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 19 September 2015

The Yellow Meeple's First Impressions - Week Commencing 14th September 2015

This week the Yellow Meeple pushed her boundaries. I am definitely an introvert and approaching new people at game groups is often a challenge. I have to admit I often rely on Amy (the other half of this board gaming couple) to break the ice for me with new people. 

But this week, on a work trip to Scotland, I decided to visit FAQ – a gaming group associated with Edinburgh University. I sheepishly asked the bar maid if there were board gamers in the pub and she pointed me to the back room. After taking a deep breath, I walked into the back room, introduced myself as an interloper and found a very friendly group of gamers and slotted straight into my first game. I tried 3 new games and it was much better than the usual dinner-for-one experience when travelling for work!
Terror in Meeple City (a.k.a. Rampage) is a dexterity game in which players try to collect as many sets of meeple, floors of buildings and monsters teeth as possible by destroying buildings and knocking over other monsters in the town. There is a heavy dose of luck in the game, but you are rewarded for your manual dexterity; your ability to flick your monster’s feet (a wooden disk) so it is on the sidewalk adjacent to a building, your ability to aim and flick a vehicle as a missile and your ability to judge how hard to blow or from what angle to drop your monster. All in all, the game produces a lot of laughs, has a certain element of ‘take-that’ as you take your revenge on players who have done you wrong and ultimately, so long as you aren’t too competitive, this game will be a blast!

Escape: The Curse of the Temple hit the table twice at the Edinburgh gaming group. It’s a 10-minute real time cooperative game and so we played one basic version and one advanced version and won both times. In Escape you are a team of explorers trying to find the exit to the temple and exploring, escaping and spending gems by rolling dice simultaneously as quickly as possible! I am not sure quite why the team needs to reconvene at the central room twice in the game, but generally this game is just a whole load of dice-chucking fun. When the curses are included in the game, the fun factor increases as players either can’t talk, have dice locks or can’t use their hands. From the outside this game must look and sound incredibly odd, but as a player this is pure frantic fun!

Innovation has been on my radar as a potential addition to the collection, as I have heard good thing about 2 or 3 player play. I am glad I got the opportunity to try this one first. I really enjoyed the balance of the early stages of the game, deciding which actions to take, which cards to play and whether to attack or co-operate with certain opponents depending on symbols they have showing in their tableau. However, as the game progressed I was somewhat disappointed by the increasing randomness in the game on the cards in higher ages. This seemed to make all your work in the early game somewhat pointless. I did enjoy playing the game – it was quite short, even with 4 players, which means that the luck factor wasn’t too much to deal with. But I will now hesitate before buying the game and would like to play it a couple more times to see if knowing a little more about the cards in each deck might improve your preparedness for the later ages.

Codenames is a party-style word game for two teams. It’s been getting a lot of hype since GenCon 2015 and we finally got to play a whole bunch of games on Saturday night. In Codenames one member of your team knows the location of each of your red or blue agents. They are each located at a certain word on a 4x4 grid of cards. The team leader must give clues of one word and one number to lead their team to select word cards that are associated to the word eg. a clue “Drive-3” tells the team there are 3 cards associated to the word “drive” on the board which match their agents. At the same time another set of words on the board are associated to your opponent’s agents so your clues must be specific enough to avoid incorrect words being selected. This is a quick social game that has loads of replayability.

Artifacts Inc. is a small box game that really seems to cram a lot of game in. We played two 4-player games of this last week. The game is a dice worker placement game. In each turn you roll the number of dice you currently have (the number of dice can increase if you buy or upgrade certain cards) and you can place them either on cards in your tableau or on certain common cards in the middle of the table. Certain spots for dice will only accept certain dice values and higher rolls are generally rewarded more highly. By placing your dice you can; buy new cards for your tableau or upgrade existing cards in your tableau, generate artifacts or sell them to museums or private collectors; dive for treasures or if you’re desperate do some guide work for one gold coin. All of these actions are rewarded with victory points, either as the game progresses, or in the case of the museums, end game scoring. Unfortunately with 4-players the game fell flat for me. I think the game is prone to AP and with 4 players there was way too much down-time. I’d like to play again with just 2 players before giving this game my final judgement.

Many thanks to the friendly gamers or Edinburgh for making this a great week in gaming. My experience really demonstrates why I love this hobby and its way of bringing people together (even the socially awkward amongst us!). Tonight it’s time to crack open the home brew and see if any friends bring over some new games to try!

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