of game victory points and also to give yourself bonus actions or additional locations where you can place your dice. In gaining bonuses you are primarily trying to achieve more good or money in every turn which can be cashed in for victory points. It’s a very tight game and definitely a brain burner during your first game, but it’s not actually complicated, there are just a lot of choices. The Voyages of Marco Polo is a solid game, but I just don’t think it’s unique enough to join our collection.

·         Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar just looks awesome and unique! Its moving gears are a massive draw that made me want to buy this game, however there was a realisation that it’s cool board actually hides a complex worker placement game and therefore it’s taken us quite a while to get this one to the table. Of course, as with most worker placement games the object of the game is victory points and there are a few ways these can be obtained both throughout and at the end of the game – by pleasing the gods, buying buildings, delivering crystal skulls or building monuments. Corn is the main currency which must be used to feed your workers after each season (a quarter of the game) but also as a form of payment to place your workers on the gears. In any one turn you can either place workers or call them back. When you call them back you gain the reward from the spot in which they were standing – the longer you leave them on the board, generally the better the rewards.  The first game was pretty hard to get your head around, each gear has 8-12 spots with different symbology, and although the core game rules are not hard, there is a lot to remember about which spots have what function. However, the game is the most unique worker placement we own and I think it’s definitely worth the investment to become familiar with the game as the complex decisions are really rewarding. We also found the game went along at a reasonable pace with 2 players, although this would pretty much uniformly increase at higher player counts.

·         Quarriors! is a dice rolling extravaganza. It takes the core elements of a deck building game and adds dice rolling luck, using some really awesome looking dice. Like most deck-builders you start with a collection of basic dice which have either low value or a weak Creature, but throughout the game you will use the money you roll to purchase higher value dice which might be spells or stronger creatures. On your turn you roll a hand of dice drawn blind from your bag and can field and creatures you roll, you must pay using other dice you roll to field the creature and then the creature can attack other dice on the table belonging to your opponents. Any left over money can be spent on new dice. You then hope that none of your opponents are able to field creatures that will kill yours before your next turn comes around. If you succeed in this you earn points and can scrap one of your dice, thus improving the quality of the dice in your bag. I am a huge fan of deck-building because I feel it rewards skill, but also the luck of the draw can level the playing field. Unfortunately in Quarriors!, the extra added layer of dice luck really ruined it for me. Maybe my opinion would differ if luck hadn’t been so mean to me, but sadly Quarriors! is not for me.

This weekend we have a couple of friends visiting who I know like board games, but I’m not sure how deep they’ve been sucked into the hobby. I’m hoping to use them as guinea pigs for a couple of our new 3+ player games which we’ve been finding it hard to get to the table. The two in particular I’d like to play are Formula D and Trains and Stations. Check back next weekend to see what hit the table and read the Yellow Meeple’s first impressions!

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