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

Tuesday 31 July 2018

You take the low road:- Lowlands

Game: Lowlands

Publisher: Z-Man Games

Designer: Claudia and Ralf Partenheimer

Year: 2018

Lowlands is a 2-4 player worker placement game in which you manage a sheep farm in an area of land that is incredibly prone to flooding. You must balance your time between managing and improving your farm and helping the community to build dikes to keep the floods at bay. Should the land start flooding then the value of sheep will go down and the amount of praise you get for helping the dikes go up, conversely if the dike is holding then the value of sheep increase and the reward for dike building is low. With a little luck you can walk this tightrope to become the richest farm owner, and presumably buy some land that's a bit higher up...

Each player has their own board in Lowlands which doubles as their farm and their worker placement area. You have 3 workers to use each round, one each of strength 2, 3 and 4. There are 5 different abilities you can perform, each of which giving you more power should you use your larger numbered workers. Firstly you can gather resources, these are collected from a common market in a similar way to Ticket to Ride, There are 3 resources which are used for a few things, but mostly for building dikes. Secondly you can buy or sell sheep, when you do this you get to buy or sell sheep at the current market value. Thirdly you can rearrange existing fences or spend resources to build new fence, for every fenced in square on your farm you can put one sheep out to graze. You also get some income benefits as you build more fence. Fourthly you can build the dike, to do so you spend a number of resources of the relevant type and move your marker up the same number of points on the dike track. If you gave enough resources to finish the dike then you can place a new dike in front of the incoming floodwater. Finally you can build buildings and other farm upgrades, these cost resources to build but tend to give permanent new abilities or end game scoring, you can also use the walls of buildings as if they were fences to keep your sheep in place.

Monday 30 July 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- The Curse of Misfortune Lane

Game: The Curse of Misfortune Lane

Publisher: Howling Hog Games

Designer: Alexander Delfino, Austin Mace

Year: 2018

The Curse of Misfortune Lane is coming to Kickstarter in August from Howling Hog Games. It’s their first Kickstarter project, but the artwork and prototype are pretty polished ad this campaign caught our eye.

This 2-5 player game is a 1 vs. many experience in which 1 play is the monster and the other players are children, searching the different places around town for items they can use to fight the unknown monster. When night falls, the kids combine the items they have found to use luck and brute force to take on the monster who has revealed themselves. If the kids can defeat the monster they will win!

Saturday 28 July 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Vikings Gone Wild

Game: Vikings Gone Wild

Publisher: Lucky Duck Games

Designer: Julien Vergonjeanne

Year: 2017

Vikings Gone Wild was the first Kickstarter project from Lucky Duck Games and seems to have catapulted them into a position of being a board game publisher to look out for! Vikings Gone Wild is themed off the viking strategy video game of the same name and since then, Lucky Duck have converted a number off app-based games into board games, with some great Kickstarter success to show for it!

In Vikings Gone Wild, players take the role of heads of clans fighting against each other to prove to the gods who is the best. You will have to find the right balance between investing in your economy and building up your town or growing your army to take glory in attacking the towns of other clans! In this deck-building game you'll be doing a whole lot more than just deck-building to be declared the best viking clan.

Thursday 26 July 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:-Dragon Castle

Game: Dragon Castle

Publisher: Horrible Games

Designer:  Hjalmar Hach, Luca Ricci and Lorenzo Silva

Year: 2017

Dragon Castle is probably one of the games I’ve been anticipating the longest time. When it first released at Essen in 2017, I was excited by the look of the game and the initial reviews that likened some of the mechanisms to the computer version of the game Mah Jong. The two publishers – CMON and Horrible Games also have a great pedigree of working together on Potion Explosion – a very addictive game that keeps hitting our table and also gets a lot of play on the mobile app. I have no idea why gamers in the UK had to wait 9 months for the game to hit store shelves but when Dragon Castle landed on our doorstep I was lightning fast with opening the box and setting up for our first game!

Dragon Castle is a competitive tile-laying abstract game for 2-4 players that has lovely artwork and really high component quality. The highlight is certainly its heavy plastic tiles with the typical colourful designs of a Mah Jong set. Abstract games with high production values are becoming the norm, but how does Dragon Castle stack up?

Tuesday 24 July 2018

The Shrineing:- Dragon Castle

Game: Dragon Castle

Publisher: Horrible Games

Designer:  Hjalmar Hach, Luca Ricci and Lorenzo Silva

Year: 2017

Dragon Castle is a 2-4 player abstract game in which you build your own castle and shrines out of building materials stolen from the dragon castle. The game is played with a series of Mahjong-esque tiles which you will be trying to collect in coloured sets on your board.

On each players turn they do one of 3 things; Take 1 tiles from the top floor and 1 shrine from the pool, take 2 identical tiles from any floor and add them to their castle, or (should the castle be reduced to 1 floor) take a victory point token. Whenever you connect 4 or more tiles of the same colour you score points (proportionately more for larger sets) and get a chance to place shrines on top of them (rarer colours let you build more shrines) The higher you build your shrine the more points you get, but you can never build your castle more than 3 tiles high!. This simple gameplay leads to some complex thinking, especially in a 2 player game where you have to weigh up every opportunity you offer your opponent, many times it can be best to take tiles they want rather than ones you are after. Occasionally you may decide it's worth the risk freeing up tiles you want for the taking, hoping that your opponents won't grab them before your turn comes around.

Monday 23 July 2018

Overthinking by The Yellow Meeple:- Top 5 Most Anticipated Games of Gen Con 2018

With Gen Con 2018 less than two weeks away, I have been eagerly scouring the BGG list, using the Tabletop Together Tool and checking out videos on Youtube to figure out which games I should be most excited about! This may seem like a futile method in excitement management, but being super excited about new games is one of my favourite feelings and unfortunately it's one that happens less and less often as our gaming experience and board game collection expands. Only a few games a year break through and become a new favourite in our collection and I'm always looking for the games that will make the cut!

In terms of the GenCon release list, BGG lists almost 500 titles, although they are a mixture of releases, demos and some older games. I'd like to focus on games I am really excited for and haven't had the chance to see or find out too much about. Coimbra, Reef and Detective are all games that we've played, in late prototype, or pre-production stages at the UK Games Expo. We will, without doubt, be adding all three games to our collection. If you haven't had the chance to look at these games, then you should really make time to check them out. Finally, if I had to recommend one demo of a game that I don't believe is quite ready to be released at Gen Con, it would he Holding On: The Troubled Life of Billy Kerr. This is such a refreshing game and is really worth a look at the Creativity Hub stand.

Sunday 22 July 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Pikoko

Game: Pikoko

Publisher: Brain Games

Designer: Adam Porter

Year: 2018

Pikoko is a new trick-taking game from Adam Porter and Brain Games. I've often associated the designer with party games, like Doodle Rush or Big Bazaar, but Pikoko is actually a twist on the very traditional game of Whist. It's certainly a brightly coloured, fun looking game and we wanted to find out what it could bring to the trick-taking genre.

Trick-taking is a genre of gaming that we enjoy, but it's not one that gets to the table very often, due to most trick-taking games needs more than two players. Pikoko is no exception, playing with 3-5 players, but its appearance on the table means that there is no problem finding players who want to join a game!

3-D plastic peacocks are awesome, but they don't make a great game. In Pikoko they do serve the purpose of holding your cards (or tail feathers) so that you can't see them, but what's the game behind the distracting plumage?

Friday 20 July 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- Air Flix

Game: Air Flix

Publisher: Dice Sports

Designer: Robert Butler, Garry Thompson

Year: 2019

Air Flix recreates the dog-fights of World War II in a dexterity game where accurate flicking is the key to success. Play as the Germans or the Allies, taking on missions or simply try to shoot your enemies out of the sky!

Air Flix recently funded on Kickstarter and should be available around mid-2019. Here we're taking a look at the base game, although expansions were available in the Kickstarter campaign.

Thursday 19 July 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- SteamRollers

Game: SteamRollers

Publisher: Stronghold Games

Designer: Mark Gerrits

Year: 2015 (2018 Reprint)

When Steamrollers launched on Kickstarter in August 2017, it was perhaps slightly ahead of its time. Flatlined Games tapped into the beginning of a craze for roll and write games. Although roll and writes have been around for quite some time, it's not until recently that they've started to gain a huge following and to push the boundaries beyond rolling some dice and writing numbers in boxes.

SteamRollers has now been picked up by Stronghold Games for wide distribution. The appeal of this game to me is that it claims to encapsulate a lot of elements of a larger game like Steam or Age of Steam, but boils it down into the world of roll and writes – a world in which The Game Shelf, and many others, are currently entrenched. I’ve developed a real love of pick up and deliver games and I am very close to dipping my toe in the water with ‘train games’ and SteamRollers has been a great introduction.

Tuesday 17 July 2018

I've been working on the railroad:- Steamrollers

Game: Steamrollers

Publisher: Stronghold Games

Designer: Mark Gerrits

Year: 2015 (2018 Reprint)

Steamrollers is a 1-5 player roll and write game in which you will draft dice in order to create railway tracks, power your steam engines and deliver goods.The more towns you pass through the more customers you meet so you'll want top pass your goods through as many locations as possible en-route to their final stop, but there are only so many goods that need to be delivered, so you'll have to work fast to beat off the competition.

As you might imagine gameplay in Steamrollers revolves around dice. Each turn one player will roll the dice and then in order each player will choose one to use for their turn. Players have individual player boards on which they will draw out their routes, upgrades and scored points, but the supply of goods for delivery is located on a common central board. It's perfectly possible for one player to empty a town of goods if you take too long adding it to your network.

Sunday 15 July 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- MS Batory

Game: MS Batory

Publisher: Granna

Designer: Filip Miłuński

Year: 2017

On board the glamorous cruise ship, MS Batory, a crime has been committed. The countess's pearls have disappeared and it's your job to determine who are the culprits. Each of you knows that some characters are innocent, but you'll need to ask around and deduce who is innocent to ultimately be the first to determine the guilty party(ies).

By asking clever questions about different locations on the ship or different characteristics of the suspects you can eventually deduce the culprits. If deduction games are your thing, and you love constructing 3D cardboard ships, then read on to fins out more about MS Batory.

Friday 13 July 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Pyramid of Pengqueen

Game: Pyramid of Pengqueen

Publisher: Brain Games

Designer: Marcel-Andre Casasola Merkle

Year: 2018
Penguins love fish and when it comes to fish they are definitely prepared to cut class. If you’re familiar with this behaviour, then you’ve probably played Ice Cool from Brain Games. The next chapter of the story involves these adventurous penguins finding a secret crypt underneath their school. Up to no good, as always, they enter the crypt, but find that it is guarded by the mummy of the Pengqueen.

Whilst the pun in the title of Brain Game’s latest game in the Ice Cool universe leaves a little more to be desired than its predecessor, the cute penguin theme is still one that comes through in this fantastic production. Pyramid of Pengqueen is a reprint of Fluke der Mumie from Ravensburger which was a highly acclaimed, but very much out of print, kids’ game. Let’s take a look at the game and see if it has the required ‘magnetism’ for grown-ups looking for a lighter one vs. many experience.

Thursday 12 July 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Iquazu

Game: Iquazu

Publisher: HABA

Designer: Michael Feldkötter

Year: 2017

Iquazu comes from the latest crop of HABA Games that don't come in yellow boxes. HABA's recent family games have been a mixed bag for us, with Karuba being a bit, but Adventure Land not making a big impact, Spookies is still sitting on the shelf waiting to be played. Iquazu appealed to me because of it's extremely eye-catching board with beautiful artwork.

So, other than a 3-D waterfall that moves throughout the game, what else does Iquazu have to offer?

Wednesday 11 July 2018

Don't go chasing waterfalls:- Iquazú

Game: Iquazú

Publisher: HABA

Designer: Michael Feldkötter

Year: 2017

Iquazú is a 2-4 player Puzzle game in which you play as a race of aliens seeking to hide crystals behind a waterfall. Using a large dragon to temporarily block the flow of water the aliens will race to hide as many crystals as they can before the dragon moves on and water once again covers the hiding places.

Players will take turns playing coloured cards from their hands to place crystals, playing 1 card allows you place a crystal in the first column on the spot of the matching colour. Playing a pair of the same colour allows you to place a crystal on the second column and so on. If you are ever stuck for colours you can play 2 cards of one colour to simulate one card of another colour. After all players have taken a turn a water drop will be placed on the top-most empty space of the first column.

Tuesday 10 July 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- Jetpack Joyride

Game: Jetpack Joyride

Publisher: Lucky Duck Games

Designer: Michał Gołębiowski

Year: 2019

Lucky Duck are beginning to release a number of board games based on popular apps. It's a really interesting source material, especially given how the tabletop and digital gaming worlds are beginning to collide more and more.

Jetpack Joyride is an app from Halfbrick that we've never played, but it appears to be a platformer about Barry, a struggling gramophone salesman, who breaks into a secret laboratory and commandeers experimental jetpacks. In the tabletop game, all players are racing to create a safe route through a random laboratory for Barry to navigate, whilst collecting bonuses along the way.

Real-time games can be stressful, but we often enjoy them, so let's take an early look at Jetpack Joyride!

Sunday 8 July 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Baseball Highlights 2045

Game: Baseball Highlights 2045

Publisher: Eagle-Gryphon Games

Designer: Mike Fitzgerald

Year: 2015

Baseball Highlights 2045 originally caught my eye was a two-player deck-building game. The designer, Mike Fitzgerald has a great history in game design, with involvement in many early trading card games, as well as board games such as the Mystery Rummy series and Diamonds. I got my first chance to try Baseball Highlights at a local meet-up and unfortunately felt like I was playing with the slowest guy in the world, trying to optimise every turn and really sucking all the fun out of it. However, I was interested enough in the game underneath the bad experience to want to give it another chance, so let's take a closer look at Baseball Highlights 2045 now that we've been playing it together as a couple.

Saturday 7 July 2018

Over-thinking by the Yellow Meeple: The Dice Tower Awards 2017

This is the fourth year that I’ve covered the Dice Tower Awards - I can't believe we've been covering board games for so long!!

This morning I watched the live stream of the Dice Tower Awards 2017 which take place at Dice Tower Con during 2018. It was certainly the year of Gloomhaven - it took five out of the 14 awards, but it also made me notice that perhaps I wasn't playing all the hotness in 2017. For some context, from the unsuccessful nominees, we’ve played Azul, Century: Spice Road, Sagrada, Charterstone, Wasteland Express Delivery Service, Champions of Midgard:Valhalla, Terraforming Mars: Venus Next, Fog of Love, Caverna: Cave vs. Cave, Codenames Duet, The Fox in The Forest, Colosseum, Meeple Circus, Rhino Hero Super Battle, Word Slam, Barenpark, Pandemic Legacy Season 2, Anachrony, Dinosaur Island and Ex Libris, which are, without exception all games that we enjoy and at least 85% of them are on our shelves, so perhaps we have good or popular tastes after all!

So firstly, let’s look at the winning board games we’ve managed to play;

Thursday 5 July 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Tale of Pirates

Game: A Tale of Pirates

Publisher: Cranio Creations

Designer: Asger Harding Granerud, Daniel Skjold Pedersen, Daniele Tascini

Year: 2017

A Tale of Pirates hit my radar shortly after Essen 2017 and it has taken over 9 months to get a full release in the UK. What got me excited for the game was a video from Actualol, where I identified with his love of sand timers in real time games. Kitchen Rush (also an Essen 2017 release) recently made it into my Top Ten Games of All Time and to me A Tale of Pirates looked like Kitchen Rush on a 3-D pirate ship - what was not to like about that.

Add to this fantastic first impression that the game is a scenario based cooperative game with a companion app and I'm 100% on board! So let's take a look down from the crow's nest at A Tale of Pirates.

Tuesday 3 July 2018

Ye be out o' time:- A Tale of Pirates

Game: A Tale of Pirates

Publisher: Cranio Creations

Designer: Asger Harding Granerud, Daniel Skjold Pedersen, Daniele Tascini

Year: 2017

A Tale of Pirates is a 2-4 player cooperative game in which you set sail on a pirate ship to plunder and fight your way through a 10 mission campaign. You have to plan carefully and focus on teamwork as your workers are represented by sand timers and you can only perform their action once the sand runs out. Each mission has it's own victory condition and will introduce new challenges that you will have to overcome.

A Tale of Pirates is app-driven, the companion app acts as a timer, ensuring that your rounds go on for the right amount of time. It also acts as the instruction book, you can use it to quick-reference what different parts of your ship or different enemies do. It also helps you run the campaign, tracking your high scores (based on the condition of the ship at the end of the mission), letting you know how to set up each mission and any new rules involved.

Monday 2 July 2018

Overthinking by the Yellow Meeple:- My Top 10 Board Games (2018 Edition)

It's the three year anniversary of The Game Shelf! Happy Birthday to us!

It's amazing to me that we've been working on The Game Shelf blog now for three years! Thank you so much to all of the people who read it - we're certainly still growing and that's really exciting to see. It's become a tradition for me to renew my top ten board games this time each year and looking back on last year's list, it definitely needs a refresh. Over the course of the last twelve months we've definitely played more new games than ever and although it's becoming harder and harder for a game to really impress me, there have still been some fantastic new games.

After much deliberation over the list, as of June 2018, here's the Yellow Meeple's Top Ten Board Games of All Time!

Sunday 1 July 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Thronestorm

Game: Thronestorm

Publisher: Original Content London

Designer: Sam Ballard, James Knight, Ed Saperia

Year: 2018

Original Content London are a company we came across at the UK Games Expo 2018. They brought two games - Band Manager - a game where the board is t-shirt! And Thronestorm - an intense, 10-15 minute 2-player strategy game. Of these two very different games, Thronestorm appealed to our niche in two-player games, so here's a closer look.