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

Sunday, 14 April 2019

The Game Shelf Previews:- Maquis


Game: Maquis

Publisher: Side Room Games

Designer: Jake Staines

Year: 2019


Maquis is a solitaire worker-placement gameset during the Nazi occupation of France. You play as the resistance agents, travelling around the town, trying to achieve your goals without being caught by the Milice collaborators and Wehrmacht soldiers.

Maquis is a published version of a previous Golden Geek Nominee for best print and play. Sideroom Games are bringing it to Kickstarter with a fantastic production version that's also great value.

Those of you who follow our blog regularly might notice that this is a solo game and we've never spoken about solo play before. I was so drawn to the artwork and gameplay of Maquis that I decided to give it a try, in spite of my previous lack of engagement with solo games. So has it converted me?


Gameplay

In Maquis you have 14 rounds to complete your two missions. In each round you'll place each of the workers from your safe house out into locations on the board, hopeful that you'll be able to take the action of that location to gain or trade resources. You'll also place the bad guys - the Milicia - and their placement location will be controlled by the locations drawn from the patrol deck. If, after alternating the placement of good guys and bad guys, you find that your worker is trapped by a Milicia and can't make it back to the safe house, then you can either use a weapon to shoot the Milicia, or your good guy will be captured.


Each of your two missions typically requires you to collect a different number of goods and typically this will involve some of the more advanced goods that are only available from adding additional locations to the board. These missions create a different puzzle every time as you choose what you'll need to prioritise in this very tight and challenging game of worker placement and resource management.

 
Fi’s Final Thoughts

Maquis is exactly the kind of solo game that I think I'm most likely to enjoy. It has the feel of a cooperative game, where you are playing against a shuffled deck of cards and it also has a really puzzly aspect of figuring out an efficient strategy to suit the two events you've drawn for the game. Compared to solo games that make me shoot for a high score, Maquis really has something that kept me hooked and wanting to play again. It's had me talking out loud at the table and cursing the Milice meeples and I can even see me turning it into a cooperative experience so that I can bounce ideas off Amy and perhaps actually win!


The game is very well thought out in many aspects of it's design, with the Patrol cards in particular having a clever way if working round the occupied spaces of the board. After a few plays I started to learn how I could potentially use the location of my own Resistance workers in order to affect the locations of the Milicia and ensure a safe route home.  With the morale points as another path to failure in the game, I've also found myself forced into a downward spiral at times, really ramping up the difficulty.


The difficultly level seems really high and after 3 plays, I've still not won this game. There are options to tweak the difficultly, but even the easy modes don't seem to offer me a victory path at the moment. If I don't win in the next few games, I might become frustrated, but equally I want the game to be a difficult experience - after I've solved the puzzle once, then there will be less drawing me back to the game. What's great is that you can continue to increase the difficulty and thee variety of missions will also combine to create many different puzzles that each focus your experience in a new direction.

The Verdict

If, like me, you've not ventured into solo gaming before, I'd recommend giving Maquis a look. It's compact, elegant and gives you a very challenging puzzly experience that keeps you coming back for more. I'm amazed by how much I was taken in by the artwork and theme and I'm determined to win at least once!

Maquis was a prototype kindly provided to us by Side Room Games. It is on Kickstarter until 6th May 2019.

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