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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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!

  • Shards of Infinity is a deck-building game that is very easy to compare to Star Realms. You are building a deck, drawing 5 cards to play each turn to buy cards from the central pool and damage your opponent. However, here are a few additional mechanics in Shards of Infinity that I really enjoyed. Firstly, you can pay to use a card in the central pool immediately on your turn (rather than adding it to you discard pile). This is a single use but could be just what you need to trigger a huge combo or just tip yourself over a damage threshold to win the game. Secondly, your character also has mastery, which is stat that you build during the game and triggers some cards to become more powerful as you reach certain thresholds. Shards of Infinity was a good length for me and I really enjoyed making a big comeback to win the game. I think Amy thought by 40 point damage turn was ridiculous, but I'm hoping I can win her over to play the game some more.
  • Happy Pigs is a game that totally looks like a kids game with it's cartoony cube-shaped pigs, but it's actually a much more strategic economic tile laying game than I expected. You have a variety of different actions you can play each round - going to market to buy pigs or upgrades, selling pigs, breeding pigs, feeding pigs so they grow etc. Ultimately you need to balance the amount of space available on your farm with the income you can gain from larger pigs and the number of pigs who you breed during the game. It's a really pure economics game, which is slightly at odds with ts theming. Ultimately I think it might be too heavy for a brand new audience to gaming and it might be a bit too gimmicky for us. Nevetheless, it's earned a place on the shelf for the time being.
  • My Little Scythe was a hotly anticipated game for me, after a number of Scythe fans seemed to really rate it. My Little Scythe is a race to reach 6 objectives, that are simplified but similar to the full version of the game. Brilliant cartoon animal miniatures, adventure round the hex board to collect fruit and gems, deliver them to the castle, increases your friendship, or collect pies for pie fights. The game was super fast and was over way too quickly for me. We're currently played through Rise of Fenris for Scythe, so maybe I've just had too much of the game, but I was quit disappointed with this family/kids edition, although I can't speak to its merits for playing with children. It just really felt like not much game wrapped in a cute world.
  • Brass Birmingham was a recent Kickstarter delivery for us, along with Brass: Lancashire. We've never played the original but the reprint with much improved artwork really caught our attention. I'm glad I got the opportunity to be taught the game and chose the Birmingham edition first since the feedback has been that it's the more accessible of the two. I was really impressed with this game and was pleased to find that it wasn't too overwhelming. It was just a great economic game of route building and resource management that felt really tight and really streamlined. I'm looking forward to introducing it to Amy and hopefully it will become a staple mid-to-heavyweight game for our collection. 
  • Illusion is a small card game from designer Wolfgang Warsch, who is on fire at the moment, with Spiel des Jahres nominations galore! I bought Illusion based on this alone as well as seeing it in a few recent convention photos on Twitter. In Illusion you are simply laying out cards in order of their % of a certain colour in the card design. The cards are cleverly designed for optical illusions which make it increasingly difficult to insert your card in the right place in the row. You can either add a card or vote that there is a mistake in the row, which will always be blamed on the last person to place a card in the row. We played with four and found that there wasn't enough influence on the outcome for the player who played first, and think it would play better for gamers with fewer players. This needs to be balanced with the fact it's very simple and more likely to be something I introduce to new players who want higher player counts, so I'm not sure if Illusion works for our gaming scenarios.

Pick of the bunch this week was Brass Birmingham. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't as brain burning as I expected and really enjoyed the route building and resource management, plus managing to sneak in some of my favourite, pick up and deliver, too. I can't wait to share this game with Amy and I'm super happy that we backed this Kickstarter and took the plunge for a game we originally thought would be too heavy and economic for us.

This week, we might not play so many new games. I'll be having a work board game night on Monday with a group of 12, so it will be party games all the way. We're also expecting to start playing some of the entries to the Autumn Dice roll and write game jam - there's been some exciting sneak peaks on Twitter and I'm sure we'll be kept very busy by them all!

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