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

Sunday 9 April 2017

The Yellow Meeple's First Impressions from Stabcon South: Spring 2017 (Part 1)

This weekend we're at Stabcon South, a small, local convention in Southampton, with a heavy focus on playing games rather than buying, trading or exhibiting. The convention runs from Friday evening to Sunday evening twice each year. I'm writing this blog on Saturday morning, having already played so many new games yesterday that it deserves a full blog - more first impressions will follow if we play a load more new titles!

There are two libraries this year at Stabcon - one supplied by the guys who run convention which has a lot of old classics but no very many new games, and the other supplied by Coffee and Dice, a board game cafe who are soon to open in Bournemouth, UK. There are so many tempting titles in Coffee and Dice's library that I won't even have time to play a mall handful of the games I want to try this weekend!

All of the games! Top on the list to try for me over the next two days are; Scythe, Cry Havoc and Terraforming Mars

Here are the Yellow Meeple's first impressions;
  • Ninja Dice is a filler game that I could best describe as multiplayer yahtzee where the thing your trying to roll also varies each turn because it's based on dice rolls. Each player takes a turn being a ninja trying to sneak past or attack groups of enemies or pick locks to enter a building. You can re-roll as much as you like until the other players roll a full set of timer dice, but players might shoot arrows at you and steal your money in the process. For me, it was a really poor filler game witha  few too many fiddly rules for a simple game and way too much downtime for the players not playing as the ninja. It was just too long and boring for a game that is just dice rolling.
  • Villages of Valeria is one of the many games with the name Valeria. I'm more intrigued by Card Kingdoms, but actually this game was a good example of a big game in a small box. Cards have multiple uses and can either be built as buildings or flipped to use as resources. Gold is tight in the game but is useful both to power resources and also to recruit people to come to your village. One of the more unique elements is the way that every player can follow the active players action - it's a slightly less powerful ability, but it keeps everyone engaged throughout the game and causes you to make tricky decisions on how to use you limited gold. It's a nice little engine builder with the opportunity to build some really strong synergies in your village. My only complaint was that the game end seemed to trigger too soon, but the 2 and 3 player game last a little longer, so maybe I'd prefer it at a lower player count. I'd definitely like to try Villages of Valeria again.
  • Mint Works is a game that is perhaps only making a name for itself because it is super tiny. It comes in a little mint tin and within it holds a little worker placement game. You place workers on a limited number of action spaces on the cards on the table to buy buildings, build buildings and manipulate yourself into a position of having more income. Some of the buildings have victory points, and most victory points wins. It really frustrates me when I have to say 'it's a good game for it's size' - it basically means it's just not a good game. I think it suffered at four players with just too many actions blocked and not enough mints in the tin. It also ended very quickly without enough time to get synergies in your building cards.
  • Hover Kraft is a dexterity game that I've never heard of. It's packaged more like a gift from the gadget shop and so doesn't register very high on Board Game Geek. The concept is actually really cool - the playing board is a hovercraft - a magnet suspended by two strings and magic! You take turns to roll a dice which makes you add one piece, two pieces or remove a piece. Because the forces holding up the base are weak, the light weight of the pieces very easily unbalances the hover craft. It's a gimmick and perhaps we had all the fun we could ever have with it by playing it 5 times in 20 minutes, but I can definitely appreciate this ingenious stacking game.
  • Power Grid The Card Game is a game we actually won! Our first ever competition win! It's probably one I would never have bought, but a game I was interested to try. I've played Power Grid once and do remember enjoying it, so a quicker version seemed like a positive.  The card game looses all of the spatial aspects of the board game and so it becomes a purely economical, auction and resource management game. We did play our first game with two which isn't ever going to be best because you have an automaton taking cards and resources, but also the game end just worked out badly with only one expensive power plant, which was just auctioned to the player with the most available funds. We appreciated the game and will give it another chance with more players, even though our first game was a slight let down.

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