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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Friday 13 January 2017

The Yellow Meeple’s First Impressions 1st-8th January 2017

It seems like a very long time since I’ve written any first impressions. Most of my gaming has been with my work gaming group where I’ve been introducing gateway games. That’s not to say we haven’t tried a few new games and some expansions over the Christmas period. However, these were a little too long ago to give fair first impressions of. Instead in the last two days we’ve had a chance to play loads of new titles and tick a ton of 2016 releases off the list of games I really want to try!

Here are Yellow Meeple’s first impressions;

·        Sushi Go Party has had a load of buzz recently, going out of stock a couple of times in the UK. Sushi Go is a game I always thought was OK, but too simple for our tastes, however I’ve been thinking about it more recently as a way to introduce new gamers to drafting. Sushi Go doesn’t really embellish on the game’s simplicity but does add variety, giving you a whole box of different options which all score in unique ways. I can see why this one is popular, but for me the game still plays the same way every time. I will actually be purchasing a copy for my work game group, but I doubt it will see play anywhere else.

·        Codenames Pictures is the follow up to Codenames where you are trying to connect pictures rather than words. When I saw the first round of pictures it was apparent that this might provided more of a challenge because a picture can include many different elements where a word can only mean one or two things at the most. This definitely makes it easier to have slip ups where you didn’t notice a connection and makes the thinking time longer – something I don’t think helps the game. We actually had two really fun rounds with both teams pulling off some very impressive connections, but personally I’ve decided to stick to words to try and keep the game quick, rather than frustrating.

·        Burgle Bros has been high on my want to play list since I first tried Paperback and understood that Burgle Bros is a co-op game from the same designer. You play as a group of robbers trying to break the find the safe on each floor of a building and break into it, eventually escaping via the roof without being caught by the guard on each floor. The challenge definitely escalates as you spread around the building and things get out of control and we lost the game on the very last turn. The whole group enjoyed the game, but I should note that it was really quite long for the small amount of complexity and I’m not sure how this could be improved since I think 2 floors would not work. Burgle Bros is a great cops and robbers simulator, and an interesting spatial co-operative game, but I’m not yet convinced about buying it for our collection.

·        Pandemic: Reign of Cthulu is one of two Pandemic variants that came out in 2016. I had heard that Cthulu was quite different and one friend said that this was the game that Arkham and Eldritch Horror wanted to be. This all sounded good to us, so I was keen to give Pandemic: Reign of Cthulu a go. Sadly we were a little disappointed that the game was still very much Pandemic and the changes felt, to us, like a small expansion. I enjoyed the way that each ‘outbreak’ caused a small rule change to the game to make your life harder and I enjoyed how the gates are a way to travel round the board but when you close them you lose the ability to travel so easily. If we didn’t already own Pandemic and weren’t planning another 12+ games of Pandemic Legacy Season 2 this year then this version is a solid game, but it doesn’t change enough to justify having it on our shelves.

·        Kanagawa is a game from Bruno Cathala and has really nice artwork, so it certainly caught my attention, but wasn’t highest on my list of 2016 releases I still wanted to play. In Kanagawa you are trying to paint a panorama using different cards with pictures of different seasons and trees, people, building or animals. In order to paint cards from different seasons you need to build up your workshop. Cards are drawn into different columns and an element of push your luck determines whether you take the column with just one card or when more are drawn. Cards can be flipped to be used in your painting or workshop and as both of these elements grow there are bonuses you can take for different collections of symbols or pictures. Kanagawa has a nice collection of mechanics and is a simple game to pick up – I might pick a copy up as a slightly heavier weight filler for the collection.

·        Cottage Garden is a game I was very keen to try as it has been described as multi-player Patchwork with a bit of a stronger theme. Each player is trying to fill two flower beds with different ‘Tetris’ shaped tiles drawn from a central grid on the table. At the same time you’re trying to ensure that you have flowerpots and plant covers showing on the completed flower bed in order to score points. The game has really simple mechanics with just some small methods of manipulation using the small 1x1 cat tokens or the 1x1 flower pot tokens. As a two-player game we found Cottage Garden light and quick, although I’m sure it will take longer with more players. For us Cottage Garden will replace Patchwork although I’ll still play plenty of games of Patchwork on the Android app.

After a great gaming weekend this weekend, there’s still more to look forward to! In a couple of weeks we’ll be joining a few local gamers from Facebook for a few games for the first time and the same evening we’ve been invited to meet the friends of a friend also for more games. Things are looking up for board game activities near our new home in Surrey!

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