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.

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Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Best played to B-Type music:- Arraial

Game: Arraial

Publisher: MEBO Games & Pandasaurus Games

Designer: Nuno Bizarro Sentieiro, Paulo Soledade

Year: 2018

Arraial is a 1-4 player tile laying game in which you will seek to make the best summer celebration. Squeeze as many people into your celebration as possible serving food, drink and entertainment in order to create the best Arraial ever! You'll be adding these performers and chefs as tetrominos, trying to fill your board as efficiently as possible, but also to group up the same type of entertainers in order to attract more guests!

If you've ever heard of an obscure little video game called 'Tetris' then you already know almost exactly how to play Arraial. You have a bar at the top of your board where new tiles will be added, they then fall directly down to the bottom of your board until they hit another block. Heck, you can even shove them across one space once they land. Completing lines will cause the bar to raise higher and reward you with points. But there are some distinctions from the classic videogame. Rotating pieces cannot be done mid-fall, but instead must be done as an action before you take a piece.

Each turn in Arraial you will have 3 action points to spend, of which at least 1 must be taking one of the 3 pieces available on the market. These 3 pieces are on a rotating platform. Your other choice as an action is to rotate the platform turning all the pieces one quarter turn clockwise. After taking your piece(s) you refill the selection back up to 3 cards and then the next player takes their turn. You don't just want to complete lines though, placing two tiles of the same colour together will reward you with a meeple (point) as well. Additionally having the largest number of pieces of a colour touching on your board will grant you the double meeple in that colour, worth 2 points. You have to find the balance between trying to hold the double meeples vs creating lots of small areas to get the singles. The game will continue like this until the selection of cards has run out twice, at which point the last round begins. During the last round, play continues as normal with the exception that you now must take two tiles a turn.

3 pieces are ready to be rotated and taken, while 3 more wait to refill the market.

The final ramp up in speed forces you to make more mistakes and causes the last round to be noticeably shorter than the previous two. Mistakes aren't overly critical, but if you aren't making lines you aren't gaining bonus meeple, and if you end up having a block hit into your bar then you'll lose all the ones you've already accrued.

Arraial has been a mixed bag for me, starting with the name. I get that an Arraial is a summer celebration, but if you are going to use a lesser known event as your board game title, choose a legible font! The gameplay itself is so close to Tetris that it's almost impossible not to like. The real difference is in a players choice on how to refill the market. There is player interaction in this game but it's almost entirely the ability to screw over the next player in the turn order. This means being after an experienced, or vindictive player can result in being in a far worse situation than being behind a new player. Sometimes it's worth doing an extra rotation just to make the next player's turn a nightmare. In a two player game this works really well as you are both 'attacking' each other, but in a 4 player game it can feel unfair.

As your Arraial fills up you'll need to keep making lines, but make it too obvious what you want and your opponents will likely starve you of it

Arraial is definitely a game played best at 2, not only does it make the player interaction more dynamic, but it also keeps the game running fast. With more players you simple took less time doing to fun things and more time waiting. Overall Arraial lacks that unique twist to really draw me into it. It's a good game, especially at two, but being too close to your source material simply makes people remember how good the original was. Anyone fancy a  game of Tetris?

6.5/10

Arraial was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available at your friendly local game store for an RRP of £43.99 or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk

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