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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Thursday 22 February 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- InBetween

Game: InBetween

Publisher: Board & Dice

Designer: Adam Kwapiński

Year: 2017

In InBetween you are playing as either the forces of good or evil in a world where there is a town above and a parallel universe below. This may sound pretty familiar to viewers of the show Stranger Things - there are undoubtedly similarities in the theming. This theming is definitely something that first attracted us to this game, as well as the fact it is a 2-player only game. Interesting and slightly more complex two player games, that don't necessarily involve direct confrontation, are something we typically enjoy quite a bit and InBetween seemed to tick the right boxes.

In this two player card game, each player in using hand management to try and influence each character towards the light or the dark side. The two asymmetrical decks will allow each player to activate special abilities and influence different characters based on symbols also present on the cards. 
In InBetween, the character cards are laid out in the centre of the table. Each character is an inhabitant of the town, but 50% start in the normal world - the Human dimension, whilst 50% start on the dark side, in the Creature dimension. One player plays the town and gets a corresponding deck of cards, whilst the other player plays the Creature. On your turn you pick one card from your hand, find a character with the matching symbol and move their safety marker one step op or down towards the Human or Creature dimension. This can mean that cards flip from one dimension to the other or that one player edges more closely to one of the win conditions - having 3 characters with their safety marker fully advanced in your dimension.

The other way you can use cards is to activate their special ability in addition to using their symbol. Activating your special ability uses a varying amount of energy, depending how powerful the card is and can manipulate the state of the board, or for the human player can be different types of equipment which are often defensive against the actions of the creature. Energy is in short supply though, so you need to think carefully about the right moment to trigger a series of actions.

Each turn the activity marker moves one step around the board and if the character it lands on has a safety marker on it then the player who controls that character as a chance to increase their awareness. If someone increases their awareness to 6 they will also win the game.

InBetween has a lot of different elements, but the whole turn is laid out on a great player aid, making the game really easy to play and understand. For me, it's only after a few plays that I've started to see how I might be able to coordinate a victory by carefully manipulating card actions, energy tokens and the use of my awareness ability. It's a very cleverly crafted tug of war between two players, with a theme that should be very appealing to a lot of fans of the hit Netflix series.

I really enjoy the mechanics in this game, especially how much they make you think about a method to pull out the win. Unfortunately the element I have disliked is the pacing. The game starts really slowly as you each try and gain a foothold on some of the characters. Most of the things you do can be quickly counteracted by your opponent. At some stage in the game, someone suddenly gets ahead and then it seems like there is no way for the other player to come back. Unfortunately it is never me who figures out the way to edge ahead, so the lack of ability to get back into the game really hits me.

For the Yellow Meeple, InBetween is a 6/10. However, if you play a lot of two player games, you should definitely give it a try, because it's certainly a quite unique and well designed game. InBetween was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available for an RRP of £25.00 at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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