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, 12 August 2017

The Yellow Meeple's First Impressions:- 1st - 11th August 2017

Last week was a frustratingly quiet week for games, both new and old. We finally got Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle back to the table with our 'campaign game' friends, and the game is starting to get a bit more interesting and challenging. However, this week we definitely made up for it and this will be quite a long list of new games. Hopefully we should manage a few more in the coming week too, although my main game night will be my first game night at my new job so I'll be pulling some gateway classics off the shelf.

So, here are the Yellow Meeple's first impressions;

  • Ubongo Mini is a small puzzle game that we actually found at a car boot sale. I have been interested to try the full size game, so I was quite excited to see it for 50 pence. The game is a speed challenge to complete a 3 piece puzzle - something that is often not very challenging. The race to find your pieces is not really a race for two adult players and then the person who finishes first tends to be the one who has randomly picked up the easiest puzzle card. Perhaps the full game is better, but I've now been put off from trying it by the mini version that has no competition, very little by way of a puzzle challenge and failed to hold our interest even for its short 10 minute play time.

  • Nine Worlds is a game that we've spotted being exhibited at the UK Games Expo two years in a row, but never sat down for a demo. It looked quite attractive, with a lot of glass beads as the main playing pieces, but I didn't know a lot about the gameplay. Nine Worlds is an area control game, which has a very tacked on Norse Mythology theme, but is really a very abstract game. There are nine different zones on the board an in the scoring rounds you score for coverage and majority in the different worlds. If you have majority in a popular world you'll also gain a one off special ability. I've only tried the game with two players and found it quite a boring experience of pushing glass beads around a board. Amy has played with more and got more enjoyment out of it and we might try again playing with two colours each to see if there's more to enjoy. I don't usually like area control and right now I'd say that Nine Worlds is no exception.

  • Beasts of Balance is a game that's just finished a Kickstarter campaign for a reprint and Amy really wanted to back it. I wasn't so keen because it seem like a high price to pay for more than a gimmick than a game, so instead of backing it I bought a cheap second hand copy of the first edition. Beasts of Balance is half stacking game, half app. In the first edition it's a cooperative challenge where you're simply trying to get the most points by stacking different animals, cross breeding them, migrating them and trying to prevent extinctions. The pieces interact with the stacking base which then triggers animations on the app. It's a really clever implementation and we're finding it really addictive, especially because of the 'Beastiary' which is like a Pokedex for all the different cross-breeds you create. I'm excited to see if it can become more of a game with the new expansions on the Kickstarter that add competitive elements, but right now Beasts of Balance has become one of our favourite ways to relax after a hard day or a heavy game.

  • Ticket to Ride Switzerland is an expansion map that I've really enjoyed playing on the Ticket to Ride map and I was actually quite excited to try it in the real world. It's a smaller, tighter map than normal and only plays with two or three players which is perfect for us. I also find it to be very big scoring which is always satisfying to me too. The key differences with Switzerland are the cards that ask you to connect cities to countries or country to country which give you a lot of flexibility on the board. I also find that drawing tickets is often a safer thing to do with this map because you can achieve a lot from your single spine between two countries and there's always the chance you'll draw the same card with the route in reverse, essentially getting free points. Ticket to Ride Switzerland probably only took us around 30 minutes to play which definitely makes it the quickest map we've tried and one I'm really happy to have on the shelves to get the game back on our table.

  • Orleans has been waiting to be played since the UK Games Expo this year, which is quite a short time to wait if you're a heavier new game on our shelves. I was really keen to try this one because of the bag building mechanism -  a variation on deck-building that we haven't seen used in many games we've played, but really enjoyed in AEG's Automobiles. Orleans has a very typical euro game theme of collecting goods in a generic medieval place, as well as building settlements and promoting some people into high esteem. There's nothing that really stands out about Orleans, but I found the mechanics really satisfying and I'm eager to play again. I think I particularly enjoy how you can manipulate your bag by partially fulfilling actions or saving them up to activate on future turns. I also like the 'deck'-thinning that gains you immediate benefits but means you've got less to work with from turn to turn. I'm really looking forward to playing Orleans some more.

  • Tapple is a game that's recently been mentioned a couple of times by Tom Vasel on the Dice Tower, so when I saw the UK version, Think Words, at a car boot sale, I thought it was worth a shot. You have a mechanical timer with most of the letters of the alphabet on keys - each round there is a category eg. 'Boys Names' and you take it in turns pressing down a key and saying a name starting with that letter. There's a very short timer and once each key has been pressed down it cannot be used again. It remind me a little of Scattegories and I think my mum might enjoy a game or two, but after that the novelty will probably wear off and we'll probably not keep it on the shelves.

We did also play a first game of Container this week but I don't feel its fair to judge it with my first impressions. Amy set up the game without realising it was 3 players +, so we found a two player variant and then I got tooth ache so we didn't finish the game. The two player variant seemed to work ok, but I was finding this game really boring and was struggling to understand how to plan far enough in advance and manipulate the market in my favour. I'm not sure we'll be playing it again and given the recent buzz around the Kickstarter that is only available with US shipping, I'm sure I'll trade this away within the UK very easily.

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