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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Monday, 21 January 2019

The Yellow Meeple's First Impressions:- 8th - 20th January 2019


We've definitely been more social gamers in the past few weeks. This week alone, we've had game nights three nights in a row with different friends, plus attending a board game day last weekend. It's good to get back to some gaming with other people, rather than staying in the comfort of gaming as a couple. It also has the added benefit of trying out some 3+ player games and some games we don't own, but are interested to play.

So here the Yellow Meeple's first impressions!

  • Venture Angels is a blind bidding game from designer Bruno Faidutti. In the game you are playing as angel investors, making investments in hair-brained schemes, with some charming cartoon artwork. You each have tokens of different value that you bid face down on one of the projects, placing one token per turn. When total bids are revealed, the project that funds the most will burn, from having too much hype and those that didn't reach their funding goal will also burn. The other projects will belong to the highest investors. I liked the theme of the game, but the mechanisms are just not ones that I enjoy. The game is all about out-thinking your opponents with not much information to go on. I like the catch-up mechanisms and the scoring mechanisms which both seem to try and offer you some extra information, but ultimately it wasn't enough to turn a bidding game into something I enjoy.
  • Crown of Emara is a euro game, of minimal theme that really caught my attention amongst the Essen 2018 hype. It seemed to me like a few people picked it out as a hidden gem, and I'm very grateful to Meeples Corner that I could get my hands on a copy. In Crown of Emara you have 6 rounds in which you'll play 3 action cards per round. You have a meeple each on a  town board and a countryside board and along with your card action you will move a meeple clockwise round one of the boards and take the action associated with where you land. It's a resource management game where you'll try to efficiently exchange goods for citizen points and house points and your final score will be the lower of the two. I really appreciated the simple mechanisms of the game, combined with the complexity of a few simple choices each turn. The order of your actions and which card you associate with which action spot is super important, as is your efficiency. If you can do something in a single action that your opponent takes two to do, then you'll sneak ahead. It's a very tight game and i feel like there's a lot we still didn't explore. Although there's not one stand out thing for me with Crown of Emara, there's a really satisfying feeling to the game which makes me excited to play some more.
  • Kitchen Rush: Piece of Cake is an expansion to Kitchen Rush which introduces desserts. I love the real-time cooperative game of Kitchen Rush and Piece Cake certainly ups the complexity for experienced players. Kitchen Rush was never an easy game and Piece of Cake seems to make it harder on first impressions. The introduction of ice cream targets that you need to meet, makes the end game goals harder, but this is balanced with a new worker and specialist skills. I think the difficulty might technically be the same, but the added complexity makes it more challenging to play. I'm glad we've reset the standard with the expansion and I'm looking forward to trying to beat it for the first time all over again. It's also amazing how much extra content there is in such a small box, with a new campaign mode and extra mini expansions, that mean that Kitchen Rush is now a big game to explore.

  • Brikks is Tetris the roll and write. Over the last 6 months and probably for the next year, many games will claim to be this. But, in my mind, you can't even play Brikks if you don't know Tetris - you need to imagine the bricks falling into place and how you ability to slot them into the annoying gaps will be impeded. There's not many rules to teach once you know that there are bonuses for completing 4 lines at the same time rather than a single one, and that you'll score best for complete lines, although a line with 8 or 9 out of 10 squares still gets some credit. Brikks is slightly mechanically clunky with the rotation mechanism and a crib sheet to translate dice rolls to shapes. Plus its a bit hard to see where you placed pieces on your scoresheet. However, I love that it's a nostalgic Tetris port and it's definitely a game I'll play again. Plus, with just a couple of dice rolls common to all players, it should make a suitable long distance Skype game too.
  • Spirit Island is a pretty heavy cooperative game. It was sold to us by the best games pitch I've ever encountered at the UK Games Expo, but sadly it has sat on our shelf ever since. Fortunately a friend came over to teach it this week! You are the spirits trying to defend your island from invaders, who are building towns and cities in your land. On each turn you'll get the chance to attack the invaders and generate fear which will give you one-off actions to further damage the invaders' advances. Like all cooperative games the 'good stuff', 'bad stuff' will proceed in alternate turns, but the complexity of Spirit Island is really in knowing what to do next. Cooperation and communication are very important so that you protect and attack different regions each rounds and plan for the areas that will be settled or that will revolt in the coming rounds. I think Spirit Island will definitely benefit from a second play with a better grasp of the rules. It has the mark of a good game because 2 hours very quickly disappeared, but I need a better idea of how to contribute to the group's success before I'll know if it's a hit game for us.
The next couple of weeks will be very quiet for gaming as I travel to North America again. I'll be finding out whether there is a board gaming community in Atlanta, as well as trying to introduce some gaming to my time with colleagues. Hopefully I'll also get the chance to visit my board game cafe away from home at Across the Board in Winnipeg.

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