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 the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every 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

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Over-thinking by the Yellow Meeple: The Golden Geek Awards 2017

As we play more and more board games each year and follow the new hotness a lot more closely, it becomes a lot easier to comment on different board games awards. This weekend the Golden Geeks were announced for 2017 and we have played almost all of the games tht won and many that were nominated. It's perhaps not the most exciting year to provide a commentary on, as you will see, but here are my thoughts.

2017 is the year of Gloomhaven, winning the Board Game of the YearCooperative Game, Innovative GameSolo GameStrategy Game and Thematic Game categories. I believe this is one more award than Scythe managed to win last year and is basically a clean sweep of all the categories it might have been eligible for, besides Artwork. It's no real surprise since this came has soared to the number one spot in board game geeks rankings - an amazing success story for a Kickstarter game. We've played about 6 or 7 games of Gloomhaven since our 2nd printing arrived from Kickstarter and I'm surprised how much I enjoy this dungeon crawl. It's not a genre I enjoy but I love the card mechanisms and I'm enjoying exploring the map and working towards some short term and long term objectives. I honestly think it's a deserving winner in almost every category, except perhaps Innovative Game.

For Innovative Games you'd hope to see something that introduced a new mechanism to gaming. Gloomhaven is really a dungeon crawl with a campaign, levelling up and some deck building and manipulation - it brings together a lot of things. For me the runners up - 7th Continent and Magic Maze - were both more innovative, although I've only heard things about 7th Continent and not played it myself yet. However Magic Maze borrows a lot from Escape: The Curse of the Temple. Maybe it's just really hard to be innovative in the board gaming space now, or the really off-the-wall games just aren't popular enough for awards.

Moving onto other successful winners, Photosynthesis won for best Artwork and Presentation. It is pretty awesome to me that a game that only uses cardboard was able to win this, beating out miniatures games, which didn't even get a look-in in the runners up spots, as well as Sagrada and Azul which are both really popular and gorgeous looking games. Photosynthesis does just look great with its forest of trees and the mechanisms are tied right into the game presentation.

Azul did take home the award for Best Family Game, which is definitely well deserved. We've played this a lot with my parents and I know it is one of the most popular games at Amy's board game cafe. This game looks great and is really interesting to play and it keeps hitting the table again and again. No game other than Gloomhaven took home more than one award but Azul was a runner-up in a few categories as well as winning Best Family Game.

Codenames Duet won for Best 2-Player Game. It is definitely a game that's grown on me. I really like playing it with someone I know well and tailoring the clues to our common knowledge. I'm not sure I rate it as an amazing 2-player game, but I also haven't played anything that I would rate more highly in this category in 2017.

Best Card Game is a category I found it difficult to nominate games for. It's hard to decide what is a card game. In my mind it should probably noly have cards, but every game that won or came runner up has more than just cards for components. The winner was Century Spice Road, which was a great first game from Plan B games. For a game themed on trading goods, with no real theme at all, this game has been really successful as a family or gateway game.

The final category of interest to us is the Best Expansion. This was won by Scythe: The Wind's Gambit. We haven't felt the need to expand Scythe so far, so this isn't one we've tried. Both runners-up spots were taken by the expansions for Terraforming Mars. We've enjoyed both expansions, especially Venus Next, and these would've had our vote.

There's not too many games I still need to try based on these awards but here are a few of the games we still want to play.

Werewords is a party game I've not had the chance to try, that was runner up in the Party Games category. We don't play many party games, although I do sometimes use them with my work board game group. I believe Werewords is a 20 questions style game with some social deduction and maybe I'll try it soon.

7th Continent was beaten by Gloomhaven in a number of categories and is definitely the second most popular massive Kickstarter of 2017. We backed the Kickstarter for the reprint and I'm really interested to get our copy and explore. I'm not sure if it will be a hit with me, but Amy was really keen to give this one a try.

The Fox in the Forest came runner-up in the 2-Player Game category. I've heard fantastic things about this 2-player trick taking game and I wonder if it was held back by being out of print at the moment. I am desperately seeking a copy at the moment!

What do you think of this year's winners? Let us know in the comments below.

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