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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Saturday 20 April 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Fine Sand

Game: Fine Sand

Publisher: Stronghold Games

Designer: Friedemann Friese

Year: 2018

Who designed this game? Well its got a green cover and it's name begins with F, so of course it's Friedemann Friese and Fine Sand is the latest fable game. We've tried most of the fable games so far, beginning with Fabled Fruit which we enjoy and has a place in our collection and then moving into the Fast Forward series which we were less enamoured with. Fine Sand has been hailed by Richard Ham of Rahdo Runs Through as one of the designer's best games and that was enough to make us want to give it a try.

Fine Sand is a deck deconstruction game for 1-4 player, where players compete to be the first to have zero cards in their draw pile. your card pool is reduced by paying to build cards, ditching them on an adjacent opponent, or having such a high hand limit that there's no cards left to draw. Of course, you can also build sandcastles to get cards out of the way. Each game you'll swap in 3 new cards, changing the game to create the fable system.

In Fine Sand, each player starts with an identical deck and a player board denoting the turn sequence. Each turn you will draw cards, then choose either to construct cards or to draw additional cards. You can take any special yellow actions once during your turn and then you must discard down to your hand limit. Your goal is to remove cards from circulation in your deck, hand or discard pile, so building cards or ditching them on an opponent is the way to succeed. The cards you can build will either be sandcastles, with no ability, or additional action cards. To build a card, you need to pay it's cost with coin cards, or by discarding cards from your hand at a rate of one coin per card discarded. If you build green action cards, you add them to the green area, meaning you can draw more cards on future turns. If you add red cards then you'l be ale to build more than one card each turn and you might also get a discount. Blue cards will let you draw more cards during your turn, and purple cards will increase your hand limit. When one player needs to draw cards but had no deck or discard pile, the game ends and the player with the fewest unbuilt cards wins.

Fine Sand is a game all about engine building and efficiency. You need to carefully build up the right balance of drawing cards, hand limit and building cards to enable you to slowly edge ahead in this race. The card play itself really reminds me of Gizmos, an engine building game from last year, in which you play cards to augment one a few simple actions and you select just one action to trigger each turn. Whilst I do see find sand as an engine building game, it definitely has less of the interlocking actions than a game like Gizmos and operates a lot less like a Rube Goldberg machine than many engine building games.

Fine Sand is a really easy game to play and it's easy to get quite lost in how solitaire the gameplay feels. You can pass one card per turn to an opponent in early games, but that's really all about you shedding cards, rather than being any form of player interaction. At times it takes some discipline to ensure all players are playing the same turn, because its so easy to focus on your own game during the simultaneous play.

Our first game of Fine Sand felt like an interesting gimmick, but it didn't really make a mark - it was just another OK card game, but thankfully, with the fable system, it's a game that inherently makes you want to come back for more. In our game collection, a game is lucky to be played more than three times before it is forgotten and we move onto the new hotness. What fable games do, much like campaign games or legacy games is introduce a simple hook that inherently makes me want to play more. I want to see more cards, and so far they are getting more complex and creating different connections between the 4 basic actions. With four games of Fine Sand it even feels like we've unlocked a whole new strategy that is viable to play with and win.

Fine Sand is not a mind blowing game, but it is an easy card game that I think could serve as a bridge for those familiar with traditional cards games who I'd love to introduce to engine building, because it's one of my favourite mechanisms. It's so simple and yet I think with this kind of card shedding, Friedemann Friese might have hit on something very simple that is actually new and innovative. Fine Sand is unlikely to become a staple of our collection, but I'm definitely interested to complete the fable aspect and for the Yellow Meeple it's a 6.5/10.

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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