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 10 June 2017

Overthinking by the Yellow Meeple:- My Top 10 Board Games (2017 Edition)

It's the two year anniversary of The Game Shelf! Happy Birthday to us!

This time last year I posted my top ten board games to mark the first anniversary of The Game Shelf. That means that we've now been writing for the blog for two years and it's time for me to renew my top ten games. In the last 12 months I think we've probably tried 100-150 new to us games so there's been plenty of contenders to dethrone my favourites, but have any managed to steal the top spots?

It was really difficult to decide on a Top Ten this year, because there's so many fantastic games on my shelf, but here is my Top Ten for 2017.

10. Cottage Garden is a game we bought this year to replace Patchwork. We were very happy with Patchwork and didn't expect it to be replaced, but after trying Cottage Garden we found that the few extra mechanics and manipulations made for a better game, but didn't really add a lot of complexity or play time. The fact that it can play four players too is a bonus and we've enjoyed introducing this to friends as well as my parents and it's always a hit.

9. Ticket to Ride is one of my gateway games, a game Amy owned when she first introduced me to board games and a game which spawned this board game buying monster. The set collection and route building, just create a classic game with longevity that still holds 2.5 years later. I now teach Ticket to Ride: Europe to my parents and I think they really enjoy it and we like to play at home with the UK map in particularly, although I'd like to add Switzerland, Nordic Countries or the new Germany map to the collection to get Ticket to Ride to the table more often.

8. Dungeon Petz is quite a heavy game with a light theme that makes it very palatable. I love the humour in the rulebook, as with many CGE games, and every game we still read out the back stories for each pet! In terms of gameplay it's the only standard worker placement on this list, and it beat off competition from many others in our collection for it's theme. I do however love how the mechanics work with your ageing pets and the fact you need to make the best of a small element of luck of the draw when drawing new cards, but you can stack the odds in your favour by not pushing your luck too far. I wish we got it to the table slightly more often, but Dungeon Petz is a deserving entry on the list.

7. Dominion is one of the first games we added to our shelves, before we even started the blog. It opened my eyes to deck-builders and deck-building is still one of my favourite mechanics. We have plenty of deck-builders in the collection but I think Dominion is still my favourite, even though I'm probably slightly influenced by nostalgia. Perhaps some of the newer deck-builders like Clank and Tyrants of the Underdark are soon to overtake it, but for now Dominion, and the Prosperity expansion and still in my Top 10.

6. Mechs vs. Minions is definitely the highest production quality game I've ever seen. From the minis, to the art and the insert this is a very well produced game. We loved the campaign with two players and I was surprised by how much variety in game play they managed to create with a limited variety in components. The difficulty level wasn't that high for us, but now we're playing with 4 players, it's definitely proving more challenging. Both the programming and cooperative elements suit us well and it's a fun spatial puzzle to work together on.

5. Terraforming Mars is one of the newest games in our collection, but it's one I'm almost always eager to get back to the table. It's hard to know why it works so well for us, but I think part of it is to do with the balance of different strategies and the way in which every turn feels meaningful and productive. We love it with two players and a lot of people in our groups enjoy it too so we sometimes play with 3 or 4 and always find that time flies.

4. Castles of Burgundy is an older game that we only got to try this year. I've never noticed it before, but there's some similarity with Terraforming Mars in terms of building up hexagonal spaces on a board. I enjoy the dice rolling and allocation and find that there's enough options for dice manipulation to help you try and play more effectively than your opponent, without too much luck. It's always really satisfying when you hit on a good combo with the yellow tiles that you're able to pull off effectively without falling too far behind with the basics of the game, although I confess that Amy finds these strategies more often than me!

3. Takenoko - an adorable game about pandas! What's not to love? It's definitely a gateway game, but Takenoko is one we keep coming back to. With just 6 possible actions it's an easy game to learn but there's definitely some skill that comes from repeat plays. We play Takenoko in 30-40 minutes so it's a great quick game, with lovely visual appeal from the wooden stacks of bamboo and has enough meat in it to keep gamers satisfied.

2. Pandemic Legacy Season 1 was last year's number one and is still my best ever gaming experience, but it's now a bit of a distant memory. It's difficult to decide where to rank a game that you'll never play again, but from a BGG standpoint it will always be a '10'. So long as you don't hate cooperative games, Pandemic Legacy is a gaming experience I don't think anyone should miss out on! I can't wait for Season 2!

1. XCOM The Board Game is still a game we always want to play. The timed phase is stressful, but the resolution phase is enough to regroup in between phases. Whenever we play this game, time just flies by. We are still introducing it to new players and loving it every single play through - it's one of the only board games in our collection that we've not had a single bad game of. We, of course, added the expansion this year, but it didn't make a lot of changes to the game so hasn't particularly factored in to where we rank XCOM, it's just simply great!

So, five games have fallen out of my Top Ten compared to last year, but all of these were on the shortlist, so they're still some of my favourites, they're just not hitting the table as often any more.

I'm sure the next 12 months will bring even more changes to the Top Ten. There's a few of our newer games that either haven't hit the table yet or we haven't played enough that could easily be contenders for the list.

If you'd like to compare you can see last year's list here.

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