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

Saturday 21 October 2017

The Yellow Meeple's First Impressions:- 16th - 18th October 2017

We were hoping to tour the board game cafes in the North West of England this week, but unfortunately things haven't been going our way (in particular a failed trip to Liverpool where both cafes were closed). However, we still had a great time visiting Fan Boy 3 in Manchester - a board game store that offers tables for gaming from their modest sized gaming library. We had a great time playing some new games and talking with the owners about the challenges of running a friendly local game store or a board game cafe.

So, here's the Yellow Meeple's first impressions;

  • Balloon Cup is a game that Eric Summerer (The Dice Tower) put on my radar. It's one of the KOSMOS 2-player line and since we play two player a lot, I wanted to give it a go. In Balloon Cup, you each have a hand on cards with different colours and numbers which you play onto 4 bases. Each base will only allow you to play specific colours and will either be asking for the lowest total or highest total. What makes the game interesting is that you can play on your own side of the board or you can attack your opponent, for example playing the highest number card on a tile that wants low numbers. For me, Balloon Cup is a perfectly OK card game, but small 2-player only games is a crowded market now and there's just other games I'd rather play.
  • Via Nebula is a game I remember hearing about and then finding that it was out of stock. I was very happy to see a copy in the game library at Fan Boy 3 and even happier to see a copy in stock in case we enjoyed it. In Via Nebula you have to obtain resources then build up a network of routes through the mist to transport them to your building sites. Once you have all of the right resources at a building site you can build a building for a combination of points and a special ability. That;s really all there is to the game, it's beautifully simple, but really satisfying. We only played with two players and even then we saw the push and pull of being able to take resources from other players, potentially giving them a benefit but also saving you time. Via Nebula is yet another pick up and deliver game we love and we bought that copy on the shelf!
  • New York Slice is a game that uses the 'I-split-you-choose' mechanic - one not used frequently in board games. As you might expect, the game is about pizza - it even comes in a pizza style box, and the tiles are slices of pizza. Unfortunately in terms of graphic style I really don't like the fact that the tiles are photographs of pizza, rather than artwork, which can make them harder to distinguish. We played with two players, which definitely won't be where this game shines, but if it doesn't work then it shouldn't be written on the box! The game cam down to just four decisions - two splits per person and two choices of pizza half per person, which is just too few decisions and too intense for me to make an enjoyable game. Although I'm sure more players would be an improvement, it's just not an interesting game to me.
  • Valeria Card Kingdoms is the last Valeria game we were left to try and the one I was most excited about. In Valeria Card Kingdoms you roll two dice per turn to try and activate the characters you own to earn different resources. You can use these resources to buy more characters, either focusing to ensure big wins when the dice roll your way or diversifying to ensure the dice roll your way more often. To gain victory points you either have to attach monsters or buy a domain - both of which also have special abilities or rewards. It's been called a Machi Koro killer and now I see why, it's far more focused on how to make the best of your dice and resources rather than being a bit too luck heavy. Saving resources from round-to-round and a small bonus if you don't roll any matches really help this, as well as your special end game goal. I was quite keen to add this to our collection, but Amy made the comparison to Dice Forge, which, although no immediately obvious, is pretty similar in the way you roll dice to obtain different resources and then buy more cards or new dice faces.
  • Qwordie was a charity shop find from our unsuccessful trip to Liverpool board game cafes. Qwordie is published by Big Potato Games and is a mixture of a trivia game and a word game. There are question cards, such as first names of Wimbledon tennis champions where there are a limited number of correct answers - you then need to be the first to spell a correct answer, following a series of rules for how you acquire letters. The letters you use become your score, so there is an incentive to spell a longer answer, but also the game self balances because once you've used your letters, they're removed from your pool, meaning all other players have a larger pool to spell with. I was actually surprised by how well designed this game was and it was nice to see a new take on making a trivia game more than just a test of who knows more. Unfortunately Amy hates trivia in any form so we probably won't keep it, but for me Qwordie is a good family game.
Although we've not managed to go to as many venues as we hoped, we've still had a great week of gaming and have been playing many favourites together and sometimes with my Mum, who is particularly improving at Ticket to Ride Germany. On Friday we are definitely heading to Thirsty Meeples in Oxford and hopefully we can try many games from my very long list! We're also heading home to some missed deliveries, including Rhino Hero Super Battle, which I'm very, very excited to play!

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