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, 8 June 2019

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.


Best Children's Game
Judge's Award: Who Did It
People's Choice: Zombie Kidz Evolution

Best Family Game
Judge's Award: Honga
People's Choice: Ticket to Ride: New York

Best Party Game
Judge's Award: Maki Stack
People's Choice: Decrypto

Best New Board Game (Euro-Style)
Judge's Award: Architects of the West Kingdom
People's Choice: The Quacks of Quedlinberg

Best New Dice Game
Judge's Award: Dice Hospital
People's Choice: Dice Hospital

Best New Card Game
Judge's Award: The Mind
People's Choice: The Mind

Best New Card Game (Strategic)
Judge's Award: Ruthless
People's Choice: Arboretum

Best New Board Game (Strategic)
Judge's Award: Root: A Game of Woodland Might & Right
People's Choice: Root: A Game of Woodland Might & Right

Best Abstract Game
Judge's Award: Azul
People's Choice: Azul

Best Board Game (American-Style)
Judge's Award: Forbidden Sky
People's Choice: Chronicles of Crime

Best New Miniatures Range
Judge's Award: Battlestar Galactica Starship Battles - Spaceship Packs
People's Choice: Battlestar Galactica Starship Battles - Spaceship Packs

Best Miniature Rules
Judge's Award: Rebels and Patriots: Wargaming Rules for North America
People's Choice: Battlestar Galactica: Starship Battles Starter Set

Best New Accessory
Judge's Award: Giant Book of Battle Mats
People's Choice: Giant Book of Battle Mats

Best Roleplaying Adventure
Judge's Award: The Cthulhu Hack: Valkyrie Nine
People's Choice: The Cthulhu Hack: Valkyrie Nine

Best Roleplaying Expansion
Judge's Award: Adventures in Middle-earth Bree-land Region Guide
People's Choice: Adventures in Middle-earth Bree-land Region Guide

Best Roleplaying Game
Judge's Award: Forbidden Lands
People's Choice: Forbidden Lands

We voted for the people's choice element of these awards and the results pretty much exclusively match what we voted for. We did not vote in the miniatures or RPG categories. Whilst the categories are weird and some of the games are quite old to be winning 2019 awards, there's still some fantastic games highlighted by these winners! We own all of the games below and I think they really do represent some of the best games from last year, so long as you're not mid-to-heavy weight games - those are quite neglected by the award categories in the UKGE awards.


  • Ticket to Ride: New York is definitely a great family weight introduction to Ticket to Ride. We think it has been slightly improved in the new Ticket to Ride New York, but it's great to see families and others taking this one off the shelves so often at board game cafes and enjoying the classic Ticket to Ride experience in just 15 minutes.
  • Decrypto is an amazing party game that we actually only played for the first time at this year's UKGE. I really enjoyed the twist on giving clues that are good enough for your team, but unrelated enough so that the other team can't piece things together. I'm really glad we were taught the game and now I'm excited to share it with others.
  • The Quacks of Quedlinberg is definitely one of our favourites of 2018. It's simple push your luck mechanisms make it a huge hit among gamers we know, as well as family and the expansion just adds more variety that means it hits the table over and over again. It's one of two awards for Wolfgang Warsch!
  • Dice Hospital is a dice drafting and allocation game from Alley Cat games that we've only played twice so far and really need to play some more. The theme is great, and one that anyone can identify with and the elements of timing in the game make it a really quite deep game, which being mechanically simple. It's a great flagship game for Alley Cat, who also took home an award for Ruthless.
  • The Mind is, without, doubt one of our most played games of the last 12 months. It's the second award for Wolfgang Warsch and although it divides opinion with some gamers, I see it played so often that there's no doubt of its success. Who'd have thought a deck of cards numbered 1-100 and some mind reading skills could take off so well?!
  • Arboretum is the lovely reprint from Renegade Games of a very thinky card game about trees. We've only played the original edition once and the Renegade version is waiting on our shelves to be played some more, on an occasion when we have a lot of available brain power!
  • Azul is, of course, a seasoned board game award winner, and for us it's the most likely game of recent years to become a classic of the gaming hobby, like Catan or Ticket to Ride. Personally, it's still my favourite over Stained Glass of Sintra and it's a game I think we'll forever be playing with my parents for many years to come.
  • Chronicles of Crime, from Lucky Duck Games, is a very deserving winner for all of the innovation and theme they've packed into the game. The app integration and VR within this deduction and crime solving game really make it an intuitive package that we need to explore some more with the latest expansions.


I wonder why the UKGE award list seems a little obscure. There's huge numbers of varied games on offer, although I guess the exhibtors do swing towards the lighter or more family end of the board gaming spectrum. Perhaps more exhibitors need to nominate themselves to give a better cross-section on the shortlist. Either way some great games have been highlighted by the awards and hopefully being on the shortlist helped to boost their profile at the convention and the awards will help for the future.

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