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, 16 April 2019

Build the Best Sandcastle in the Galaxy!:- Fine Sand


Game: Fine Sand

Publisher: Stronghold Games

Designer: Friedemann Friese

Year: 2018

Fine Sand is a 1-4 player engine-building card game in which you compete with your rivals to build the best sandcastle by making clever use of your trucks(!) to build up your sand, and dump your waste onto others.The game is played simultaneously with each player taking one of two actions each turn. At the end of each game you will have a chance to change your decks using the fable game system to create a 10-game long campaign.

Gameplay in Fine Sand is simple, each turn you perform Action 1, then choose between actions 2a and 2b, before performing action 3. Action 1 starts as drawing 2 cards from your deck, though as you build new green cards you will draw more cards or perform other special effects. Action 2a lets you build a card from your hand, discarding a number of cards equal to the cost of the card you want to build. As you build red cards you will get more build actions when you use action 2a or even a discount on each build. Action 2b lets you draw more cards, with additionally built blue cards typically letting you draw even more cards. Finally action 3 forces you to discard to your hand limit, typically 3 cards, but purple cards tend to increase your hand limit once build.

In addition to the 3 actions you perform each round there are yellow cards which grant you out of sequence actions. Every game you will have the ability to dump one card into a pool which will then be added to an opponents discard pile, though additional yellow cards will unlock as you play the fable campaign. The final few card types are money cards, which simply act as more than 1 currency when discarded to build items, and sandcastles which are cheap to build but give no benefit once built. The aim of the game is to have the fewest un-built cards in your deck when the game end is triggered. The game ends when one player has in their hand every card remaining in their deck.

You start the game with basic basic versions of the 4 actions, but as you build cards each action gets more powerful
Fine Sand does a great job as an engine builder, while it can take some time to get going you really feel your engine growing as you go from drawing just a couple of cards a turn to having a sizeable hand each round and being able to build multiple of them. While the base game is good enough playing with the Fable system gives a great amount of replay-ability. Each game you will be losing 3 of your old cards and replacing them with 3 new cards. The order in which these cards are added is fixed, but the cards lost are random (though every player loses the same 3 cards). Since each game you are likely to go through your deck multiple times you are guaranteed to get a chance to use the shiny new cards.
The Fable system means you'll be adding one of these piles to your deck each game, new rules are added gradually so as not to overwhelm.
Fine Sand is a little on the simple side, but certainly a fun game. The replay value is high and I'm happy to report that every strategy I tried at least seemed viable, even if I didn't win. The Fable system adds some much needed freshness to each game and is implemented really well so as to ensure that each player has the same opportunities. I also enjoyed that you got a chance to really use your engine once it was functioning, the game doesn't outstay it's welcome, but also doesn't end too abruptly. Finally the simultaneous gameplay keeps everyone involved all the time, so long as you don't have one player who takes longer to play and slows the game down for everyone. Overall there is a lot to like about Fine Sand, but it's just a little too simple for my tastes, it's easy to fall into the trap of doing the same strategy each game and while the fable cards help prevent that, it can take a few games before the initial basic strategies top working so well. It's certainly worth playing and has a bit more depth than a lot of filler games, but it's still a filler game ultimately.

7/10

Fine Sand was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available at your friendly local game store for an RRP of £43.99 or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.u

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