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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Saturday 30 December 2017

The Yellow Meeple's First Impressions:- 24th December - 27th December 2017

Over the Christmas period we typically only get the chance to play lighter favourites with our families, and so far we've played Qwirkle and Azul which have been a hit. However, on Boxing Day, we got the opportunity to indulge in some new games at Coffee and Dice - a board game cafe in Bournemouth. It was great to try some of the games that they managed to bring home from Essen that haven't reached a broad circulation in the UK yet.

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

  • Meeple Circus is a dexterity game with a circus theme. Over the course of three rounds you'll each select pieces, such as animals acrobats, balls and other performers and each round you'll have a set amount of time to build what you can out of your pieces to achieve certain scoring goals. There is also general scoring available for having different coloured acrobats in different locations eg. on the ground, not on the ground and as high as possible. Each round adds more pieces and specialist objectives or challenges. The circus theme is great for a dexterity game, however with two players and in a public place, I think some of the fun was lacking and it was a bit easy - we couldn't play the soundtrack too loud and silly challenges where you call out or make certain actions just felt weird with two people. Meeple Circus is a fine dexterity game, but it's quite small and lacks some wow factor for me. I'd happily play again but don't need to own this one.
  • Okey Dokey is a cooperative card game which reminds me a little of 'The Game'. You are trying to lay out cards in 4 suits in ascending order but you only have a limited hand size and only limited communication is allowed. Cards are numbered 1-8 and you can rest each row twice, but you must reset one row every 4 turns and you must build the columns one at a time. We lost our first game, but I have a feeling it will be our last. It just wasn't interesting to us, and for a similar experience with a more satisfying puzzle, I'd rather play Hanabi and be clear about the communication rules. I just don't think Okey Dokey will hold our interest.
  • Favelas is an abstract puzzle in which you have a board representing different square roofs and add other colourful rooms to the board throughout the game. Most tiles have two squares in two colours and tiles must be placed on top of others on your board. If you make a colour match you'll manipulate the score dice in that colour. At the end of each round, based on a top-down view of your board, the number of pips on the dice show how many points will be awarded to the player with the most squares in the corresponding colour. We played with two players, which I don't feel worked very well because almost every colour resulted in a draw. With more players I believe there will be more effort to score single colours, rather than trying to do your best with all five. Overall though, Favelas is a game that looks great on the table but just doesn't offer great gameplay for us.
  • The Quest for El Dorado is a deck-building racing game that I've been keen to try after it was nominated for the Spiel des Jahres award in 2017. The board is a series of hexagonal tiles, each with a hexagonal grid of different terrain. The tiles get progressively harder by demanding higher value cards for you to enter them. Your cards typically represent gold, a machete or a paddle of differing values. Gold cards are needed to cross the board but can also be used to buy better cards from the market to improve your deck. There are some cards available in the market that allow you to draw extra card or trash cards from your deck, as it typical for most deck-builders. The game is quick and it's definitely light, but it was nice to find another 'deck-builder with a purpose' and I'd be happy to play The Quest for El Dorado again.
  • Bunny Kingdom is a game that's definitely been getting some good press since its release at Essen, but any game that calls itself area control makes me nervous. I was happy we got to try before we buy with this game. In Bunny Kingdom you draft cards which enable you to either take control of a square of the grid board, add resources or a city to an area you control, or take a parchment for end game points. At the end of each of the four rounds, each joined group of land you own scores for the number of cities multiplies by number of unique resources. We were very happy to find that this was not a compettiive area control game, no-one can take territory away from you, except for your camps. With two players we found the drafting rules quite over complicated, but setting that aside, we found the game really interesting and quite puzzly. There's definitely some luck in whether you can see cards that help you join your territory together, but it didn't adversely affect our game and we are very happy to add Bunny Kingdom to our collection.
  • Terraforming Mars: Venus Next is an expansion that we probably didn't need. We've played Terraforming Mars plenty of times but we've only has the chance to play the last expansion once. Nevertheless, Venus Next is really easy to incorporate into the game. It adds more cards and an extra track to work with, which is the track for terraforming Venus. The new cards increase the Venus track, which increases your terraforming rating, but also introduces Floaters - a resource similar to microbes which exist on your ongoing cards. This new expansion doesn't change much, but it adds additional variety to the game and brings it back to the table, which is great for a game we already love.

    Hoepfully we can play a few more games before this festive season is over. After all, my parents asked me to bring home a huge bag of games - I am very proud of my Mum! Stay tuned this week for our top ten games of 2017, as well as our usual reviews.

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