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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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;

  • Flash Point: Fire Rescue-Tragic Events is a new expansion for Flash Point: Fire Rescue, very recently arrived from Kickstarter. The expansion adds 4 new characters (but frustratingly on 3 new minis) as well as a fire deck that replaces hot spots from the original game. At the end of your turn, you take a card from the fire deck and typically you will roll for fire as normal. However there is one card that accelerates the fire, making you roll twice and draw a card from the new event deck. It also adds a new 'Flare Up' card into the fire deck, which is only slightly weaker than the original accelerate card. The deck get re-shuffled quite frequently, meaning your flare up and accelerate cards sometimes concentrate at the top, or you might have them at the bottom and get some respite. I really enjoyed the expansion and can't see us playing without it. We had an amazingly tight and exciting game - I'm not sure it's all down to the new expansion, but it certainly helped to escalate our fire situation when we were finding it all too easy!
  • Heartland is a game that doesn't give good 'first impressions'. When this German box with very generic farm art was pulled out, my brain way definitely saying, 'Please not this game' whilst my mouth politely said, 'OK, that looks good'. Thankfully, the really bad art, and graphic design hid a quite interesting tile laying game. In a very simple way, you lay domino like tiles with different crops on them, you can either score points for the size of matching crops you create, or you can score for the small barns printed on either square of your rectangular tile to advance on the barn track. I really enjoyed the simple decisions at the start of the game and later in the game how you had to decide whether to try and break up a farm that an opponent had claimed, or focus on your own points. Heartland is not a game I'm desperate to play again, but I would not turn it down if I ever came across it in the future.
  • Clans of Caledonia is a game we weren't able to back on Kickstarter due to our 'one per month' policy. I have definitely regretted this since it started to receive a lot of praise and has risen to number 86 on the Board Game Geek rankings in a very short space of time! Clans of Caledonia is an economic game with resource management and a board where you build a network of buildings and workers to generate money and resources. There's a lot of potential actions on a turn and you can take as many as you can afford to, ultimately trying to convert money into resources to fulfil export contracts, as well as giving yourself a good board presence to be rewarded with points at the end of the game. I really enjoyed the link between the economy and the board and how we both played entirely different games, partly dictated by the unique clans we chose at the start of the game. In addition, the game has two things that I find really appealing - a fixed number of rounds, and the export contracts which give me a short term goal to aim for to define my strategy for the next few turns or rounds. I'm very excited to play more of this game and I think it has a very good opportunity to be played often because it really was just a 60 minute game with two players, including teaching.
  • Coaster Park was one of my most anticipated games of Essen and I was very disappointed when it became apparent that it completely failed to deliver what gamers were hoping for. Nevertheless, I wanted to try it for myself and see the undoubtedly great spectacle. In Coaster Park, you are building large cardboard rollercoasters which you will run a marble down at the end of the game. If the marble manages to stay on a piece, then you get a points value for that piece and any bonuses it might offer. You can build as many coasters as you like, gaining pieces from the centre of the board. Counter to a lot of comments on the game, we made the rollercoasters work and pulled off some pretty impressive 3 or 4 segment constructions. However, there was a large element of dexterity in how you held the rollercoaster and pushed the marble, which did diminish the fun factor and I can see it wouldn't be great in a family gaming atmosphere. However, I was more let down by the mechanics of Coaster Park as a game. It was just boring, having very low value auctions for parts and picking up special abilities with minimal effect. I definitely don't feel as negative about Coaster Park as many reviewers and I would play it again, but I'm glad I didn't invest in buying the game, only to be disappointed in the result.

It's a shame that Clans of Caledonia is just on loan and seems impossible to find, after either a very small retail release or a very fast sell-out that went under the radar. I definitely regret not backing this one - it was a really good value campaign! We'll probably still have plenty of opportunity to play friend's copies or play it at our local board game cafe. This week, there's a small chance that Dinosaur Island will arrive from Kickstarter, which would be extremely exciting. If not, I think we'll be learning Pulsar 2849 and maybe also First Martians if we have time

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