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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Sunday 27 January 2019

The Game Shelf Visits...The UK Toy Fair 2019

Boldly called 'The Toy Fair', the UK Toy Fair is held each year in London. This year the event took place from 22nd - 24th January. I hear that it is by no means a rival to the size of Nuremberg Toy Fair or the New York Toy Fair, but it is an industry get-together for retailers and toy manufacturers to share what is up and coming for 2019. I believe that the big new releases are likely not to be announced until the larger international fairs.

Of course, the full spectrum of toys is shown at Toy Fair, from motorised cars, to baths full of green goo, to board games, which is why we were there! (We we're also there to see the Lego room, but it turns out that that room is private and shrouded in secrecy!) Being that the fair is focused on selling to mass-market retailers, there were of course a lot of examples or mass-market games that aren't really aimed at us as gamers. However, some big UK and European names were still represented. Here are some highlights of the 'hobby board games' being shown.

Kosmos UK are of course, bringing over all of the titles that released for Kosmos in German at Essen. In particular I'm excited for Roll for Adventure from designers Matthew Dunstan and Brett Gilbert. For fans of the EXIT Game series, there are 3 more games on the horizon for this year; The Catacombs of Horror, The House of Riddles and The Haunted Rollercoaster. I'm very intrigued by the Catacombs of Horror, which comes at a slightly higher price point but has a two-part adventure in the box - I am expecting something very cool and new!

Kosmos UK are also distributing many titles from Spanish publisher Devir Games. I'm personally very keen to play Silk and see what other titles become more widely available in the UK as a result of the relationship.


Jumbo are definitely known to me as a jigsaw puzzle brand, who have a lot of licenses for kids. They also have the rights to Stratego. However, they've spotted an opportunity in the hobby games market, and their team in Holland is bringing in some titles that not only look good, but also come with some pretty strong pedigree, with some strong designer names. In particular, we spotted Forbidden City from Reiner Knizia and Okavango from Kramer & Kiesling. We were also very taken with the cleverly titled Overbooked, where you're trying to solve the nightmare of sitting people in seats they'd like to sit in on an overbooked flight.


Coiledspring UK revealed their new 2019 catalog, showing a hugely increased range from relationships with a number of different publsihers. They will now distribute titles from Helvetiq, Scorpion Masque (Decrypto), NSV (The Mind, Qwixx, etc.) and Schmidt Spiele (The Quacks of Quedlinberg and Ganz Schon Clever).

Asmodee UK

Asmodee UK of course had one of the biggest stands for hobby board games and were showing a good range of kids games, family games and some strategy games. Of particular note, we saw a fake box for Ticket to Ride London , which is another quick 15 minute Ticket to Ride, but unfortunately there is no additional information, besides a September release date! I also spotted some new Blue Orange Titles, as well as Captive, one of the graphic novel adventures from Van Ryder Games, that has me a little excited to see if those books come to the UK.


Ravensburger shared a booth with Thinkfun Games and we found a few exciting prototype boxes on display! First was a new Escape the Room game coming for 2019, but probably most exciting was some sample box art for Jaws, a game from Prospero Hall, that looks to be in the same line up as Villainous and Jurassic Park: Danger. Unfortunately that's all we know, but it's great to see more cool titles coming that have the power to span the hobby gamer and casual gamer divide!


Gigamic make beautiful abstract games, such as Quarto, Pylos, Quoridor and others, which have lovely wooden pieces. They also have the license for In a Bind, now released as Yogi, from well-known UK designer Bez Shahriari. In the same line of small box games in a tin, it's also interesting to see some other kids/family titles, like Hellapagos and Kontour, which both look like interesting games to check out.

Ginger Fox Games and Big Potato Games were also representing the party games and family games edges of the hobby board gaming world, along with Red Knight Toy Group. Red Knight Toy Group are new to the UK/Ireland board game distribution market, and run by Rory Kelly, formerly of CoiledSpring Games. They are representing Brain Games (of ICECOOL fame), as well as Backspindle Games and some other party games.

Possibly most disappointing of all was that the fair nominates the best 20 toys for 2019. You'll be glad to know that board games were represented! However, you also need to run out right now and make sure that you get your hands on Gangsta Granny Stash the Swag and Don't Upset the Llama...It is a shame that the power of modern board games isn't quite making it through to the mainstream and being represented here!

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