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

Monday 30 November 2015

Roar, (huh), what is it good for?:- Raptor



Designer: Bruno Cathala & Bruno Faidutti


The news shocked the world, of course, after billions of years there was still one breed of dinosaurs still out there. Raptors, time had changed them, of course, over the years they had lost their feathers and, ironically, have ended up looking how people commonly imagine them to be, green, scaly and with razor sharp teeth. We found out about them just in time, from satellite imaging of the island we concluded that there was only one adult left alive, fortunately she has several young. We have to go to this island and recover the young, in captivity we can breed them, bring the species back from the brink. Recovering these juvenile raptors is in the best interest of both the scientific community and the future of the raptor species as a whole, I just hope their mother sees it that way!

Raptor is a tactical dinosaur game for 2 players, in it you ... sorry I just need a moment to enjoy the phrase “tactical dinosaur” ... okay done. In it you take control of either a mother raptor trying to protect her young or a group of scientists trying to kidnap the baby raptors for science! The two sides play in the same way but both have varied actions that make each side feel unique.

Saturday 28 November 2015

The Yellow Meeple's First Impressions - 21st November - 27th November 2015

In the words of Robert Burns, “the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry”. I was determined to play Trains and Stations and Formula D last weekend, but sadly other games on the shelf enticed our visitors more! However, we did beat Ghost Stories for the first time, so all is not lost! We did manage to try a selection of new two-player games this week though. Here are the Yellow Meeple’s first impressions.

Thursday 26 November 2015

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Tsuro of the Seas

Game Title: Tsuro of the Seas

Designer: Tom McMurchie & Jordan Weisman

Manufacturer: Calliope Games

Year: 2012


Tsuro was one of the first games we tried when we got into gaming. To be honest it was a little bit too simple for our tastes, even at that time and we decided not to add it to our collection. However, when I noticed Tsuro of the Seas, it seemed to have a bit more going on and we decided to give it a go!

 Tsuro of the Seas is a tile laying game for 2-8 players, although it is much better at its higher player counts. Each player takes a boat and the aim is to sail around the board, without sailing over the edge, without crashing into other boats and without being eaten by the hungry dragons.

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Wakey-wakey, dragons :- Tsuro of the Seas

Game: Tsuro of the Seas

Manufacturer: Calliope Games

Designer: Tom McMurchie & Jordan Weisman


There are many threats for sailors, from errant storms to lack of fresh fruit your life if always at risk. But nothing is as deadly, as monsters, people may scoff at those pictures of krakens on maps, but they are real, all of them! None are quite as deadly as the Daikaiju. They eat ships in one gulp, they eat each other in one gulp! You can't predict what they are going to do, they disturb the winds knocking your ship out of control. So I tell you, whatever you do, pay attention when you see the words 'Here be dragons'

Tsuro of the Seas is a 2-8player tile laying survival game where you sail a boat through water plagued with Daikaiju (which will from here always be referred to as dragons). The objective is to stay on the board as long as possible by laying tiles that set out routes to follow in the form of the wake of your ships. Falling of the board, landing on a dragon, having a dragon fly on top of you or crashing into another boat will all knock you out of the game.

Saturday 21 November 2015

The Yellow Meeple's First Impressions - 7th November - 20th November 2015

It’s been two weeks since I’ve written a first impressions piece – I’ve been finding it harder to get new games to the table and feeling a bit less motivated to do so. As we play more games we find that one game is like that other game we played 3 weeks ago and I preferred the other and that makes me more keen to play my old favourites, rather than trying something new every time. However this weekend we had a very long gaming session on Sunday afternoon and tried a few more games than normal.

Thursday 19 November 2015

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Flash Point:Fire Rescue - Extreme Danger

Game: Flash Point: Fire Rescue - Extreme Danger

Manufacturer: Indie Boards and Cards

Designer: Lutz Pietschker

Flash Point: Fire Rescue – Extreme Danger is a big box expansion for Flash Point: Fire Rescue. We picked this one up after just a few games of Flash Point because we really love this thematic co-operative game. This expansion is very modular allowing you to incorporate different new elements to add variety to your fire fighting experience.

The first element is the new maps which allow you to either extend the house from the base game with an attic or a basement or to use the laboratory or the garage which are new maps with different layouts and different types of hazardous material or objects that fit in with the theme. The lab or the garage can also be played with the basement or attic. It’s hard for me to tell which maps are harder than others and there is so much variety that I’m not sure we’ll ever figure this out.

Tuesday 17 November 2015

I am the danger! :- Flash Point: Fire Rescue - Extreme Danger

Game: Flash Point: Fire Rescue - Extreme Danger

Manufacturer: Indie Boards and Cards

Designer: Lutz Pietschker


Okay recruits, today we're going to talk about one of the most dangerous fires you may ever have the misfortune of being in: A fire in a chemical plant or laboratory. The fires burn hotter, the explosions blast fiercer and then you have all the other hazards, chemical spills could potentially knock you unconscious in minutes, barrels of chemicals or waste can ignite within seconds. I'll never forget my first lab fire, we rushed inside to be met with walls of fire, the air makeup units were still on feeding the fire fresh air like it was thanksgiving. As I was dragging my third victim outside I heard a sickening crunch, the CEO had taken a dive from the third floor window. Looking back I think that I should have been stronger, faster, I should have been there before they jumped. I lose count of the number of people that I've saved, but I never forget the ones I failed!
Flash Point: Fire RescueExtreme danger is an expansion to Flash Point: Fire Rescue which we reviewed back in July. Much like the base game you will find yourself fighting fires, but Extreme Danger adds many new elements and locations to the game, you’ll be fighting fires in a garage or trying to save staff from a multi-story chemical laboratory. These new buildings pose new risks, with more hazardous materials spread around, windows that can be blown out, fire doors that can become stuck and floors that can be broken. 

Thursday 12 November 2015

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Castles of Mad King Ludwig

Game: Castles of Mad King Ludwig

Manufacturer: Bezier Games

Designer: Ted Alspach


Back in February 2015 we walked into our first game store – Ecclectic Games in Reading, UK. We saw their huge games library but weren’t sure how you got the privilege of trying some of the games. After asking some questions we had a huge revelation – you can meet up with a bunch of people you don’t know and play board games! So we went to our first board game meet-up and the highlight of our evening was Castles of Mad King Ludwig – a mind blowingly awesome game for 2 new gamers! But has it stood the test of time? (For information the low-light of the evening was Coup – I’ve learned that I really dislike hidden role games!)

In Castles of Mad King Ludwig your goal is to earn the most points by building your castle with optimal rooms adjacent to each other and building it in a way that will please the Mad King, who on a seemingly random whim will reward different kinds of construction eg. castles with lots of bedrooms or castles where all of the rooms are small and square. The game is a tile laying game, but with a huge dose of market manipulation.

The tiles in the game consist of different sizes and shapes of room. Each specific room shape can be one of 3 different room types eg. small square rooms are Utility, Food and Living rooms and the different rooms give you points in different ways. You get points simply for placing a room, generally more points for larger rooms and then you can either gain points or lose points for different adjacencies. Rooms are bought from the central market of 5/6 different tiles. On each turn, one player is the master builder and they can choose the order, and therefore the price, of the available room tiles. It is really key to try and price things appropriately, not only to ensure that you protect the tiles you want and do not give really important tiles to your opponents, but also because all money spent on that turn goes to the master builder.

The board set up for a 2-player game. Two favour tiles are used and fewer of each size of room tile are used to balance the game and reduce the game length with 2 players. There are also no cost 2000 rooms in the 2-player game.

When you buy a room, you immediately place it. Doors must align and there are many potential influences on your choice of where to place a room including; potential bonus points or penalties from adjacencies; the potential to complete rooms and obtain the bonuses which differ for each room type and they may also be influenced by your personal objective cards or the central kings favour tokens which may reward completed or uncompleted rooms.

Each game is different because of the huge choice of kings favour tokens in the game. The different objectives differ so greatly and can give large points bonuses to the person who achieves the most and second most in each category. You are also dealt personal objectives at the start of the game and can add to these every time you complete a Utility room. The personal bonuses generally reward 2 or 3 points for each of a certain room you construct eg. circular rooms or activity rooms etc.

This is probably the best tile advanced tile laying game I’ve played. I love the mechanics, especially the master builder, even though it causes me significant stress to decide on the cost and order of the rooms. The game’s one flaw is that is prone to bringing out analysis paralysis in players. Both the master builder role and the temptation to try and optimise the tile placement can be very draining! It is possible to play this game quickly if all players think about their purchasing priorities whilst the master builder is deciding and whilst other players are also deciding which tiles to purchase and where to place them.

A castle under construction, with a large number of completed rooms. This player will currently have two extra personal objectives due to the two completed orange Utility rooms.
There’s no doubt I find this game stressful, but it does just about tip the balance towards enjoyable and it feels really rewarding and satisfying once you’ve built your castle and you can see it laid out on the table in front of you. Castles of Mad King Ludwig gets an 8/10 from the Yellow Meeple.

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Mad by design:- Castles of Mad King Ludwig

Game: Castles of Mad King Ludwig

Manufacturer: Bezier Games

Designer: Ted Alspach


Historical architecture is a fascinating subject, and none more interesting than those from the reign of ‘mad' King Ludwig. Few buildings remain, but a handful of his unique castles have survived and provide a fascinating insight into his psyche. Take this example; the only way to get to the master bedroom is by walking through the grand hall, down the stairs into the dungeon, then back up the stairs to enter the bedchambers. Apparently this castle was made to house one of his less favoured wives, and several of his most dangerous enemies. Then we have this unique building, tall stone walls and a moat protect nothing but a series of kitchens and a banquet room, Ludwig would travel here simply to feast, where he slept when he stayed we are still unsure. It’s probably becoming clear to you how he earned the nickname of ‘mad king’, but it’s worth remembering the difference between madness and eccentricity is being rich!

Castles of Mad King Ludwig is a 1-4 player tile laying game in which you try and make the best castles. Unfortunately the person you are making castles for doesn’t really have much of an understanding of common ideas such as design, but has more of an understanding that he *really* likes round things, and basements, and round basements! While some point scoring stays the same the game has both open group objectives and secret personal objectives that award large amounts of bonus points.

Saturday 7 November 2015

The Yellow Meeple's First Impressions:- Week Commencing 31st October 2015

New games!!! |There are so many new games coming into our collection recently, but not much time to play! This week, just 3 new titles have hit the table.

·         Stone Age is a worker placement game that I feel we missed out on when we were getting into gaming. Most people seem to call it a gateway worker placement, and we just skipped ahead, but I am enjoying slightly lighter games recently and was happy to get the chance to play. Much like games like Agricola, you have a tribe of workers who you can place in different locations on the board to obtain goods, build huts, obtain tools, get better at agriculture etc. However, unlike many euro games there is an element of luck, in that the number of workers you place to obtain food and goods represent the number of dice you will roll. How lucky you are with the dice and the rarity of the element you are rolling for will together determine how many of each resource you will receive. The aim of the game is, of course to have the most victory points, which I generally obtained during the game by building huts using different combinations of resources. However there are cards you can buy that also give you end game scoring either for set collection or other things you’ve achieved throughout the game, such as growing your number of workers or improving your agriculture. I think the game has a good mixture of strategy and luck and I like the mixture of in game and end game scoring. We probably don’t need another worker placement game, but I’ll happily play Stone Age again when I next get the opportunity.

Thursday 5 November 2015

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Jamaica



Designer: Malcolm Braff, Burno Cathala and S├ębastien Pauchon 


Jamaica is one of the games that gets a lot of hype from Zee Garcia and Sam Healey on The Dice Tower. As such, it seemed rude not to hop online and find myself a copy of this game. It was the first racing game we added to our collection and our only previous experience had been the vintage Waddington’s game Formula One, which we had quite enjoyed, although not kept.

Jamaica is a light game racing game for 3-6 players in which each player takes control of a coloured pirate ship, taking a voyage with the aim of collecting as much loot as possible over the course of the voyage. Loot can be obtained by searching caves, but more importantly by attacking other pirate ships and stealing their contents. You are also rewarded handsomely for making the longest voyage around the board.

Tuesday 3 November 2015

Pirate is not a race!:- Jamaica

Game: Jamaica

Manufacturer: GameWorks

Designer: Malcolm Braff, Burno Cathala and S├ębastien Pauchon

Year: 2007

Gentlemen, an' lady o'course, I prepo...propo... gots a wager for ye. First o' us all to get all the way 'round the island wins wins 15 doubloons. I wants a nice clean race o'course, anyone caught spending time lootin', raidin' or fightin' will be disqu... disco.. will get no cash! HA!  So get ye swards an' cannons ready lads, it's lootin' time!  May the richest man, or lady, win, an' be bloody rich!

Jamaica is a 2-6 player pirate-themed racing game in which you fight, look and fish your way around an island track. Along the way you’ll find secret treasures, you’ll have to feed your crew, fight off your fellow players and pay docking fees, the winner isn’t necessarily the first over the finish line, as pirates will always respect a ship full of cash.