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

Tuesday 30 January 2018

Slice, but no Dice:- Papà Paolo

Game: Papà Paolo

Publisher: Quined Games

Designer: Fabrice Vandenbogaerde

Year: 2016

Papà Paolo is a 2-4 player tile laying and delivery game in which you compete to be the best pizza delivery company in Naples. You'll have to fight the other pizza companies for the best delivery routes over the best districts of Naples. Making sure that you have made enough pizza to deliver, but then bidding to get the best pizza delivery boys to take the pizzas to your valued customers. As you begin to succeed in business you will gain experience in the different aspects of pizza delivery, allowing you to be more efficient.

Papà Paolo is a 5-round game, each round consists of a phase where you select new tiles to add to your district/actions to perform, followed by a bidding phase to determine which delivery boy you hire, and finally using that delivery boy to bring pizzas to happy customers. During the first phase a 3x3 or 4x4 grid of tiles, depending on player count, are laid out on the board. Players then take turns to place one of their 4 workers onto this grid to either claim the tile or use an action. If you claim the tile then you can add it to your growing city, tiles have road networks which must not be cut off as you build, they also have a number of coloured houses, each coloured house can accept one pizza over the course of the game, while the colour dictates what skill you improve once you finish the tile.

Monday 29 January 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Dice Throne

Game: Dice Throne

Publisher: Mind Bottling Games

Designer: Nate Chatellier, Manny Trembley

Year: 2018

Dice Throne pits different hero classes against each other in  tournament of champions. Heroes travel from far and wide to try and win the respect of the King and, of course his throne. Perhaps you'll battle hero vs. hero or team up in different battles to make the most of your different powers and abilities.

Playing as distinct heroes, such as the Barbarian, the Pyromancer or the monk you'll each have your own abilities, activated by your custom dice and modified by your custom deck. The very asymmetrical powers have the potential to create an exciting dice rolling game for 2-6 players that can be played in different team or free-for-all combinations.

Sunday 28 January 2018

The Yellow Meeple's First Impressions:- 19th - 22nd January 2018

Most of our new game experiences in the last couple of weeks came from a game day last weekend. We had the awkward player count of five people which limited our choices but we were able play Wasteland express Delivery Service - one of our favourites from 2017, as well as trying some new games that I've been looking forward too. We're also trying to work on our unplayed games pile, although that's a bigger challenge!

There's not many this week, but here's the Yellow Meeple's first impressions;

Saturday 27 January 2018

The Yellow Meeple Starts a Board Game Group at Work:- Week 15

It's been quite a long time since my last work board game night. Before Christmas, our last board game night was actually the office Christmas party where Amy taught Telestrations at the max player count of 12. I could not have asked for a more successful experience introducing people to games and I think plenty of copies of Telestrations were bought or given as gifts for Christmas by my co-workers. We also played Codenames, which was pretty difficult with so many raucous players - it was actually a situation where the new XXL version could've been really useful. Now we are settled back into a routine of monthly game nights, and although this week was a short session, I was really happy with how it went.

Week 15

Number of Attendees: 5

Games Played: Doodle Rush, Kokoro - Avenue of the Kodama

Thursday 25 January 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Pulsar 2849

Game: Pulsar 2849

Publisher: Czech Games Edition

Designer: Vladimir Suchy

Year: 2017

I'm not sure what it is about the cover art of Pulsar 2849, but it's a game I initially has no interest in. There were demos available at the cons we attended, but I had an impression that it was a big heavy game with a large board and a lot going on, that wouldn't be my style. I've enjoyed other games by Vladmir Suchy, especially Last Will. Dungeon Petz from the same publisher, CGE, is one of our favourite games. So, in terms of pedigree, Pulsar 2849 had a good standing and luckily we've had the opportunity to give it a try despite my apprehension.

Pulsar 2849 is a game of space exploration where you each play a rival corporation, poised to exploit the riches of a pulsar rich star cluster. Each player can forge their own strategy in this 'point salad' style game - choosing to either travel vast distances, exploring many planets, to claim pulsars and set gyrodynes spinning to distribute energy, or to build an 'energy transmission megastructure array'.

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Harnessing the power of the stars:- Pulsar 2849

Game: Pulsar 2849

Publisher: Czech Games Edition

Designer: Vladimir Suchy

Year: 2017

Pulsar 2849 is a 2-4 player dice drafting space game in which you will race other players to explore the galaxy, harvest energy from pulsars and construct satellite relays to transfer this power back home. You'll have to balance your investment of time into all of these activities, while also improving your technologies and investing in your home base if you want to succeed.

At the start of each round of Pulsar 2849 the first player will roll all of the silver dice before placing them on their spaces on the game board. At this point you work out the median roll for the round and place a marker there. Players will then take dice, should they take a dice with a face value below the average then they will get to move down on either the engineering or the player order track. If you take a die above the current average then instead you move up the track. This works as a really nice counter to the inevitable luck swings in a dice game, sure you still have rounds where high dice rolls are rare, but while the first player will get the chance to take the best dice, that comes with an associated cost.

Monday 22 January 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Boomtown Bandits

Game: Boomtown Bandits

Publisher: Breaking Games

Designer: Issac Epp

Year: 2015

You're all bandits trying to rob this boomtown blind! On your side you have two sharp shooters but also  coward, or 'the liability' as you call him. Take down the bank, train, stagecoach, and even the brothel in your quest for the best loot. Be careful though, there are plenty of rival gangs in this town, lurking in the same lucrative spots, with their pistols at the ready.

Boomtown Bandits is a quick game for 2-5 players in which you are rolling dice in consecutive shoot outs to fight over loot cards at different wild west locations. It relies on some bluffing as you secretly asign shooters or the coward to different locations, but overall it's a fast paced real time dice rolling game.

Saturday 20 January 2018

The Yellow Meeple's First Impressions:- 15th - 18th January 2018

Following on from last week's first impressions, where I bemoaned the fact that I couldn't find Clans of Caledonia for sale, Amy came through and got be the game in a complete masterpiece of good fortune. This has a weird symmetry with the occasion when this happened with Terraforming Mars and I hope Clans of Caledonia goes on to be one of our favourite games. 

Fitting in board games around a significant amount of work travel is becoming quite difficult, but has given me the opportunity to take a look at a board game cafe in Copenhagen, and it's likely to mean I'll be visiting Snakes and Lattes in Toronto in early February. Nevertheless, we've still managed to play a few new titles, so, here's the Yellow Meeple's first impressions;

Friday 19 January 2018

Amy's Top 10 Board Games of 2017

2017 was an incredible year for gaming, so many good games came out that it's been very hard to populate this list. I can't help but feel that I'm cutting out games that really were a vital part of my gaming landscape for the year. Being so spoiled for choice really is an amazing thing though, here's hoping 2018 follows suit and gives us another fantastic year!

2017 was the first year we started supporting games on Kickstarter, only 1 game a month, and I think it's testament to our selection process that 2 of those games have appeared on this list! Especially when only 4 of them have delivered so far! On top of that we had the wonderful experience of visiting UKGE, though again only for 1 day, making sure we do the whole event this year! Of course our wedding can't go without mention, while the day wasn't solely about board games, I can safely say that a large number of guests appreciated the chill out room run by the lovely people at Thirsty Meeples!

Without further ado, here are my top 10 board games released in 2017.

Thursday 18 January 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Fog of Love

Game: Fog of Love

Publisher: Hush Hush Projects

Designer: Jacob Jaskov

Year: 2017

Fog of Love casts two players as two halves of a couple, living out a romantic comedy through a series of short snippets or scenes within their lives. When you first meet you will know very little about each other, but over the course of the game, the way you each deal with different situations will start to give you insights into each others personality, until ultimately you decide if you should stay together or break up.

Fog of Love, was a Kickstarter campaign, designed by one man for his wife, with the goal of designing a board game his wife would actually like to play. His wife, who did some of the art and graphic design for the game, explains that she loves romantic comedies, so that was the theme that Jacob Jaskov chose. Since the Kickstarter the design of the game has improved massively and the final production is a beautiful game, with a similar stark white style to T.I.M.E Stories. The base game contains an introductory scenario and 3 further scenarios and expansions are planned to provide more content.

Tuesday 16 January 2018

Baby don't Hurt me:- Fog of Love

Game: Fog of Love

Publisher: Hush Hush Projects

Designer: Jacob Jaskov

Year: 2017

Fog of Love is a 2-player story driven game in which you follow the struggles of a couple falling into (or out of) love. Fog of Love straddles the blurry line between board game and roleplaying game, while your main actions will be playing cards, the cards will prompt you to make decisions for your character which further the developing story. Fog of Love is cooperative... at times, the reality is it's hard to classify. At the end of the game each player will be committed to an end objective, these may be complementary, allowing you both to win together. Though it's quite possible that even then only one, or neither of you managed to reach your goal. As you get further into the game new objectives are added which can make the game competitive, though you don't know if your partner is going for these objectives or not!

Before you start playing a game of Fog of Love you have to create your characters, put down your pencils and dice, this is quick and easy. You each choose a gender, then 3 trait objectives, which help dictate what you want from the relationship. These can be individual, or group goals, but you can't tell your partner what they are. Next you decide upon your job, then you choose 3 features about your partner that you noticed upon first meeting them. Features can be standard things, like "tall" or "muscular", but there are definitely a few curve-balls in there. In one game I was a bit surprised when I got handed the wheelchair card, but it made for good storytelling as the game progressed! Finally you invent a name for your character and roleplay a brief introduction to each other.

Friday 12 January 2018

The Game Shelf 2017 Year in Review

I've written my Top 10 list of board games released in 2017, but I also wanted to reflect on a great year for our blog and for us as part of the board game hobby. There have been a few standout moments that really keep us going both in the hobby and working on this blog.

The Stats

We have played a lot of games this year, including new games released in 2017, but still primarily older games, both new to us and old favourites.

Number of Plays (Including Expansions): 825
Number of Unique Games and Expansions Played: 333
Number of 2017 Releases Played: 98
Most Played Game: Beasts of Balance with 37 plays

UK Games Expo 2017

The UK Games Expo stands out as the highlight of our board gaming year. This year we obtained press passes for the convention which allowed us to attend the press event, before the convention opened. I was pretty nervous for the event, but it was great to get up close and personal with some prototypes and brand new games and make relationships with publishers and designers that we've built on since the event.

Unfortunately we were only able to spend one day at the Expo in 2017 and we crammed in as much as possible, which meant not getting the chance to demo many games and not playing any of the new purchases we acquired. We did get the chance to meet a few groups of friends, but in 2018 we're there for the full weekend and can't wait to catch up with old and new friends and really make the most of the event!

Board Game Wedding!

The UK Games Expo was only the gaming highlight of this year, because this year, we got married! Obviously this was our highlight of the year, but we also related it to board games (of course!). We had small board game references in our decoration, but our big gesture was the board game room in the evening. We specifically looked for a venue with an additional space that we could use for board games in the evening and our venue was perfect for it. The evening was hosted by Thirsty Meeples - the board game Cafe in Oxford who also supply the mobile library for the UK Games Expo. The game room was a massive hit and some people spent the whole evening in there! Even our families who were sceptical of the idea had to admit that it was a huge success and I recommend it to anyone as some additional or alternative evening wedding entertainment for guests who don't just want to dance and get drunk!


2017 was the first year we decided to look at Kickstarter. I am naturally risk averse, so the idea of Kickstarter and the potential for a creator not to fulfil was really scary. On the other hand, I love a good deal and the huge campaigns with tons of good value content became too much to resist.

We backed our first game, Tao Long, in January 2017 and allowed ourselves to back one game a month. We typically stuck to this rule, although during November and December we didn't back any projects and I regretted not 'using' those credits earlier in the year when choosing just one game per month was heart wrenching! So far we've received Gloomhaven, which was very exciting and Kokoro, which has been a really good hit with our game group. We also expect Dinosaur Island and Tao Long to arrive any minute now - in fact, I'm staring at the front door of our house in expectation!

In 2018, I think we'll be slightly more cautious with what we back. It really has to be a game I can't resist, so that it can maintain my excitement level while I wait for the game to arrive!

Zatu Games

This year we started to write for Zatu Games, an online board game retailer in the UK. Zatu have enlisted the help of bloggers to write reviews of the games they sell, giving consumers a better insight into whether a game is right for them. Importantly, it's created a great community of bloggers and it's been great to get to know different people who write for the site.

Board Game Exposure

Probably the best thing to come out of our involvement with Zatu Games is our relationship with Board Game Exposure. The Board Game Exposure Collective are a group of UK reviewers who share review copies of games to increase exposure for publishers. We've had the opportunity to review some exciting new games such as Merlin and the expansion for Sheriff of Nottingham and are very excited to try Chronicles of Crime from Lucky Duck Games at the start of 2018. I'm hoping that we can meet some of our fellow reviewers at conventions during 2018.

All of the above has resulted in a large increase in the number of people who are reading this blog and engaging with us on Twitter and Instagram. Thank you for coming along for the ride! We've seen our number of blog views increase by around 400% in the last 6 months, and we're really excited to overcome some social hurdles to approach more people at conventions during 2018. We're hoping to at least attend Airecon in March and the UK Games Expo in June, as well as anything else I can persuade Amy to allow me to attend!

Thursday 11 January 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Harvest

Game: Harvest

Publisher: Tasty Minstrel Games

Designer: Trey Chambers

Year: 2017

Harvest is a new release from Tasty Minstrel games, which positions itself as a follow up to Harbour - a pocket sized worker placement game that we enjoyed for a time. It's only really the art and the publisher that are the same, but there's a definite resemblance in the setting for the two games. When it arrived, I was surprised to see that the box is about 3 times the size of Harbour, but it's still a pretty small game box. For me, Harbour represented a very light Le Harve, and my expectations were that Harvest could be the lighter Agricola, following the same relationship. Although Harbour made a good travel game for us because it packed a bit of punch for its size, we eventually traded it away because it really dragged at the higher player counts, so let's see how Harvest plays and whether it overcomes some of the small box game problems.

Harvest is a worker placement game for 2-4 players in which you are building a farm to grow fantastical crops for the country show. Some crops are worth more prize money than others, but it's the total prize value of your crops at the end of five round which matters. Each round there will first be a draft for turn order, and then in turn order each player will place one of their two workers, followed by the next. Some actions are limited, some are available every round and others change every round. You'll improve your farm, buy seeds or other resources, plant seeds, tend your plants or harvest your plants.

Wednesday 10 January 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- 4 The Birds

Game: 4 The Birds

Publisher: Breaking Games

Designer: Steve Ewoldt

Year: 2016

4 The Birds is an abstract strategy game where you each take on a flock of birds of a certain species. your goal is to stick together in the treetops, forming a length four line or 2x2 square by cleverly avoiding the attacks of crows, hawks and other species of bird. This game is so heavily bird themed, it's hilarious, and for once we have to share a snippet from the publisher to highlight this in our review.

From the publisher "4 the Birds is the board game in which you will use beak-and-taloned strategy as well as a peck of luck to be the first to "flock" four of your birds together in a tree besieged by a menagerie of other birds trying to do the same. By constantly balancing the goal of flocking your own birds and "Flock-Blocking" opponents' birds, a see-saw battle for avian supremacy ensues — and beware the non-player bird-baddies (crows and hawks) that can swoop in to un-nest a would-be winner."

Tuesday 9 January 2018

Old McDonald had a farm, then the Orcs came:- Harvest

Game: Harvest

Publisher: Tasty Minstrel Games

Designer: Trey Chambers

Year: 2017

Harvest is a 2-4 player worker placement game in which you run a farm in a fantasy world. During the game you'll have to collect seeds, fertilizer, water and even magic potions in order to plant and grow crops. You'll also need to expand your farm, adding new fields that you can plant on, buildings that help you be more efficient.

At the start of a game of Harvest each player is given 2 workers and a random player character. You can choose to use the basic player character, who has no special ability but gains bonus points at the end of the game, or the advanced character on the other side which gives each player a unique power that they can use throughout the game. The powers are all interesting and powerful. I constantly found myself jealous of my rival's abilities, all the while fully abusing my own power. Depending on the character you choose you will also get some starting goods, usually fertilizer, water and some beans.

Monday 8 January 2018

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

This week's first impressions come courtesy of a great game day on Sunday, as well as a very generous friend who keeps loaning us games so we can try before we buy! The game is a regular event that happens every couple of months in a nearby town, but I've only managed to attend once before. It's a great day with a bit of a bring and buy, as well as the chance to meet new gamers and try new games. We primarily shared some of our favourite games from 2017, but also got to try our new expansion for Flash Point Fire Rescue, as well as trying a game someone else brought along.

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

Friday 5 January 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Merlin

Game: Merlin

Publisher: Queen Games

Designer: Stefan Feld and Michael Rieneck

Year: 2017

King Arthur is looking for a worthy successor to his throne. Together with Merlin, he seeks the best candidate from among the Knights of the Round Table. To impress the King, a knight needs to repel traitors, build manors in the environs, complete missions and gain influence in the principalities.

In Merlin, a euro game from Stefan Feld and Michael Rieneck, you'll each play as a knight and to try and achieve the feats you'll manipulate the position of your knight and Merlin on the circular track of the board. The game plays 2-4 players in about 75 minutes and uses a whole host of mechanics, inclduing dice rolling, roll and move and worker placement.

Thursday 4 January 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- The Bloody Inn: The Carnies

Game: The Bloody Inn: The Carnies

Publisher: Pearl Games

Designer: Nicholas Robert

Year: 2017

The Bloody Inn is a kind of grotesque themed card game that we reviewed back in 2016. At the time, I said that it was quite a difficult game to pick up and teach to new players and over time we have found that it hasn't really hit the table a lot, partially because of this. However, a new expansion is normally a great excuse for me to get a new game that doesn't take up any more shelf space and also to bring an older game back to our table. The Carnies expansion for The Bloody Inn is a very small box, but let's see what it adds to the game.

The Carnies is a pick-n-mix style expansion with 3 different modules. The first are the objects - these are cards that you draft at the start of the game and you each have 10 money to spend on them - they each give you a one use, rule-breaking special ability. The second module are the notables, which are included in the visitor deck to replace the nobles from the base game - where the nobles just gave you money when built as an annex, the notables have some slightly more complex abilities. The final module includes the eponymous Carnies. The Carnies are added to the visitor deck and have some very different special abilities as well as different value when they're in your hand or at the Inn. In addition, you can introduce events which are triggered whenever a Carnie is present in the Inn at the end of a round.

Tuesday 2 January 2018

...You can never leave!:- The Bloody Inn: The Carnies

Game: The Bloody Inn: The Carnies

Publisher: Pearl Games

Designer: Nicholas Robert

Year: 2017

The Bloody Inn is a card game about getting rich by robbing the dead as you bury them... Oh and producing the dead by murdering people in their sleep. It's a cheerful game. The Bloody Inn: The Carnies is the first expansion for The Bloody Inn, it includes 4 mini expansions that you can add in piecemeal to vary your game, or throw them all in together for some major upheaval. With the help of this expansion you'll be inviting some... less reputable people into your lovely rural murder-hotel, but at the same time you will be inviting some of the "upstanding pillars of the community" like bankers. To help you deal with this new clientele you can utilize items and techniques passed down through your family that assist you in your dark deeds.

The titular part of the expansion are the carnies themselves. These are a new deck of visitors that you add at the start of the game. They act functionally the same as any other visitor (unless you are using the events). When they arrive in your inn you can kill/bribe/ignore them like anyone else, however they have 2 different costs. One cost for while they are in the inn, and another for when they are in your hand/dead on the floor. It's possible to have someone who is free to murder, but you still need 2 accomplices to bury. Carnies also tend to have strange rules for burying, such as burying them under an opponents building, these can really throw a wrench into peoples plans, but not as much as the next mini expansion.