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

Thursday, 5 August 2021

Thoughts from The Yellow Meeple:- The Initiative

Game: The Initiative

Publisher: Unexpected Games

Designer: Corey Konieczka

Year: 2021

The Initiative is an immediately intriguing game - the cover is wonderful and for a brand new publisher, there was a lot of buzz for this title when it released earlier in the year. Corey Konieczka is a very well known game designer, involved in many of Fantasy Flights Games' greatest hits. Unexpected games is his own publishing brand, but you can see the links back to fantasy flight, even down to the basic insert and the proof of purchase token in the punchboard!
The Initiative is a cooperative game for 1-4 players which uses a comic book to tell the story of a group of teenagers who like to play a board game (yes it's very meta!). The game is a campaign, with sequential missions that take you through the story, adding new game mechanisms and increasing the difficulty of the codes you solve. We're about half way through the campaign at the time of writing our reviews.

Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Roll For:- The Initiative

Game: The Initiative

Publisher: Unexpected Games

Designer: Corey Konieczka

Year: 2021
The Initiative is a 1-4 player cooperative game which has you wandering through maps collecting clues in order to solve the mission's puzzle. The missions themselves are tied together into a campaign story told via an interactive comic book. Naturally then there are spoilers as you go through the story, so I won't be talking explicitly about anything story or mechanically past the intro of the first mission. Throughout the game you'll also be finding secret cards, these might unlock new rules, tell more story, or introduce a new puzzle for you to complete between missions.

Once you have read the intro for your mission you set up the mission by placing the player board in the center of the table and adding the shuffled clue tokens to the spots marked on the mission card. You then place the mission card into the decoder's slot. The decoder has a series of flippable panels which should all start down, hiding the solutions. Above many of the panels will be one of the symbols from the clue tokens, when you collect one of these tokens you can flip the panel, giving you a part of your solution. Eventually, once you have flipped enough of the panels, the answer for the round may become clear to you. As a group you can, at any time, agree on what you think the answer is. If you do so you can reveal the answer, if you were correct then you win, otherwise you will lose.

Sunday, 1 August 2021

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Sky Towers

Game: Sky Towers

Publisher: EX1ST GAMES

Designer:  Charles Ward

Year: 2019
Sky Towers is a Forever Free Print and Play Game from Charles Ward of EX1ST GAMES. Whilst there are plans to publish a physical copy of the game, it will always be available for free here: https://www.ex1st.com/games/skytowers/. It recently won best 2-player game in the 2021 54 Card Game Design Contest
Sky Towers is a tactical, set collection card game from 1-4 players . It features charming artwork and clever card abilities and given it's two player credentials, it's a game we were keen to try out.

Saturday, 31 July 2021

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Peruke

Game: Peruke

Publisher: Peruke Games

Designer:  Mark Littlewood

Year: 2019

Peruke is a self-published game, which can be purchased in the UK from the designer's website. It plays 2-4 players and features lovely chunky wooden pieces in a very simple game of dice rolling and push your luck.

Peruke is a very portable game, neatly packed into a small tin. We've played it outdoors, on the sofa, using the foot stool as a table, and I'm sure it would be right at home in a trendy bar setting.

At the start of a game of Peruke each player will take a row of wooden tokens numbered from one to six. In the case of a two-player game you will take two rows or tokens. After a quick set-up roll so that some of your tokens start defended, players will then take turns rolling the three dice. You can use the results of your dice to attack or defend. If you defend then you flip a token matching the number rolled on a die over to make it harder to take. If you attack then you either take a face up token from an opponent of your choice, or flip one of their face down tokens to be face up. You repeat this process for all three of your dice, meaning that a roll of a double may let you take even a defended piece from an opponent. 

The game will end when one player has run out of tokens in their row. At which point all players will score the value of each of the tokens they took, plus the value of any tokens remaining in front of them.

Amy’s Final Thoughts

Luck and Strategy are two of the biggest components of board games. Some games are high strategy, no luck, like Chess, which certainly has it;'s place but can be a 'marmite' game. Some games are high strategy, high luck, like wargames, where having the right unit in the right place should do wonders, but occasionally, every now and then, the dice decide that a peasant will win the fight against a dragon.Very rarely you encounter no strategy, high luck games, Snakes and Ladders being the perfect example, and, well there's a reason that adults don't enjoy that game. Unfortunately while Peruke isn't quite Snakes and Ladders level of no strategy, it's not far off. You roll the dice then make a very basic choice. Moreover, this choice becomes further and further limited as the game goes on. When your opponent only has a three left and you only have a two left it's a race to see who can roll their opponents number more often than they can roll it themselves. Hardly a battle of the brains.

While it may be lacking in substance, Peruke certainly gets some style points. The moment you open the tin you are greeted by tasteful, chunky, wooden tokens. Even the way they are stored in the tin is surprisingly satisfying. I'm also willing to confess that the gameplay is likely to be better with more players, as then you have the option to bully one player out of the game early in order to score your high value tokens still in front of you, this in turn makes you more inclined to play defensively so you aren't the target of the bullying. If you are looking for a simply, but pretty looking filler game for 3-4 players then  you probably will get some entertainment out of Peruke.

Overall Peruke feels like a 'gift shop' game, the kind of thing that someone might buy for you for secret santa, because they know you like games, and this one looked pretty. It does have some value as a filler game, though I strongly advise against playing the two player variant, which only manages to further dilute the slim number of choices you will be making over the course of the game.

Fi’s Final Thoughts

Peruke really lacks any real decision making at all, it's the least thinking I've done while playing a game for a long, long time. You are completely at the mercy of the dice and simply choosing whether to attack or defend on each turn, if you're presented with a choice at all. In the latter stages of the game, you might even roll the dice and do nothing at all.

The two player game seems to make choices even more obvious, with the choice of keeping your own back row of pieces seeming to be doubly as powerful as attacking and/or defending elsewhere. Very rarely are you presented with a choice that is not obvious and even when you're forced to think it'll either be good luck or bad luck that will win or lose you the game over the course of many pointless rolls of the dice.

The most fun I had with Peruke was the task of trying to get the parts back into the tin - it's really well designed packaging that fits the pieces very snuggly, plus it ends up displaying the game really well too. Peruke has a lovely hand crafted look and when you open the tin, it looks really enticing. Unfortunately, I'd be surprised if most people are not disappointed by lack of fun inside the tin.

You Might Like...
  • The presentation of Peruke is lovely.
  • Peruke might make an OK activity to play at the bar.
You Might Not Like...
  • This is 'roll dice and hope you like what you roll' the game.
  • 80% of moves are obvious and the remaining 20% require very little thought.

The Verdict
3/10 Peruke is presented really nicely and looks like the sort of gift you might buy at a craft market. Sadly there is very little game in the box and it seems unlikely that it would be the kind of gift that might get a friend interested in the hobby. Roll some dice, make very few decisions and whoever rolled the best will win...

Peruke was kindly provided as review copy by Peruke Games.