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

Thursday 28 February 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Cupcake Empire

Game: Cupcake Empire

Publisher: Ludonova

Designer:  Al Leduc, Yves Tourigny

Year: 2018

Cupcake Empire is undoubtedly a board game that stands out from the crowd. What initially attracted us to the game was the bakery theme, one that is really different and refreshing to see amongst the wealth of fantasy and zombies that we're often overwhelmed with. It's honestly heartwarming to see a game that has a theme with such a different appeal and a colourful pink cover, since games like this can still tap into new audiences with their theme and visual appeal. Once you open the box, the aesthetic appeal of the game doesn't stop, with adorable little cupcake shaped wooden shops, wonderful matt finish, coloured dice and fantastic tessellating cupcake tokens, that all made us audibly oooh and aaahhh.

Cupcake Empire is a dice driven, action selection game for 2-4 players in which you are each trying to become the next big thing in the baking word. By identifying the right locations for your bakeries or cupcake shops, within easy reach of the perfect customers who love the flavours of cakes that you have on offer, you can have the most successful 'cupcake empire'. Over the course of a number of rounds, in a race to achieve 70 points, you will add new cupcakes to your repertoire, build up a network of bakeries and shops and deliver the goods to your discerning customers.

Wednesday 27 February 2019

The Yellow Meeple's First Impressions:- 15th - 24th February 2019

For my 30th birthday, Amy took me on a tour of the board game cafes around London. We visited Warboar, D20, Proceed Clockwise, The Library Pot and Cakes and Ladders, hitting my personal target of playing 30 unique games,! Almost all of the games were new to us, so I've chosen just a few of our favourites to feature here, as well as cheating and including some thoughts on the campaign of Aeon's End Legacy that we're currently playing.

So here the Yellow Meeple's first impressions!

Tuesday 26 February 2019

The Icing on the Cake:- Cupcake Empire

Game: Cupcake Empire

Publisher: Ludonova

Designer:  Al Leduc, Yves Tourigny

Year: 2018

Cupcake Empire is a 2-4 player dice game in which your dice represent specialised workers in the world of cupcake making. From bakers who can make the perfect cake, to masters of the piping bag, you'll need to use your workers to their strengths, while assigning them enough help to perform bigger and better actions. Cupcake Empire is a race to a victory condition of 70 points, with the player with the most points at the end of the round that someone crosses that threshold presumably being crowned the Cupcake Emperor!

Turns in Cupcake Empire are simple and usually quick. You choose one of your 5 areas to activate, perform the relevant action, with increasing power with more dice/the correct colour dice, and then re-roll all of the dice that were on that space. The areas are numbered 1-5, simply place dice on the row matching the number you rolled and you are ready for the next turn. Rolls of 6 perform a little differently, and dice showing 6s go on vacation. The first 6 you roll gives you an idea, a currency that can be spent to perform bonus actions or to return your 6s to the workforce, any additional rolls of a 6 give you a third of an idea. Meanwhile any 6s you roll give all your opponents a third of an idea too. At the end of your turn you gain a number of points equal to the lower of your two score tracks: Supply and Demand.

Thursday 21 February 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Scorpius Freighter

Game: Scorpius Freighter

Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group

Designer:  Matthew Dunstan, David Short

Year: 2018

After the prototype of Monumental stole our hearts towards the end of 2018, Matthew Dunstan is a UK-based board game designer who has our attention. Add into the mix pick up and deliver and engine building and a game like Scorpius Freighter is one I’ve been very excited to play. Having said that, it is a game that I initially overlooked when its box art and name did not grab my attention, so I’m very happy that it got a little bit of love in the board game media space which made me take a second look.

Scorpius Freighter is primarily an engine building and resource management game for 2-4 players, which plays in around 60 minutes. With three rondels to choose your actions, I don’t quite get the pick-up and deliver feel, although with a bit of imagination you could see yourself taking resources from one planet to deliver to another. Each player takes a player board, where they will build their ship over the course of the game, by adding square ties to the 5x5 grid. By adding some tiles, you can gain space to store cargo, whilst other tiles give you special actions. Over the game you’ll fulfil contracts and side deals to gain points.

Tuesday 19 February 2019

Find a crew, find a job...:- Scorpius Freighter

Game: Scorpius Freighter

Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group

Designer:  Matthew Dunstan, David Short

Year: 2018

Scorpius Freighter is a 2-4 player resource management game in which you take the role of a crew of space freighters looking to skim more than a little off the top of their delivery jobs. As you play you'll upgrade your ship, pick up cargo and deliver it either to your official contracts or to lucrative side jobs. If you can best use your crew's unique set of abilities and best arrange your freighter's construction then you could be the richest pilots around!

Each turn in Scorpius Freighter you will pick one or two of your crew to activate by sliding them under your player board. These crew members will act like pilots, moving one of the 3 ships on the central board in their orbits around their planets. Each space is a different action so you'll often want to move father to get the action you desire. However the strength of your action is determined by the number of crew who haven't been used so moving faster results in weaker actions. Eventually you will have only 1 or even no crew who aren't slotted under your board. If this is the case at the end of your turn then all of your crew are pulled out from under your board refreshed and ready for action. Every time a ship completes a full rotation of the planet it will confiscate a cargo cube, once a single ship has confiscated enough cargo the trade route will go into lockdown and the game ends.

Monday 18 February 2019

The Game Shelf Will be at AireCon 2019

Last year we attended AireCon in Harrogate, UK for the first time. Compared to our other UK convention experiences at the UK Games Expo, AireCon was a much more chilled out convention, focused on open gaming. We had the chance to play with lots of friends, old and new, and to take advantage of the games library and, of course, the Bring and Buy sale.

This year we'll be extending our stay to the whole weekend and we're excited to catch up with some old friends, as well as to take advantage of a few more of the events on offer. Here's a few of the things we're looking forward to at this year's AireCon, taking place from Friday 8th - Sunday 10th March 2019, at the Harrogate International Convention Centre.

Saturday 16 February 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Kero

Game: Kero

Publisher: Hurrican

Designer: Prospero Hall

Year: 2018

Kero is undoubtedly and eye-catching game. First of all, the artist is Piero - an artist loved by many board gamers for his work on Ghost Stories, as well as many other games. Secondly, once you put the game out on the table, it's hard to miss the gigantic, truck-shaped sand timers, which are very over the top, but very thematic! The only downside is that the player colours are brown and grey, which fits well in the post-apocalyptic dusty landscape, but isn't quite as enticing.

Since Hurrican Games seem to specialise in games for 2-players only, it's interesting to see their catalogue expanding beyond the Mr Jack series. Kero is a competitive, dice-rolling real-time game for two players. After initially being attracted by the aesthetics, we have often been dubious of real-time competitive games which can be a race to the best dice rolls, but Kero offers something slightly different that kept us coming back for more after our first game at a board game cafe.

Thursday 14 February 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Kodama Duo

Game: Kodama Duo

Publisher: Action Phase Games, Indie Boards & Cards

Designer:  Nick Little (I), Daniel Solis

Year: 2018

Kodama Duo is a two-player only version of Kodama: The Tree Spirits - a very charming card drafting and tile-laying game. Kodama Duo funded on Kickstarter during 2018, perhaps connecting with a new audience after the success of the roll and write spin-off, Kokoro, or maybe because it has the potential to expand Kodama to 6 players.

Kodama: The Tree Spirits played 2-5 players and we were very happy to play it as a two-player game, so what does the new Kodama Duo have to offer and should you replace your copy of the original game if your gaming situation is always two-player?

Tuesday 12 February 2019

Two Trees, or not two trees:- Kodama Duo

Game: Kodama Duo

Publisher: Action Phase Games, Indie Boards & Cards

Designer:  Nick Little (I), Daniel Solis

Year: 2018

Kodama Duo is a 2-player only version of the 2016 game of growing trees, Kodama: The Tree Spirits. But it's not just a 2-player game, it also serves as an expansion to the original game, raising the player count to 6 and adding a new drafting optional rule to the game.

If you are familiar to Kodama then you can expect mostly the same gameplay. I'll explain the changes in the next paragraph. But for those of you who are new to Kodama, allow me to quickly recap. Kodama takes place over 3 seasons each of 4 rounds. Each round you will gain a branch card from a common market and add it to your tree, you will then score a number of points based on the number of matching symbols on the branch you placed and the previous cards placed going back to your original trunk card. Each season will have a special rule that varies the gameplay in some way. At the end of each season every player will invite a Kodama to their tree, this Kodama will give you points depending on how much it likes your tree. Some Kodama may like a tree with lots of fireflies and caterpillars, while others want a tree with as many different branches as possible. At the end of the final season the player who has earned the most points wins.

Friday 8 February 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Wangdo

Game: Wangdo

Publisher: Mandoo Games

Designer:  Frank Crittin, Grégoire Largey, Sébastien Pauchon

Year: 2018

Wangdo is a game about bears - if you like bears, then Wangdo has you covered. From bear meeples, to a bear shaped insert, to a cloth bag with a bear on it, to pandas and red pandas (??). Anyway, if you like bears or bear adjacent creatures, along with light set collection and route building then Wangdo is off to a good start.

Each player takes on a bear clan trying to gain the favour of the king. The princes travel far and wide, gaining the education to be next in line to the throne and erecting statues of themselves in all of the towns they visit, and in return they inherit knowledge of religion, education, military, and commerce.

Wangdo is a competitive game for 2-4 players that lasts around 30 minutes.

Thursday 7 February 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Gugong

Game: Gugong

Publisher: Game Brewer

Designer: Andreas Steding

Year: 2018

The premise of Gugong is a historical Chinese custom of gift giving. At this time in China, corruption was rife, but authorities had to be seen to uphold bans on corruption and bribery by enforcing high penalties. To get around these challenges, officials would accept gifts from petitioners, which they would exchange for gifts of lower value.

In the game, this theme is central to the core mechanics. In the different regions of the board, officials have gifts on offer and you are able to exchange with them for a gift of higher value to be given access to the actions available in their region. It you're desperate for an object they have, then you can exchange at a lower value, but only by making other sacrifices or by forgoing the chance to take the available actions.

Tuesday 5 February 2019

Back When Building a Wall Worked:- Gugong

Game: Gugong

Publisher: Game Brewer

Designer: Andreas Steding

Year: 2018

Gugong is a 1-5 player hand management game in which you take on the role of Chinese nobles seeking to increase your station and undermine your opponents. To do this you will trade in precious jade, travel around the provinces, assist the construction of the great wall and ultimately gain an audience with the emperor to impress upon him your great deeds! Gugong takes place on a sectioned board, with each area representing one of the deeds that you can do. activating areas is done by playing cards from your hands in a way not unlike worker placement games. As each round has 3 random numbers that will reward you at the end of the round careful hand management can lead to great rewards!

On any one turn of Gugong you will take one of the cards from your hand and use it to replace one of the cards on the board. If you card is higher in value than the existing card then you get to play normally, otherwise you will have to pay a penalty of either cards, influence cubes or not getting the action for the space you used. Assuming you didn't  forfeit the action then you will get to perform the action of the location you went to. In addition many of the cards have a secondary action printed on them, giving you an extra action or other various benefits. Additionally many actions can be powered up by spending extra resources to gain greater rewards. Regardless of what you do the card you replaced gets added to your discard pile, this card will be in your hand next turn and also will be used for end of round scoring based on the 3 'destiny' numbers for the round.

Sunday 3 February 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Dead Men Tell No Tales: The Kraken

Game: Dead Men Tell No Tales: The Kraken

Publisher: Minion Games

Designer:  Kane Klenko

Year: 2018

Dead Men Tell No Tales is a 2015 release from Minion Games. It was around for quite a long time before getting its first expansion, via a Kickstarter campaign for Dead Men Tell No Tales: The Kraken in 2018. Kickstarter backers recently received their copies and the expansion is released in the UK this week.

Dead Men Tell No Tales is a cooperative game in the 'Pandemic' style. Players have a character with a special ability on on their turn they use a set number of actions to try and minimise chaos on the board, which is the result of a burning ship with spawning enemies. At the end of each turn, the fire worsens based on the flip of a card. The Kraken expansion, introduces some new mechanics, using the fantastic kraken miniature, with all of its tentacles, as well as introducing a new playable character to the game. Dead Men Tell No Tales was always a challenging cooperative game, so let's find out whether the kraken adds difficulty or just some new flare to the game.