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

Wednesday 26 September 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- Heroes of Tenefyr

Game: Heroes of Tenefyr

Publisher: Broken Mill

Designer: Pepijn van Loon

Year: 2019

Heroes of Tenefyr is a cooperative deck-building game for 1 to 4 players. You represent one of the four, initially very inexperienced heroes, but as you fight your way through dungeons filled with evil creatures, you'll gain loot in the form of cards that are added to your starting deck. The game makes use of interesting push you luck mechanisms and multi-use cards to bring something slightly different to the deck-building genre.

Heroes of Tenefyr goes live on Kickstarter on 26th September 2018. It’s the first project for Broken Mill games and designer Pepijn van Loon, but one that has evidently been a labour of love. Huge effort has gone into building the world of Tenefyr with some great marketing and innovation too. I could try to tell you a story to introduce you to the world, but I think it’s better if I let the Bard from the game recite you a poem instead.

Sunday 23 September 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Raids

Game: Raids

Publisher: IELLO

Designer: Matthew Dunstan, Brett J. Gilbert

Year: 2018

We first saw Raids at the UK Games Expo this year. It was particularly exciting, as it was one of the only big, early new releases available at the show. On the demo table it really reminded us if the art design of Jamaica, which is certainly no bad thing! Once we understood the movement mechanics, the game seemed to feel like the love child of Jamaica and Tokaido.

Raids is a game for 2-4 players which mixes a lot of different mechanisms. It looks like a race game, but depending on your strategy you might play for set collection, do some engine building or engage in combat with other players. How well do all of these elements blend together? Let’s find out how a game of Raids plays.

Saturday 22 September 2018

The Game Shelf will be at Tabletop Gaming Live 2018

What is Tabletop Gaming Live?

Tabletop Gaming Live is a new board game convention in the UK, taking place at Alexandra Palace, London on 29th-30th September 2018. It's the first time the convention is being held and I'm super excited to attend and see what it's all about. As well as a range of exhibitors including publishers and board game stores, there will be open gaming with a game library and seminars and events throughout the two days.

Tabletop Gaming Magazine has a good reputation and wide distribution in the UK, meaning that they have managed to attract some high profile guests, as well as some high profile new releases in the UK and demos of upcoming exciting games that will release at Essen in  a few weeks. Here's some of the games that I'm most excited to see!

Thursday 20 September 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Scythe:Rise of Fenris

Game: Scythe: Rise of Fenris

Publisher: Stonemaier Games

Designer: Ryan Lopez DeVinaspre, Jamey Stegmaier

Year: 2018

Rise of Fenris is the final expansion for Scythe. Scythe is an extremely highly rated board game in its own right, but the hype for this expansion has been huge! It promises to be an eight episode campaign, not a legacy game, but with legacy-like aspects. Once played, you could play the campaign again or use some of the many new elements as modules in your standard Scythe games – a lofty ambition.

Before the Rise of Fenris, we’d only played Scythe on three occasions. This wasn’t due to a lack of love for the original game – a pimped out Collector’s Edition sits on our shelves, but we were late adopters. We have no other expansions and these are not needed to play through Rise of Fenris, although they can be used in mot episodes of the campaign. We have loved Scythe with two players, but had mixed experiences with the higher player counts, since area control and player conflict are really not my thing. I was a little nervous of the Rise of Fenris expansion based on how it might play with two and how it might force me towards aspects of the game that I typically shy away from. I am also a very poor player at Scythe – I typically lose by a hefty margin and losing isn’t really my bag either!

Wednesday 19 September 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- Lockup

Game: Lockup

Publisher: Thunderworks Games

Designer: Stan Kordonskiy

Year: 2018

Lockup follows the trials of a group of minions locked in the King's dungeon -- the gnolls, the kobolds, the bugbears, the goblins, or the insectoids. There's no escape but you can gain reputation amongst your peers, as well as gaining goon followers and crafting contraband.

Lockup is a worker placement game, set in the Roll Player universe. After the amazing success of Roll Player - a game we were surprised to really enjoy, we were really pleased to get an early look at the next game in the same universe from Thunderworks Games. Lockup can be played with 2-5 players and also includes a solo variant, which will be a bonus for many fans of Roll Player who love to play it solo. We've been playing the game with two players and are excited to tell you more about it.

Tuesday 18 September 2018

Reap what you sow:- Scythe: Rise of Fenris

Game: Scythe: Rise of Fenris

Publisher: Stonemaier Games

Designer: Ryan Lopez DeVinaspre, Jamey Stegmaier

Year: 2018

Scythe: Rise of Fenris is a modular expansion for Scythe which is fully compatible with the base game and the previous expansions. On top of that it's also a re-playable campaign game of 8 missions that takes you through the story of Scythe and the mysteries of the factory. After playing through the campaign 2-player, I am going to give this review in 2 parts: a completely spoiler free section and a second section which will include some of the mechanics you can expect, but won't spoil the story. If you don't want to know the contents of the box then stop reading after my clear and obvious spoiler messages!

The first thing to note is staying completely spoiler free during the campaign is pretty hard, the game has several tuck boxes, which do a great job of hiding the components that will unlock as the campaign progresses. Unfortunately it also includes a series of punchboards which are all clearly labelled so you know exactly what bits to punch during which game. You may have to have 1 person take on the slight burden of being the dedicated 'puncher' who gets slight spoilers. It's not terrible, but enough to be a mild annoyance.

The campaign story is involving, with a few branching paths that are affected by the actions of players in the previous game. The missions always clearly state your main objectives in bullet points and it's often worth trying to pursue them as they are rewarded in the post-game cleanup. You start to find yourself in a better and better starting position, which is good. If you are going to play 8 games of Scythe then you will want the early game to get quicker as you play so you can skip right to the action!

The story is in depth, with there being a multiple page backstory that explains the full story of Scythe so far leading up to the start of Rise of Fenris
Like I mentioned, the game is modular and the campaign acts much like a Smörgåsbord of the modules. You get to sample some just for one scenario, while others are persistent and become a new way the game is played. Others give you choices that may permanently change how one player interacts with the world while leaving the rest of you unphased. While these are all at least interesting there are certainly some modules that feel a bit more powerful and interesting than others, and especially with the ones that are only unlocked for 1 player it can feel a bit sad in lower player count games if one person keeps reaping those rewards.

The game contains lovely spoiler-proof tuck boxes, just be careful not to look too close to the punch boards on top...

The core thing to take away at this point is if you like Scythe then you will love Scythe: Rise of Fenris, if nothing else it's an excuse to play a great game 8 times, but with each game having a unique new twist. Outside of the campaign there is also a separate co-op module, which I hate to admit we have yet to try, but it's certainly high on my want to play list now.


Scythe: Rise of Fenris was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available for an RRP of £49.99 at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

Monday 17 September 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Vikings Gone Wild: Master of Elements

Game: Vikings Gone Wild: Master of Elements

Publisher: Lucky Duck Games

Designer: Julien Vergonjeanne

Year: 2018

Master of Elements is the latest expansion for Vikings Gone Wild – the hit deck building game from publisher Lucky Duck Games. A new kind of warrior has entered the arena in this Viking land – the Druids. The Druids’ strength is derived from sacred artefacts and they are powered by the elements; nature, fire and water. Your Master of Elements is the source of the elements in the game who power your druids, as well as powering the abilities of your three special artefacts.

Master of Elements brings a significant amount of new content to Vikings Gone Wild. It also adds some complexity with more resources to manage and more interplay between the cards. Vikings Gone Wild was already a ‘large’ deck-building game, so does the extra content bring with it enough fun factor, and is Master of Elements a must have expansion?

Saturday 15 September 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- BarBEARian Battlegrounds

Game: BarBEARian Battlegrounds

Publisher: Greenbrier Games

Designer: Walter Barder and Ian VanNest

Year: 2018

BarBearian Battlegrounds is a simultaneous secret-action, dice allocation game for up to four players. It's also an excuse for many bear puns, as you 'fish for glory' and try to be part of the best 'neighbearhood'. 

Through rolling dice to collect honey and other resources, as well as getting into scrapes with all of the other bears, you'll try and gain glory that will allow you to win the game. The art looks great and really evokes this slightly odd theme, but what game lies beneath the cartoons and the puns?

Friday 14 September 2018

The Yellow Meeple's First Impressions:- 3rd - 8th September 2018

I'm trying to be more sociable.

We originally started playing board games so that we could find a shared hobby and get out of the house to make new friends. This worked really well when we lived in a big city like Southampton, but getting out and meeting people has been more difficult since we moved to somewhere a bit less well connected and I took a more demanding job. Board gaming became a hobby that we shared, alone, at home. It's time to put that right and share gaming again, so this week, we went to see some friends on Monday, as well as visiting The Ludoquist board game cafe on Thursday where I played new board games whilst Amy played D&D. As a result, we've played some new games, which is a bonus to being sociable too!

For the second week in quick succession, here are the Yellow Meeple's first impressions!

Thursday 13 September 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Orleans: Invasion

Game: Orleans: Invasion

Publisher: dlp Games

Designer: Inka Brand, Markus Brand, Reiner Stockhausen

Year: 2015

Before receiving the Invasion expansion, we haven’t played a whole lot of Orleans, but the games we did play were really enjoyable two player experiences. Orleans: Invasion is a big box expansion for Orleans which contains lots of scenarios designed by both the original designer and by Inka and Markus Brand who are really well renowned designers.

The expansion includes a new scenario for 2-5 players, a cooperative scenario, a two player only duel scenario and a number of solo scenarios. We never play any solo games, so the focus of this expansion for us was the duel scenario and the cooperative scenario. We didn’t really feel like Orleans needed any expansion content, given that it plays extremely well with two players and is the style of competitive game that doesn’t get very in-your-face. So let’s see if Orleans: Invasion is a must have for us.

Tuesday 11 September 2018

It's in the Bag:- Orléans: Invasion

Game: Orléans: Invasion

Publisher: dlp games

Designer: Inka Brand, Markus Brand, Reiner Stockhausen

Year: 2015

Orléans: Invasion is a big box expansion for the 2014 game Orléans. It takes the original game's bag-building worker placement mechanics and further expands upon them, adding a dedicated 2-player mode, a cooperative mode as well as several solo game modes. We will be focusing on the 2 player and cooperative modes for this review, but are they just gimmicks that are tacked onto the game, or fully fleshed out expansions in their own right?

The cooperative mode is the biggest overhaul to the base game. In it we see the titular invasion of Orléans, with you responsible for defending both it and the surrounding area. You'll have to stockpile for war, that means soldiers must be hired, food must be preserved and money... war runs on money! Should you fail to donate enough of these resources to the city by the end of the game then you will all collectively lose. In addition, you will have to fortify the outer walls by building trade posts on all of the outer cities of the map. But in case you were thinking this all sounded too easy, each player has a personal, often selfish, objective that they must complete before the game ends.

The Game Shelf Previews:- The Artemis Project

Game: The Artemis Project

Publisher: Grand Gamers Guild

Designer: Daryl Chow, Daniel Rocchi

Year: 2019

The Artemis Project was a private spaceflight venture to establish a permanent, self-supporting base on the Moon by 2002. It was named after Artemis, the goddess of the Moon. Grand Gamers Guild are bringing a board game based on this mission to Kickstarter in September 2018. In the game you are using dice worker placement to build a successful colony. The submerged cavern, known as The Pocket, conceals all the raw materials you’ll need to succeed. By constructing below the ocean you can improve your mining and abilities, but above the ice you'll need to build and staff your colony with specialists.

Through dice worker placement in this game for 2-4 players, your goal is to establish the most successful outpost colony.

Sunday 9 September 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- Gladiatores

Game: Gladiatores

Publisher: Badcat Games

Designer: Jason Maclean Jones

Year: 2019

Gladiatores is coming to Kickstarter from Badcat Games in October 2018. It's the second game from this small publisher in Scotland and the first that we've had the chance to play.

In Gladiatores, you are the owner of a gladiator school, pitting your students in deadly event sponsored by powerful roman officials. After each fight, one school will come out on top, possibly losing gladiators along the way if they do not successfully defend. Will your school win the battle and go on to claim victory over the whole season?

Like with many of our reviews, we have only had the chance to play Gladiatores with two players, and so the betting is not an element of the game we will be previewing.

Thursday 6 September 2018

Thoughts from Yellow Meeple:- Spring Meadow

Game: Spring Meadow

Publisher: Edition Spielwiese

Designer: Uwe Rosenberg

Year: 2018

Spring Meadow is the third game in Uwe Rosenberg's puzzle trilogy, which had included Cottage Garden and Indian Summer. All three games use polyominoes - Tetris-style pieces that can be found in the designer's other games, Patchwork and A Feast for Odin. In the trilogy so far, Cottage Garden was certainly our favourite, as a simple solitaire puzzle, with the central board for drafting puzzle pieces and some real benefits from good planning and clever scoring.

From the back of the box, Spring Meadow looked exactly how you would expect the hybrid of the first two games to look. It has the central board of Cottage Garden, the holes in the tiles from Indian Summer and a scoring mechanism that lies somewhere between the race in Indian Summer and the in game scoring of Cottage Garden. Let's see whether they saved the best til last in this trilogy!

Wednesday 5 September 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- A Thiefs Fortune

Game: A Thief's Fortune

Publisher: Artipia Games

Designer: Konstantinos Kokkinis, Sotirios Tsantilas

Year: 2018

A Thief’s Fortune is set in an eastern bazaar where each player represents a different possible future of the same character. You’ll each create a backstory for your character, visiting different locations, encountering and interacting with different characters and experiencing different events that all thematically interlink. If you interact with a traveller, they might speed your passage, gaining you more time. If you bring a foe into your present their way be benefits if you’re in the dark back alleys of the bazaar.

A Thief’s Fortune adds the element of time into a drafting and engine building game. Card manipulation and card combos are king as you puzzle your way through this intriguing new game, now live of Kickstarter from Artipia Games.

Tuesday 4 September 2018

Life is a Picnic:- Spring Meadow

Game: Spring Meadow

Publisher: Edition Spielwiese

Designer: Uwe Rosenberg

Year: 2018

Spring Meadow is a 1-4 tile laying game in which you will collect Tetris-style tiles in order to advance up a mountain walk. Along the way you will navigate rocks and marmot holes, should you be able to use these to your advantage then you can expedite your hike and beat your opponents by having the most pleasant walk of all! Being the latest of Uwe Rosenberg's puzzle games if you have played Cottage Garden, Indian Summer or Patchwork you are going to see a lot of cues taken from his previous games.

Much like Cottage Garden tile selection is done via a shared central board. A cardboard signpost moves around the outside of this board, indicating which row of the 5x5 grid you can take from.On your turn you will choose a piece and place it on your personal player board, before moving the signpost along so the next player can select their piece. Placement of tiles is, in theory at least, very free, you can place a tile anywhere you like in any orientation. There are considerations to make though, The tiles have holes in them, and should you place one of these over a marmot den then you will gain bonus points in the scoring phase. Furthermore if you can place multiple holes together (regardless or marmot holes) then you will gain rock riles, which can be used to fill your board faster, or fill those awkward gaps along the way.