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 30 May 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Noctiluca

Game:  Noctiluca

Publisher: Z-Man Games

Designer: Shem Phillips

Year: 2019

Noctiluca is the latest game from Shem Phillips, designer of the very well loved North Sea saga games, and West Kingdom range under his own brand Garphill Games. With too many designs to self-publish, this game is coming from Z-Man games and is an abstract game for 1-4 players.

Noctiluca, commonly known as sea sparkle, are a bio-luminescent sea creature, desired by healers. In the board game, these are represented by many coloured dice, which you are collecting to order for different healers who will reward you handsomely. With a limited number of divers available each turn, only the best and most accurate will fulfill the required mixtures that the healers need.

Wednesday 29 May 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Home on Lagrange

Game: Home on Lagrange

Publisher: Grizzly Games

Designer:   Jordan Anderson-Hyland, Callum Badger

Year: 2018

Home on Lagrange successfully funded on Kickstarter back in February 2018, as a first time project from Grizzly Games.

Playing as admirals, you compete with each other to construct space stations, built from an assortment of modules, which you will fill with a wide array of inhabitants, technologies, and other unknown curiosities.Throughout the game you'll build four space stations, perhaps focusing on education or technology, but ultimately creating a space station that is unique. You can find out the backstory of your space station in the admirals log.

If you're a sci-fi or pop culture fan, then make sure to check out Home on Lagrange at the UK Games Expo from 31st May - 2nd June 2019.

Tuesday 28 May 2019

A Glowing Review?:- Noctiluca

Game:  Noctiluca

Publisher: Z-Man Games

Designer: Shem Phillips

Year: 2019

Noctiluca is a 1-4 player abstract dice-selection game in which you will place your divers in order to capture and bottle the most noctilucas. The bio-luminescent (glowing) algae are represented by dice in 4 colours and by placing your divers i good spots you can collect them, bottle them up and deliver them to your waiting customers for profit. Unfortunately other divers have also started collecting the noctilucas and you'll need to be quick if you want to get the best diving spots.

Noctiluca is a simple game to play, At the start of each round the dice are rolled and distributed across the lake. Each player is given a couple of bottles to start with and their share of the 12 divers (half/a third/a quarter depending on player counts). They then take turns placing a diver on one of the 12 diving spots around the outside of the lake. When placed a diver chooses one of the two straight lines across the lake from their spot and a number and they collect every die in that line that displays that number. These dice are then added to their bottles, with any spares being offered to the next player. If you manage to finish a bottle you get a coin in the bottle's colour and can claim a new bottle from the open market.

Sunday 26 May 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- 1066, Tears to Many Mothers

Game: 1066, Tears to Many Mothers

Publisher: Hall or Nothing Productions

Designer:  Tristan Hall

Year: 2018

On face value, 1066, Tears to Many Mothers is not a game that would appeal to us. It's fair to say that we never touch historical games or war games and that directly confrontational 2-player games can be a big problem for Fi in particular. However, the reason it caught our attention was a passing comment by a friend that compared the game to Warhammer Age of Sigmar Champions. Regular readers will know that Warhammer Age of Sigmar Champions is another exception to the rule in that it's a two player trading card game that easily became one of our top games of 2018. The similarity here is that both are head-to-head card games with a spatial board element that really works for us.

Whilst the Battle of Hastings as a theme does nothing for us, the artwork is pretty phenomenal and a number of Golden Geek award nominations certainly help to raise the profile of this game from an independent UK publisher that started out life as a print and play.

If you're interested in 1066, Tears to Many Mothers then you can check it out at the UK Games Expo from 31st May - 2nd June 2019.

Friday 24 May 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Forbidden City

Game: Forbidden City

Publisher: Jumbo Games

Designer:  Reiner Knizia

Year: 2018

When we found out about Forbidden City we wondered if this was the game that forced Gugong to change its name after its successful Kickstarter campaign. Of course, Reiner Knizia has designed so many games that there's bound to be some you haven't heard of, and this was one of them. Then again I left behind a Reiner Knizia title on the thrift store shelves this week (Cool Catch, in case you're interested) because there's no doubt that he;s a prolific designer but that not every game is a hit.

As another game in Jumbo's relatively new line of strategy games, we immediately noticed a parallel with Overbooked, which we recently reviewed. Both have obscenely large and largely pointless cardboard components - in this case the temple that forms the central focal point of this tile laying game. So what more does Forbidden City have to offer?

Thursday 23 May 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Space Base: The Emergence of Shy Pluto

Game:  Space Base: The Emergence of Shy Pluto

Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group

Designer: John D. Clair

Year: 2019

Space Base: The Emergence of Shy Pluto is the first expansion for Space Base - a 2018 release from publisher AEG which really gained a lot of popularity as a 'Machi Koro killer'. Space based is a tableau building game in which the cards you build are each assigned a number from one to twelve and will be activated on every turn based on the roll of two six-sided dice. If you roll a five and a four, you can gain the resource and ability of either your card in slot nine, or both your card in slot five and your card in slot four. Not only do you get activation on your turn, but you'll also activate any cards you've built over on all other players turns too.

The Emergence of Shy Pluto calls itself a 'saga expansion'. How this manifests is in an expansion that looks a lot like a legacy game, with decks that you are forbidden from opening and secret tuck boxes. The expansion provides a campaign with a narrative element, that introduces new rules, cards and components as you progress. After playing through the campaign you end up with a playable expansion in the final state as well as an option to play one of the modules as a variant.

Tuesday 21 May 2019

The Dwarf Planet that Could:- Space Base: The Emergence of Shy Pluto

Game:  Space Base: The Emergence of Shy Pluto

Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group

Designer: John D. Clair

Year: 2019

Space Base: The Emergence of Shy Pluto is a saga expansion for the 2018 game Space Base. This means that it acts in a pseudo-legacy way, with new content being added gradually along with a storyline. However unlike a legacy game nothing is destroyed so the campaign can be replayed as much as you'd like. In addition the final state of the game at the end of the campaign is a complete expanded Space Base game.

In the game box you'll find a rule book couple of secret boxes, some dice and 2 decks of cards. One filled with story decks that give the ongoing story, tell you when to read which portions of the rule book and which cards to retrieve from the secondary deck. They also tell you when you can advance to the next card, which may be anything from "when all of the newly unlocked ships have been bought", to "at the end of this game".

Sunday 19 May 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Qwantum

Game: Qwantum

Publisher: NSV

Designer:   Stefan Kloß, Anna Oppolzer, Reinhard Staupe

Year: 2018

Qwantum is one of the latest roll and write games from NSV. If you enter a board game store in Germany you'll see hundreds of these very small box games and it's pretty hard to know where to start, but with Qwantum, its predecessors Qwixx and Qwinto certainly point to the routes of this roll and write game.

In such a small box, they've squeezed the scoresheets, pencils and seven dice you'll require to play this simple game. There's nothing flashy about Qwantum - it's just numbers and colours - an abstract, traditional roll and write, trying to hold its own in a sea of more thematic and intricate roll and writes that fans are now being introduced to. So, is Qwantum worth checking out?

Wednesday 15 May 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Exit: The Game – The Catacombs of Horror

Game: Exit: The Game – The Catacombs of Horror

Publisher: Kosmos

Designer:  Inka Brand, Markus Brand, Ralph Querfurth

Year: 2019

We've been following the EXIT game series from the start. We've played seven games so far and have another two waiting to be played on our shelves. The latest installment, Exit: The Game – The Catacombs of Horror has pushed its way to the front of the queue. It's more than twice the size of the previous EXIT games, and can be played as a 2-part adventure or one long "feature-length" episode, and so it certainly grabbed our attention.

As far as escape room games go, Unlock went by the wayside for us, leaving Deckscape as our easy option, EXIT as our hard option and Escape Room: The Game as the exotic cousin that we only get to play when I bring new versions home from my trips to North America. We love the additional tactile components in Escape Room: The Game, but also the simplicity and portability of Deckscape, so with a new bigger format, where do we stand on the new entry into the EXIT series.

Saturday 11 May 2019

The Game Shelf Previews:- Forks

 Game: Forks

Publisher: Radical 8 Games

Designer: Mark Stockton-Pitt

Year: 2019

Forks is a card game that puts the world of high-stakes investment into the palm of your hand. You'll spend the game deciding between investing in companies to enhance their performance and embezzling them for all the money you can get. But take care not to get too greedy. If a company doesn't receive enough investment then it will collapse and anyone trying to embezzle from them will be met with an unpleasant surprise.

It's coming to Kickstarter in May 2019 from independent publisher Radical 8 Games and designed by Mark Stockton-Pitt who was part of the design team for Newspeak - another game we'll be reviewing in the coming weeks.

Thursday 9 May 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Corinth

Game: Corinth

Publisher: Days of Wonder

Designer: Sébastien Pauchon

Year: 2019

You may have thought that 2018 was the year of the roll and write game, but you were probably wrong. In 2019, they've been coming thick and fast. Unlike that time when they said Legacy games were going to be the next big thing, roll and writes have a pretty low barrier to entry for designers and publishers and it seems like everyone is giving it a try!

Each year, Days of Wonder release one new game and so far, it seems like Corinth might be their 2019 title. Forgive me if I'm a little underwhelmed by the small box at a low price point, but I'm normally looking for something really impressive from Days of Wonder each year. Nevertheless, I try every single one based on past form and Corinth is no different. As a dice game adaptation of a classic board game, Yspahan, there's some pedigree here and to be honest, I still find it hard to turn down a roll and write game!

Tuesday 7 May 2019

Roll on down to:- Corinth

Game: Corinth

Publisher: Days of Wonder

Designer: Sébastien Pauchon

Year: 2019

Corinth is a 2-4 player roll and write game in which you are a merchant seeking your fortune by selling your wares in Corinth. You'll do this by rolling and drafting dice to gather goods to sell, spend money on infrastructure and sending your steward out to gather goods for you. At the end of the game you will score points for the resources gathered, and bonus points if you completed each type of resource first. In addition built buildings, spare gold and goats and locations visited by your steward can all score you points.

Corinth consists of 6 rounds (4 in a 4 player game) each of which has each player taking a turn as the start player. The start player will gather the 9 standard D6s and roll them. In addition they can spend gold in order to roll the yellow dice which can only be used by the start player. Dice are then placed out on the central board. All dice of the highest number is placed on the top row, then all dice of the lowest number are placed on the bottom, continuing upwards with each row getting all dice of one number. This serves to make certain resources rarer as the yellow resource won't be available unless at least 1 of each number was rolled this turn.

Sunday 5 May 2019

The Game Shelf Previews:- The UK Games Expo 2019

It's May, which means that the UK Games Expo is this month. For the last three years, the UK Games Expo has been the highlight of my board gaming calendar, and even though we're stepping things up with a trip to Essen and SHUX this year, UKGE is still the one I'm most excited for because I know what to expect.

This year, the UK Games Expo is bigger than ever and I thinks it's truly broken through to become in international convention. Major international publishers, like CMON, Stronghold Games and Renegade Game Studios are exhibiting for the first time (I think) and I have no doubt that the convention will grow again in both space and attendance. My top tip for this year is to organise to meet people you want to see. The convention is so large that I certainly need to make plans to catch up with friends and it tends to mean I can cram in more evening gaming if I make some plans in advance.

Whilst my focus is on the games I most excited about, I'm also super excited to get involved in the Bring and Buy, lots of seminars, open gaming and the BoardGameGeek math tradeWith the 2019 Spiel des Jahres nominations being announced just over a week before the convention I'm also hoping we'll get an opportunity to play some nominees, like when we played Luxor last year, which would otherwise have passed us by.

Each year, more and more companies make some releases or pre-releases at the UK Games Expo, prior to the large conventions in the USA and this year there's some really great titles releasing. There's a few resources listing the games you might be able to demo and purchase at the show - one on the UKGE website and the other at Tabletop Together. I've picked a few highlights in both categories to talk about a little more. The one game I've not spotted any news about is Century: A New World. The two previous games in the trilogy have had an early UKGE release in the last two years, so I would be disappointed if they don't do the same again in 2019.

Saturday 4 May 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Champions Warband Collectors Pack

Game: Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Champions Warband Collectors Pack

Publisher: PlayFusion

Year: 2019

Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Champions Warband Collectors Pack is an expansion to the 2018 trading card game. While Age of Sigmar Champions shares the same 2-player beat your opponent with monsters until they die format that is common in a few trading card games. Where Champions differs is in it's unique corner system. Each turn cards rotate to their next corner which dictates things such as how much damage they do. This allows for a wide range of playable creatures that might hit hard when played but then get weaker over time or ones that do damage for 2 turns and then heal you on the third. If you want to see our full thoughts on the base game you can find them here.

The Warband Collectors Pack bucks the trend of the standard booster-packs that have been released so far. Instead including fixed cards for 2 of the 4 factions allowing your to customise your deck to be inspired by either the Thorns of the Briar Queen or Stormsire's Cursebreakers.

Thursday 2 May 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Inuit: The Snow Folk

Game: Inuit: The Snow Folk

Publisher: Board & Dice

Designer: Alexey Konnov, Alexey Paltsev, Anatoliy Shklyarov, Trehgrannik

Year: 2019

Inuit: The Snow Folk is the latest release from Board & Dice, since they recently acquired NSKN Games. These two publishers had a great 2018 with hue hits like Escape Tales: The Awakening and Teotihuacan, so they’re one I’m eagerly keeping my eye on in 2019. Inuit strikes you with a beautiful cover and the designers note in the rulebook, as well as widespread interaction with the gaming community are very reassuring in how the game deals with its theme in a way that I hope is sensitive to the culture it represents.

The official release of Inuit is at the UK Games Expo at the end of May, although it did hit store shelves in the UK during the last couple of weeks.