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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Sunday 22 October 2017

Amy's Top 10 Board Games (2017 Edition)

It's been almost 2 years since I last took a long, hard look at our game collection and devised a top 10 list. In that time I've played countless new games, so have my favourites changed all that much? Before we get to the list I want to bring up one honourable mention:

Escape Room: The Game is the first escape room boardgame I’ve played that *truly* feels like an escape room. The puzzles are perfectly tooled to be a challenge but not be too hard and should you get stuck the hint system is well designed to drip feed you help as you need it. That being said it is only 4 games, not all of which are as good as the first. It’s not that easy to get in the UK which means we won’t be getting the expansions any time soon. Whilst there is plenty of quality, there simply isn’t enough quantity for this game to make the list.

Now onto the Top 10;

New to my list, Ravens of Thri Sahashri is a very interesting cooperative puzzle game for 2. It’s also hard, unbelievably hard! Part of the difficulty does come from a rule book that doesn’t do a great job of explaining the game. But once you understand what is going on the game becomes incredibly engaging. The subtlety that you have to use to feed the other player information is incredibly satisfying when it works, and equally frustrating when they fail to notice. Ravens is a game which we will pick up and play constantly for a couple of days before giving ourselves a break. I think our win rate is currently around 33%!

New to the list, Takenoko is a game about pandas, the feeding thereof, and trying to create a bamboo garden. It’s a tile laying game that has you creating towers of wooden tokens that represent bamboo, you will need to get points from building specific towers, but also by feeding the panda. The trick of the game is trying to achieve what you want, while using the panda to eat down the bamboo that your opponents are trying to grow to slow them down. Takenoko is adorable in theme, beautiful on the table and a joy to play, as well as being fairly easy to pick up for new players.

Another new appearance on my list is Wasteland Express Delivery Service - a post apocalyptic pick up and deliver game for up to 4. We are lucky enough to have a friend who got an early copy of Wasteland Express and then lent it to us for an extended period. I’ve never seen a game so elegantly combine theme and gameplay into one beautiful whole. Every mechanic makes sense and nothing is over-complicated. There is a heck of a lot going on, but we’ve managed to get a 2 player game out in 30 mins. I’m very eager to for my own copy to arrive from Pandasaurus Games and I can easily see it creeping up this list!

Moving up 1 spot from my last top 10, Mysterium is still a consistently great game. I love being the ghost and rejoicing/despairing in your friends ability to understand your clues. But that’s not to say I don’t enjoy being the person who has to decipher how a picture of a rat in a suit is meant to relate to any of the murder weapons! It works well at all player counts,especially if people are in the mood to give each other their opinions on what their cards may mean. It also serves up to 7, which is a surprisingly convenient number.

Moving down one from last time, Telestrations is a combination of Pictionary and Chinese whispers for up to 8 players. I cannot draw to save my life, but that’s okay, because neither can any of my friends. In fact even my one friend who can draw struggles when presented with a time limit. Fortunately the worse you are at drawing the more fun you’ll have with this game. Telestrations is a wonderful party game that always makes the room laugh out loud. I’m particularly happy that Fi managed to pick up the 12 player pack while in Canada. The more hilarious drawings and guesses in a round the better!

Up four places from my last list, Ticket to Ride is certainly a modern classic at this point. There are so many different versions that you are spoilt for choice, but I’ve narrowed it down to Germany for the core game and the UK map for an expansion. Ticket To Ride Germany adds passengers which gives an alternative thing to aim for, encourages the building of lots of small routes rather than saving up for the big ones, which in my mind brings some balance to the game. The UK map is a more complex experience and the one I’d recommend to play with experienced gamers. My favourite part is the inclusion of a progression system that allows you to customise the way you play and opens up new parts of the map.

New to the list Terraforming Mars is a game that took the world by storm. The premise is simple, you play as a company seeking to terraform the red planet in order to make it habitable for humans. You will all work together to increase the oxygen levels, surface temperature and reintroduce liquid water to the planet. But it’s not a cooperative game, you will be fighting to control territory on the planet, create industry to make resources and money and ultimately be the company that has the largest presence on Mars. Terraforming Mars has a theme that I love, but also has great mechanics to back it up, I strongly recommend giving it a try, I just wish they had put a bit more effort into making the game cards a little prettier.

Moving up one place from last year we have Flash Point: Fire Rescue, a cooperative game where you play as firefighters trying to save people from a house fire. Flash point has a great set of characters that are all unique enough to really make an impact on the game. It also has a theme that is extremely relatable and grounded in reality, yet makes you feel like the hero that a firefighter is! The game plays incredibly well, with dice rolls dictating the fire’s spread you can never be certain that you are safe for even a round.

Staying still at number 2, Pandemic Legacy is a cooperative campaign game that destroys itself as you play. You only get one play through, but with 12-24 games honestly I don’t think you can complain about the length of the game. If you have played pandemic and in any way enjoyed it you have to try and get a group together to play the legacy version. Pandemic Legacy is probably the best gaming experience I have had, but since it’s now over (until season 2) it can’t quite take the top spot.

Still my number 1 after all this time X-Com: The Board Game is a cooperative game based upon the recent re-imagining of the computer game series. The game is asymmetric with each playing taking the responsibility of one part of the X-Com organisation, but you have to work together to have any hope of success. The genius of X-Com is a real-time app driven phase in which you plan what you are going to do, followed by a non-real-time phase where you see what actually happened with the troops you assigned. I can’t recommend X-Com: The Board Game enough, it’s a brilliant co-op game that keeps you right on your toes all the way through, especially on the harder difficulties!

Finally I’d like to take a quick look at the the games we’ve lost from the list, I’ll keep this brief, so here goes:

Imperial Assault has fallen on the wayside after 2 full campaigns, I do hope to pick up the 2-player mode again soon, but we simply don’t play it at the moment. Ticket to Ride: Europe has been replaced with Germany for me, Europe has tunnels which make it more complex for new players, but also has stations which make it far too easy to get out of a bind. Forbidden Desert has joined it’s brother Forbidden Island in the pile of Co-ops that we’ve “done”. It’s still a good game, but we’ve reached a point that replaying it just doesn’t have the joy it once did. Marvel Dice Masters is still a game that I love, it’s only just dropped off the list, unfortunately with our collection growing we can’t play this as much as we used to, there’s only so much time to play! Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game has always been a tricky one for me, while I do really enjoy the good games, we’ve now had quite a number of bad games that just drag on and on, I think we need to do more of the missions and less of the raw combat games to get the fun back. But the game is simply too inconsistent for me to be in my top 10.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't heard of the Ravens of Thri. The name alone has me intrigue. Great list and thanks for sharing!