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 31 March 2018

The Yellow Meeple Starts a Board Game Group at Work:- Week 17

This week I thought it would be great idea to host board game night straight after some internal training. That way everyone was in the office, and everyone had a natural break in their day when training finished at 5pm. It would be nice for everyone to join in and enjoy the board game evening, including some people who had never managed to join in before! I guess this choice seemed great for inclusivity and team bonding, but perhaps not so great for a successful evening of board games?

Week 17

Number of Attendees: 10

Games Played: Telesrations, Dobble, Get Bit

Thursday 29 March 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Topiary

Game: Topiary

Publisher: Renegade Games

Designer: Danny Devine

Year: 2017

Topiary made me a victim of board game media - it filled up my twitter feed when it was released in the USA and the great topiary artwork caught my eye. I wasn't expecting a thematic game, but if you think about it, if you'd put all the effort into making fantastic animal hedges, then you would want to try and create a garden to give yourself the best view.

Topiary is an abstract game for players where each player is trying to occupy the best view points of a common topiary garden. Apart from one central topiary sculpture the central 5x5 grid starts with all tiles facing face down. On your turn you place a Meeple at the edge of the board, then you take a tile from the corresponding row or column in the garden. You look at this tile and decide whether to flip it over and put it back, or instead place a face-up tile from your hand. Your goal is for your Meeple to see many topiary plants in ascending order of height – logically larger sculptures will block your view.

Tuesday 27 March 2018

Hedge Wizardry:- Topiary

Game: Topiary

Publisher: Renegade Games

Designer: Danny Devine

Year: 2017

Topiary is a 2-4 player tile laying game in which you will attempt to arrange tiles on the board to give you clear views of your impressive trimmed hedges, while also blocking your opponents views. Every time you place a meeple you will get to carve out a hedge design somewhere that meeple can see, so it's important to play at angles that let you combine these carvings into a long visible hedge-row.

Perhaps it;s not the most fascinating theme in the world, but Topiary is a surprisingly tricky competitive puzzle game that rewards good play and good counter-play equally. A lot of the decision making in Topiary is deciding when to further your own goals, and when to block your opponents, of course blocking your opponents view requires a high-numbered hedge, so unless you are destroying a large run of tiles then you may be giving them almost as many points as they had before, while scoring yourself nothing!

Monday 26 March 2018

The Game Shelf's Definitive List of UK Board Game Cafes

We love board game cafes! 

I know that the board gaming community can sometimes be split on this issue. We have a big board game collection, we have each other and other friends to play with, so why would we pay money to go to a cafe and play games, as well as probably spending extra money of food and drink?

My main motivation is for visiting cafes that have large board game libraries and have games that I want to try before I by. This means that I'm way more likely to visit a cafe if they list their game collection online. It also means I'm way more likely to play shorter games at cafes that charge a cover charge for a limited length of gaming time, so that I can get the most 'value for money' out of the games I play. 

Besides our 'work' visits where I'm on a mission to try new games, we also use board game cafes as a place to meet friends to catch-up over a few drinks or a snack and we often visit cafes whilst we're traveling around the UK or elsewhere when our board game collection is not at hand. And that's the reason I want to start this list. As we visit more cafes here in the UK I'm going to record some of our thoughts but otherwise I just want to keep this as a list and resource for gamers.

Sunday 25 March 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- Village Pillage

Game: Village Pillage

Publisher: Jellybean Games

Designer: Peter C. Hayward and Tom Lang

Year: 2018

Right now you just have a village but you have aspirations of becoming a kingdom. If you can collect three relics you'll prove that you have the right to rule. It will take cunning and you'll need some help to allow your farmer to grow all of the turnips you'll need. With the right defences and raiders to help keep the other villages at bay, you should come out on top.

Village Pillage is launching on Kickstarter on 26th March 2018 and we've had a chance to try the print and play. Please note that components are not final. We have only tried the game with two players and the 3-5 player game has some different rules. However, we've been pretty happy with the 2-player variant.

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Seikatsu

Game: Seikatsu

Publisher: IDW Games

Designer: Matt Loomis, Isaac Shalev

Year: 2017

Seikatsu is a 'game of perspective'. Each player has a pagoda and must create the most beautiful view of rows of matching flower types from their own perspective in the shared Japanese garden. Whilst filling the garden, flocks of birds will also be created and koi ponds may be dotted around the garden, further enhancing the view.

Seikatsu is a beautiful abstract tile-laying game, perfectly designed for three players but also playable with two. It also includes a four player team game and alternate solo rules in the box.

Friday 23 March 2018

The Yellow Meeple's First Impressions:- 17th - 18th March 2018

After coming back from Airecon with a pile of games, we have a shelf overflow yet again. I have no-one to blame but myself. Amy is cracking down and we need to make some tough decisions, so we have a list of games that need to be played 'one last time' so that we can decide what to keep. Add to that the list of games we've never played that sit on our shelves and we have a very long list of games to play. This weekend we were able to focus on playing some new games as well a some old favourites.

Here's the Yellow Meeple's first impressions;

Thursday 22 March 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Noria

Game: Noria

Publisher: Edition Spielwiese

Designer: Sophia Wagner

Year: 2017

Noria is the debut title from Sophia Wagner, winner of the Spiel des Jahres fellowship in 2015. It's an ambitious first published game, but the fact that the designer caught the attention of the Spiel des Jahres certainly appears to have given Noria a great start with plenty of Essen hype in 2017. It's also (somewhat regrettably) still notable when you see a big game coming from a female designer. 

Noria is an engine building euro-game set in a steampunk universe, created specifically for this game. The floating islands, quirky flying machines and of course your spinning wheel of cogs that is central to the mechanics of the game, create a great look for the game. The blend of mechanics, beautiful art and intrigue about a new designer coming out with new mechanisms got me really excited to try Noria, so let's see how it stands up to my own anticipation.

Tuesday 20 March 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- Cat Rescue

Game: Cat Rescue

Publisher: Sunrise Tornado Game Studio

Designer: Ta-Te Wu

Year: 2018

You are, of course, a cat lover with a very big heart. You are motivated to get cats off the streets and into permanent adoption homes, using your small but perfectly formed foster home as a stop-gap where necessary. Unfortunately your foster homes are not as big as your heart, so you need to be careful not to over commit to taking in these cute little kittens.

Cat Rescue is a spatial cooperative card game which reminds me of traditional sliding puzzles. Together, you are trying to create card patterns on the table and manipulate card movement to get as many cats adopted as possible from the deck of cat cards.

Dial N for:- Noria

Game: Noria

Publisher: Edition Spielwiese

Designer: Sophia Wagner

Year: 2017

Noria is a 2-4 player economic game in which you take control of a faction seeking to become wealthy and politically powerful in the floating city in the sky. To do this you will collect resources, construct factories and influence politicians to weasel your way to the top of the food chain. All of these actions are controlled by a player wheel that each player can personalize and upgrade to ensure their victory.

Noria has 7 action tiles which you may buy during the game to add to your player wheel. The wheel has 3 levels, with 2/4/6 spaces respectively, each turn these wheels will each rotate 1 space. On your turn you can activate action tiles that you have inserted into your wheel, but only from the spaces that are on the half of your wheel facing you. These tiles are activated like a decision tree, so picking some options may limit your ability to choose others. Good management of your wheel is important to success in the game, in addition to being able to buy new tiles, you can spend knowledge tokens to rotate your wheel additional times or swap the places of tiles to help your turns be effective.

Saturday 17 March 2018

Rundown of Airecon 2018

Last weekend we attended Airecon. A 3-day board game convention in Harrogate, UK. We were expecting a small, local convention but it turned out that there were over 1,500 unique attendees, with visitors from all over the country. 

The convention has a focus on gaming with a huge amount of gaming space, so that even on Saturday, which I assume was their busiest day, there was plenty of table space available. There was also some exhibitors and demos, as well as a board game library and a very respectably sized Bring and Buy.

We attended for the Friday afternoon and Saturday and our time passed far too quickly. We played a good number of games and had demos of a few new titles, as well as meeting some old friends and some new friends too.

Thursday 15 March 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Paper Tales

Game: Paper Tales

Publisher: Catch Up Games

Designer: Masato Uesugi

Year: 2017

Paper Tales was an Essen 2017 release that could probably have flown under the radar as another drafting game from a small publisher. Fortunately it was noticed by The Dice Tower, who featured the game in a Miami Dice segment, certainly bringing the game to my attention. A really cool box cover, featuring the interesting artwork from the cards with characters depicted in a layered paper cut-out style, also helps to draw attention to the game.

We enjoy drafting games, but it is typical for games, such as 7 Wonders, to only play correctly with 3 players or more. Paper Tales is a game for 2-5 players and we’ve only played it with two, so let’s take a look at how it plays and share some thoughts.

Tuesday 13 March 2018

Fake news:- Paper Tales

Game: Paper Tales

Publisher: Catch Up Games

Designer: Masato Uesugi

Year: 2017

Paper Tales is a 2-5 player card drafting game in which you seek to build up your armies to conquer foreign lands, while producing resources to develop your own kingdom. Of course a lot of these activities are going to require coin, either to pay wages, or to purchase new land to build on, so you'll also have to ensure that your economy runs smoothly. Paper Tales is a short game, with each game lasting approximately 30 minutes.

Each game of Paper Tales consists of 4 rounds, each round consists of 5 phases, a drafting phase where you acquire new cards to play, a hiring phase where you choose which of the cards in your hand to place into your tableau, a war phase where you compare army strengths to score victory points, an income phase where you gain money, a building phase where you construct buildings, so long as you have the resources to do so, and finally an aging phase, where all your units get older and/or die. At the end of the 4th round the game ends and the player with the highest victory point total wins.

Monday 12 March 2018

The Yellow Meeple's First Impressions:- 9th - 10th March 2018

We've just got back from our first visit to Airecon - a board game convention in Harrogate UK. We've tried lots of interesting prototypes that we'll cover in a blog about the show, but we also got to play some new games with friends, old and new! Of course, it wouldn't be a board game convention for us if we didn't buy and trade a load of games too, so expect some first impressions of our new games coming soon.

So after an exciting weekend, here's the Yellow Meeple's first impressions;

Sunday 11 March 2018

Over-thinking by the Yellow Meeple: The Golden Geek Awards 2017

As we play more and more board games each year and follow the new hotness a lot more closely, it becomes a lot easier to comment on different board games awards. This weekend the Golden Geeks were announced for 2017 and we have played almost all of the games tht won and many that were nominated. It's perhaps not the most exciting year to provide a commentary on, as you will see, but here are my thoughts.

Thursday 8 March 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- SUPERHOT Card Game

Game: SUPERHOT Card Game

Publisher: Board & Dice

Designer: Manuel Correia

Year: 2017

SUPERHOT Card Game is a deck-building game based on the first person shooter video game SUPERHOT. I am not a video gamer, but Amy is, so we were excited to find out about this game at UK Games Expo 2017. Unfortunately we couldn’t demo the game at the convention and the explanation we were given of the game was extremely poor and long winded, so it’s taken us another 9 months to give it a try.

SUPERHOT is primarily a solo game, but we have been playing it in the two-player cooperative game mode. There are also two advanced gameplay, versus modes – one for two players and another for 2v1, that we have not tried. The cooperative game plays in three rounds, where each round you are trying to meet an increasing number objectives regarding the cards in your hand, the cards on the table and the actions you take. The objectives create an interesting puzzle, requiring a lot of hand management, a lot of cooperation and taking a few risks.

Wednesday 7 March 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- Darkness

Game: Darkness

Publisher: Green Meadow Games

Designer: Taylor Hayward

Year: 2018

As an ambitious mystic during the Dark Ages you are seeking out ancient stone artifacts. To activate these you need energy drawn from different spirits which match the affinity of the different artifacts, such as Obelisks, Torches or Altars.

In the game of Darkness all mystics have equal quantities on animal spirit cards, but they each much decide which artifacts to try and obtain in order to concentrate on building the most power. By bluffing and deception with the use of ancient relics you'll obtain artifacts and also try to dispel darkness so that darkness does not fall.

Tuesday 6 March 2018

Bullet Time!:- SUPERHOT Card Game

Game: SUPERHOT Card Game

Publisher: Board & Dice

Designer: Manuel Correia

Year: 2017

SUPERHOT Card Game is a 1-3 player cooperative or competitive deck management game set in the world of the Superhot video game. In brief the video game puts you into a world where time comes to a near-standstill when you aren't moving, but the faster you move, the faster time goes. This concept allows you to perform superhuman feats of agility while defending yourself from the waves of faceless red guys who are coming to kill you.
SUPERHOT Card Game takes this concept and turns it into a cyclic deck-building game in which items you use are lost become enemies you'll face in the future as you try to survive, and complete a set of difficult missions.

 Each game of SUPERHOT Card Game consists of 3 rounds, in the first round you will have to complete 1 mission, in the second round you'll have to complete 2, and the third 3. These missions generally require you to show off your abilities, such as willingly letting the bullet deck run close to empty, or defeating a number of enemies in one turn. The game is lost if you allow your hand to become clogged up with bullet cards, your deck runs out of cards, the bullet deck runs out of cards, or the obstacle deck runs out of cards.

Saturday 3 March 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- Kitty Cataclysm

Game: Kitty Cataclysm

Publisher: Stuff by Bez

Designer: Bez Shahriari

Year: 2018

Kitty Catacyclsm is a terrific collection of cat puns packaged up into a game. Can you make sure that you earn the most meowney to avoid cat-astrophe and not go home with your tail between your legs?

Kitty Cataclysm is the next project from Bez Shahriari who is probably best known for In A Bind, a game of contorting your body in ways that is pretty much guaranteed to make your friends laugh, especially after a few drinks. Kitty Cataclysm is a much more laid back card game, but definitely still has some humour and I assume it will come in a typical very small box, much like the rest of Bez's games. Read on to find out more or check out the project on Kickstarter.

Thursday 1 March 2018

Thoughts from The Yellow Meeple:- Pie Town

Game: Pie Town

Publisher: Renegade Game Studios

Designer: Daniel Fremgen

Year: 2017

For people in the UK, the popularity of baking has boomed in the last few years thanks to the TV show 'The Great British Bake Off'. Over the course of many rounds, a group of amateur bakers bakes cakes under pressure in a giant tent, to be judged by some celebrity baking experts. This is exactly why the game of Pie Town is so appealing to us.

Pie Town is the greatest place to go if you enjoy pie, but competition is fierce and bakers guard their secret recipes carefully to stay ahead of the competition. It's your choice how you grow your bakery to fulfill demand, hiring more staff, getting a second oven or upgrading your kitchen, but the person who generates the most money for their pies will come out no top.