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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Tuesday 15 May 2018

Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me:- Sunset Over Water

Game: Sunset Over Water

Publisher: Pencil First Games

Designer: Eduardo Baraf, Steve Finn, Keith Matejka

Year: 2018

Sunset Over Water is a 1-4 player card game in which you will roam around the wilderness painting beatiful frescos that you will then sell to collectors. Pay attention to the ever-changing whims of art collectors, painting the landscapes that they want to see and you could be the most renowned artist of the generation.

On your turn you select a card in secret, this card decides what time you will wake up, and therefore the order that players will act in, along with how far you are able to move, and how many paintings you have the chance to paint. Once all cards are revealed these cards will be permanently discarded, then players will activate, starting with the player who woke earlist. You can only move a number of spaces on the 5x5 grid of painting cards equal to the amount dictated on your card, and only in the directions allowed by the card. In addition you cannot pass through empty spaces in the grid, neither can you land on another player's space (though you may pass through). After moving you can take a number of painting cards out of the grid equal to the number that your card allows, though you can only take cards that you moved across, and cannot take a card if another player is on that card.

Sunset Over Water set up, ready to play. The game includes some artist meeple that you will move across the grid of paintings as you play.

After claiming your new paintings you can sell them to collectors. There is a market of demands that refresh each game round. These will require paintings with certain features, such as a painting of a mountain and a painting of a waterfall with something else on it. These cards are worth a number of points based on how difficult they are to complete, but they aren't the only points available in a round. Each round there is a personal objective, this awards points to the last player to complete it's objective. This provides some difficult choices, going early gives you first pick on paintings and makes it unlikely that there will be gaps blocking your path, while going late may give you a better chance to claim the personal objective.

Of course, as you may expect, the artwork in a game about painting is wonderful, while not all the painting cards are unique, there is enough variety that the 25 card grid rarely has more than 1 or 2 repeats across it. The symbology on cards is clear, and simple, though sometimes the symbols available on cards you can reach really doesn't match up with the ones required by collectors. You can speculate for the future of course, but particually in a 2-player game this can be a huge risk.

These two paintings combined manage to meet the demand for this collector, providing a painting with a waterfall and some plants, along with someting else, and a second painting of a sunset, and whatever else you felt like. Collectors aren't too picky afterall.
Sunset Over Water is certainly weakest at two players, the painting grid refreshes at the end of every round and this can means that gaps in the grid don't persist, with only 1 player, at most, going before you you will rarely get in each other's way and as such the disadvantage of going last in a round is far less pronounced. With a larger player count player order is a much bigger deciding factor in your success, and in a single player game the grid doesn't refresh every turn, so you have to plan your moves in advance.

Unfortunately as a two player game I can't rate Sunset Over Water highly, it's yet another game who's mechanics don't translate well at a low player count. It does, however, make for a good filler game at higher player counts, and the unique theeme and appealing art is sure to help get it to the table. However I felt that the gameplay didn't keep me enthralled after the first couple of games. Ultimately Sunset Over Water simply falls behind compared to other filler games that are available.


Sunset Over Water was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available for an RRP of £23.99 at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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