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 30 January 2016

Boards that never bore:- Amy's top 10 board games

Gaming has become a massive part of my life, It’s brought me closer to my Fiancée, it’s grown me closer to my friends and introduced me to of new ones too. Deciding my top 10 has actually been a nostalgic journey; every one of these games brings memories to the surface. But before we get to the main event, let’s look at a couple of games that didn’t quite make it;

Warhammer Quest

Warhammer Quest gets a mention because it is probably the first “proper” board game I played. I played it as a child when the game was actually in stores! Warhammer Quest is essentially the same breed as Imperial assault/Descent, you have a band of adventurers and co-op some monster slaughtering. Naturally being one of Games Workshop’s Warhammer’s fun and relatively inexpensive games it got canned and is now expensive to get a full copy of. I’ve not played it as an adult, so I can’t really speak of how good the game is, but it is certainly responsible for planting the gamer seed into my fertile young mind.

T.I.M.E Stories

Whew, where to start with this one, the reason it’s not in my top 10 is largely that I’ve only played the first 2 games, but what games! The premise is novel and great fun, but I’m not yet certain how well it survives the changing themes.  I may feel like this because I have a taste for the gothic and the first game you play is a creepy story set in an insane asylum. And that’s about all I can tell you because any more would ruin it! The downside of T.I.M.E Stories is you can only really play it once, unless you are Lucy from 50 first dates, in which case this game was made for you!

Thursday 28 January 2016

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- T.I.M.E. Stories

GameT.I.M.E. Stories

ManufacturerSpace Cowboys
Designer: Peggy Chassenete & Mamuel Rozoy


 T.I.M.E. Stories has been one of the most highly rated and most talked about releases of 2015, but also one of the more controversial since each scenario can only really be played once. I was very wary of buying this game since although £25 for 3 hours entertainment for 4 people isn’t that bad compared to most forms of entertainment, it is pretty high compared to most board games. Also, if I enjoyed it I would feel the need to buy an expansion every 3 months and also to take up valuable shelf real estate for a game that will only hit the table infrequently. Fortunately I was able to persuade the Broken Meeple to play his copy with us and I was super excited for a unique, one-off gaming experience. Here is the Yellow Meeple’s SPOILER FREE review.

Tuesday 26 January 2016

Not a Dalek in sight:- T.I.M.E Stories

Game Title: T.I.M.E Stories

Designer:Peggy Chassenete & Mamuel Rozoy

Manufacturer: Space Cowboys 

Year: 2015

Time Stories (hope you don't mind that I drop the whole T.I.M.E thing) is a 2-4 player storytelling game in which you play as part of an ‘elite’ team of time-travelers trying to preserve the history of humanity and not completely screw up reality. To do so you’ll have to fight, and puzzle your way through various adventures. That’s about all the story aspect I’m able to share (hence the lack of my normal start of review story today). Time Stories is a storytelling game, so if you know what is going on then the game is largely ruined for you. To this end all examples given in this review are entirely fictitious and any resemblance to actual Time Stories story elements is purely coincidental. 

You start the game by opening a room, rooms always have 1 starting card which describes the room and gives you an idea of what you might expect to see. The descriptions aren’t always obvious, so interacting with an “angry dog” might end up with you being mauled, or you may gain a puppy helper, or anything in-between. The rest of the cards you choose to explore at your leisure, each player picks a card to go to, though more than one can go to each card. The players who go to a card get to pick it up and view it, on the card may be some back-story, clues, fights or items that you can use. 

Sunday 24 January 2016

The Yellow Meeple’s First Impressions 18th January – 24th January

Due to a poor work-life balance we unfortunately haven’t been able to complete Pandemic Legacy this week, although we are coming close to the end (which is both sad and exciting). Instead we have managed to get a couple of new games or expansions to the table.

Here’s are Yellow Meeple’s first impressions;

·         T.I.M.E. Stories – The Marcy Case is of course the first expansion case for T.I.M.E. Stories. I rated the base game as my best gaming experience of 2015 (although not my favourite game), but obviously the novelty factor of the game system is lost when you play your second case. The theming is also less unique than the first so some more novelty factor is lost. However, the game is still solid and a really good gaming experience. It felt a little more dice-roll fight oriented than puzzle oriented compared to the last, with the path to victory seemingly being to explore haphazardly once – discover how you were supposed to win the explore logically a second time to win. I understand that the next case is a fantasy theme which may bring something new beyond fighting, which could be interesting and I’m still looking forward to more.
·         Trains & Stations has been sitting on our shelf for a long time. The Dice Tower seemed to rate it, it’s by one of our favourite designers – Eric Lang but it does go for suspiciously low prices on eBay so I wasn’t sure what we’d make of it. In the game you are trying to connect train lines on a (very small) map using dice that you have rolled. Dice potentially roll train faces to place on the board, or they roll symbols which allow you to buy hotels, mines or ranches when you roll a set of 3. These buildings earn you cards when connections are made to the city which earn you bonuses at the end of the game. For me the game was pretty sound and there were different strategic paths to victory – building short routes for instant points and bonuses or waiting to try and connect long routes for objectives. However, there’s nothing great about the game – it is quite unique in our collection so it might stay for a while but I’m not sure we’ll convert anyone to love it and want to play with us multiple times.

·         Best Treehouse Ever is a simple card drafting game with a fantastic theme and artwork. In the game you are drafting cards which form rooms in your treehouse – they come in 6 colours which match with different themes like food, adventurous activites, eduction etc. You have to build a balanced treehouse and all rooms on the same theme must connect so you can block yourself out of certain themes. Scoring is based broadly on collecting sets of different colours and you can also include bonus scoring for different specific patterns. What you end up with is a really fun set of choices eg. so I want to build a ball pit or a climbing wall and a really awesome treehouse often with a theme eg. a sushi shop, taco stand, candy store etc. The game is simple, quick and lots of fun as a filler or a game for younger players.

·         Ultimate Warriorz is a game with a very cool box. The box itself is your gladiator’s arena. Each player takes on a creature eg. dragon, orc, treant which has differing talents eg. lots of health, very defensive or strong in melee or ranged combat. Each turn you select a card which determines the order of attack and also whether you move, perform a melee attack or a ranged attack. Attacking is a case of rolling the number of dice equal to the attack strength, picking an opponent in range and any dice rolled greater than or equal to the defence of your opponent bit it – the health points you steal from them are your victory points. You can be eliminated if your creature runs out of health, which is a bit of a negative for me, but otherwise Ultimate Warriorz is some dice rolling fun similar to King of Tokyo. The different cards each turn add some elements of tactics which to me makes this one a little more satisfying than King of Tokyo, which most people are comparing this one to, but neither game particular satisfies a need I have in my collection.

In other news I’ve found someone at my new job to play games with, so our lunch hour gaming club for two starts on Tuesday and we’ll be playing Jaipur this week. The guy I’ll be playing with appears to be into his heavy euros and as much as I’d love to try Terra Mystica, we do only have a 45 minute time frame to play with so hopefully he’s happy to try some of our smaller, faster games. If it goes well we’ll have to invite more people too!

Thursday 21 January 2016

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Marvel Dice Masters – Age of Ultron Starter Set

Game Title: Marvel Dice Masters – Age of Ultron Starter Set

Designer: Mike Elliot & Eric Lang 

Manufacturer: WizKids Games

Year: 2015

We’re a bit late to the game on the Dice Masters band wagon – Age of Ultron is our first experience with the game. We really enjoy deck-building games and Amy is a fan of the Marvel Universe – especially the Avengers and X-Men. Unfortunately the Avengers vs. X-Men starter set appears to no longer be available.

Dice Masters is in some ways like a collectable card game in that you preselect your characters before the game begins, but in some ways has elements of a deck-building card game in that you have to decide which dice to purchase and add to your bag. You may select up to 8 character cards for each game and each card can be assigned with up to 4 dice and you can have 14 character dice in total. Each character also comes in a number of different varieties – no matter which card you choose, you get the same dice but the cards have different special abilities.

Tuesday 19 January 2016

A rolling die gathers no loss:- Marvel Dice Masters Age of Ultron

Game Title: Marvel Dice Masters – Age of Ultron Starter Set

Designer: Mike Elliot & Eric Lang 

Manufacturer: WizKids Games

Year: 2015

For today's story please watch the movie Avengers Age of ultron, something that I really should get round to. Alternatively read some Ultron-based Marvel comics, another thing that I haven't done. Look the whole truth is I bought the Ultron starter set because I couldn't get hold of x-men vs Avengers!

Dice masters is a 2 player deck building game where your deck is a bag and your cards are dice. Dice masters combines the best of deck building games and collectible games like magic the gathering to create a unique new experience. There are several themes available including Yu-gi-oh, DC, Marvel and D&D, we have the Marvel edition, but you can combine all of them, so if you want to fight D&D monsters against Yu-Gi-Oh ones then knock yourself out! This review is for the marvel version, to be precise the Age of Ultron starter set.

Monday 18 January 2016

The Yellow Meeple’s First Impressions 11th January – 17th January

As promised, this week I did visit Draughts – the board game cafe in London. Unfortunately I didn’t quite get the opportunity to play the games I wanted, but nevertheless I did try a couple of new games. This weekend we’ve also tried to give some of our newly acquired games a chance to get to the table – we simply don’t have shelf space for them all so we need to decide which, if any, are keepers!

Here’s are Yellow Meeple’s first impressions;

Thursday 14 January 2016

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Kingdom Builder

Game Title: Kingdom Builder

Designer: Donald X. Vaccarino

Manufacturer: Queen Games

Year: 2011

Kingdom Builder was one of our early finds in modern board gaming and was introduced to us by my ex-flatmate who has slowly been collecting Spiel des Jahres winners. Since then we found a copy at a car boot sale (missing a harbour token) and a complete copy in a charity shop – both pretty fantastic finds!! However a lot of gamers, including members of The Dice Tower, really seem to dislike this game and for some reason I started to listen and stopped playing it. Having recently brought it back to the table – what do I think of Kingdom Builder now that I’m a much more experienced board gamer?

Kingdom Builder is a game for 2-4 players in which you are trying to build settlements to meet certain objectives. The objectives change each game and so does the modular board. Scoring is primarily dictated by the varying objectives although points are always available for building settlements adjacent to a castle symbol.

Tuesday 12 January 2016

Do you want to build a kingdom?:- Kingdom Builder

Game Title: Kingdom Builder

Designer: Donald X. Vaccarino

Manufacturer: Queen Games

Year: 2011

“And I thought being a lord would be easy, every year the King, long may he rule us, grants me a permit to build on some land, I put up some hovels, move in some peasants and collect taxes. Easy right? Well it would be if not for the fact that in his 83rd year our King, long may he rule us, has gone completely loopy! This year he granted me a permit to build on flowers, anywhere on the kingdom I please so long as I’m crushing someone’s geraniums! As it happens I hate geraniums, but the other lords were all given the same permit, so all the prime rose bushes have already be built on! Still it beats last year when he decided I could build in the desert, It actually costs me money to send my tax collectors out to that godforsaken hell-hole! I wouldn’t send them, but then my other citizens might start getting ideas about not paying their taxes too! A toast, to our king, long may he rule us, let him be as sound of body as he is of mind!”

Kingdom builder is a 2-4 player strategy game in which players take turn to build settlements on 5 different types of land in order to fulfil objectives and earn gold. Every game the map changes, the objective changes and the special abilities available swap around, so no two games of Kingdom Builder are the same.

Monday 11 January 2016

The Yellow Meeple’s First Impressions 1st January – 10th January

Having said last week that 2016 might be a bit slower for new games, it appears that this week I’ve hit the jackpot, trying 5 new games over this weekend alone. We managed to fit in some gaming with friends on Friday evening as well as attending our usual Sunday board game club. However what also helped was e finding a rather ridiculous joblot of games locally on eBay. It’s definitely a mixed bag and out of the 45-50 games (!!) there are probably only 12-15 that we want to try, but two of them have already hit this first impressions list.

Here’s are Yellow Meeple’s first impressions;

Saturday 9 January 2016

Overthinking by The Yellow Meeple:- Top 5 Games We Haven't Played in 2015

The list of games I’m still really keen to try from 2015 is almost as long as the list of games I did play from 2015. That’s not to mention that there are hundreds of 2015 games that I might get the opportunity to play, that I haven’t got excited about yet. Here’s the Yellow Meeple’s Top 5 games I haven’t played from 2015.

Thursday 7 January 2016

Thoughts from The Yellow Meeple:- Patchwork

Game Title: Patchwork

Designer: Uwe Rosenberg

Manufacturer: Mayfair

Year: 2014

I think most people would associate Uwe Rosenberg with heavy euro games, but Patchwork is far from it. Patchwork is a 2-player tile laying game with the theme of creating an attractive patchwork quilt.

In Patchwork, each player takes a blank 9x9 board on which they should lay tiles to make their quilt. The different tiles, of many shapes and sizes, are laid out in a ring around the central timer. On your turn you may either spend buttons to buy one of the next 3 tiles in the ring – this is also like to cost you a varying amount of time. Otherwise, if you don’t want or cannot afford any of the next three tiles you can move forward to skip your opponent’s timer token.

Tuesday 5 January 2016

Not a patch on Tetris:- Patchwork

Game Title: Patchwork

Designer: Uwe Rosenberg

Manufacturer: Mayfair

Year: 2014

“Barbara thinks she has the best quilt this side of Happy-Oaks retirement home, but I’ll show her, I’LL SHOW THEM ALL!”

Patchwork is a 2-player quilting-themed game in which you make a quilt... no, wait, come back its actually fun! In patchwork you take turns deciding which piece of fabric-pattern you want to add to your quilt, the patterns are all in different sizes so you have a Tetris-like situation while you try and make unusual shapes fit in your square play area without leaving gaps.

Sunday 3 January 2016

The Yellow Meeple’s First Impressions:- 13th December – 30th December

Happy New Year to everyone who reads our blog! I though Christmas was going to be a slow time for getting new games played, what with playing some simpler gateway games with the family and some friends over the festive period, but actually we managed to fit in two or three really solid days of gaming with Luke at The Broken Meeple and at a pop-up event run by Dice Portsmouth. We’ve also had a chance to try two of the bigger hits of the year - T.I.M.E. Stories and Pandemic Legacy, but I’m sorry to spoil it – you’ll have to read about those in our Top 5 list for 2015.

Here’s the Yellow Meeple’s first impressions of the other new games that have hit the table;

Friday 1 January 2016

Overthinking by the Yellow Meeple:- Top 5 Games of 2015

So word on the street is that 2015 has been a great year in board-gaming. As social gamers who don’t take blogging too seriously we haven’t found ourselves in a situation where we’ve had to play a game we have hated. To be clear from the outset we’ve not played a comprehensive list of games released in 2015.

These are the games we’ve played; XCOM, Tides of Time, New York 1901, Nevermore, Voyages of Marco Polo, Cthulu Realms, Codenames, Cacao, Lanterns, Artifacts Inc., Dice City, ...and then we held hands, 7 Wonders Duel, Pandemic Legacy, Grand Austria Hotel, The Grizzled, Time Stories & Raptor.

So here’s the Yellow Meeple’s Top 5!