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

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Overthinking by The Yellow Meeple:- Top 5 Most Anticipated Games of Gen Con 2019

With just two weeks to go until GenCon, it's time to scroll through the preview list on BoardGameGeek and to start getting excited for the barrage of new releases that this gigantic board game convention will bring. We don't attend GenCon, but it still marks the point in the year when the wave of hot new games starts to emerge and we start to get very busy trying to keep up with playing those exciting new games.

At time of writing there are 551 games on the preview list. I've picked my top five new games that you will be able to buy at GenCon for the first time, as well as selecting some notable demos that I'd be trying to play if I were there and pointing out a few games that we've been able to play, since they either had a pre-release at the UK Games Expo, or came out in Europe earlier than in the US.

Friday, 19 July 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Barpig

Game: Barpig

Publisher: Self-Published

Designer: Jonathan L Franklin, Phillip Melchers

Year: 2017

If you've visited the UK Games Expo or Essen, then it would be difficult not to have noticed Barpig. For at least two years now we've noticed their stand at UKGE, since it's made up to look like a fantasy themed bar and all of the stall staff are dressed up as bar wenches, or similar, no matter what the gender of the person working the stall. Barpig is the work of Johno & Phil, who have turned their original idea of BaRPG - an RPG that you play with your friends in a bar - into a take-that card game full of pigs, puns and a dose of queer flare!

If, after reading our review, you find yourself excited to discover the world of pub-dwelling swines and to play a raucous take-that game with friends, then you can still get hold of the game and it's recently Kickstarted expansion, direct from the publisher with (hopefully) Essen 2019 pick-up.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Dust in the Wings

Game: Dust in the Wings

Publisher: Board & Dice

Designer:  Dennis Kirps, Christian Kruchten, Jean-Claude Pellin

Year: 2019

Dust in the Wings was one of a glut of UK Games Expo releases from Board & Dice. Since acquiring NSKN games, they are bringing out more and more notable titles that are definitely making them a publisher to look out for.

Dust in the Wings is a mancala-style, abstract game for 2-4 players in which you are artfully arranging butterflies to take the perfect photograph. The game has fantastic production quality with three colours of wooden butterflies, each in corresponding unique shapes (helpful for colour blind players) and a colourful board which makes setup a breeze and has enough visual interest, but doesn't distract from the gameplay.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Flutter by Butterfly:- Dust in the Wings

Game: Dust in the Wings

Publisher: Board & Dice

Designer:  Dennis Kirps, Christian Kruchten, Jean-Claude Pellin

Year: 2019

Dust in the Wings is a 2-4 player abstract game in which you take the role of photographers trying to line up the perfect shot of butterflies frolicking through a meadow. You'll be using Mancala style movement in order to arrange the butterflies in either composition shots, or simply gatherings of certain butterfly colours.

Dust in the Wings is simple to learn. After setting up with one random butterfly on each flower on the board the game is ready to begin. There will always be 3 objective cards of each type available. Gathering cards require you to gather a certain colour combination of butterflies and are assigned a random number of points which increases over time. Composition cards have a fixed number of points and require a certain pattern on the board to have a certain number of butterflies, for example a 2x2 square with 3 or fewer butterflies in it.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Subatomic

Game: Subatomic

Publisher: Genius Games

Designer: John Coveyou

Year: 2018


Subatomic was Kickstarted last year by Genius Games, who are know for their games that combine real science with modern board game mechanisms. As geeks both on and off the tabletop, we originally fell in love with Cytosis and have been seeking out more games from the publisher ever since. Cytosis has been the heaviest of these games we've played and along with delivering a good medium-weight gaming experience it also packed in a lot of hard core science. At the other end of the spectrum was Covalence which touched on the science of covalent bonding with a light deduction game. Subatomic falls somewhere in the middle as a light deck-building game that certainly has some gamer appeal as well as having a good grounding in the science of atoms and subatomic particles.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Pandemic: Rapid Response

Game: Pandemic: Rapid Response

Publisher: Z-Man Games

Designer:  Kane Klenko

Year: 2019

You've saved the world from global pandemic many times. Perhaps you've also prevented floods, built railroads to help cure cholera, or even defended Rome from invading armies. But, this time in Pandemic you're aid workers, throwing supplies out of the back of your plane to help a humanitarian crisis. Not only that, but Matt Leacock's name, ubiquitous with the Pandemic series, is nowhere in sight!

Pandemic: Rapid Response is a real-time cooperative dice rolling game for 2-4 players, designed by Kane Klenko. Kane Klenko is the master of stressful games where you roll dice really quickly while anxiously watching a timer, with both Fuse, and one of our favourites Flatline, to his designer name. Pandemic: Rapid Response certainly takes a lot of inspiration from these previous games, as you work together to deliver supplies of aid all over the world to cure the pandemic before it spreads out of control.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

No time to explain, let's roll:- Pandemic Rapid Response

Game: Pandemic Rapid Response

Publisher:Z-Man Games

Designer: Kane Klenko

Year: 2019

Pandemic Rapid Response is a 2-4 player real-time dice based re-imagining of Pandemic. Instead of wandering around the globe on foot like a bunch of schmucks, this time you have a state of the art plane capable of producing all the emergency supplies you could every need. Sure it produces a small amount of toxic waste, but that's all recyclable if you put the effort in. You aren't responding to disease outbreaks this time, but instead humanitarian crisis. Survivors of disasters need relief such as safe food and water, medicine and electricity. All of this is done by rolling dice to move around the plane, activate the various rooms to generate, and deliver resource cubes.

At the start of the game each player will be handed 6 dice, a character role card with their special ability and a pawn to represent them. The board will then be set up with a couple of active cities already needing relief and a deck of cities that will appear during the game, the exact numbers depending on difficulty. Each room is filled with it's resource, the timer is flipped and the game can begin. The game takes place in turns, each turn the active player will roll all of their dice, and then has 2 chances to re-roll as many dice as they want. Dice can be spent to do actions, for example any die can be used to move you 1 room over or a plane die can be used to move the plane to the next city along the route. Most commonly though dice are used to activate rooms, each room is a little different, but generally you'll need a lot of 1 die face in order to power them. It's not all luck though, so long as you reach certain points in a room's requirements you can leave your dice there for the next player's turn, where they can add additional dice to finish off your work.

The Game Shelf Previews:- Dice Hospital: Community Care

Game: Dice Hospital: Community Care

Publisher: Alley Cat Games

Designer:  Mike Nudd

Year: 2019

Dice Hospital was something of a breakout hit for UK-based publisher Alley Cat Games. After a brilliant Kickstarter success back in 2017, a new expansion for the game is coming to Kickstarter in July 2019. Community Care is three expansions in one box. It takes your ambulance out onto the road, introduces mothers and babies and allows you to make improvements to your hospital wards.

If you're not familiar with Dice Hospital, then you've been missing out on a dice drafting and dice manipulation game with a fantastically universal theme. Your dice are patients and their value indicates how bad their ailments are. Each turn you'll use doctors and nurses in the different wards of your hospital to increase the value of your patients until they're healthy enough to go home. If you can't make them better then they deteriorate, and if they deteriorate too far, or you run out of bed space, your patients will unfortunately end up in the morgue. If the stress of the base game wasn't enough, the Community Care expansion is adding more factors into your hospital running experience. Let's take a look at what you'll find in the expansion.

Sunday, 7 July 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Bunny Kingdom: In the Sky

Game: Bunny Kingdom: In the Sky

Publisher: Iello Games

Designer: Richard Garfield

Year: 2019

Bunny Kingdom is one of my favourite games. It's one that continues to hit the table and it was the game we played to bring in the New Year of 2019. (Yes, we do have wild New Year's Eve parties!) When I saw that it had a new expansion coming this year, it was an instant must have, even though the Bunny Kingdom base game feels like a very neat standalone package.

If you've not played Bunny Kingdom, then in a very brief overview - it's a card drafting game where you are using the cards to place bunnies on the board grid to create fiefs containing towers and resources to score points over four rounds. Whilst it's not an area control game, it is a game of building up presence on the central board and our opponents can try to prevent you from expanding lucrative fiefs with some hate drafting - even more so in a two-player game. 

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Over-thinking by the Yellow Meeple: The Dice Tower Awards 2018

The Dice Tower was definitely one of the first board game media outlets I was aware of when entering the hobby. When we started The Game Shelf around 12 months later, the Dice Tower Awards were the first awards I covered. It's now the 5th year I've covered the awards. Of course, no-one can ever play all of the new games each year, but we try extremely hard, logging on average around 80 games played each month and generally being a little cult of the new in the games we choose to play.

Unlike last year, where Gloomhaven took home a huge number of awards, this year's winners are more spread and represent a wide range of games. One or two match my own picks for best games of 2018, which a few seem to have been influenced by 'The Dice Tower effect'.

For those interested in the context for my opinions on the winners, the nominated games we have had the change to play are: Gizmos, Reef, Space Base, My Little Scythe, Grimm Forest, Cerebria, The Mind, Endeavor: Age of Sail, High Society, The Estates, Brass Birmingham, Coimbra, Terraforming Mars: Prelude, Roll Player: Monsters and Minions, Duelosaur Island, Decrypto, Drop It, Architects of the West Kingdom.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Walking in Burano

Game: Walking in Burano

Publisher: Emperor S4

Designer: Wei-Min Ling

Year: 2018

Emperor S4 are building a reputation for elegant small box card games. The two-player game Hanamikoji is perhaps the most well known amongst the crop of recent releases. What's great about this Asian publisher is that they're made enough of a name for themselves that they're starting to build partnerships with North American publishers for wider distribution. A number of their games were localised by Deep Water Games, and now Walking in Burano is coming out from AEG.

Walking in Burano takes its inspiration from the island of Burano, near Venice, known for its brightly colored fishermen's houses. In this 1-4 tableau building game, each player will create a street of five houses by building up each of the three storeys with cards. Looks are important, so houses should be matching in colour and should also be built to match the whims of locals and tourists.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Slide Quest

Game: Slide Quest

Publisher: Blue Orange Games

Designer:  Nicolas Bourgoin, Jean-François Rochas

Year: 2019

Blue Orange Games are responsible for a number of the great family games in our collection, but they certainly put out more kids games and recently there's been a huge influx. After initially overlooking Slide Quest, it completely overtook our Twitter feed during Origins and really came across as a lot of people's game of the show.

Slide Quest initially seems like a dexterity version of the drawing game Loony Quest, with some cooperative elements thrown in from Magic Maze. Since both of these games are ones we love having on our shelves, Slide Quest looked like the perfect silly game to take for a test run.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Too good for Gondolas:- Walking in Burano

Game: Walking in Burano

Publisher: Emperor S4

Designer: Wei-Min Ling

Year: 2018

Walking in Burano is a 1-4 player tableau building game in which players compete to make the prettiest street and attract the most tourists. Of course what each tourist finds appealing varies, whilst they all enjoy the brightly coloured houses, some might be looking for the impeccable floral decor , while others are obsessed with spotting all the cats they can! Of course there are people living in Burano too and they are just as invested in their beautiful island as the tourists. Create the most beautiful street to spread the most joy and win the game!

At the start of a game of Walking in Burano each player is handed 2 scaffold tiles 4 penalty tiles and a small handful of money. A central market is made, 3 high (1 ground floor, 1 middle floor and 1 roof in each column) and of varying length based on the player count. Each turn will consist of 2 phases. First the selection phase where players will choose which tiles to take and a building phase where players may spend money to build their tiles and lure tourists.

Sunday, 30 June 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Nobjects

Game: Nobjects

Publisher: Pegasus Spiele

Designer: Ludovic Gimet

Year: 2019

Nobjects, from Pegasus Spiele, is a party game for 3-6 players. It falls into the category of a 'Pictionary-style' game where one player draws whilst other players guess what they're drawing. The catch with Nobjects is that it doesn't include any pencils - you're tracing a picture with your finger on the table!

With a crowded market for 'say what you see' party games and some fantastic games like Telestrations and Concept to choose from, can Nobjects make an impression?

Friday, 28 June 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Symphony No. 9

Game: Symphony No. 9

Publisher: Moaideas Game Design

Designer: Frank Liu, Hung-Yang Shen

Year: 2018

Board games that feed off people's outside interests are a type of theming that has great power within our hobby. Whilst your friend might see playing as orcs and wizards as a geeky pursuit, you might be able to bring a game of Symphony No. 9 to a classical musician friend and make a gaming partner for life.

In Symphony No. 9 you are a patron of the arts, sponsoring different famous classical composers to obtain their finest works. Will you work them to death and hold on to their final masterpiece? Or will you have to sell your belongings to provide for their talents? You might choose to invest in a musician who is more famous in death than in life and get a handsome return, or perhaps you're more contemporary in your choices, looking for a quick return.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

The Game Shelf Previews:- Crypt X

Game: Crypt X

Publisher: Inside the Box Games

Designer:  Rose Atkinson

Year: 2019

Crypt X is a game inspired by modern day archaeology and is centred on Ancient Egypt as its archaeological setting. Inspiration came from the Egyptian collections of the British Museum and the Ashmolean Museum, as well as online museum collections and various books and articles on the history and mythology of Ancient Egypt.

Crypt X is a narrative puzzle game for 1-5 players, following the mystery of a missing archaeology professor. As his student you'll investigate the puzzles he left behind.Not only will you solve the puzzles, but you'll also unravel the story behind his disappearance by working with the integrated app technology.

Crypt X launches on Kickstarter on 26th May 2019 and you can find out more in our preview.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Bosk

Game: Bosk

Publisher: Floodgate Games

Designer: Daryl Andrews, Erica Bouyouris

Year: 2019

Do you enjoy beautiful cardboard trees? How about wooden leaves, or squirrel meeples (squeeples)?! Don't be fooled by the similarity in appearance to Photosynthesis, Bosk is a very different game of area control taking place over four seasons. In Spring you will plant your trees, in Summer you'll count points for the trees planted, in Autumn the winds will blow leaves from your trees and scatter them over the forest floor, and In Winter you'll receive points for the coverage your leaves have over different areas of the forest.

Floodgate Games have built a strong reputation with Sagrada, and with another visually striking game like Bosk, they're certainly setting themselves up for success. Let's find out how it plays.

Saturday, 22 June 2019

The Game Shelf Previews:- Escape Tales: Low Memory

Escape Tales: Low Memory is a sequel to Escape Tales: The Awakening from Board & Dice. It debuts at Essen 2019 and we were fortunate enough to pick up the tutorial scenario at the UK Games Expo.

If you arrived at the same ending we did in the original game (or if you read all of the alternate endings, because you couldn't help yourself!) then you might be able to speculate about the topic of the second box and we were hopeful that it will build a continuing story arc. Our teaser of Low Memory has so far not made it clear if the story will continue, but it does give an introduction to the new setting and some new mechanisms.

Friday, 21 June 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Champions Warband Collectors Pack Series 2

Game: Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Champions Warband Collectors Pack Series 2

Publisher: PlayFusion

Year: 2019

We play a lot of Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Champions, both on the Nintendo Switch and on the tabletop. However, at the UK Games Expo, we learned that we are part of a large group of players who play this game more like a 'board game' than as the collectible card game it was originally modelled as. Whilst the new Warband packs offer some fixed content, as you'll discover in this review and in our review of the first pack, there's still no doubt that the product is best suited to the competitive scene. excitingly, we learnt at UKGE that Playfusion are taking notice of players like us and there should be more fixed decks and other packaged products coming soon for Age of Sigmar Champions.

In the meantime, let's find out if there something here for home players?

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Space Gate Odyssey

Game: Space Gate Odyssey

Publisher: Ludonaute

Designer: Cédric Lefebvre

Year: 2019

It’s not often that we’re surprised by a big new release. I generally have a good idea of the upcoming games I’m excited about. However, Space Gate Odyssey came out of nowhere and its beautiful box artwork, along with some interesting sounding mechanisms and a space theme that both myself and Amy enjoy, made it a must try game for us.

In Space Gate Odyssey, each player will build a space station from modular elements over the course of the game. The purpose of the space station is to teleport you earth dwelling species to one of the exoplanets that have been discovered, once the five exoplanets have been colonised, your space stations will teleport to the central exoplanet and the player who exerted the most influence in the colonisation phase will take control of the new planetary system and its new society.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

2001:- Space Gate Odyssey

Game: Space Gate Odyssey

Publisher: Ludonaute

Designer: Cédric Lefebvre

Year: 2019

Space Gate Odyssey is a 2-4 player tile laying and area control game where you will build your own space station in preparation to send your colonists down to the surface of a handful of habitable planets. Each planet has it's own dangers though so you'll need to plan your strategies around which planets are best to inhabit at which times. All of this requires construction of an efficient space station and strategic use of the action selection mechanics found in the central command station. Deploy your engineers wisely so as not to give your opponents too many free actions.

At the start of a game you will choose 5 exoplanets that you will be seeking to colonise before giving each player a set of pieces in their colour and a central hub for their personal space station. Each player will then choose a couple of starting modules to add to their space station in their inactive state before placing 5 colonists onto their station hub and a handful of engineers in their colour onto the command station. Each turn the active player will move an engineer from one room on the command station to a different one. This will then give them and everyone else who has an engineer (or robot) an action to perform.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Newspeak

Game: Newspeak

Publisher: Inside the Box Games

Designer:  Anthony Howgego, Fiona Jackson, Rose Atkinson, Mark Stockton-Pitt

Year: 2019

Newspeak is the language of Oceania, a fictional totalitarian state and the setting of the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell. In the book, Newspeak is a language with restricted grammar and limited vocabulary - a communication style which the board game tries to replicate. Given a very limited vocabulary, you'll find that some will embellish whilst others will be stunted in their communication. Can you successfully communicate with your side without your location information being intercepted?

Saturday, 15 June 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Spring Rally

Game: Spring Rally

Publisher: Mandoo Games

Designer:  H.J. Kook

Year: 2018

Recently, we seem to be reviewing racing games. If you want betting with your racing game, then maybe check out our review of Downforce, but if you want trick taking with your racing game then you're in the right place with our review of Spring Rally.

In Spring Rally, each player has a wind-up car and your spring can store energy to propel your car forward, unless you overwind, in which case you'll be progressing more slowly. With super tactile components and stunningly bright coloured art design - could tick-taking be the wind-up key to a family weight racing game?

Thursday, 13 June 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Downforce

Game: Downforce

Publisher: Restoration Games & Iello Games

Designer: Rob Daviau, Justin D. Jacobson, Wolfgang Kramer

Year: 2017

Downforce is one of the first batch of three games that was released by Restoration Games. As a publisher, Restoration Games set out to breathe new life into some older games, giving them a new look and new mechanisms to help them stand up to modern board gaming standards. Downforce re-implements the original racing game of Niki Lauda’s Formel 1, designed by Wolfgang Kramer, and released in 1980. It’s probably fair to say that Downforce has been the most successful of those first three games and is no co-published with Iello in Europe, along with having a first expansion – Danger Circuit.

Whilst we have owned a few racing games over the years, the do not typically last in our collection because they don’t excel, or even play at all with two players. Downforce says two players on the box, so let’s find out how it works.

Monday, 10 June 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Undo: Cherry Blossom Festival

Game: Undo: Cherry Blossom Festival

Publisher: Pegasus Spiele

Designer: Michael Palm, Lukas Zach

Year: 2019

Undo is a new series of games from Pegasus Spiele in which you are travelling back in time to try and reverse the decisions that lead to the death of the main character. The first three games in the series will be released at Origins game fair, but there was a small pre-release at the UK Games Expo and we picked up the first of the series - Undo: Cherry Blossom Festival.

2-6 players play cooperatively as fate weavers, revealing key moments in the character's life and trying to make decisions that change the course of history. The games are non-destructive, but once you've played the game once you'll at least want to wait a long time and forget the story before you play again. Having been compared to T.I.M.E. Stories mixed with an escape room, there is a lot of promise with Undo, so let's dive into our SPOILER FREE review.

Saturday, 8 June 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Moon Base

Game: Moon Base

Publisher: Itten Games

Designer:  Naotaka Shimamoto

Year: 2019

Moon Base is a two-player abstract game from Japanese publisher, Itten Games. Itten are certainly most well known for Tokyo Highway which was originally a two-player game that was turned into a 2-4 player game for wider distribution in North America and Europe. Itten's other games have typically been harder to find here in the UK, but this year Itten were at the UK Games Expo showing all of their beautifully crafted games, including Tokyo Highway with it's new buildings and vehicles extension, Here Comes the Dog, Tribe and more. I really hope that lots of UK gamers took advantage of this opportunity to get some really unique games.

Moon Base is Itten's latest release, which I believe was launched at the recent Tokyo Game Market and just one look at it on the demo table was enough to persuade us to give it a try.

Overthinking by the Yellow Meeple:- UK Games Expo Awards 2019

The UK Games Expo awards happen each year at UKGE in Birmingham. They're quite a small affair, but still great recognition for designers and publishers who are at the show. The 2019 awards recognise game products on demo and on sale at UK Games Expo 2019 and which have been released in the UK in the preceding 12 months, or are released at UK Games Expo 2019. Reprints are also sometimes eligible and between geography and this rule, most of the awards below can be explained as 2019 awards...

I'll start with the list of winners, followed by some commentary on my favourites! For context, the full shortlist can be found here.

Friday, 7 June 2019

The Game Shelf @ The UK Games Expo 2019 - Day 3

I often find that the last day of the UK Games Expo can be a bit of an ending on a low, rather than ending on a high. All of my adrenaline is gone, I'm tired, I have all of the games I want and the bring and buy has nothing new and exciting to offer me. Fortunately, what we did have left to do on this particular Sunday was a lot of demos and there are many that we regret not having time to take a look at. I particularly regret not getting the chance to demo Venice from Braincrack Games, Homebrewers from Greater Than Games, Seize the Bean from Quality Beast and Hadara from Z-Man Games, but there are many more that there simply wasn't time to play at the show.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

The Game Shelf Previews:- Shaolia: Warring States

Game: Shaolia: Warring States

Publisher: Bad Comet

Designer:  Hani Chang, Gunho Kim

Year: 2019

In Shaolia: Warring States, each of you is a talented leader, building up your territory to become the new emperor, emerging from the chaos of wars all around the region.

The game is primarily a head-to-head game for two players, although one of the five game modes in the box is a 2v2 team game. This beautifully crafted game makes use of engine building, dice worker placement and combat to create a game full of strategy in which players can forge a unique path, pursuing wither military or cultural prowess.

Shaolia: Warring States launches on Kickstarter on 5th June 2019.

The Game Shelf @ The UK Games Expo 2019 - Day 2

On Friday, Amy had to make a dedicated trip back to our hotel to drop off some games and we sill had too many games for two people to carry when it came to the end of Friday evening. We spent our evening gaming with an old school friend of Fi's and only managed to play Forbidden Sky and Century: A New World. At UK Games Expo we're not frequently late night gamers, because the days are just too exhausting!

A reasonable bed-time refreshed us for another full day of demos on Saturday, as well as continuing with our 8am-9.30am gaming session in open gaming which is always a really nice and relaxed start to the day and a chance to play some new games acquired the previous day.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Ticket to Ride: London

Game: Ticket to Ride: London

Publisher: Days of Wonder

Designer:  Alan R. Moon

Year: 2019

Ticket to Ride: London is a sequel to Ticket to Ride: New York, a small 15 minute version of the classic Ticket to Ride. Like with all Ticket to Ride games, London brings its slight scoring twist, but is really a shrunk down version of the original. Once again, playing Ticket to Ride: London reminds how much I love Ticket to Ride. The pile of expansion maps, as well as multiple base games on our shelves is a testament to that.

What's so exciting about Ticket to Ride: London for us is the power it will have to bring modern gaming to the masses. Imagine yourself as a family in the Tower of London gift shop, picking up a copy, enjoying it and noticing the flyer for its larger cousin Ticket to Ride: Europe. With it's first release at UK Games Expo, it's clear that Asmodee and Days of Wonder know exactly what they're doing with targeting the UK market with this game.

Monday, 3 June 2019

The Game Shelf @ The UK Games Expo 2019 - Day 1

We just got back from an exhausting weekend of gaming at the UK Games Expo 2019. After arriving on Thursday, Amy visited the retailer event in her capacity as Senior Games Guru at The Ludoquist board game cafe, whilst I played some games with Joel from the Devon Dice podcast. In the evening we had the press preview which was both bigger and longer than ever before - with publishers showing off all sorts of exciting goodies. 

There's no attendance figures yet, but there seems to be no doubt that UKGE grew again this year. They took up more space than ever before, with more open gaming space, more exhibitor space and a larger bring and buy. Although we've never been to Essen, some are saying that Saturday was as crowded as Essen (I don't quite believe this!). The show also attracted a larger crowd of big international publishers, and it's great to see UKGE becoming a major destination on the board game convention circuit.

We played 43 games in total this weekend, so we have a lot to write about, starting with Friday...

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Noctiluca

Game:  Noctiluca

Publisher: Z-Man Games

Designer: Shem Phillips

Year: 2019

Noctiluca is the latest game from Shem Phillips, designer of the very well loved North Sea saga games, and West Kingdom range under his own brand Garphill Games. With too many designs to self-publish, this game is coming from Z-Man games and is an abstract game for 1-4 players.

Noctiluca, commonly known as sea sparkle, are a bio-luminescent sea creature, desired by healers. In the board game, these are represented by many coloured dice, which you are collecting to order for different healers who will reward you handsomely. With a limited number of divers available each turn, only the best and most accurate will fulfill the required mixtures that the healers need.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Home on Lagrange

Game: Home on Lagrange

Publisher: Grizzly Games

Designer:   Jordan Anderson-Hyland, Callum Badger

Year: 2018

Home on Lagrange successfully funded on Kickstarter back in February 2018, as a first time project from Grizzly Games.

Playing as admirals, you compete with each other to construct space stations, built from an assortment of modules, which you will fill with a wide array of inhabitants, technologies, and other unknown curiosities.Throughout the game you'll build four space stations, perhaps focusing on education or technology, but ultimately creating a space station that is unique. You can find out the backstory of your space station in the admirals log.

If you're a sci-fi or pop culture fan, then make sure to check out Home on Lagrange at the UK Games Expo from 31st May - 2nd June 2019.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

A Glowing Review?:- Noctiluca

Game:  Noctiluca

Publisher: Z-Man Games

Designer: Shem Phillips

Year: 2019

Noctiluca is a 1-4 player abstract dice-selection game in which you will place your divers in order to capture and bottle the most noctilucas. The bio-luminescent (glowing) algae are represented by dice in 4 colours and by placing your divers i good spots you can collect them, bottle them up and deliver them to your waiting customers for profit. Unfortunately other divers have also started collecting the noctilucas and you'll need to be quick if you want to get the best diving spots.

Noctiluca is a simple game to play, At the start of each round the dice are rolled and distributed across the lake. Each player is given a couple of bottles to start with and their share of the 12 divers (half/a third/a quarter depending on player counts). They then take turns placing a diver on one of the 12 diving spots around the outside of the lake. When placed a diver chooses one of the two straight lines across the lake from their spot and a number and they collect every die in that line that displays that number. These dice are then added to their bottles, with any spares being offered to the next player. If you manage to finish a bottle you get a coin in the bottle's colour and can claim a new bottle from the open market.

Sunday, 26 May 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- 1066, Tears to Many Mothers

Game: 1066, Tears to Many Mothers

Publisher: Hall or Nothing Productions

Designer:  Tristan Hall

Year: 2018

On face value, 1066, Tears to Many Mothers is not a game that would appeal to us. It's fair to say that we never touch historical games or war games and that directly confrontational 2-player games can be a big problem for Fi in particular. However, the reason it caught our attention was a passing comment by a friend that compared the game to Warhammer Age of Sigmar Champions. Regular readers will know that Warhammer Age of Sigmar Champions is another exception to the rule in that it's a two player trading card game that easily became one of our top games of 2018. The similarity here is that both are head-to-head card games with a spatial board element that really works for us.

Whilst the Battle of Hastings as a theme does nothing for us, the artwork is pretty phenomenal and a number of Golden Geek award nominations certainly help to raise the profile of this game from an independent UK publisher that started out life as a print and play.

If you're interested in 1066, Tears to Many Mothers then you can check it out at the UK Games Expo from 31st May - 2nd June 2019.

Friday, 24 May 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Forbidden City

Game: Forbidden City

Publisher: Jumbo Games

Designer:  Reiner Knizia

Year: 2018

When we found out about Forbidden City we wondered if this was the game that forced Gugong to change its name after its successful Kickstarter campaign. Of course, Reiner Knizia has designed so many games that there's bound to be some you haven't heard of, and this was one of them. Then again I left behind a Reiner Knizia title on the thrift store shelves this week (Cool Catch, in case you're interested) because there's no doubt that he;s a prolific designer but that not every game is a hit.

As another game in Jumbo's relatively new line of strategy games, we immediately noticed a parallel with Overbooked, which we recently reviewed. Both have obscenely large and largely pointless cardboard components - in this case the temple that forms the central focal point of this tile laying game. So what more does Forbidden City have to offer?

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Space Base: The Emergence of Shy Pluto

Game:  Space Base: The Emergence of Shy Pluto

Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group

Designer: John D. Clair

Year: 2019

Space Base: The Emergence of Shy Pluto is the first expansion for Space Base - a 2018 release from publisher AEG which really gained a lot of popularity as a 'Machi Koro killer'. Space based is a tableau building game in which the cards you build are each assigned a number from one to twelve and will be activated on every turn based on the roll of two six-sided dice. If you roll a five and a four, you can gain the resource and ability of either your card in slot nine, or both your card in slot five and your card in slot four. Not only do you get activation on your turn, but you'll also activate any cards you've built over on all other players turns too.

The Emergence of Shy Pluto calls itself a 'saga expansion'. How this manifests is in an expansion that looks a lot like a legacy game, with decks that you are forbidden from opening and secret tuck boxes. The expansion provides a campaign with a narrative element, that introduces new rules, cards and components as you progress. After playing through the campaign you end up with a playable expansion in the final state as well as an option to play one of the modules as a variant.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

The Dwarf Planet that Could:- Space Base: The Emergence of Shy Pluto

Game:  Space Base: The Emergence of Shy Pluto

Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group

Designer: John D. Clair

Year: 2019

Space Base: The Emergence of Shy Pluto is a saga expansion for the 2018 game Space Base. This means that it acts in a pseudo-legacy way, with new content being added gradually along with a storyline. However unlike a legacy game nothing is destroyed so the campaign can be replayed as much as you'd like. In addition the final state of the game at the end of the campaign is a complete expanded Space Base game.

In the game box you'll find a rule book couple of secret boxes, some dice and 2 decks of cards. One filled with story decks that give the ongoing story, tell you when to read which portions of the rule book and which cards to retrieve from the secondary deck. They also tell you when you can advance to the next card, which may be anything from "when all of the newly unlocked ships have been bought", to "at the end of this game".

Sunday, 19 May 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Qwantum

Game: Qwantum

Publisher: NSV

Designer:   Stefan Kloß, Anna Oppolzer, Reinhard Staupe

Year: 2018

Qwantum is one of the latest roll and write games from NSV. If you enter a board game store in Germany you'll see hundreds of these very small box games and it's pretty hard to know where to start, but with Qwantum, its predecessors Qwixx and Qwinto certainly point to the routes of this roll and write game.

In such a small box, they've squeezed the scoresheets, pencils and seven dice you'll require to play this simple game. There's nothing flashy about Qwantum - it's just numbers and colours - an abstract, traditional roll and write, trying to hold its own in a sea of more thematic and intricate roll and writes that fans are now being introduced to. So, is Qwantum worth checking out?

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Exit: The Game – The Catacombs of Horror

Game: Exit: The Game – The Catacombs of Horror

Publisher: Kosmos

Designer:  Inka Brand, Markus Brand, Ralph Querfurth

Year: 2019

We've been following the EXIT game series from the start. We've played seven games so far and have another two waiting to be played on our shelves. The latest installment, Exit: The Game – The Catacombs of Horror has pushed its way to the front of the queue. It's more than twice the size of the previous EXIT games, and can be played as a 2-part adventure or one long "feature-length" episode, and so it certainly grabbed our attention.

As far as escape room games go, Unlock went by the wayside for us, leaving Deckscape as our easy option, EXIT as our hard option and Escape Room: The Game as the exotic cousin that we only get to play when I bring new versions home from my trips to North America. We love the additional tactile components in Escape Room: The Game, but also the simplicity and portability of Deckscape, so with a new bigger format, where do we stand on the new entry into the EXIT series.

Saturday, 11 May 2019

The Game Shelf Previews:- Forks

 Game: Forks

Publisher: Radical 8 Games

Designer: Mark Stockton-Pitt

Year: 2019

Forks is a card game that puts the world of high-stakes investment into the palm of your hand. You'll spend the game deciding between investing in companies to enhance their performance and embezzling them for all the money you can get. But take care not to get too greedy. If a company doesn't receive enough investment then it will collapse and anyone trying to embezzle from them will be met with an unpleasant surprise.

It's coming to Kickstarter in May 2019 from independent publisher Radical 8 Games and designed by Mark Stockton-Pitt who was part of the design team for Newspeak - another game we'll be reviewing in the coming weeks.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Corinth

Game: Corinth

Publisher: Days of Wonder

Designer: Sébastien Pauchon

Year: 2019

You may have thought that 2018 was the year of the roll and write game, but you were probably wrong. In 2019, they've been coming thick and fast. Unlike that time when they said Legacy games were going to be the next big thing, roll and writes have a pretty low barrier to entry for designers and publishers and it seems like everyone is giving it a try!

Each year, Days of Wonder release one new game and so far, it seems like Corinth might be their 2019 title. Forgive me if I'm a little underwhelmed by the small box at a low price point, but I'm normally looking for something really impressive from Days of Wonder each year. Nevertheless, I try every single one based on past form and Corinth is no different. As a dice game adaptation of a classic board game, Yspahan, there's some pedigree here and to be honest, I still find it hard to turn down a roll and write game!

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Roll on down to:- Corinth

Game: Corinth

Publisher: Days of Wonder

Designer: Sébastien Pauchon

Year: 2019

Corinth is a 2-4 player roll and write game in which you are a merchant seeking your fortune by selling your wares in Corinth. You'll do this by rolling and drafting dice to gather goods to sell, spend money on infrastructure and sending your steward out to gather goods for you. At the end of the game you will score points for the resources gathered, and bonus points if you completed each type of resource first. In addition built buildings, spare gold and goats and locations visited by your steward can all score you points.

Corinth consists of 6 rounds (4 in a 4 player game) each of which has each player taking a turn as the start player. The start player will gather the 9 standard D6s and roll them. In addition they can spend gold in order to roll the yellow dice which can only be used by the start player. Dice are then placed out on the central board. All dice of the highest number is placed on the top row, then all dice of the lowest number are placed on the bottom, continuing upwards with each row getting all dice of one number. This serves to make certain resources rarer as the yellow resource won't be available unless at least 1 of each number was rolled this turn.