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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Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Octopi will breed with anything:- Beasts of Balance

Game: Beasts of Balance

Publisher: Sensible Object Games

DesignerGeorge Buckenham & Alex Fleetwood

 Beasts of Balance is a 1-5 player app-based balancing game in which you work cooperatively to score the most points by adding animals and nurturing them. Beasts of balance works via a base which scans objects as you add them and sends the data to your device, your device then keeps track of the point scores and types of animals that you have in play, as well as a record of all the beasts that you have ever encountered.

Each turn a player will choose one piece to add to the tower, scan the marked area on the piece against the marked area on the base and then add it to the tower any way up. One of the most unique aspects of Beasts of Balance is how awkward the pieces are shaped. The geometrically designed animal pieces vary from the small, mostly square warthog to the huge, round-bellied shark which can only really be played nose or tail first if you want any chance of stacking on it! The non-animal pieces aren’t much better, with the distraction and speed miracles being particularly awkward to place. This could be a death knell to a balancing game if it weren’t for the cooperative nature, you are all trying your hardest to get everything on and get that sweet end-game double point bonus!

A game near the start, an octopus and a warthog have been added and then crossbred.

Traditionally I’m not a huge fan of games that simply require you to get a high score, but beasts of balance does something else which I find hugely addicting. There is an in-app record of every beast that you have created and I simply “Gotta catch ‘em all”! Animals can evolve in beasts of balance when they get above a point threshold, in addition you can use the migrate piece to move an animal from one of the three areas to another. For example if you move an eagle from the Air to the Sea it becomes a seagull... which is a kind of beaked fish. Finally, and probably most importantly, is the cross piece, which allows two animals to “create an offspring”. Not only are the offspring worth a sum of their parents points values, but they are also a unique freak of nature new species, which can also be evolved or migrated to find even more new species.

A page from the bestiary, here you can see some of the basic migrate animals that has been made, such as land-sharks and sea warthogs.

Beasts of Balance is very quick to play, with games lasting about 20 minutes it’s incredibly tempting to quickly set up for another. The in-app art is endearing, if a little simple, but the sculpting of the pieces themselves is great. All in all it’s clearly a high quality product, though this is reflected in it’s price. At an RRP of £70 it’s clear that all the computer-chipped, weighted objects come at a premium. Hard core gamers will probably find this a shallow experience, and if you are simply looking to get the highest score possible you can quickly work out what tactics will work best. However if you were ever the kind of person that wanted to fill their pokedex, this is the game for you!

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