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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Saturday 20 February 2016

The Yellow Meeple’s First Impressions from Thirsty Meeples – 14th February

So Amy’s birthday surprise for the Yellow Meeple was a trip to Thirsty Meeple’s board game cafe in Oxford. I don’t particularly like to be limited to exactly 3 hours of gaming, but we crammed in as much as we could – specifically trying quick games or games that I was considering buying. It was definitely a mixed bag and I’m glad I had the chance to ‘try before you buy’.

Here’s are Yellow Meeple’s first impressions;

·         Coin Age is a 2 player micro-game that we recently received in a joblot purchase - we technically played this one on our train journey to Oxford. It comes in a small envelope containing 3 maps and some coin tokens, however the rules suggest that you could also use some small change and therefore the only game equipment would be 3 standard playing card sized maps. This is an area control game where one of you plays heads and one plays tails. You ‘roll’ the coins in your hand and depending how many land your side up you take actions such as adding your coins to the map or moving coins around the map to affect control. The map is split into small areas and larger zones and points are awarded for having you coins at the top of a stack in any small area and are multiplied if you have the highest total value of coins showing in any larger zone. For such a small and simple game I’m quite impressed that there’s actually some game there. I can imagine this game will travel with us a fair amount.

·         Mage Wars Academy is a 2-player card game of head-to-head combat. You each take a mage and their corresponding spell book. In your first games it is recommended that you use a set book of spells but there are loads of cards to be used for later customisation. On your turn you can use your mana to play spells which might give you equipment or summon creatures. Your mage and other creatures in your play area also get the opportunity to attack your opponents creatures or mage. There are lots of different card abilities and a few phases of the game to get your head around which made learning from the rulebook somewhat of an obstacle to enjoyment of what is actually a fast paced and short game. However, once we’d got over the learning curve I really surprised myself by enjoying it a lot! I would put this game in a similar category to Magic the Gathering and Marvel Dice Masters as games I never expected to enjoy, but actually have a great deal of fun with.

·         Rhino Hero is really a children’s dexterity game from HABA, but I‘ve heard about it being very popular at conventions and I see no problem with being the table in the cafe having lots of laughs and fun when everyone else is busy strategising. In Rhino Hero you are building a tower out of cards. You each have a hand of roof tiles and there is a common pool of folded cards used as wall elements. On your turn you must build walls in the pattern depicted on the previous roof tile and then place a roof tile from your hand. Some roof tiles are special meaning you can place another to deplete your hand or force the next player to miss a turn, but most importantly are the Rhino Hero cards which mean your opponent must place the wooden rhino token. When the next rhino card is played you must move the rhino up the tower. The game is over when a player empties their hand or the tower falls down. The game is really just a cute variant of Jenga, but it was undeniably fun and I’m sure our friends will love it!

·         Animal Upon Animal was the second HABA game of the day. Again this is a stacking-type dexterity game where you each have a pile of wooden animals who all need to piled on-top of a wooden crocodile...obviously. A roll of the dice determines how many animals you have to stack and whether it’s your choice or your opponents which animal you choose or whether you can force and opponent to stack a really awkward shaped animal from their pile. I’m not sure why this one was less of a hit than Rhino Hero. Perhaps in the 2-plaer game we were just putting too many animals back in the box and the stack never got very large – it simply didn’t have the visual appeal of a really tall tower. I’m glad we tried it, but I don’t think we’ll play it again at least until or nieces are old enough to give it a try.

·         Flick ‘Em Up was our third dexterity game of the day. It was on my list to try because the game is so high quality and I assume high price point that I doubt we’ll ever own it. Although this list may make it seem otherwise, dexterity games really don’t feature in our normal gaming lives, but the wild west themed Flick ‘Em Up has certainly had great reviews. In the game you set up the scenery of different buildings and wooden obstacles such as cacti and barrels and ready your team of good guys or bad guys. In the first scenario you are simply trying to kill 3 of the opposing side or have the most guys standing when time runs out. You move around the play area by flicking a disk and moving the cowboy to the spot where the disk lands. Alternatively on your turn you can take a shot at an opposing cowboy by flicking a smaller disk and trying to knock them over. If you succeed they lose a life. In each round all of the cowboys get a turn to take an action, but standing up after being shot counts as an action. I think the combination of me having appalling aim and the fact that the first scenario isn’t much of a ‘game’ means that I was a little let down by Flick ‘Em Up. Some of the later scenarios seem to require a lot more skilled placement as there are different goals associated with obtaining items from buildings etc. and perhaps these play better.

·         Red 7 is a small card game which I’ve heard a lot of praise for. The game begins with a card in the centre of table which dictates the rules for being in a winning position eg. have the highest card played in front of you. On your turn you can either play an additional card in front of you, or change the rules by playing a card tot the centre, or both, but you must then be ‘winning’ when your turn ends. If you can’t make a move or chose not to make a move then your opponent wins that round and scores all of their cards which meet the rules in the centre. New hands are played until one player meets the required total to win the game. Unfortunately we just didn’t enjoy this one that much. I’m not convinced that I didn’t totally underestimate some of the complexity and just made really poor decisions, but at the same time I just didn’t seem to have good opportunities to succeed based on the cards I drew. We are starting to amass a good collection of smaller card games, which means Red 7 just didn’t make the cut.

We also started to try a game of Onirim, although due to strict time limits we weren’t allowed to finish the game. However, we really weren’t enjoying it as there seemed to be a lot of luck and not a lot of game there. It was definitely a successful trip and I decided to get Mage Wars Academy and Rhino Hero as birthday presents whilst we were there. Red 7 had also been on my list of games to buy, but having played it we just didn’t understand the praise it receives. There are a few more games on their way in the post so I’m very excited for the weekend!


  1. Thought her birthday was July? :P Anyway I wouldn't mind trying Mage Wars, but not being a Dexterity fan I pass up Rhino Hero all the time. Onirim is a cool little solitaire style game and yes there is some luck there, but there's some cool choices too. Yes it's pretty simple in gameplay but not an easy one especially if you throw in some of the mini expansions which beef it up a bit.

  2. Really random comment but we were sat in the table next to you.
    We were the couple that you played red7 from when we were finished.
    Glad you had a good time. :-)

    1. That is pretty weird, but really awesome!

      (Sorry if we played too many loud chaotic games!)