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 28 September 2017

Thoughts from The Yellow Meeple:- Delve


Publisher: Indie Boards and Cards

DesignerRichard Launius, Pete Shirey

Delve is a competitive tile-laying game for 2-4 players which throws in a small story-telling element. Each player is takes a fantasy themed team of adventurers and you are all exploring a cave or dungeon and dropping of members of your delving team to try and obtain the gold and tresures that lie within, guarded by different monsters and characters.

Each player takes a team of delvers, each with slightly different fighting abilities. You have a hand of three room tiles and on your turn, you choose to take one and add it to the dungeon with the only placement rule being that you cannot block off the black corridors. You can place one adventurer token onto a room on the tile you placed. If you finish a room then it 'scores'.

During scoring, if you're on your own in a room then someone reads out a story card and you can choose the 'run away' option or the 'fight' option. They have different levels of difficulty, which are hinted at by the story elements eg. a dragon or some unarmed witches. If you end up in a fight or another type of test then you roll the dice indicated on your adventurer tokens in the room to try and beat the result on the story card and claim the treasure indicated on all of the tiles that make up that room. The game is slightly more interesting when you are in a completed room with another player when you will fight each other for the majority of the treasure. The game ends when you have used all the tiles or when you have placed enough tiles with a sun symbol on them. For me, the end of this game takes far too long to come! The game becomes very repetitive and I would much rather the pile of tiles was about half the height. 
A game in it's early stages, with a map that I unfortunately think is really boring and ugly.
Initially, Delve seems to build on the simple tile placement in games like Carcassonne, adding theme (albeit generic fantasy), story and dice-rolling for people who enjoy dice as a combat mechnism. Unfortunately I don't feel like the promise of Delve is delivered and there are a number of reasons why. Firstly, the lack of placement rules almost makes it too easy to finish rooms, but also really easy to add to a room and put a token in it so that you will get a share of the spoils. I think it is also part of the problem in making the board look quite messy as you build it out. The other problem is that you create very geometric rooms that often look very disjointed. The board just looks ugly when you build it with very bland colours and no interesting art on the tiles.

Since we typically play with two players, I would also advise against Delve as a two player game. There is just not enough comptetion for the different rooms on the board and it's always worth putting an available adventurer into a large, lucrative room, just to get one quarter of the treasure. However, I don't want to play this game with more players either. I already find that the game drags and I can't imagine having 50% or 100% more downtime.
The four different teams of adventurers, each with their own special ability, which is a unique way to use XP tokens, and a different distribtuion of adventurer types.
Although components and artwork are not my first consideration when forming an opinion of a game, I really don't like the way that this game looks on the table. The box has pixelated graphics, the map looks disjointed and unimpressive and I had to spend a lot of time putting stickers onto poker chips before I could play the game. Delve was originally a Kickstarter game before it got a general release and so the poor quality artwork and components is even more of a surprise to me. From established publishers, like Indie Boards and Cards, I tend to expect that a game that exceeds its funding goal by a factor of three might be of higher quality.

As I'm sure you can tell, I found Delve very disappointing. I am normally a fan of tile placement games, but the ability to add many tokens into one space starts to edge towards an area control mechanism that I am not a fan of. The amount of luck in the game both with dice rolling and drawing from the treasure deck also ruins any sense of control over how well you are playing. I cannot recommend Delve, but I do hope that someone tries something similar with tile laying in the future, but produces it better and puts a lot less luck into the mix. From the Yellow Meeple, Delve only gets a 4/10.

Delve was a review copy provided by Esdevium Games Ltd. It is available for an RRP of £29.99 at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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