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

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.

Spiel Essen is taking place from 25-28th October 2018. According to the listings by BoardGameGeek and Tabletop Together Tool, there will be nearly 1200 new games available at Essen this year. 66 games made my long list, and I was strict! To whittle this down to just a Top 10, I've applied a few rules;
  • No games that we've backed on Kickstarter.
  • No games we've already played. (A few of the big games have had a UK release in the past few weeks.)
  • No expansions. (These will be featured on another list.)
So here's my Top 10 Games we are interested to get hold of following Essen 2018.

     10. Rebel Nox appears to be a follow up to Capital Lux, from Aporta Games. Capital Lux was a lesser known card game that really stood out for us. It has amazing artwork from Kwanchai Moriya and had really clever hand management and area influence aspects. Rebel Nox supports 4-6 players, which is a useful player count for larger groups, but one we don't encounter often. Nevertheless, I'm very keen to check this one out and see if it can live up to the clever design of Capital Lux.

     9. Robin Hood and the Merry Men looks like a colourful and thematic rendition of a theme that is not often successfully applied in board games. Not only does it look fun, with great and and components, it also fits into the mid-weight euro game category that we play a lot of at the moment (as may become clear from this list). Lowlands showed how well semi-cooperative elements can mesh with euro games and the worker placement, dice rolling and resource management should all come together into a game we really enjoy.

     8. Dice Settlers is one of a couple of hugely anticipated releases from NSKN Games. This one comes from designer Davis Turczi, whose games Kitchen Rush and Anachrony are both big hits with us. The main draw for me in Dice Settlers is bag building - it looks like you gain different colours of dice over the game with different specialisms, but then when you roll the dice you'll need to make the best of what you roll through dice allocation. I'm really hoping that Dice Settlers is unique enough euro game to stand out for us.

     7. Reykholt is Uwe Rosenberg's new big-box game. The cover, however, is very different to many other of his games, with a lovely image of  geothermal greenhouse in Iceland. Inside the box, it's still a worker placement game, and it still has a farming theme, but it looks to be on the lighter end, compared to games like Feast for Odin or Caverna. It has been compared to the Gates of Loyang, which is a title that we haven't played. I'm hoping for something like Nusfjord in weight to make it easier to get to the table, but with some gameplay that grips me a little bit more.

     6. Teotihuacan: City of Gods appears to be one of the heavier games on this list. Some reviewers have called it a successor to Tzolkin - a game that was too heavy for us we we first tried it, but that we should really revisit now that our tastes have changed. It's the second game on this list from NSKN games and feature David Turczi as a co-designer. The game seems to use an interesting rondel mechanism where dice affect how you trigger the different spaces, implementing some player interaction. It looks like an exciting point salad style game that I'm looking forward to getting my teeth into.

     5. Underwater Cities is a game from a brand new publisher, Delicious Games. However the designers name of the box ha my attention. Vladmir Suchy is the designer of Pulsar 2849, one of our surprise hits from last year, so his next game certainly has my attention. Not only that, but it also seems to have engine building and tableau building - a feature of some of my favourite games, like Terraforming Mars. The components and art also look great, so it seems like a great package to me.

     4. Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra pretty much automatically qualified for this list. Azul has been a huge hit for us with friends and family and having recently played Reef, there is really no doubting the quality of games coming from Next Move Games. Stained Glass of Sintra, may look like a cash grab or re-theme of Azul, with some twists to set it apart, but rather than being put off by that, I just don't see why a re-implementation of an awesome game wouldn't be something I'd like to play. Maybe there won't be space for both on our shelves, but I'm pretty confident we'll have fun with Azul:Stained Glass of Sintra.

     3. Treasure Island is a deduction game with the amazing art and production combination of Vincent Dutrait and Matagot. Deduction games are a style of games that I really enjoy, but that we don't encounter very often. We recently really enjoyed MS Batory and Sonar because of their use of deduction and logic. Treasure Island really seems to step things up a gear, creating a complex game with deduction mechanics and I'm very keen to give it a try!

     2. Newton is coming from Cranio Creations and has the pedigree of the Italian designer group behind Grand Austria Hotel, Lorenzo il Magnifico and most recently, Coimbra. The latter two have become very hot, up to date euro games that stand out for me because of their great designs with simple mechanisms. Newton also has a historical science theme, which appeals to this geeky household and got some great initial feedback around Gen Con, so it's high up on our list.

     1. Captains of the Gulf is top of the list because of the publisher. Spielworxx recently hit my radar as publishers of medium to heavy weight euro games that typically work very well for two players. Captains of the Gulf appear to hit the lighter end of their spectrum, with lovely artwork, multi-use cards and action selection. The game just grabs me with its simplicity and I'm hoping it's a great next step into Spielworxx titles for us.

Looking back at my list from last year, we've played 4 out of 5 of the games I listed and honestly, none of them have had great staying power for our collection, so what do I know? I'm really hopeful for some of the games listed here, but for some dead certs we've already played, I'd recommend checking out Reef, Chronicles of Crime, Dice Hospital, Holding On: The Troubled Life of Billy Kerr and Auztralia. All of these games have been fantastic experiences for us!

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