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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Thursday 6 April 2017

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Mechs vs Minions

GameMechs vs Minions

Publisher: Riot Games

Designer: Chris Cantrell, Rick Ernst, Stone Librande, Prashant Saraswat, Nathan Tiras


Initially I ignored all the hype around Mechs vs. Minions in late 2016. It sounded fun, but I'd never spent £80+ on one game, so it just seemed out of my price range. However, when I started to notice in early January that the game was still available in the EU and not in the US, I really wanted to be one of the special people to own the game. I quickly showed Amy some reviews, the game mechanisms seemed to suit us and of course the game looked amazing so we made an order, expecting to wait a long time for it to ship. within just a few days a gigantic box arrived on our doorstep and I took great pleasure in opening it and exploring the contents.

The first thing that hits you with Mechs vs. Minions has to be the size, quality and value for money. It's our biggest ever board game and it's filled to the brim (unlike a lot of games seem to be). The inserts are filled with models which have a few different sculpts, but the insert is super clever so that every sculpt fits snugly in every slot - it's a slight detail but really pleases me. The card-stock is super heavy, the art is perfect for the style of game, there are quality metal components and an exciting secret box.
Just one tray of the four in the box. Metal coins and dials, large plastic crystals, and loads and loads of inked minions.
Once your over the pretti-ness it's time to play the game. Mechs vs Minions is a cooperative, programming campaign game. You play as the mechs - each player taking one mech and you try to complete different missions. Each mission comes in a sealed envelope so you don't know what is coming next - missions will see you trying to defeat hoards of minions, trying to get to different areas of the board and simply trying to survive. Each player starts with a blank command line and you draft from a common pool of cards to upgrade different actions on your board. You then activate your command line, moving your mech and attacking in the order that you've laid the cards out in your 6 slots.

The training mission - a quick introduction to the simple game mechanisms, although many more elements are introduced and most maps are much larger, using multiple tiles.
We've been playing the game with two-players and as the missions get harder we're starting to notice the need for cooperation more and more. Sometimes it's important to discuss which cards you really need to take in the draft in order to have a great next turn. It can also be important to understand the other player's plan so that you don't collide. Collisions don't cause damage, but you do push each other around, so it can sometimes be critical to know the general team plan for the turn. We will soon start a campaign with four players and I can imagine that this positioning could become really chaotic and cooperation will become really critical.

Although the many components may look intimidating, Mechs vs Minions actually has very simple mechanisms. Without the timer I'm sure the idea of programmable movement could induce analysis paralysis in a lot of players, but with the timer, there a certain thematic hectic nature that's added to the game, where you just make the best you can of each turn.

So it looks great, plays pretty simply, is co-operative, which is almost always a hit in our house and scales well to two-players. However, what's most amazing to me about the game is the balance. We've actually won every mission we've played so far and we're on around mission 7, but at least half of these have felt completely hopeless during the first two turns. However, the nature of building up your command line means that you get much better after a few turns (especially in a two player game where you add two cards per turn to your command line). In addition, when you kill minions they are counted up and as you hit certain thresholds you can become more powerful too. My only complaint would be that the game could perhaps be made very slightly more challenging, just so that we find out that it is possible to lose.

Right now, Mechs vs. Minions is our go-to choice of game every free evening. I was actually supposed to save this game to be our next campaign game to play with another couple, but I grew too impatient. Luckily, although it's a campaign game, with sealed envelopes etc. I think Mechs vs. Minions is entirely replayable if we put all the extra components back into their envelopes. Yes we'll be slightly less surprised, but I'm keen to see how the game plays differently with four people and I want to share this great game and get more fun out of the box! From the Yellow Meeple, Mechs vs. Minions gets a 9/10 and I can only see it going higher once we've finished the campaign.

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