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 30 October 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- Mutants

Game: Mutants

Publisher: Lucky Duck Games

Designer: Sen-Foong Lim, Jessey Wright

Year: 2019

Mutants is another game from Lucky Duck Games that bases its theme on a popular app. It seems like apps are proving to be a great resource for them to produce really engaging games, with some ready-made fan base. Mutants Genetic Gladiators is an app from developers Celcius online. As a newly recruited Psy Captain, use your unique Psychic Skills to control and lead a selection of genetic gladiators, train and cross breed them to unlock new attacks and discover new species of mutant. Assemble a powerful team that will vanquish your opponents in worldwide competitions to become the ultimate Psy Captain.

The board game really hooks onto the theme of cross-breading your gladiators as part of the mechanisms in this deck-building game for 2-4 players. Mutants battle each other in rounds of combat, but ultimately only one team will be victorious.

The Great Wicked Bake Off:- Gingerbread House

Game: Gingerbread House

Publisher: Lookout Games

Designer: Phil Walker-Harding

Year: 2018

In Gingerbread House you play as the witch, of Hansel and Gretel fame, spending your days harmlessly baking your gingerbread house in perfectly wholesome ways that certainly don't involved kidnapping any children! Perish the through! You build your house by laying down domino style tiles into a 3x3 grid and using the gingerbread created to entice visitors over to help you cook.

I should mention that at no point is it explicitly mentioned that you are cooking and eating a variety of fairy tale characters. Gingerbread House has a very appealing and kid friendly art style along with a whole cast of goodies and baddies from classic myths. In fact each character that you can "invite over" can be human or non-human and good/bad, with certain reward tiles giving bonus points based on that.

Monday 29 October 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Chronicles of Crime

Game: Chronicles of Crime

Publisher: Lucky Duck Games

Designer: David Cicurel

Year: 2018

Chronicles of Crime was a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign from Lucky Duck Games and is now delivering to backers as well as getting a wider release, launching at Essen this year.

What caught our imagination, and probably many others, is how the game seamlessly integrates app technology with the gameplay - using QR codes and VR to intertwine the two. Since it's Kickstarter campaign we're still yet to see  flood of app-integrated games and I don't recall any VR games in that time, so Chronicles of Crime remains very innovative. With the success of Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective and, more recently, Detective from Portal games, is there still an appetite for crime solving within  the board gaming community and what does Chronicles of Crime have to offer?

Saturday 27 October 2018

The Yellow Meeple's First Impressions:- 20th - 26th October

This week I did something very out of character and agreed to meet someone from Twitter at  a board game cafe. I'm pretty proud of myself, I got to meet someone new, check out a new board game cafe in London and check out some new games.

We also has a big gaming weekend last weekend with friends visiting both days. We got the chance to play the latest T.I.M.E. Stories expansion on Saturday and then introduced two friends to Gloomhaven and Terraforming Mars on the Sunday.

So here are the Yellow Meeple's first impressions!

Thursday 25 October 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- The Lady and the Tiger

Game: The Lady and the Tiger

Publisher: Jellybean Games

Designer: Peter C Hayward & others

Year: 2017

The Lady and the Tiger is one box that contains five unique games. The games have been curated by Peter C Hayward, but the designs are from 6 unique designers in total, using the same components - just a deck of cards and some coloured glass tokens. The concept reminds me of a notorious game Stonehenge in which many designers were asked to design games from the same box of components - I always wonder if the games are compromised by the limited components or if designers will step up to the unique design challenge this presents.

Each game in The Lady and the Tiger is around 20 minutes and the box provides a solo game, an auction game, a deduction game, a maze game and a bluffing game - all of which we've played at the two player count (except of course the solo puzzle!).

Wednesday 24 October 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- Ka-Zing

Game: Ka-Zing

Publisher: Redwell Games

Designer: Tom Lovewell

Year: 2019

Spells and charms, cast with a swish and a flick – and the right incantation...

Stupefy - A useful spell used to knock out an opponent in a duel. When learning Stupefy, the stunning spell, wave your wand in the direction of an up-side down triangle and say clearly and loudly: Stupefy! If correct and accurate, the red jet of light should shoot directly from the end of your wand and hit the opponent.

If you've ever fancied your self as a witch or wizard, adept at spell casting then perhaps you should practice your skills with Ka-Zing.The aim of Ka-Zing is to be a better spell caster than your opponents. Spells are cast by linking together a series or one or more wand movements and finishing with a spell casting word.

Ka-Zing is coming to Kickstarter from Redwell games and we've taken a look at this pocket - sized card game.

Tuesday 23 October 2018

I'm more of a dog person:- The Lady and the Tiger

Game: The Lady and the Tiger

Publisher: Jellybean Games

Designer: Peter C Hayward & others

Year: 2017

The Lady and the Tiger is a set of 18 cards that allows you to play 5 different games, of these 5 games 1 is a solo game, 2 are two player only and the remaining 2 can be played with from 2 to 4 or 6 players. The deck of cards features 12 cards of both a colour and species (human/tiger), 2 wild cards and 4 identity cards which are typically used to assign players a colour/species combo.

Sunday 21 October 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- Monumental

Game: Monumental

Publisher: Funforge Games

Designer: Matthew Dunstan

Year: 2019

Monumental is a Kickstarter project from Funforge Games, most well-known for Tokaido and designer Matthew Dunstan, who may be most well-known for Elysium or Raids or Pioneer Days which we have recently enjoyed. Funforge first launched the game on Kickstarter earlier this year, but took the decision to cancel and relaunch, in spite of good early funding, to improve the game based on backer feedback.

Returning to Kickstarter on 23rd October 2018, Monumental will be a Kickstarter exclusive game. It will be available in a deluxe edition with fantastically detailed miniatures, or a classic edition (approx. 70% of the cost) that uses tokens. In addition to the two editions, additional changes to the campaign include a lot more video coverage and, in our opinion, some great art and graphical updates too.

We’ve had the chance to play with a prototype copy and it’s been hugely enjoyable game and we can’t wait to tell you all about it!

Saturday 20 October 2018

Six Games You Should Check Out at Essen 2018

We've already published our Top Ten anticipated games for Essen 2018, but these are games that we haven't played yet, so we don't really know if they're going to be good. If you're looking for recommendations that we've tried and tested, then there are eight new releases at Essen that we have had the chance to play and really believe in. Take a look at the list below to find our first impressions or reviews of some fantastic new games!

Friday 19 October 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Holding On: The Troubled Life of Billy Kerr

Game: Holding On: The Troubled Life of Billy Kerr

Publisher: Hub Games

Designer: Michael Fox & Rory O'Connor

Year: 2018

Holding On: The Troubled Life of Billy Kerr tells the story of Billy Kerr, who was taken ill on a flight from Sydney to London. He is now in hospital, appearing to be in his final few days and your role, as the nurses is to look after him with both medical care and palliative care. Through your time with Billy he will reveal memories about his past and you will try and piece together his history to find out who he is and how to contact his loved ones.Billy has led an interesting life, and throughout ten games, you will talk to Billy to reveal new aspects of his past, learning more about the key dramatic moments in his history.

Each game uses the same basic setup and the same set of memories, depicted through wonderful artwork, but each new game you'll have the opportunity to find out new pieces of the story and also explore new mechanisms and ways to complete varying end game objectives. We've played five out of the ten scenarios and our review will be free from spoilers about the story and different elements you unlock.

Thursday 18 October 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Reef

Game: Reef

Publisher: Next Move Games

Designer: Emerson Matsuuchi

Year: 2018

Reef is the next game coming from the publishers of the extremely popular Azul. The two games share the same publisher, and the same 4 letter name that is rumoured to be the theme for a line of family weight abstract games from Next Move Games, an imprint of Plan B Games. The games also share a great attention to component quality. Whilst Azul had a very classy look, Reef has gone the route of bold and colourful, creating a different but still very appealing aesthetic on the table.

That's really where the similarities end. Reef is an abstract game that stands on it's own as a family weight 2-4 player game. The colours might fool you into thinking the game is aimed at children, but there's actually a really neat card drafting, puzzly, three-dimensional game in Reef that I believe rivals its Spiel des Jahres winning predecessor. Let's take a closer look!

Wednesday 17 October 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- Volfyirion

Game: Volfyirion

Publisher: Tabula Games

Designer: Federico Tini, Alessandro Veracchi

Year: 2019

Volfyirion is a competitive deck-building card game for two players. With two key paths to victory, will you lead your house into war, destroying your opponent's cities or will you be strong enough to harness the power of the dragon Volfyirion and have it wreak havoc against your enemies?

Volfyirion is coming to Kickstarter during October 2018, from Tabula games - who had a successful Kickstarter campaign earlier this year. Volfyirion has a similar setting and art style to Mysthea and even the opportunity to back a dragon miniature that can be used in both games. So, let's find out what Volfyirion brings to the deck-building genre and see if it's a two-player game that you should look out for!

Tuesday 16 October 2018

Keep your friends close, anemones closer:- Reef

Game: Reef

Publisher: Next Move Games

Designer: Emerson Matsuuchi

Year: 2018

Reef is a 2-4 player abstract game in which you take the role of a coral reef. You'll be attempting to grow your coral in the most eye catching an appealing way. As you might expect this has resulted in a eye catching game design too, with chunky colourful, stack-able pieces and a gameplay that encourages creating a colourful player board covered in coral.

Each player starts the game with a 4x4 grid of seafloor, starting with 4 pieces of coral on it, one of each of the 4 colours. Players will then take turns doing one of 2 actions: either taking a card or playing a card. This repeats until either one of the piles of coral runs out or the cards run out at which point the player with the most points wins. Should you take a card, you may take any of the 3 cards on display for free, or take the card on top of the deck at the cost of placing one of your victory points onto one of the cards on the display.

Sunday 14 October 2018

Overthinking by The Yellow Meeple:- Top 10 Most Anticipated Board Games of Essen 2018

Shall we go to Essen? This has been a topic of huge debate in our household for many a month. Ultimately, the decision was that we would not attend. It's one I deeply regret after seeing some of the amazing games being released this year! Although we've had to say no to a bunch of people we'd love to meet at the show, we also considered that Essen is primarily a shopping convention, not a convention where many games are played. I guess Amy is right...we really, really don't need to shop for more games right now.

Thursday 11 October 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Calimala

Game: Calimala

Publisher: ADC Blackfire Entertainment

Designer: Fabio Lopiano

Year: 2017

ADC Blackfire Games first came onto our radar as a publisher with War of the Buttons, which we demo'd at the UK Games Expo this year. Although they also make a lot of board game accessories, we're beginning to find out that they're a publisher to pay attention to for gamers who, like us, enjoy light to mid-weight euro games. With Calimala, we've certainly found another great mid-weight euro game, and since it's also been picked up for a reprint by Stronghold Games, other people are clearly noticing this game too! Not only that, but the designer, Fabio Lopiano has recently announced his second game, Ragusa, with some similarities to Calimala. So, let's take a look at the game and find out why we're so excited to share it and see it getting some more traction in the board game world.

Tuesday 9 October 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Star Wars: X-Wing 2nd Edition

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Fi bought Amy her first board game gift for Christmas 2015. If you look back at early photos of our game shelf, you’ll see the X-Wing core game on our shelf and over time our quantity of ships has grown. We only play casually at home with the Galactic Empire and Rebel Alliance factions, so when the 2nd edition was announced, we were unsure whether to upgrade.

In order to play 2nd Edition, we have a new core set, the Galactic Empire upgrade pack and a Rebel Alliance upgrade pack. For us, this is a significant amount of extra stuff, since we have only about 50% of the ships in each faction, so there’s a lot of spare cardboard in each of the upgrade packs. We also now have two extra Tie Fighters and one extra X-Wing, which are undoubtedly cooler models. So we wanted to write about whether it was worth the upgrade for casual players, and whether the new core set provides a better entry point for new players.

Friday 5 October 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Troika

Game: Troika

Publisher: Oink Games

Designer: Jun Sasaki

Year: 2018

People go mad for Oink Games – micro games from Japan that come with a not inconsiderable price tag for their size. I see numerous people of social media who are going for a ‘full set’. As they have become more popular and have reached wider distribution in the UK, a couple have become quite mainstream games, like A Fake Artist Goes to New York and Deep Sea Adventure. When we saw that they has a booth at the UK Games Expo this year, their notoriety meant that I was excited to see what was next in their line of games. Troika appeared to be the most recent addition.

I’m still unsure what the theme is here, if indeed there is one, but Troika is the same small box as many of the other Oink Games, filled to the brim with colourful pentagonal tokens that make a really pretty game on the table. Let’s take a look at how it plays and we’ll share our thoughts on this push-your-luck set collection game for 2-5 players.

Thursday 4 October 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Gearworks

Game: Gearworks

Publisher: PieceKeeper Games

Designer: Kirk Dennison

Year: 2018

Gearworks is a steampunk themed abstract game from PieceKeeper Games which funded on Kickstarter in December 2017. During the game you'll build intricate clockwork contraptions, by working your way through the similarly intricate mechanisms of the game. This 30-45 minute game for 1-4 players includes a lot of puzzly mechanism and relies on hand management, tile placement and some arithmetic.

A game of Gearworks lasts three rounds and in each round you will be collecting parts for your contraptions. Each contraption requires two specific  parts and you generally try to make one each round. Any spare contraption parts are also worth collecting. You collect parts by competing for positions of a 4x4 and 5x5 grid, depending on player count.

Tuesday 2 October 2018

You Know What Really Grinds My Gears:- Gearworks

Game: Gearworks

Publisher: PieceKeeper Games

Designer: Kirk Dennison

Year: 2018

Gearworks is a 2-4 player puzzle game in which players will attempt to be the best mechanical engineers. Spending their time trying to repair the great contraption players will correctly insert gears, and should they happen to remove a few non-vital components to complete their own personal project, well what's the harm in that?

Each round, players are dealt 5 new gear cards (they may have cards from previous rounds too) and 1 new contraption card. The central grid is seeded with a handful of gear cards depending on player number and play is ready to begin. Players take turns adding a gear card to the grid, when they do so they claim ownership of the column and row that they placed the card into. Should it reach the end of the round and they still have that claim then they will get components worth end game points. However, if someone plays into that column or row later then they can steal it back resulting in a tug of war for specific components.

Monday 1 October 2018

First Impressions from Tabletop Gaming Live 2018

Tabletop Gaming Live was held at Alexandra Place, London on 29th and 30th September 2018.  It was a brand new tabletop gaming convention and we went along for the day on the Saturday to see what it was all about.