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 27 July 2017

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- The Ravens of Thri Sahashri

GameThe Ravens of Thri Sahashri

Publisher: Osprey Games


The Ravens of Thri Sahashri is probably not a game we'd normally gravitate towards. On the plus side its a cooperative game and it's designed for two players, but usually a cute-sy Japanese theme is enough to turn me off. However, since I picked this up second hand for around £8 and saw that it had some really positive reviews of Youtube, it was worth a try. So, did my small risk pay off - is this a good couples game?

In Ravens of Thri Sahashri you are each playing an assymetrical side - on of you is the little girls who is dreaming, whilst the boy is trying to read the dreams and rescue her. The rule book has some really long story passages that explain this whole fantasy theme and tell you why the ravens are stealing her dreams, but I'm not the kind of gamer who wants to read long, boring fantasy back stories - I just want to play your game. The story just makes the rulebook harder to understand and frankly makes very little sense!

The game consists of three rounds where you are trying to cooperate to relive 5 of Ren's dreams. Each turn Feth can turn over cards from the face down deck and add as many as he like to the atman, following all of the placement rules. Ren can then either take a card to add to the first dream or discard a card from the atman. Dreams are complete when the total of the numbers of the cards in that dream is 7,7,7 and 5 and then you can move on to the next dream. When ravens are revealed they each discarded cards, so the deck reduces in size each round, making it harder to complete dreams. In the final round there are only 4 turns so you've got to work really well together and reply on god performance in prior rounds.

This short explanation leaves out so many details about the game, but to go further in this review would get pretty coring and confusing. The game relies very heavily on smart use of the special abilities and clever placement of cards in the atman to give the other player the opportunity to take good cards at the same time as discarding certain colours they don't want to be there at the end of the round. You also need to get quite lucky to build the atman so that you create groups of cards adding up to seven allowing you to scare away the ravens - if there's ever 5 ravens revealed this is one of the many ways you can lose.

The best way to explain this game is definitely with a picture!
The Ravens of Thri Sahashri is not without its negatives. The rulebook is awful to navigate! Even after 4 or 5 games we were going back to the rulebook and finding out we were playing things wrong - sometimes things that were making our life harder or more often than not that we were doing to make the game too easy. Saying that, this game is HARD! Once we understood all the rules, it still took us a long time to get our first win, at which point we opened the first envelope which changed the rules to make the game even harder - we've not won the game since!

The dream cards are pretty complex, having different values and colours, plus special abilities and the different square patterns that affect their placement in the central 'atman'.
In spite of the above, I'd still say that The Ravens of Thri Sahashri is a very clever design and a very rewarding game to play. The complexity can be a positive or negative for playing as a couple. At times it can be a little frustrating because you can't communicate and help each other solve the difficult puzzle, but it also really encourages you to develop strategies to figure each other out. Because of this, I think I'd struggle to play with a new player because of the learning curve and we're even reluctant to switch roles in the game as we're becoming more and more effective with Amy playing as Ren and me playing as Feth.

I can't wait to play more of the game and improve as time goes by. The small box makes it almost perfect for travelling, although the larger footprint of the game whilst playing makes it a little challenging to find a table to play on. I have to reduce my rating of this game because of the rulebook, but still, the Yellow Meeple gives The Ravens of Thri Sahashri an 8/10.

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