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

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

A world of pure imagination:- Imaginarium

Game: Imaginarium

Publisher: Bombyx

Designer: Bruno Cathala, Florian Sirieix

Year: 2018

Imaginarium is a 2-5 player engine building game in which you compete with the other players to become the best dream maker in a steam-punk dream factory. In order to be the best you will have to take the many broken machines from the shop floor and fix them up, then use the resources generated by those machines to recruit allies, complete objectives, or simply to fix more machines. It isn't easy to be number one though, there are strict sets of rules that you must adhere to and only a very limited amount of space in your workshop.


Each turn players will select one broken machine from the conveyor belt to buy, the newest machines will cost more charcoal(ium) than the later ones, but will also giver you an earlier placing in the turn order. If you don't want any machines then you can earn a few charcoal by doing dirty work around the factory instead. On a players turn the first thing that happens is all of their machines will activate, these typically produce a few resources, or convert resources from one kind to another. You only have room for 4 machines in your workshop, but you can combine some machines to save space. After your machines produce you get to choose 2 of the 6 actions, however you don't have free reign, your must select 2 adjacent abilities, and cannot select the same 2 as the previous turns.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Pioneer Days


Game: Pioneer Days

Publisher: Tasty Minstrel Games

Designer: Matthew Dunstan, Chris Marling

Year: 2017




I have a confession - I'm a little bit addicted to Tasty Minstrel Games. In particular I'm addicted to their Kickstarter deluxified editions, but in my experience, all of their games have a high production quality that makes me really want them on my shelf. 

In addition to custom printed dice, cow meeples and some odd colour choices for wooden wagon tokens, Pioneer Days drew me in because it is primarily a dice drafting games. Similar games, such as Seasons and Pulsar 2849, earlier this year, have found a place amongst some of our favourite games, so how have I got on with Pioneer Days?

Sunday, 27 May 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- The UK Games Expo 2018



This year we are attending the UK Games Expo from Thursday afternoon until Sunday evening and we couldn't be more excited to finally get our chance to attend the whole show for the first time! The UK Games Expo takes place at the NEC in Birmingham from 1st June to 3rd June 2018.

Last year, attendance surpassed that of the Origins game fair in the USA, and I can only imagine how much busier it might get this year. Thankfully there is additional space for both exhibitors and open gaming which should allow the convention to grow. With over 350 exhibitors, there will be a lot to see, so here are the games and exhibitors we'll be looking out for specifically.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- Villagers

Game: Villagers

Publisher: Sinister Fish Games

Designer: Haakon Gaarder

Year: 2018

You are the founder of a new village in the Middle Ages, in the wake of a great plague. With scarce resources, you need to choose wisely which of the refugees you will select from the road to settle with you. You need to build up a population of villagers who rely on each others specific skills and crafts and provide each other with food and the ability to build new houses, which will in turn increase the capacity of your village and make you prosperous.

Villagers is coming to Kickstarter from Sinister Fish Games. Both the game design and artwork are from Norwegian designer Haakon Gaarder and I feel as though you can really see some inspiration in the art from the middle ages in Scandanavia. We first tried a prototype of the game at Airecon in 2018 and are really pleased to be able to share our thoughts on the preview copy.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

YOU HAVE DIED OF DYSENTERY:- Pioneer Days

Game: Pioneer Days

Publisher: Tasty Minstrel Games

Designer: Matthew Dunstan, Chris Marling

Year: 2017

Pioneer Days is a 2-4 player dice game in which you lead a wagon train across the Oregon Trail. You will roll dice into a common pool to determine which actions are available then draft these dice to select which action you do. However the remaining dice will determine which of the 4 disaster tracks rise, so sometimes preventing disaster can be more important than furthering your goals. If you can manage to prepare for disasters and have a little left over you can trade in your goods for favours, and in the wild west someone owing you a favour is worth it's weight in gold! Or you could simply mine gold. Gold is also happens to be worth it's weight in gold!


Pioneer Days is a dice drafting game, at the start of each round the dice bag will be filled with 1 set of the 5 dice, plus one additional set for every player. Each turn the active player will draw a number of dice from the bag equal to the number of players +1. Players will then take turns picking one of these dice until only 1 die is left. The colour of this die dictates which disaster track raises (black being especially bad, raising all 4 tracks!). Each die you take gives you 3 possible actions, you can sell the die for money, with each face being worth a different amount, you can collect the townsfolk associated with the die's face, or you can collect the associated resource.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Sunset Over Water

Game: Sunset Over Water

Publisher: Pencil First Games

Designer: Eduardo Baraf, Steve Finn, Keith Matejka

Year: 2018

Sunset Over Water comes from the same team of designers, artist and publisher who released Herbaceous - a small card game which has gained a lot of praise. For us, Herbaceous was pretty but not a super impressive game, but seeing all of the eautiful artwork in Sunset Over Water made us set aside those concerns and give the game a try.

Sunset Over Water is a game about hiking to a perfect spot, painting idyllic landscapes and then either keeping those paintings for you personal collection or selling them on comission to buyer who are looking for that perfect combination of landscape features.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me:- Sunset Over Water


Game: Sunset Over Water

Publisher: Pencil First Games

Designer: Eduardo Baraf, Steve Finn, Keith Matejka

Year: 2018

Sunset Over Water is a 1-4 player card game in which you will roam around the wilderness painting beatiful frescos that you will then sell to collectors. Pay attention to the ever-changing whims of art collectors, painting the landscapes that they want to see and you could be the most renowned artist of the generation.

On your turn you select a card in secret, this card decides what time you will wake up, and therefore the order that players will act in, along with how far you are able to move, and how many paintings you have the chance to paint. Once all cards are revealed these cards will be permanently discarded, then players will activate, starting with the player who woke earlist. You can only move a number of spaces on the 5x5 grid of painting cards equal to the amount dictated on your card, and only in the directions allowed by the card. In addition you cannot pass through empty spaces in the grid, neither can you land on another player's space (though you may pass through). After moving you can take a number of painting cards out of the grid equal to the number that your card allows, though you can only take cards that you moved across, and cannot take a card if another player is on that card.


Saturday, 12 May 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Barker's Row

Game: Barker's Row

Publisher: Overworld Games

Designer: Steven Aramini

Year: 2018



Step right up to see the tantilising, awe-inspiring Barker's Row! Barker's Row is a game of putting on a carnival or spectacle of impressive attractions to attract a crowd with your weird and wonderful 'freaks' and oddities. As the game progresses you'll have to shout louder with ever more elaborate descriptions of just how amazing and strange your attractions are to make sure that you fill your audience first.

Barker's Row was a sucessful Kickstarter project which is now available in a retail release. It immediately strikes you as a well-produced game, but is it really 'tantilising' and 'awe-inspiring'?

Friday, 11 May 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- Goblin Grapple


Game: Goblin Grapple

Publisher: Silver Gaming Company

Designer: Travis Hoglund

Year: 2018


Goblin Wrestling?

Well not really. Goblin Grapple actually seeks to simulate the power struggle of groups of goblin clans in the wake or their slain emperor. Each player is building an army to defeat all others and see a new emperor rise to the throne.

In Goblin Grapple you'll try to use clever card play to foil your opponents and bluff your way to success. It is a take on the game of War, with some special card powers and the possibility of mounting a defense over time, but can it bring something new and exciting to the table?


Thoughts from The Yellow Meeple:- Alien Artifacts

Game: Alien Artifacts

Publisher: Portal Games

Designer: Marcin Senior Ropka, Viola Kijowska

Year: 2017




Alien Artifacts is a 4X-style card game from Portal Games. 4-X games are not a style of game that appeals to me - they're typically big space epics where you Explore, Expand, Exterminate and Exploit over a tabletop for hours on end. However, a streamlined 4X card game sounded much more like my kind of game.

Since Portal Games only release small handful of original English language games each year, I often watch their development intently and enjoyed watching the rapid playtesting and development of Alien Artifacts through Portal's vlogs. Let's find out if it delivers.


Wednesday, 9 May 2018

The Game Shelf On Tour - Vancouver



This weekend was my third visit to Vancouver, but my first as a gamer. Vancouver is probably my favourite city in the world and on a sunny weekend in May, I was keen to enjoy some time outdoors, but in between a lot of walking I managed to plan a route to visit a lot of board game spots. As a lone traveler, I couldn’t take advantage of any gaming opportunities, but nevertheless, it was fun to check out a few stores and pick up a couple of souvenirs.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Roswell Relics:- Alien Artifacts


Game: Alien Artifacts

Publisher: Portal Games

Designer: Marcin Senior Ropka, Viola Kijowska

Year: 2017

Alien Artifacts is an tableau building 4X-themed card game in which you will lead one of 6 unique factions to dominate known space. Along the way you will build spaceships, colonize planets and develop new technologies. Each one of these can be developed in one of two ways giving you a large amount of freedom in how to build strategies. Will you enhance your logistics, making your faction more proficient, or have a more operational focus, aiming for immediate direct benefits at the cost of an inefficient empire?

Gameplay in Alien Artifacts flows quickly most of the time as it works on a 1 action per turn system. There are 7 basic actions, and 3 operational actions to choose from, but while this may seem daunting, 5 of the 7 basic actions are all performed in essentially the same way. Each turn you will have a hand of 3 resource cards, each of these is double sided and shows between 1 and 3 resources in one of 4 colours on each side. in order to do most actions you must discard 5 of the relevant colour of resource. For example to develop a technology you will have to discard 5 blue resources. This cost increases by 1 for each card of that colour you have already built, so your 4th technology card will cost you 5+3 = 8 resources to build.

Monday, 7 May 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- The Grimm Forest

Game: The Grimm Forest

Publisher: Druid City Games

Designer: Tim Eisner

Year: 2018


As soon as Kickstarter backers started receiving their copies of The Grimm Forest, I felt non-backers remorse. The game has such visual appeal that it could pretty much overturn any lack of appeal that the fairytale theme and simple gameplay had for me when I saw it on Kickstarter. The miniatures are anything but miniature and have a clean but detailed look to them, the 3D houses of brick, straw and wood are all enchanting and even the game insert is a fantastic Game Trayz production in the shape of a house, with a roof segment, wall segment and base segment all cleverly designed.

I was taught The Grimm Forest at a rare get-together with friends at our local board game cafĂ©. I decided that I had to buy a copy there and then and even if Amy and I didn’t enjoy the game in the long term, the purchase would be justified by the fact that it would make a fantastic painting project.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Rising 5: Runes of Asteros

Game: Rising 5: Runes of Asteros

Publisher: Grey Fox Games

Designer: Gary Kim, Evan Song

Year: 2017


Rising 5 is a cooperative deduction game for 1-5 players, developed from the simple concept of the classic game Mastermind. Mastermind is a game many people know from its iconic box cover which would be anything but iconic by modern standards! I used to love playing Mastermind as a child and also enjoyed the later digital incarnations on the PC, so the idea of a board game which elaborated on this with beautiful Vincent Dutrait artwork and an integrated app was an exciting prospect for me.

Rising 5 combines many elements we enjoy. It's cooperative, app-driven and is based on a game I have fond memories of. I have a love hate relationship with deduction games though, typically not enjoying hidden movement games, but, recently I really enjoyed Sonar and we've enjoyed Alchemists in the past, so I was interested to see what we would think of Rising 5. We have had the chance to play the Kickstarter edition, but here we'll be taking a look at the retail edition, released in an English edition by Grey Fox Games.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

The Yellow Meeple's First Impressions:- 28th - 29th April 2018


This Saturday was International Tabletop Day and we celebrated at home on Saturday and with a friend on Sunday. Saturday was a great chance to try new games, whilst Sunday was good for playing some old favourites and introducing them to a new audience. We also made some tough decisions to clear the shelves and realised we have30 unplayed games! We've now got that number down to 28!

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

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Puzzle heroes unite!:- Rising 5: Runes of Asteros

Game: Rising 5: Runes of Asteros

Publisher: Grey Fox Games

Designer: Gary Kim, Evan Song

Year: 2017

Rising 5 is a 1-5 player app-driven cooperative adventure-puzzle game in which you control a band of 5 of space's hardiest adventurers in order to save the planet of Asteros. This is done by fighting monsters, receiving help from locals, uncovering relics, and, of course, playing the 1970 puzzle game Mastermind. Along the way you'll have to use each of the character's special powers to good effect if you wish to succeed before the red moon eclipses the sun.


In Rising 5 each player has a hand of cards, these cards all depict one of the 5 heroes in your command. On your turn you may play multiple cards of a single hero in order to activate them once per card you play, after doing so you must draw at least one card, though you may draw up to your hand limit if you desire. After performing a characters action each character can use their special power, these range from delaying the red moon eclipse to getting a free strike against an enemy, but almost certainly most important is the ability to swap the locations of two runes.