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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Friday, 9 June 2017

The Yellow Meeple's First Impressions: 3rd - 9th June 2017

So much has happened in the last week! First we visited the UK Games Expo. We've written a few blogs about what we played and what we purchased, so I'm not going to cover those games here, but if you do want to read about the games we played there then check out the blog here. The following day was my hen party and as part of that we visited Draughts board game cafe in London. We didn't try anything new, but I taught a group of my friends a few light party games, including Concept, Dixit, Spyfall and Knit Wit, which all went down really well! Once I got back it was time to start unwrapping the shrink on some of are UK Games Expo haul.

So, here are the Yellow Meeple's first impressions;
  • Century Spice Road was one of the most anticipated games of the UK Games Expo, so we diligently reserved ourselves a copy. The game is mechanically very simple. You are building a hand of cards and each turn you can take an action to play a card to either gain cubes or trade-up or down some cubes you already own, or you can buy a new card to your hand, either taking the cheapest or paying cubes in a Smallworld-style market place, or finally you can buy a victory point card if you have the right combination of cubes. After a couple of plays, I'm actually finding the game quite difficult to grasp and haven't latched on to any card combinations that have worked well for me, but there's definitely some depth here that I still want to explore.
  • Barenpark is another big title from the expo. We love Patchwork and Cottage Garden, two games which have previous used this 'Tetris' stile tessellation as a core part of the game. In that way Barenpark is very similar to Cottage Garden, but the mechanics for scoring and for obtaining tiles are very different. You start with one board with different construction vehicles or people depicted on some of the squares in the grid. As you use tiles to cover these squares they allow you to take different tiles with different shape and point values. One symbol also allows you to expand your bear park. The game is, again, very simple and quick at around 20-30 minutes for 2 or 3 players, but I think it has legs without comparing it back to its predecessors. We have noticed a couple of balance issues, but are trying it at different player counts and with the expert variant before passing final judgement.
  • Escape the Room: Secret of Dr Graveley's Retreat is the first escape room game that we've tried. There will be no spoilers in this short paragraph, but I do wish I could write some so I could rant about the really negative bits I hated in this game! We played with 2-players which isn't recommended on the box, but is recommended on BGG, in fact you could easily play this alone and should probably not consider more than 4 players, and definitely not the maximum of 8 suggested on the box. The game contains quite a mixture of puzzles, from logic puzzles, which we enjoyed, to story driven puzzles, which we liked less and the kind of puzzle where you know exactly what to do but just can't physically do it, which drove us insane! There are hints available online and the only time we had to use them was in this third situation which was just frustrating. We are quite excited for this Escape Room fad in tabletop games and I'm just hoping that others rely more on logic than this one.
  • Kingdomino is a simple tile laying game from Bruno Cathala that's been getting a lot of good feedback from gamers in spite of its simplicity. This is a tile laying game where each tile has two terrain types (though they can be matching). You draft tiles from a central supply, but the player who picks the lowest number (and therefore the 'worst') tile gets first pick in the next round of drafting. In terms of placing tiles you're trying to make groups of the same land with lots of crown symbols in the. The game is very easy, but the variable turn order as part of the drafting is just really satisfying and Kingdomino is likely to become one of my favourite fillers.
  • Keyflower is an older title that's been on our shelves for a couple of months. A friend taught us the game last night so there's one fewer game on our pile of shame! Keyflower is an interesting combination of auctioning and worker placement, where you're trying to build and upgrade your village in 4 seasons by bidding on tiles but also placing workers on the tiles your bidding on or on your opponents villages. Initially I found it hard to grasp which options were available to me and which actions would lose me meeples compared to allowing me to keep them for the next turn. However, by round 3 and 4 I was finding the game quite interesting and it was very quick for a medium-weight euro game. Hopefully the game works with two players, although I'm not sure it will be the best due to giving your one opponent an advantage when you use their village. Nevertheless, I'm excited for my second play of Keyflower now that I've got a better grasp of it.
From next week onwards, we've both got some time to spend together at home, so I'm really excited to start playing a few more of our heavy games and significantly reducing our pile of shame!

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