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 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;

            Gloomhaven – Best Small Publisher, Best New Designer, Best Cooperative Game, Best Strategy Game, Best Game of the Year
What was amazing to me about the Best Small Publisher and Best New Designer category was that the games in these categories were no small indie games, they were the biggest games of 2017 - new designers are really making a big splash and self-publishing their games through Kickstarter and other channels.

            Photosynthesis - Best Board Game Production 
It makes me really happy that the winner in this category is not a game packed full of plastic miniatures. Instead, Photosynthesis makes use of cardboard to create 3-dimensional trees that make this game look fantastic and eye-catching on the table. Other nominees, such as Wasteland Express, probably have high production quality overall but Photosynthesis does more with less, so it's a very worthy winner.

            Santorini - Best Two Player Game
Santorini is actually a game I don't enjoy. For me, it is too chess like, which means that I just can't see moves and plan ways to win, which I find frustrating. I can totally see the appeal of it though - it looks amazing and it's one of the most popular games that Amy teaches as a game guru at the local board game cafe. For me, any of the other nominated games would beat it, but I feel like Fog of Love deserved a mention here or in the innovation category for the very fresh new perspective it brought to two-player gaming.

            Magic Maze - Best Party Game
Magic Maze is a cooperative real-time game which ticks two very big boxes for us. It's a game we really enjoy and one I've taught to non-gaming friends and colleagues with great success. For me party games are the genre I play most with my work board game group and it would've been a close call between Magic Maze and Rhino Hero Super Battle for my vote as both have gone down really well with them, but Magic Maze has pushed the envelope of the types of games I can get them playing.

            Azul - Best Family Game
Azul is the game from 2017 that I think will have a lasting legacy in board gaming and is most likely to become a modern classic or evergreen title. It's the perfect award for Azul in my mind because it's the game most requested by my family - my mum in particular loves this game! It is probably our most played game of 2017 and offers both the accessibility and ongoing interest for gamers that I need in a family game. 

This year there are plenty of winner we haven't played. Last year, the only winning game I hadn't played was Star Wars Rebellion, so it's no surprise that we haven't played the winner of Best Expansion, which was Star Wars Rebellion: Rise of the Empire.

The winner of Most Innovative Game was 7th Continent, another game we haven't played! It is sitting on our board game shelves, waiting for Amy to learn it. I'm very excited, but a little nervous to try it, having just said that narrative games are not usually my thing. Innovation in board gaming must be harder and harder to achieve and given what I know of 7th Continent, I think it does count, compared to other nominees that feel like a stretch.

The winner of Best Reprint is Downforce. It's no surprise that Restoration Games will begin to take awards for reprints because reprinting and revamping older titles is the purpose of this publisher. We've actually not played any of their games yet, which is something we need to work on!

The winner of Best Game Theming is This War of Mine. Although we haven't played this game, it's encouraging that board games are able to tackle such serious themes and still have success. Compelling, immersive themes can be very powerful and it's interesting to see more games developed in this area.

I'm also yet to play Near and Far, the winner of the Best Artwork Category. Story-Telling or narrative driven games are just not my thing. I am interested to try Near and Far, but I just don't know if it will be for me. This was actually the first ever Dice Tower Award for Ryan Laukat and it is definitely deserved since so many of his games have fantastic art, as well as being great games!

It's no surprise that Gloomhaven has done so well. It is, after all, the number one game on Board Game Geek and has swept up many other awards during 2017. From my perspective, it's in my top ten games of all time, in spite of being a genre of games I don't typically enjoy, which says a lot about it being a good game in my opinion. I'm not rushing out to try many of the games I haven't played either - I'm starting to think it's OK to not need to investigate every style of game and to focus on the games most likely to give me the best experience. We'll play 7th Continent soon and I'm sure I'll try Downforce when we get the opportunity, but otherwise I'm happy with the games we've played and can agree that they're fantastic games to try.


  1. A great year for games. Even the nominees look good. Makes up for the underwhelming Spiel nominees.

    Although best Strategy Game was a head scratcher. What does that even mean? It just seemed like a nominate anything category.

    1. It typically ends up having the heavier games nominated.