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

Friday 29 June 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- Herbaceous Sprouts

Game: Herbaceous Sprouts

Publisher: Pencil First Games

Designer: Eduardo Baraf, Steve Finn, Keith Matejka

Year: 2018

Pencil First appear to produce lovely looking, simple, accessible games that are the kind of game we often introduce to our family. The original game, Herbaceous, is one we tried and just found too simple for our tastes. Sunset Over Water had a lot more going on, especially with 3 or 4 players. Herbaceous Sprouts has the same herb garden theme as Herbaceous, but definitely adds more mechanisms and components and is slightly more of a board game than a simple card game. We've had the chance to take a look at the Kickstarter prototype are are keen to share our thoughts.

Don't worry if you missed out on the Kickstarter campaign, Herbaceous Sprouts should be available at retail in early 2019 and in the meantime you can enjoy the beautiful Herbaceous and Sunset Over Water from the same design team.

Thursday 28 June 2018

Thoughts from The Yellow Meeple:- Feudum

Game: Feudum

Publisher: Odd Bird Games

Designer: Mark K. Swanson

Year: 2018

Feudum is a huge first release from Odd Bird Games. It was funded on Kickstarter back in 2016 - a time before we had ever considered backing a board game on the platform. It was a very successful campaign, hitting a bunch of stretch goals and containing a bunch of expansion content. The base game alone is an intimidating enough challenge for us, and in this review we'll be looking at the retail release of the base game.

Feudum is a heavy euro game, currently rated 4.52 out of 5 for weight on BoardGameGeek, making it one of the heaviest game we've ever played. It draws you in with its cute colourful art style though, and I'm grateful that this gave us a gateway into wanting to try something a little more complex than our usual comfort zone. Let's take a look at how it's worked out for us!

Tuesday 26 June 2018

Serf's up!:- Feudum

Game: Feudum

Publisher: Odd Bird Games

Designer: Mark K. Swanson

Year: 2018

Feudum is a 2-5 player euro game in which you take on the role of medieval lords seeking to expand you land and renown. In order to do this you will have to manipulate the local guilds to gain favour, upgrade your land to become more productive and perhaps even conquer your enemies! All of this is controlled via a series of 11 actions which you can choose from each turn.

Each round you will select 4 of your 11 action cards (though you can pay resources to do a 5th). Most of these are fairly simple, for example taxing gives you money for every town you control, moving allows your pawns to move around the board, and repeat lets you replay an action card you have already played this turn. However, they each have nuances to them which contributes to the rather hard to digest rulebook (no exaggeration, it almost sent me to sleep). The worst culprit is the guild action, which in itself means do one of 6 actions around the board edge. However if you have influence in a guild then you may have access to one of 2 extra actions. In essence the guild card has 18 potential outcomes, Feudum is not a simple game!

Sunday 24 June 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Fairy Tile

Game: Fairy Tile

Publisher: IELLO

Designer: Matthew Dunstan, Brett J. Gilbert

Year: 2018

Fairy Tile is inspired by your classic fairy tale story. Knight meets Princess, Dragon flies over castle, Knight fights Dragon in the mountains, Knight keeps a close eye on the Dragon and the Princess, Knight slays Dragon my the long river, Princess and Knight live happily ever after.

This particular fairy tale may not make a lot of sense, but each player is equipped with a 'book' and on its pages are snippets of the classic story. If you can achieve all of the scenarios you are asked to, then you will be the victor in Fairy Tile.

Fairy Tile is a competitive tile laying game for 2-4 players. It drew us in with it's eye-catching art style and pre-painted miniatures, but how does the game work?

Friday 22 June 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- War of the Buttons

Game: War of the Buttons

Publisher: ADC Blackfire Entertainment

Designer: Andreas Steding

Year: 2018

The War of the Buttons is based on a classic French novel from 1912 of the same name. The book describes the "war" between two rival gangs from neighbouring villages in the French countryside. The goal of the war was to get the most buttons from the opposing gang by cutting buttons off their clothes.

The game is a dice worker placement game where your goal is to obtain buttons and spend them to help manipulate your position within the different "wars" occurring in the forests or within the village. Ultimately you are trying to gain wood to build your club house first to win the game. This is the first game we've tried from Blackfire, who are both board game publishers, as well as distributors and producers of awesome board game accessories like the Royal Twister dice tower. Let's take a look at War of the Buttons.

Thursday 21 June 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Village Attacks

Game: Village Attacks

Publisher: Grimlord Games

Designer: Adam Smith

Year: 2018

Village Attacks was a successful Kickstarter for Grimlord Games back in April 2017. It's very soon shipping to backers and we're excited to have taken an early look at the game! The campaign was a great success for a second Kickstarter project, but we are typically not drawn into games with lots of miniatures and stretch goals. I'm sure Amy would love to back lots of these projects, but miniature games are one of my least favourite board game genres. With that in mind, let's see how I felt about our games of Village Attacks.

Village Attacks is a cooperative, miniatures game for 1-5 players in which the players take on the roles of some classic fantasy monsters, defending the castle heart for incoming hoards of villagers. In various scenarios you will have different victory conditions, ranging from survival, to being killing machines, or mastering the use of traps to catch the villagers.

Wednesday 20 June 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- AuZtralia

Game: AuZtralia

Publisher: SchilMil Games

Designer: Martin Wallace

Year: 2018

AuZtralia is set in the 1930s and presents an alternative history for Australia, one is which Cthulu and the Old Ones are causing chaos and destruction. Time is a precious resource as you extend you railroads, set up farms and mine for commodities. However, if you don't also invest in you military power, you'll regret it when the old ones awaken and destroy everything you've worked for.

AuZtralia is a semi-cooperative game of adventure and exploration for 1-4 players. It comes from acclaimed designer Martin Wallace, and it's theme is inspired by his older game A Study in Emerald.

AuZtralia was funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign back in March 2018, but is still open to late backers. The game has also been picked up by Stronghold Games for wider distribution, so AuZtralia will be easy to get hold of later this year or in early 2019. Should you be looking out for it? Read on to find out!

Tuesday 19 June 2018

It feels good to be bad!:- Village Attacks

Game: Village Attacks

Publisher: Grimlord Games

Designer: Adam Smith

Year: 2018

Village Attacks is a 1-5 player tower defence game in which you take control of one of 5 classic monsters defending your castle from the revolting peasantry. Along the way you will strengthen your monster and deploy traps to slaughter the foolish invaders. Fighting back against you, the peasants will hire monster hunters and legendary heroes to help then lay siege to your dark home.

Village Attacks is a scenario driven game, the first 5 scenarios act as a tutorial to gently break you into the game. Each one introduces a new major rule that will be used from then on in. This is a great way to be eased into the game, the only flaw being in the layout of the instruction manual. I ended up learning all the rules for heroes and traps only to find out I didn't need them for 3 whole games! Once you have completed the tutorial there are still 7 more scenarios to play, each with unique mechanics, such as sealing up the breaches in your castle walls or sacrificing creatures to your castles' heart.

Saturday 16 June 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Hack Trick

Game: Hack Trick: It's Hacking Time

Publisher: Mind Fitness Games

Designer: J√≥zsef Dorsonczky

Year: 2015

Hack Trick is a small 2-player game that was completely not on our radar. After recently playing the game for review, it seems a shame that this small box game has been missed, even though it appears to have had a recent reprinting in the UK with the sutitle 'It's Hacking Time'.

Hack Trick is a deduction game which is really a twist on traditional noughts and crosses. Thankfully, unlike noughts and crosses, Hack Trick is not a solved game and it has some great mechanisms that really make you plan ahead and try to outthink your opponent. Let us tell you more about this compact and intriguing little game.

Thursday 14 June 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Abyss: Leviathan

Game: Abyss: Leviathan


Designer: Bruno Cathala, Charles Chevallier

Year: 2018

Abyss is a game filled with beautiful artwork that evokes a lot about an underwater world, but doesn't really add theme to this clever card game. The original game has been on our shelves for a couple of years, but has only been played perhaps three times. Every time we've enjoyed it and found that it provides a pretty rewarding experience in a short space of time. There's no real reason that it's not hit the table more often, it's just a victim of our large game collection.

When a game we enjoy has been sitting on the shelf too long, we either sit there feeling guilty, or we get hold of an expansion to give us an excuse to get a classic game back to the table, whilst still serving my addiction to play something new and enjoy a new experience. The first expansion to Abyss passed us by, but the new Leviathan expansion is our excuse for getting Abyss back to our gaming table.

The Game Shelf @ The UK Games Expo - Day 3

Sunday - the final day of the UK Games Expo. It was a long weekend, but I think we were slightly less tired than we expected to be after ensuring at least 5-6 hours sleep per night. We were at the convention for over three times longer than ever before and we still didn't see everything. We're quite bad at taking the time to walk the halls in an organized way, so I'm particularly sad not to have seen Quality Beast and not to have attended more live events.

Three takeaways for next year;
  • Staying at the airport Premier Inn involves some walking and some planning, but is totally fine and so much more economical than the Hilton. We're booked again for 2019.
  • Demo games should be shorter. When your sitting at the demo table, it's great that you can play a whole 1 hour game, but it's not great for the people around you waiting! I'd be really happy to just play a couple of rounds and then move on - I'd see more, plus the publisher would get to show the game to more people. In many cases the demo'er played with us and it felt like we were in it for the long haul whether we wanted to be or not.
  • Don't expect to play so many games. I expected to have the opportunity to play so many games in the evenings. The halls close at 6pm which gives me 8 hours before open gaming closes! I couldn't have been further from the truth - we probably played around 6 games outside of convention time. Next year I'll set my expectations a lot lower or make better plans to ensure more efficient gaming.

Tuesday 12 June 2018

There's always a bigger fish!:- Abyss: Leviathan

Game: Abyss: Leviathan


Designer: Bruno Cathala, Charles Chevallier

Year: 2018

Leviathan is the latest expansion to the gorgeous game of underwater politics, Abyss. The expansion focuses on the monsters that threaten your underwater civilization, adding more intense fighting mechanics and bigger penalties for ignoring the threat. The expansion also adds the ability to play with a 5th player.

The stars of the show are the leviathans themselves. These hulking monsters arrive at the new border card, replacing the old monster mechanics from the base game. It probably goes without saying for an Abyss expansion, but the art on these cards is stunning, the creatures themselves seem to have been inspired by hammerheads, manta rays, goblin sharks and other deep sea creatures. On top of that some of the cards have merfolk on them giving you the sense of exactly how humongous these creatures are!

Monday 11 June 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Albedo

Game: Albedo

Publisher: Herbertz Entertainment UG

Designer: Kai Herbertz

Year: 2017

Albedo was shown to us by the designer, Kai Herbertz at the UK Games Expo 2018. We were interested to try this small deck-building game to find out about a few of the unique aspects of the game that initially got us intrigued. We're really glad we sat down to try it, it is indeed pretty unique.

As a very small indie publisher designer, only 60 copies were printed and sold out at Essen 2017 and now further copies are available at European conventions. However, an expansion for the game is coming to Kickstarter and will provide the opportunity for many people to get hold of this lovely game. We're extremely excited to tell you all about it!

Sunday 10 June 2018

The Game Shelf @ The UK Games Expo - Day 2

Having only ever attended one day of the UK Games Expo in previous years, we had never experienced Saturday. Our original plan was to get a table in open gaming for the whole day to avoid the crowds and ensure we had somewhere to play during the evening. That plan went out of the window, but we did a lot more with our day as a result!

With that said, Saturday was probably our worst day of the Expo. It felt like we spent a lot of the day waiting for people eg. our math trades, demo tables, meeting friends and the very long charity raffle. I think we learnt that we should make more solid evening plans with people we want to see and game with and that pre-organised trading or selling through BGG or Facebook groups is perhaps more trouble that it's worth.

Saturday 9 June 2018

The Game Shelf Previews: Nightlancer

Game: Nightlancer

Publisher: Adversity Games

Designer: Joseph Norris

Year: 2018

Nightlancer is a competitive game set in the cyberpunk universe of dystopian 2099 AD Birmingham. Players take on the role of Nightlancers, leading a criminal life in the underworld. By taking on missions which suit your abilities, you can get paid and invest in the black market to buy weaponry, cyberware or other gear to prepare for harder missions.

You may be a criminal, but will you sacrifice your values to succeed and earn big money? Or will you just work to undermine your opponents, but maintain your ideals?

Thursday 7 June 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Hero Realms

Game: Hero Realms

Publisher: White Wizard Games

Designer: Robert Dougherty, Darwin Kastle

Year: 2016

Hero Realms is a fantasy themes adaptation of the hit deck-building game Star Realms. Star Realms was one of the very early games we added to our collection and we still really enjoy it, however it's been almost entirely replaced by a fantastic app. Hero Realms was a great opportunity to get something similar back to the table. For this review of Hero Realms, we're looking at the base game as well as some of the Character Packs that expand the game and allow for each player to have unique starting decks and character abilities.

Tuesday 5 June 2018

The Game Shelf @ The UK Games Expo - Day 1

This year the UK Games Expo grew once again! There was more floor space, more open gaming and most impressively, a huge increase in attendance up to 21,700 unique ticket sales and turnstiles of 39,000. Maybe this year, UKGE will also surpass Origins which had 17,000 uniques in 2017 - that would make us the 3rd biggest board game convention worldwide!!

We started our Expo on Thursday with the Press preview events. Most of what we saw there could also be seen in the main show but I think we also had some sneak peaks into the future which we want to mention;

Monday 4 June 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- Last One In

Game: Last One In

Publisher:City Gate Games

Designer: Mark Taylor

Year: 2018

Last One In is a zombie survival card game, where players compete to rescue civilians, while flooding their opponent's town with zombies. Everyone plays both Zombies and Civilians. The winner is the first player to rescue 50 civilians or inflict 100 zombies on their opponent. There are tons of special effect cards to confound your opponent too.

The game can be played as a 1v1 two player game or with variants for competitive play with 3 or 4 players, and a 2v2 team game.

We do not typically like zombie games, in fact we do not own any in our rather large collection. However, we do enjoy clever 2-player hand management card games, so we decided to give Last One In a chance.

Sunday 3 June 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Imaginarium

Game: Imaginarium

Publisher: Bombyx

Designer: Bruno Cathala, Florian Sirieix

Year: 2018

Imaginarium is a new game from well known designer Bruno Cathala, in collaboration with Florian Sirieix, for whom this appears to be only their third published design. Bruno Cathala is definitely a name which draws me to a game and the cover with its steampunk elephant is certainly eye-catching.

In an unusual move, the game was also launched on Kickstarter around the same time as it was released to retail in the UK. The publishers explained that this was to allow the game to reach markets where they did not secure distribution, such as the USA. This seemed like a legitimate reason to run the Kickstarter campaign, but I think it harmed the campaign and unfortunately it was cancelled before it reached its funding goal.

For our audience in Europe and other regions where the game is currently available, let's take a look at how Imaginarium plays.