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

Friday, 26 May 2017

Overthinking by the Yellow Meeple:- My First Event with PlaytestUK

This week, I took advantage of all the free time I have during the week to attend a daytime event with PlaytestUK held at Draughts board game cafe in London. This is the first time I've ever been involved in any play-testing and I had no idea what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised by what I played.

Serengeti: A Race for Life

Serengeti: A Race for Life is a deck-building game designed by .... which is almost finished, except for the lack of a rulebook, so we were taught by the designer. In the game you are trailing different animals to add them to your deck and be the most successful at tracking different species. However, you also trying to have dominance with your pride of lions in the Savannah, beat down your opponent and ensure there is no evidence in the form of carcasses in your deck. The game is pretty thematic with lizards being able to look under rocks, hyenas eating carcasses and birds clearing away scorpions from your deck. There are a few different elements compared to a standard deck-builder which also make the game strong. I like the graphic design, although the animal silhouettes are one of the things the designer intends on replacing before production. The game is predominantly solitaire, but there are expansions planned which could make the game much more cut-throat. I'm not sure if this game will stand out from the crowd sufficiently when released, but if you play 2-player and you like deck-building, Serengeti will be worth checking out.

As Yet Untitled Civilisation Game

As Yet Untitled Civilisation Game is obviously a game with no name, but it's a first-time design by Kieran Symington. The game is an area control game that plays in six rounds, with area control in the style of Smallworld, where you must exceed the cost of the square plus one for every token (player cube or fortification) also in that square to take control. At the end of each round you see if you meet any objectives - either common ones or those in your hand which typically reward numbers of different terrain types or adjacency to the edge of the board or lakes on the board. The unique twist in the game is that each turn the faction you are playing rotates so that you need to be careful to do well for yourself, but not leave ripe opportunities for the next player with that faction. This rotation is definitely something intriguing but will need some thematic explanation to make it seem anything other than mechanical. We played with three players, where there was an odd mechanic for the fourth faction - there probably needs to be another way to deal with player counts other than 4-players. For a game with area control, I was surprised to enjoy this and I am interested to see if it progresses from the basic prototype stage it is currently at.

Untitled Drawing Game

Untitled Drawing Game falls into the party game genre - a place where I'm sure it's difficult to find a unique gimmick in a crowded market. I believe the designer - Bez Shahriari - has actually found something unique here. You are dealt a card with 5 words of varying difficulty and points value and you have to use someone else's arm as a prop to draw the word - holding their arm by the elbow. Other players guess and the player who guesses correctly along with the drawing player get the points based on difficulty. I can see this being a successful party game - it's a simple concept which could perhaps be made sillier but might well work well as it currently stands. I personally wasn't a fan of playing the game with new people - preferring not to have my personal space invaded, but as a party game with drinks and friends, there is a good gimmick here.

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