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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Tuesday 30 October 2018

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.

Each turn in the game you will lay one gingerbread tile, this will, naturally, cover up 2 squares of your grid. Each time you place something you get the rewards of the two covered squares, there are 4 basic tiles which simply gives you gingerbread in one of 4 flavours. There are also 4 special tiles; Staircases grant you a 1x1 staircase tile that can help you fill in gaps in your house, exchanges let you swap a gingerbread for one of another colour, cages let you invite a new guest over (you can have 2 at a time) and wildcards let you do any of the above. If you manage to cover 2 of the same type in one placement then you get 3 of that reward rather than 2!

The characters are drawn from a variety of folk and fairytales to create a colourful ensemble of ingredients guests
After placing a tile and getting a reward you can use your gingerbread tokens to fulfil the requirements on one of your guests. When you do so they move down below your player board and will earn you end game points, in addition you instantly get a wild card tile to place in your house. Every time you complete a full 3x3 floor of your house you get to take a bonus card, these sometimes give you an instant bonus, but typically are about end game scoring. The game continues until each player has exhausted their individual pile of tiles at which point the player with the most points wins.

Your captured guests are stored at the bottom, with new invitees at the top, feed them the right gingerbread to turn them into more permanent residents!
The tile laying in Gingerbread House is simple and easy to pick up, however as everyone has their own pool of tiles it can feel a little unfair. If you happen to have a deck that's full of exchange or staircase tiles then you are naturally going to get less gingerbread with which to score points. Conversely if you don't get any cage or staircase tiles in your deck then you can be forces to spend all your wildcards just to stay in the game. It should be noted that while this doesn't feel great as you play, the game is balanced well enough that you should still have a fair chance of victory.

For me Gingerbread House fits into an awkward space, it's a little too long to be a true filler game, but lacks enough depth to be a full game experience. The gameplay is enjoyable, but simple, which probably leaves it in place as a game for parents and kids.


Gingerbread House was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available for an RRP of £32.99 at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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