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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Monday, 11 January 2016

The Yellow Meeple’s First Impressions 1st January – 10th January

Having said last week that 2016 might be a bit slower for new games, it appears that this week I’ve hit the jackpot, trying 5 new games over this weekend alone. We managed to fit in some gaming with friends on Friday evening as well as attending our usual Sunday board game club. However what also helped was e finding a rather ridiculous joblot of games locally on eBay. It’s definitely a mixed bag and out of the 45-50 games (!!) there are probably only 12-15 that we want to try, but two of them have already hit this first impressions list.

Here’s are Yellow Meeple’s first impressions;

·         One Night Ultimate Werewolf is, in my opinion, the original game of werewolf made even worse and more random. To be clear, I have always hated werewolf – I hate the fact that it’s not even a deduction game, it’s just people sitting around a table shouting to try and convince each other that they were not given a certain type of card at the start of the game. However, at least in the original werewolf, the werewolves have actually done something ie. killed someone and often people’s accusations stem from meta-gaming for example, it must be X because the he’s seeking revenge from last game, or this person isn’t as confident in the group so they probably killed the person they know best, which can at least be funny. In One Night Ultimate Werewolf, accusations are based on no sound knowledge. Some of the switching and peeking actions in the game could lead to a form of deduction, but if people are lying about their identity then there’s no trail to follow. Never make me play this game again!

·         Elysium only just hit my Top 5 list of games from 2015 I hadn’t played but really wanted to. I was therefore very happy to get my chance to play. The game is essentially a game of set collection where you score points for sets you have managed to create in your Elysium – either 1,2,3 of a certain colour or god or a set of 1’s, a set of 2’s or a set of 3’s. However the game also offers you other bonus ways of scoring, both throughout the game and also in end game scoring of cards in your Elysium. However, there is a lot of tactical decision making involved in when to put cards into your Elysium, because once there, their in-game actions cannot be used. Cards are drafted from the centre by players in turn order which leads to either purchasing cards that benefit you or purchasing them to hinder an opponent, and these can only be bought if you own the matching coloured pillar. Every time you buy a card you lose a pillar, which means you can also play tactically in this element. There are lots of small tactical elements in this game, but it’s actually quite simple to play. After a first play I’m not sure I’m sold, but I will try it again because it should be a game I enjoy.

·         Deception: Murder in Hong Kong (CS Files) comes across as a cross between Werewolf and Mysterium. If you’ve read from the top of this post you’ll know my opinion on werewolf, but I have enjoyed Mysterium so wasn’t sure what I’d make of this game. Everyone is dealt a role card – the murderer, their alibi, a witness, the forensic scientist and some investigators. Everyone is also given a set of 4 murder weapons and a set of 4 clues from the crime scene. The murderer and alibi know who each other are and the murderer selects the weapon and clue. The witness knows who the bad guys are but can’t make it too obvious as they will still win even if they’re caught if they can shoot the witness at the end of the game. The forensic scientist must give clues to allow the investigators to identify the weapon and clue correctly. If the tam accuses the correct set of 2 items they win unless the bad guys shoot the witness correctly. Although the premise of this game is intriguing, for me there is just too much pointless discussion around the table and for me that just doesn’t make a game. Perhaps I just don’t have the imagination or the inclination to invite plausible conclusions – I’d rather the game was just over, even if I do get caught as the murderer.

·         Eminent Domain Microcosm is a small two-player card game, so fits into our collection perfectly. The game combines elements of deck-building, a little card drafting and is primarily focussed around combos you can trigger through actions and some set collection to help your scoring. There’s a lot going on for just 34 cards in a tiny box. Our first play wasn’t helped by an awful rule sheet, but once we decided what the rules were (possibly incorrectly – we need to clarify before our next play) the game played really cleanly and it was a very good game for its size. I think we’ll definitely get some play out of this one whilst travelling and at 10 minutes it’s probably the quickest game in our collection so could be grabbed to fill those little slots of time in our lives. After a bad first impression I was pleasantly surprised by Eminent Domain Microcosm.

·         Castle Panic is technically not a first impression for s, but the first time we played it was long before we started The Game Shelf blog. At the time we didn’t love it enough to buy it, but since it came in the joblot of games I bought this weekend we gave it another chance. Castle Panic is a co-operative game of literal tower defence. Different goblins, orcs and trolls are making their way through the forest to attack your castle, your job it to defend your castle through co-operative card play. On each turn you can hit the monsters with Knights, Archers or Swordsmen or take measures to rebuild or defend your castle. You can call on other players for help by swapping cards to help you have a bigger and more helpful turn. At the end of each turn, the remaining monsters advance towards the castle walls and two more monster tokens are drawn which are either added to the board or cause some chaos to ruin your careful planning eg. giant boulders or cards which move all the monsters forward or sideways into different segments from where you planned. I actually really enjoy this as a quick fun activity, however as a co-operative game for me it is lacking the two elements I like in a co-op – either a puzzle or a fully immersive co-operative adventure.

This week I’m excited to have planned a trip to Draughts in London. I think, after a day at work and with the group I’m going with, I’m more likely to be playing some games that I definitely know are winners, rather than trying lots of new titles, but if a game guru is available to teach us something new then I’ll be jumping on that opportunity.

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