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

Thursday 13 July 2017

Thoughts from The Yellow Meeple:- New Releases from Brain Games

With a recent Kinderspiel des Jahres win for Ice Cool -  a huge hit with children and adults alike in 2016, people are watching to see what Brain Games do next. At the UK Games Expo 2017, three new children's games were released and we've had the chance to try all three - check out our thoughts on Reef Route, Woo-Hoo! and King Frog and let's see if there are any more award-winning games on the way!

Designer: Matthias Kaufmann
Age: 3+

Woo-Hoo! is a roll and move game aimed at very young children. In the basic game you are rolling dice to move your large wooden meeple up the steps of a giant elephant slide. When you get to the top you slide down and collect a toy from the sand pit (the game box) - the player with the most toys wins. For very young children this game mode would help with number recognition, counting and taking turns, but for slightly older players the advanced rules help with more player interaction and some set collection since you're looking to collect 5 toys of the same colour. It's still complete luck that determines whether you win, but it should teach younger players an awareness of other people as well as themselves. Woo-Hoo! has fantastic toy factor with its components and I can't wait to share this with our 3 year old niece at the end of the month.

With the hope of entertaining some younger gamers and introducing them to dice games,the Yellow Meeple gives Woo-Hoo! a 6/10.

King Frog
Designer: Gunter Burkhardt, Dennis Kirps
Age: 7+

King Frog is a game of simultaneous action selection where each player is a frog jumping around a circle of coloured lilypads.You each have a hand of cards with numbers 1-5 and each round you'll hop the number of lilypads that you simultaneously select, jumping over other frogs as required. If you land on your own colour lilypad you can keep the card, otherwise it is discarded. The game is super simple, but the element of discarding cards and skipping over other frogs makes it a really good test of out-thinking your opponents or deducing their optimal move. There is player elimination, which can be a bit disappointing, but the game is quick and works at low player counts where no-one sits out for very long. My only disappointment is that the components are really great, chunky wooden components, but they definitely look like they're aimed at children which might put adults off trying this game, even though I think it is a perfectly good filler for adults too. There's at least enough here for parents to enjoy whilst playing with older children, although the parent might always have the upper hand with logical decision making.

I really like King Frog, so from the Yellow Meeple it's a 7.5/10.
Reef Route
Designer: Arpad Fritsche
Age: 5+

Reef Route is a dice-rolling race game where your goal is to get one of your four fish from the start line (left side of the board) to the coral reef (right side of the board). In the way are a varying number of different size shark, depending how difficult you want the game to be. On your turn you roll two dice which will result in a result of a certain fish colour or the shark, you can then move that creature one grid space. Movement rules are different for the sharks and when you move your fish or other fish. The game has a strong concept, but for me the dice luck is just too much - a colour will never win unless it is rolled, so some games one player can just have bad luck. If dice rolling was perhaps replaced by a deck of cards so there was some reliability that each colour would definitely come up eventually then maybe the tactical movement aspects would shine through a little more. For the target age range, perhaps the luck element would be less frustrating and then I can envisage that the game is quite fun, with a lot of take that when eating other people's fish. It's not a bad game, but not one we'll be  playing without the right children around.

Reef Route gets a 5/10 from the Yellow Meeple.

What is common to all three games is a fantastic production quality. All games come pre-punched, with great, engaging and colourful artwork and high quality, large, wooden components. All three games have different aspects of learning that they target and I'm sure each has a place with the right age of audience. However, for us as adults who very rarely play with children, it's King Frog that has the most appeal and we actually see ourselves keeping this and playing it as a filler on game nights, so long as other members of the group can see past the artwork and components aimed at a younger audience.

All three games were review copies provided by Brain Games.

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