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 29 December 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Covalence

Game: Covalence: A Molecule Building Game

Publisher: Genius Games

Designer: John Coveyou

Year: 2016

Genius Games create board and card games that provide educational value in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects. But, these aren't your standard educational games - they're good modern board games first and science knowledge is embedded in the process of playing the game.

Covalence focuses on organic chemistry. As the name suggests, the game teaches players about covalent bonding and correctly structuring molecules. It's a cooperative card game where 2-4 players work together to accurately build a number of secret organic molecules.

Thursday 27 December 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Pandemic Fall of Rome

Game: Pandemic Fall of Rome

Publisher: Z-Man Games

Designer:  Matt Leacock & Paolo Mori

Year: 2018

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Pandemic. Pandemic is many people's first experience of cooperative gaming and it has had a big part in defining that genre of tabletop gaming. You can now buy the very attractive looking 10th anniversary edition, but if you're looking for something a little different, then Pandemic: Fall of Rome is one of a number of slight variations that have been released in the last couple of years. Pandemic Fall of Rome is the first box with the label "Survival Series" - seemingly sparking a new range of games that might not all be about disease.

Pandemic: Fall of Rome is set in the time of the Roman Empire. A weakened military has left your borders open to invasion from a myriad of forces such as the Anglo-Saxons, Goths, Vandals, and Huns. In order to defend Rome, you will march through the land recruiting armies, fortifying cities and fending off the invading hordes.

Tuesday 25 December 2018

Romanes Eunt Domus:- Pandemic Fall of Rome

Game: Pandemic Fall of Rome

Publisher: Z-Man Games

Designer:  Matt Leacock & Paolo Mori

Year: 2018

Pandemic Fall of Rome is a 1-5 player cooperative game where you take control of Roman leaders and attempt to rally your armies to defend against the raging barbarians before Rome can be overrun. While you could, in theory, kill all the barbarians, life can become a lot easier if you manage to form an alliance with at lease some of them, allowing you to recruit their troops into your legions, even if it doesn't stop them trying to sack Rome...

Pandemic Fall of Rome follows the common Pandemic playstyle: There are 5 colours of cubes, and should you collect enough player cards in their colour then you can ally with that colour, which lowers, though doesn't remove, their threat. However while the grand picture may be similar, the details are all very different. Instead of being able to simply remove cubes, you'll need to bring legions with you. When trying to defeat barbarians you roll 1 die per legion with you (up to 3), each die can vary from 2 dead barbarians to a dead legion with no barbarians killed. Should you ever run out of legions then you'll need to return to/construct a fort to recruit new soldiers from. Legions also serve as a defence mechanism, preventing barbarian cubes being placed in their city, though legions die when then do this, so you have to keep your defensive line well maintained.

Saturday 22 December 2018

Amy's Top Ten Board Games (2018 Edition)

It’s been a little over a year since I last compiled a top 10, and since then our game collection has changed expanded by a ridiculous amount. Every year making this list gets harder and harder as I’ve simply played more and more fantastic games. Before we get onto the list proper I’ve got a pair of honourable mentions:

Formerly my number 2, Pandemic Legacy has now fallen off the list, this shouldn't be taken as a slight to the game, but rather that it seems futile to have a game in my top 10 that I probably can't play again until I start getting old enough to lose my memory. Pandemic Legacy is a great experience and I highly recommend playing both seasons if you even slightly enjoy playing Pandemic.

My number 11 is Albedo, but I simply can’t go without mentioning it. Albedo is a very small print run game with a recent expansion from Kickstarter that barely funded. The rules aren’t the easiest read in the world, but once you are playing it you’ll find it has some incredible unique twists on the deck-building genre. Your starting deck isn’t big enough to fill your hand twice, so if you recruit a new card turn 1 then you might have it turn 2! You have multiple targets to send your troops to, giving you the choice of focusing on one or spreading thin for lesser rewards. Many of your cards have duel uses, either as air forces (let you go first) or ground forces (let you get bigger rewards). If you ever get the chance to play this game then take it!

Friday 21 December 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Treasure Island

Game: Treasure Island

Publisher: Matagot

Designer: Marc Paquien

Year: 2018

Matagot, as a publisher, seem to really enjoy publishing games with dry erase boards and markers! Captain Sonar certainly made a big splash, with real-time submarine hunting a la Battleship. However, we preferred the slightly more sedate pace of Sonar - the family edition, which we were able to play with 2 players.

With their latest release, Treasure Island, you can certainly see some similarities with the style of game. With the pirate theme, and beautiful artwork of Vincent Dutrait, Treasure Island delivers a treasure hunt that you will seek to solve with geometry and coloured pens!

Thursday 20 December 2018

Thoughts from The Yellow Meeple:- Dice Settlers

Game: Dice Settlers

Publisher: NSKN Games

Designer: Dávid Turczi

Year: 2018

Dice Settlers originally caught our eye on Kickstarter because it is designed by one of our favourite designers, David Turczi. With our household policy of ‘one Kickstarter per month’, we ultimately didn’t back the game because I didn’t like how the printed dice looked. (A fickle reason but sometimes it’s very hard to limit yourself to just one project per month!) It turns out that the dice look great and whole game’s art and production is really high quality.

Dice Settlers was released at Essen this year, as part of a one-two punch from NSKN games who also released Teotihuacan. Both of these very popular games will now be sold with the Board & Dice logo after a recent merger between the two publishers.

Tuesday 18 December 2018

Don't Settle for Less:- Dice Settlers

Game: Dice Settlers

Publisher: NSKN Games

Designer: Dávid Turczi

Year: 2018

Dice Settlers is a 1-4 player bag-building dice game with area control and exploration elements. As you play you will use your dice to upgrade your dice pool, settle new lands, research new technology and fight for control of the new lands with the highest value.

Each turn consists of a rolling phase and an action phase. During the rolling phase you will draw a number of dice from your bag, the exact number can vary depending on territory you control and research you have done. You then roll these dice and decide if you want to spend any dice faces for re-rolls or drawing extra dice from your bag. Once you have settled on your final results then you move on to the action phase. During the action phase players take turns performing 1 action by spending sets of dice with the same face. You only get 2 actions a turn through so it's important to try and manipulate your dice to be as potent as possible.

Sunday 16 December 2018

Top Ten Board Game Stocking Stuffers for Christmas 2018

If you're anything like me, you're currently a little stressed about buying last minute Christmas gifts. Buying for gamers can be hard, but buying a small gift to introduce your friends or family to your board gaming hobby could really bring joy on Christmas day.

Our list of 10 stocking stuffers has something for everyone - families, children and even seasoned gamers. Plus, they should all be available for under £20/$25.

     1. The Mind was a surprise hit for us this year. It's such an amazingly simple concept, only requiring you to play the cards in your collective hands in ascending numerical order. However, the catch is that you can't talk, so you simply have to read each others minds and judge your timing perfectly to progress through the rounds of the game. We've found that The Mind works well as a couple's game, as well as with friends and family. It's addictive, portable and never fails to get a group of players laughing and smiling around the table.

     2. Rhino Hero is a staple of our board game collection. It's a kids game that transcends the boundaries of age. I often describe Rhino Hero as 'reverse Jenga'. You're building up a tower using folded cards creating walls and floors in a tall apartment block. Much like Uno, you have a hand of cards you're trying to get rid of and those cards allow you to reverse turn order, skip people's turns or force players to add the wooden rhino figure to the unstable tower. 9 times out of ten, the game results in the loser knocking over the tower, but sometimes you run out of cards and have a spectacular tower on your table. Rhino Hero is an evergreen title with my work board game group and is amazing value for a family dexterity game.

     3. Illusion is another small card game from the designer of The Mind. Once again its an unbelievably simple idea - put cards in order based on the % of a certain colour in their abstract design. This simplicity really means that anyone can play, but even as big board gamers we find the game really fun. It's all about judgement on whether the current timeline of cards is right or wrong before you choose to add another card into the line up. You can even be quite tactical with the way you play. Illusion has a been a favourite travel card game for our family this year.

     4. Harvest Dice is a roll-and-write game - a game where you roll some dice and use the results to fill in a paper sheet in front of you. In Harvest Dice you are planting a vegetable patch with tomatoes, lettuce and carrots. The colour of the dice describes the type of vegetable and the value of the dice rolled describes where you can draw a picture of that vegetable in your patch. The game is easy to teach, but still has some interesting decisions along the way. The endearing theme, and cute pig character, also helps the game to appeal to a family audience. If your family enjoy Yahtzee, then Harvest Dice would be an interesting next step into the world of modern board gaming.

     5. Star Realms is widely recognised as a fantastic 2-player deck-building game. Even with many, many other options, it's a game that we return to because it's quick to play and really portable. Star Realms is still our favourite version of the game, but Hero Realms is an option if you're buying for someone who prefers fantasy over the space theme. If you're looking for a larger gift then there is plenty of additional content for both games that adds in the ability to play with more players, or cooperatively - really expanding the experience.

     6. Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Champions is a trading card game, but you only require two different base boxes to get started and have a really fun two player game. I'd highly recommend the game for two siblings or for a parent or child who would enjoy the fantasy theme. Age of Sigmar Champions stands out from the crowd of similar trading cards games with some really unique spatial mechanisms and different ways to play each faction. Since the game is still relatively new, you also won't be miles behind the crowd in terms of your deck-building if you want to get more involved in the organised play scene.

     7. Hanabi is a very unique cooperative card game. As a team, you are trying to build fireworks by playing cards into stacks by colour that are played in order from 1-5. The catch is that you have no idea what is in your hand, because you hold them backwards. You need to help the other players to know what to play by giving limited clues. Mistakes will quickly cause an explosion, so logical thinking and clear communication is key to succeeding in Hanabi. We enjoy it most with two players, and find that it's great for couples who start to learn how each other think. However, the game can support up to 5 players.

     8. EXIT: The Game is a series of games that bring you the experience of an escape room in a very small box. There are now nine different games available with a range of difficulties to suit most groups. It's amazing how many different puzzles have been crammed into this series, using all sorts of different skills like maths, logic, brainteasers and language, as well as making you think outside the box. Our recommendation for a first game would the Dead Man on the Orient Express, both because the puzzles are at a good level of challenge and the game had a murder mystery story that helps the game to appeal to a wider audience.

     9. Albedo is a game for the gamers in your life. It's a little known game from a small publisher, but it's swift become one of our favourites. If you have friends or family who enjoy deck-building games like Dominion, then Albedo uses similar mechanisms to offer something very unique. It has a space theme and demands really tactical use of your hand of cards to try and outbid other players for the resources or actions you want each turn. It's a quick game and a very small box, but the experience feels much bigger than many small games. Albedo is a little harder to find than most games on this list, but you can pick up a copy online here.

     10. Fugitive is another two player game that offers something new and different. It's a deduction game where one player is a fugitive trying to avoid getting caught by the other player. By playing cards and bluffing, the fugitive tries to quickly travel to the escape route, whilst the law enforcement try to track them by counting the speed of their movement and acquiring some hidden information about locations the fugitive has not visited.  It's a very small card game that delivers really well on its theme with great artwork and clever design and would be a great gift for a gaming couple.

Hopefully you found some inspiration on our list! Wishing you a fantastic festive season from The Game Shelf!

Saturday 15 December 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- ICECOOL2


Publisher: Brain Games

Designer: Brian Gomez

Year: 2018

ICECOOL2 is the sequel to the huge hit game ICECOOL which won the Kinderspiel des Jahres in 2017. Don't let that children's game title fool you though, ICECOOL has been a huge hit with friends, family and work colleagues and is one of our favourite dexterity games. The sequel promises new game modes, as well as the opportunity to play with 8 players if you combine both ICECOOL and ICECOOL2.

Get your skates on, and let's take a look at what's new!

Thursday 13 December 2018

Thoughts from The Yellow Meeple:- Whistle Stop: Rocky Mountains

Game: Whistle Stop: Rocky Mountains

Publisher: Bézier Games

Designer: Scott Caputo

Year: 2018

Last year Whistle Stop made it into my top ten board games of 2017. It was one of two games that opened our eyes to pick up and deliver mechanisms and cemented it into one of our favourite mechanisms that we always look out for. I even found myself considering trying out an 18XX game this year - then I saw one and backed away.

However, in a sad turn to this story about a great game, that inspired a love for a whole genre, I am ashamed to admit that since the end of 2017, Whistle Stop hasn't hit the table. As board game reviewers, we are quickly sucked up into the cult of the new - seeking out exciting new games. It often takes an expansion to bring an 'older' game back to the table.

Whistle Stop: Rocky Mountains arrived on our doorstep and breathed new life into Whistle Stop, but did it enrich our experience?

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Far Over the Misty Mountains Cold:- Whistle Stop: Rocky Mountains

Game: Whistle Stop: Rocky Mountains

Publisher: Bézier Games

Designer: Scott Caputo

Year: 2018

Rocky Mountains Expansion is an expansion to the 2017 train game Whistle Stop. The core gameplay of trying to get your trains from one side of the board to another, trading in goods along the way continue. But this time someone put a mountain range in your way. How inconvenient! Rocky Mountains physically makes the game bigger by adding a 3 tile wide extension to the game board. This mountain is covered in tricky terrain that will be taxing to lay dow new tracks, however with the promise of gold and other valuables in the foothills it might jsut be worth the reward!

In addition there are a variety of new tiles added to the game, such as tracks with stops that reward you whistles or give you a choice about which resource to receive. Others are new special tiles which allow for selling your ties from your hand for instant resources or trading shares for gold! There are also a new set of final stops offering varies rewards, a new company to gain shares in and several new upgrades to fight over.

Sunday 9 December 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- King's Forge

Game: King's Forge

Publisher: Starling Games

Designer: Nick Sibicky

Year: 2014

A new third edition of King's Forge was just released by Starling Games. It's a game that has received a lot of support through at least four Kickstarter campaigns for new editions and expansions, but it has only recently caught our attention. We've had the chance to play the latest edition, along with 'Gold', the newest expansion.

King's Forge is a 2-4 player game of pool building, dice allocation and set collection, in which players are blacksmiths racing to be the first to craft a number of wondrous items to please the King. Through a series of gathering and crafting actions you'll start to gain access to more precious materials to allow you to compete in making the most ornate items to suit the King's ever more demanding whims!

Thursday 6 December 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Gunkimono

Game: Gunkimono

Publisher: Renegade Game Studios

Designer: Jeffrey D. Allers

Year: 2018

Gunkimono is a re implementation of Heartland - a Pegasus Spiele title from 2009. We actually tried Heartland at a board game day earlier this year and really enjoyed it, so we were excited to see the announcement of an updated edition. Heartland's theme was farming and it had a very generic boring box cover and uninspiring overall look. Gunkimono changes the theme to Japanese samurais, which gives a more exciting box cover, but isn't a theme with instant appeal for us, nor does it particularly make thematic sense for a tile laying and stacking game.

With that said, we're still super glad that a reprint has made the game more available and we were looking forward to the chance to play some more. let's see how the game plays.

Tuesday 4 December 2018

Do-Re-Mi-Bushi-do:- Gunkimono

Game: Gunkimono

Publisher: Renegade Game Studios

Designer: Jeffrey D. Allers

Year: 2018

Gunkimino is a 2-5 player tile laying game in which you seek to build the largest army of warriors and conquer feudal Japan. It's a remake of Heartland, a game about farming, which begs the question: is war more appealing than potatoes? You'll manage your troops by laying tiles onto a puzzle board and then choose to either harness them for honour or for points, finding the proper balance between honourable actions and outright war is important to win.

On your turn you will place one of 3 tiles from your hand. The tiles are reminiscent of dominoes with 2 separate coloured sections on them. The rules for tile placement are fairly lax; you must place on a level ground (though you can manipulate this a little) and you cannot cover up a colour with the same colour. After placement you get a choice for each colour on your tile, either gain the number of honour points on the tile or you gain points equal to the number of squares of that colour that are now touching. The honor track is split into 5 for the 5 colours and each column is a race to the top where bonus points sit waiting. However should you get enough honor on all 5 tracks then you earn a fort.

Monday 3 December 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Planet

Game: Planet

Publisher: Blue Orange Games

Designer: Urtis Šulinskas

Year: 2018

Blue Orange Games publish games that range from simple kids games to some timeless family classics, such as Kingdomino and New York 1901. Planet falls into that family category, with it's amazing table appeal and simple gameplay.

We first spotted Planet at Tabletop Gaming Live convention in London where it was such a popular demo that we never got a seat at the table! That's certainly testament to it's visual presence and accessibility.

In Planet, you are presented with dodecahedrons with magnetic faces, and a bunch of magnet tiles. Over the course of the game, you'll cover your empty planet with twelve pentagonal tiles, showing five potential types of terrain. With this unique appearance, the game could easily be dismissed as a gimmick in the tile-laying world, but what does Planet have to offer in terms of gameplay?

Saturday 1 December 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Roll Player

Game: Roll Player

Publisher: Thunderworks Games

Designer: Keith Matejka

Year: 2016

Roll Player is a game of dice drafting, dice placement and RPG character creation. It's a game that originally passed us by because of its theme, but one that we were eventually introduced to and found its way into our collection. Creating a character for a fantasy RPG couldn't be further from an appealing theme for Fi, but the games mechanisms were interesting enough to overcome theme alone.

Although it released around the same time as Sagrada, a game with pretty similar mechanics and a much more appealing theme to Fi, with her architectural past, it is Roll Player that won us over, so much so that Fi has played it solo - something that we never do! So let's take a look and find out what's so interesting that she could learn the language of Race, Class, Alignments, Traits and Skills!

Thursday 29 November 2018

Thoughts from The Yellow Meeple:- The Estates

Game: The Estates

Publisher: Simply Complex (Capstone Games)

Designer: Klaus Zoch

Year: 2018

Capstone Games describe their 'Simply Complex' line as 'board games with a beautiful 3D table presence, relatively low rules overhead, and deep gameplay, accomplished in under one hour of play.' On first appearances, The Estates seems to tick both of these boxes, with great chunky pieces that definitely create a table presence as you stack them to create a skyline. The rulebook is also very light on information (almost too light at times), but it does get you playing quickly.

The Estates is a bidding game for 2-5 players. The players take on the role of investors seeking to make the most money by developing buildings in The Estates. By being the first to invest in the 6 competing building companies and being clever with your money to ensure their success, you have the chance to become the most affluent investor.

Tuesday 27 November 2018

100% Wooden Construction:-The Estates

Game: The Estates

Publisher: Simply Complex (Capstone Games)

Designer: Klaus Zoch

Year: 2018

The Estates is a 2-5 player city building auction game in which you take control of a real-estate magnate seeking to make the most money out of a new property development. Being the unscrupulous lot that you are you don't much care for the actual building permits you were assigned and will happily bribe your way to larger plots and build on designated green space. Unfortunately the Cruel and ruthless town planners are having none of it, and of the 3 rows of buildings only 2 will remain, with the 3rd row being torn down in a way that is highly unprofitable for the owners of said buildings.

At the start of the game 3 rows of building blocks will be laid out, each with numbers from 1-6 and one of 6 colours (with individual markings for colourblind players). In addition a bag will be filled with roof tiles (also numbered from 1-6), 3 building permit markers will be placed out along with a mayors hat and a cancel token. On your turn you will choose any one of these pieces (buildings must be at the edge of the rows, roofs are taken randomly from the bag) to auction. Players will then take turns bidding for the item or passing. Once a price is decided upon the active player has a choice: sell the item to the high bidder for the named price, or pay that price themselves in order to build it.

Saturday 24 November 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- Ragusa

Game: Ragusa

Publisher: Capstone Games & Braincrack Games

Designer: Fabio Lopiano

Year: 2019

One of our biggest surprise hits in gaming this year has been discovering Calimala - a first time design from Fabio Lopiano. We were super excited by the announcement of his second game, Ragusa, as well as the understanding that it was, again, a game that made euro games and worker placement interactive and engaging, even at higher player counts. Even better for us, it plays two players right out of the box, which is perhaps the only drawback we could find when we reviewed Calimala.

Ragusa is currently live on Kickstarter from publishers Braincrack Games and Capstone Games. Set in the city of Ragusa (now Dubrovnik), the game gives players the task of building the city in the 15th century, constructing its great towers, boosting trade with the East, and finding their fortunes. Over the course of 12 rounds you'll build up houses, towers and city walls and compete to become a successful merchant and/or landowner.

Thursday 22 November 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Coimbra

Game: Coimbra

Publisher: Eggertspiele

Designer: Flaminia Brasini and Virginio Gigli

Year: 2018

With critically acclaimed games like Lorenzo il Magnifico and Grand Austria Hotel, the partnership of Flaminia Brasini and Virginio Gigli as designers is enough to get many euro game fans interested in a game. Add to that some beautiful cover artwork from Chris Quilliams and plenty of advance hype as Eggertspiele's first board game release under Plan B Games and you have created a game that we have been hotly anticipating!

We first got a chance to play a couple of rounds of Coimbra at the UK Games Expo, after running to be the first at the demo table one morning. We were instantly taken with the great mix of complexity in the game with the simplicity of your turns, as well as the really colourful appearance and tactile components. We waited patiently when gamers at US conventions had access to early copies and now finally our time has some to see if the game holds up at two players and can stand out in the recent euro game crowd.

Tuesday 20 November 2018

Rolling in Influence:- Coimbra

Game: Coimbra

Publisher: Eggertspiele

Designer: Flaminia Brasini and Virginio Gigli

Year: 2018

Coimbra is a 2-4 player dice drafting game in which you will compete for the most influence with 4 factions of the city, while sending your pilgrim out to explore Portugal and bring back treasures from afar. This will be done by drafting and placing dice which then dictate which order players can recruit cards, how much they pay for the cards and what rewards they will gain at the end of the round. With shrewd choices, and perhaps a little luck, you can be the most influential person in Coimbra.

A round of Coimbra starts with 12 new characters being added to the market. There are 48 characters in the game (discounting the 8 starting characters), so a game will take place over 4 rounds. The 12 characters are split over 3 rows of 4. At the start of a round, all the dice in use are rolled and are drafted. When a player selects a die they place it inside one of their markers and then choose which of the 4 areas to place it in (the 3 market rows and the row for bonus tiles). When buying a character the highest die picks first (with order of placement breaking ties), while the lowest dice gets first pick of bonus tiles. However the number on the die also dictates how much you pay (either in money or guards depending on the character), getting first choice is expensive! When you gain a character, you first you gain from 1-4 influence in it's faction (a tracker on the right of the board) and then either gain its instant effect, or gain an ongoing or end-game bonus to use later.

Friday 16 November 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Once Upon A Castle

Game: Once Upon a Castle

Publisher: Blue Orange

Designer: Corentin Lebrat, Ludovic Maublanc

Year: 2018

Each player will build their ideal castle. You’ll construct majestic towers and beautifully decorated walls that will attract the population and build a ‘comfortable’ tower to house your less friendly guests. Whoever knows how to best exploit the resources of the region, and enlists the help of some high calibre guests, will draw the most beautiful castle in the kingdom!

The last 12 months have certainly been the year of the roll and write game. At Essen this year, there were probably 15-20 roll and write games released and, realistically, it’s hard to stand out from the crowd. It seems that there are at least three categories emerging; roll the dice and colour in squares or write numbers; roll the dice and do some Tetris; and roll the dice and the draw something that adds some theme to the game. Once Upon a Castle falls into the third category and really takes the bull by the horns – by dialing up the drawing aspect of the game, Once Upon a Castle really stands out! One side of your player sheet has the outline of a castle whilst the other side is basically a blank sheet of paper so that you can freestyle!

Thursday 15 November 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Gizmos

Game: Gizmos

Publisher: CMON

Designer: Phil Walker-Harding

Year: 2018

It was only two weeks ago that we featured a board game from Phil Walker-Harding. He is definitely a designer of the moment and Gizmos definitely has some buzz around it. On face value, Gizmos is reminiscent of Potion Explosion with a similar marble dispenser. When you open the box, there is first a craft project to overcome, which has you building the dispenser which then sits snugly into the well-designed insert.

The game itself doesn't share any similarity with Potion Explosion. Gizmos is a pure engine building game with the theme of building an engine...it's not really pretending to be anything else. The oversized marble dispenser, that reminds me of an arcade claw machine, is really the only nod to a fun theme, and to a certain extent it's a pretty unnecessary way to create a market of 6 randomised available resources and then a pool of random resources.

Engine building is certainly a favourite mechanic of mine, in games like Terraforming Mars or Alien Artifacts, so let's take a look at how Gizmos takes it back to basics.

Tuesday 13 November 2018

Great accessories for your thingamabobs:- Gizmos

Game: Gizmos

Publisher: CMON

Designer: Phil Walker-Harding

Year: 2018

Gizmos is a 2-4 player tableau building card game in which players will collect various energy spheres which they will then use to build gizmos. These gizmos each have a power which then allows for bigger and better turns. With clever planning your can outwit your fellow inventors and create the most wondrous collection of gizmos known to man!

Gizmos is set up with a large ball dispenser showing 6 marbles at any one time, a row of 3 markets of high, medium and low value cards and personal player boards including a storage ring to contain your marbles. Each turn players will perform 1 and only 1 action, however with clever use of your already built gizmos, this can cause chain reactions where other actions trigger too. The game ends when a player has either built four of the high value gizmos, or a grand total of all a player's built gizmos is met.

Monday 12 November 2018

The Yellow Meeple's First Impressions:- 10th - 11th November 2018

The first Kickstarter project I ever backed was for a board game cafe. When we backed DICE Portsmouth, we lived in Southampton, just 25 minutes down the road. Unfortunately, it took the team a long time to find premises and now we live quite a bit further away. This weekend we made our first visit and tied it in with a trip to see some old friends. The cafe is one of the best we've ever visited and you can find out more on our UK board game cafe listing.

Their shelves are very well stocked, so we got the chance to play a bunch of new games, so here are the Yellow Meeple's first impressions!

Saturday 10 November 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- Jabberwocky

Game: Jabberwocky

Publisher: Jellybean Games

Designer: Various

Year: 2019

Jabberwocky is a collection of small game which build on the model of The Lady and the Tiger, a game, also from Jellybean Games that we recently reviewed. The game contains a common set of components and with these components you can play various microgames, all from different designers.

The games in Jabberwocky are the result of design competition held during Summer 2018. Aspiring designers were given a basic set of components with which to design a new game. At the time of the game, there was no theme and so the resulting games are abstract in nature, but the winner and four other finalists made it into the box. The final game mimics the literary theme and eye-catching artwork that made The Lady and the Tiger stand out. Jabberwocky - themes on the Lewis Carroll nonsense poem is coming to Kickstarter in March 2019.

Friday 9 November 2018

The Yellow Meeple's First Impressions:- 1st - 7th November 2018

Although we're struggling slightly to make gaming time at the moment, we have made the time to visit The Ludoquist board game cafe twice in the last two weeks. Last week Amy played D&D whilst I had a board game night and this week we went along to their 1st birthday celebration with the goal of playing a couple of new releases.

So here are the Yellow Meeple's first impressions!

Thursday 8 November 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Founders of Gloomhaven

Game: Founders of Gloomhaven

Publisher: Cephalofair Games

Designer: Issac Childres

Year: 2018

Gloomhaven is a board game that took the world by storm. For an indie publisher like Cephalofair Games to come out of nowhere and produce two wildly successful Kickstarters, resulting in the #1 game on BoardGameGeek, is phenomenal!

The next game from Cephalofair Games certainly cashed in on the Gloomhaven name, but it was made very clear that this would be a very different kind of game. Although Founders of Gloomhaven is set in the same world, its a stark contrast to a fantasy dungeon crawl with it's city building, tile placement and heavy euro vibe! Although we didn't jump on the Kickstarter, I did get the chance to play a friend's Kickstarter copy and really loved it, so I was excited to introduce Amy to the game. After a few more plays a few opinions have changed, so let's take a closer look at Founders of Gloomhaven.

Tuesday 6 November 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- Welcome to DinoWorld

Game: Welcome to DinoWorld

Publisher: Alley Cat Games

Designer: James O'Connor, Nick Shaw, David Turczi

Year: 2019

Gen Can't is an event run each year where people who don't have the opportunity to attend Gen Con (a massive board game convention in the USA) can connect online, enter competitions and share photos and experiences. In recent years there has been  a game design competition associated with the event.

Welcome to DinoWorld, originally designed by James O'Conner, with art from Beth Sobel, won the roll and write game design competition in 2017. Alley Cat games have refreshed the game and are bringing it to Kickstarter during November 2018. It's definitely a slightly more meaty roll and write game with both basic and advance modes in the box. We love the theme and we're still riding the roll and write train, so we've taken a look the print and play in advance of the Kickstarter campaign.

All Roads lead to Gloom:- Founders of Gloomhaven

Game: Founders of Gloomhaven

Publisher: Cephalofair Games

Designer: Issac Childres

Year: 2018

Founders of Gloomhaven is a 1-4 player city building game in which you will create the infamous city of Gloomhaven. Being a multicultural metropolis Gloomhaven attracted all kinds of races right from the start. Each player will control one of these races, each with their own specialisms in producing resources, and seek to be the most influential race in Gloomhaven. This is achieved by using the unique scoring mechanism where points are given out to the people who own the resources required to build a new building, and further points being awarded further down the supply chain.

Turns in Founders of Gloomhaven use a action card system, each turn the active player will play 1 card from their hand giving them an action to perform. Typically the other players when have the choice to follow this action with a slightly less efficient version of the same action. Almost every card can instead be discarded for a basic action, which you'll sometimes need to do in order to most efficiently set up your turns. Eventually you will run low on cards, at which point you can refill your hand by starting a vote. Votes allow players to pick which new civic building should be added to Gloomhaven. It's these civic buildings that demand the advanced resources, and reward precious points to the players who supply them (and further down the chain the players who supplied them!). Once enough of these buildings are completed the game will end.

Sunday 4 November 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews: Warhammer Age of Sigmar Champions

Game: Warhammer Age of Sigmar Champions: Trading Card Game

Publisher: Playfusion Ltd

Designer: (Uncredited)

Year: 2018

Warhammer Age of Sigmar Champions is a trading card game from Playfusion, who produced Lightseekers. When we first saw Lightseekers, it was a game that integrated action figures with a video game using augmented reality, however it was the trading card game, that originally appeared to be an afterthought, which took off. We’ve seen huge Lightseekers tournaments at board game conventions in recent months and we were really excited to try the Warhammer themed sequel at the UK Games Expo.

Age of Sigmar Champions is your typical 2-player trading card game format, with booster packs, deck-building, card rarity and trading. It’s not the type of game we normally get involved in, but there are four starter decks for the four Grand Alliances; Order, Chaos, Destruction and Death; each with their own individual play style and strengths. Those starter decks alone provide a really solid starting point to play with, with each starter set coming with a paper playmat and one booster pack. With two players and two starter decks, there’s plenty to play with. Not only that, but your physical cards can also be integrated with the free-to-play app so that your physical collection is also available in the app. The app is a great way to practice and hone your in-game skills, but is also just a good digital card game a la Hearthstone.

Thursday 1 November 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Gingerbread House

Game: Gingerbread House

Publisher: Lookout Games

Designer: Phil Walker-Harding

Year: 2018

Phil Walker-Harding has become known for some amazing family games. Sushi Go still gets a lot of love, especially with my work colleagues who often request 'the Sushi game'. More recently Barenpark was a big hit and is widely regarded as a favourite 'polyomino' style tile laying game for many people. And most recently, Gizmos, from CMON games is getting a lot of buzz.

Gingerbread House caught my attention for two reasons. Firstly, it is from the pairing of Phil Walker-Harding and Lookout Spiele - the same pairing that brought us Barenpark, along with even the same artist, Klemens Franz. Secondly, I thought it might be a game I could classify as Christmas themed, and since my colleagues were very disappointed in the lack of festive games in my collection last year, I've been very conscious to build up a collection in that area!

We've had the chance to introduce Gingerbread House to a few different friends, including seasoned gamers and less regular players, so let's find out some more about the game.

Tuesday 30 October 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- Mutants

Game: Mutants

Publisher: Lucky Duck Games

Designer: Sen-Foong Lim, Jessey Wright

Year: 2019

Mutants is another game from Lucky Duck Games that bases its theme on a popular app. It seems like apps are proving to be a great resource for them to produce really engaging games, with some ready-made fan base. Mutants Genetic Gladiators is an app from developers Celcius online. As a newly recruited Psy Captain, use your unique Psychic Skills to control and lead a selection of genetic gladiators, train and cross breed them to unlock new attacks and discover new species of mutant. Assemble a powerful team that will vanquish your opponents in worldwide competitions to become the ultimate Psy Captain.

The board game really hooks onto the theme of cross-breading your gladiators as part of the mechanisms in this deck-building game for 2-4 players. Mutants battle each other in rounds of combat, but ultimately only one team will be victorious.

The Great Wicked Bake Off:- Gingerbread House

Game: Gingerbread House

Publisher: Lookout Games

Designer: Phil Walker-Harding

Year: 2018

In Gingerbread House you play as the witch, of Hansel and Gretel fame, spending your days harmlessly baking your gingerbread house in perfectly wholesome ways that certainly don't involved kidnapping any children! Perish the through! You build your house by laying down domino style tiles into a 3x3 grid and using the gingerbread created to entice visitors over to help you cook.

I should mention that at no point is it explicitly mentioned that you are cooking and eating a variety of fairy tale characters. Gingerbread House has a very appealing and kid friendly art style along with a whole cast of goodies and baddies from classic myths. In fact each character that you can "invite over" can be human or non-human and good/bad, with certain reward tiles giving bonus points based on that.

Monday 29 October 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Chronicles of Crime

Game: Chronicles of Crime

Publisher: Lucky Duck Games

Designer: David Cicurel

Year: 2018

Chronicles of Crime was a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign from Lucky Duck Games and is now delivering to backers as well as getting a wider release, launching at Essen this year.

What caught our imagination, and probably many others, is how the game seamlessly integrates app technology with the gameplay - using QR codes and VR to intertwine the two. Since it's Kickstarter campaign we're still yet to see  flood of app-integrated games and I don't recall any VR games in that time, so Chronicles of Crime remains very innovative. With the success of Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective and, more recently, Detective from Portal games, is there still an appetite for crime solving within  the board gaming community and what does Chronicles of Crime have to offer?