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 30 June 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Nobjects

Game: Nobjects

Publisher: Pegasus Spiele

Designer: Ludovic Gimet

Year: 2019

Nobjects, from Pegasus Spiele, is a party game for 3-6 players. It falls into the category of a 'Pictionary-style' game where one player draws whilst other players guess what they're drawing. The catch with Nobjects is that it doesn't include any pencils - you're tracing a picture with your finger on the table!

With a crowded market for 'say what you see' party games and some fantastic games like Telestrations and Concept to choose from, can Nobjects make an impression?

Friday 28 June 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Symphony No. 9

Game: Symphony No. 9

Publisher: Moaideas Game Design

Designer: Frank Liu, Hung-Yang Shen

Year: 2018

Board games that feed off people's outside interests are a type of theming that has great power within our hobby. Whilst your friend might see playing as orcs and wizards as a geeky pursuit, you might be able to bring a game of Symphony No. 9 to a classical musician friend and make a gaming partner for life.

In Symphony No. 9 you are a patron of the arts, sponsoring different famous classical composers to obtain their finest works. Will you work them to death and hold on to their final masterpiece? Or will you have to sell your belongings to provide for their talents? You might choose to invest in a musician who is more famous in death than in life and get a handsome return, or perhaps you're more contemporary in your choices, looking for a quick return.

Wednesday 26 June 2019

The Game Shelf Previews:- Crypt X

Game: Crypt X

Publisher: Inside the Box Games

Designer:  Rose Atkinson

Year: 2019

Crypt X is a game inspired by modern day archaeology and is centred on Ancient Egypt as its archaeological setting. Inspiration came from the Egyptian collections of the British Museum and the Ashmolean Museum, as well as online museum collections and various books and articles on the history and mythology of Ancient Egypt.

Crypt X is a narrative puzzle game for 1-5 players, following the mystery of a missing archaeology professor. As his student you'll investigate the puzzles he left behind.Not only will you solve the puzzles, but you'll also unravel the story behind his disappearance by working with the integrated app technology.

Crypt X launches on Kickstarter on 26th May 2019 and you can find out more in our preview.

Tuesday 25 June 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Bosk

Game: Bosk

Publisher: Floodgate Games

Designer: Daryl Andrews, Erica Bouyouris

Year: 2019

Do you enjoy beautiful cardboard trees? How about wooden leaves, or squirrel meeples (squeeples)?! Don't be fooled by the similarity in appearance to Photosynthesis, Bosk is a very different game of area control taking place over four seasons. In Spring you will plant your trees, in Summer you'll count points for the trees planted, in Autumn the winds will blow leaves from your trees and scatter them over the forest floor, and In Winter you'll receive points for the coverage your leaves have over different areas of the forest.

Floodgate Games have built a strong reputation with Sagrada, and with another visually striking game like Bosk, they're certainly setting themselves up for success. Let's find out how it plays.

Saturday 22 June 2019

The Game Shelf Previews:- Escape Tales: Low Memory

Escape Tales: Low Memory is a sequel to Escape Tales: The Awakening from Board & Dice. It debuts at Essen 2019 and we were fortunate enough to pick up the tutorial scenario at the UK Games Expo.

If you arrived at the same ending we did in the original game (or if you read all of the alternate endings, because you couldn't help yourself!) then you might be able to speculate about the topic of the second box and we were hopeful that it will build a continuing story arc. Our teaser of Low Memory has so far not made it clear if the story will continue, but it does give an introduction to the new setting and some new mechanisms.

Friday 21 June 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Champions Warband Collectors Pack Series 2

Game: Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Champions Warband Collectors Pack Series 2

Publisher: PlayFusion

Year: 2019

We play a lot of Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Champions, both on the Nintendo Switch and on the tabletop. However, at the UK Games Expo, we learned that we are part of a large group of players who play this game more like a 'board game' than as the collectible card game it was originally modelled as. Whilst the new Warband packs offer some fixed content, as you'll discover in this review and in our review of the first pack, there's still no doubt that the product is best suited to the competitive scene. excitingly, we learnt at UKGE that Playfusion are taking notice of players like us and there should be more fixed decks and other packaged products coming soon for Age of Sigmar Champions.

In the meantime, let's find out if there something here for home players?

Thursday 20 June 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Space Gate Odyssey

Game: Space Gate Odyssey

Publisher: Ludonaute

Designer: Cédric Lefebvre

Year: 2019

It’s not often that we’re surprised by a big new release. I generally have a good idea of the upcoming games I’m excited about. However, Space Gate Odyssey came out of nowhere and its beautiful box artwork, along with some interesting sounding mechanisms and a space theme that both myself and Amy enjoy, made it a must try game for us.

In Space Gate Odyssey, each player will build a space station from modular elements over the course of the game. The purpose of the space station is to teleport you earth dwelling species to one of the exoplanets that have been discovered, once the five exoplanets have been colonised, your space stations will teleport to the central exoplanet and the player who exerted the most influence in the colonisation phase will take control of the new planetary system and its new society.

Tuesday 18 June 2019

2001:- Space Gate Odyssey

Game: Space Gate Odyssey

Publisher: Ludonaute

Designer: Cédric Lefebvre

Year: 2019

Space Gate Odyssey is a 2-4 player tile laying and area control game where you will build your own space station in preparation to send your colonists down to the surface of a handful of habitable planets. Each planet has it's own dangers though so you'll need to plan your strategies around which planets are best to inhabit at which times. All of this requires construction of an efficient space station and strategic use of the action selection mechanics found in the central command station. Deploy your engineers wisely so as not to give your opponents too many free actions.

At the start of a game you will choose 5 exoplanets that you will be seeking to colonise before giving each player a set of pieces in their colour and a central hub for their personal space station. Each player will then choose a couple of starting modules to add to their space station in their inactive state before placing 5 colonists onto their station hub and a handful of engineers in their colour onto the command station. Each turn the active player will move an engineer from one room on the command station to a different one. This will then give them and everyone else who has an engineer (or robot) an action to perform.

Sunday 16 June 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Newspeak

Game: Newspeak

Publisher: Inside the Box Games

Designer:  Anthony Howgego, Fiona Jackson, Rose Atkinson, Mark Stockton-Pitt

Year: 2019

Newspeak is the language of Oceania, a fictional totalitarian state and the setting of the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell. In the book, Newspeak is a language with restricted grammar and limited vocabulary - a communication style which the board game tries to replicate. Given a very limited vocabulary, you'll find that some will embellish whilst others will be stunted in their communication. Can you successfully communicate with your side without your location information being intercepted?

Saturday 15 June 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Spring Rally

Game: Spring Rally

Publisher: Mandoo Games

Designer:  H.J. Kook

Year: 2018

Recently, we seem to be reviewing racing games. If you want betting with your racing game, then maybe check out our review of Downforce, but if you want trick taking with your racing game then you're in the right place with our review of Spring Rally.

In Spring Rally, each player has a wind-up car and your spring can store energy to propel your car forward, unless you overwind, in which case you'll be progressing more slowly. With super tactile components and stunningly bright coloured art design - could tick-taking be the wind-up key to a family weight racing game?

Thursday 13 June 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Downforce

Game: Downforce

Publisher: Restoration Games & Iello Games

Designer: Rob Daviau, Justin D. Jacobson, Wolfgang Kramer

Year: 2017

Downforce is one of the first batch of three games that was released by Restoration Games. As a publisher, Restoration Games set out to breathe new life into some older games, giving them a new look and new mechanisms to help them stand up to modern board gaming standards. Downforce re-implements the original racing game of Niki Lauda’s Formel 1, designed by Wolfgang Kramer, and released in 1980. It’s probably fair to say that Downforce has been the most successful of those first three games and is no co-published with Iello in Europe, along with having a first expansion – Danger Circuit.

Whilst we have owned a few racing games over the years, the do not typically last in our collection because they don’t excel, or even play at all with two players. Downforce says two players on the box, so let’s find out how it works.

Monday 10 June 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Undo: Cherry Blossom Festival

Game: Undo: Cherry Blossom Festival

Publisher: Pegasus Spiele

Designer: Michael Palm, Lukas Zach

Year: 2019

Undo is a new series of games from Pegasus Spiele in which you are travelling back in time to try and reverse the decisions that lead to the death of the main character. The first three games in the series will be released at Origins game fair, but there was a small pre-release at the UK Games Expo and we picked up the first of the series - Undo: Cherry Blossom Festival.

2-6 players play cooperatively as fate weavers, revealing key moments in the character's life and trying to make decisions that change the course of history. The games are non-destructive, but once you've played the game once you'll at least want to wait a long time and forget the story before you play again. Having been compared to T.I.M.E. Stories mixed with an escape room, there is a lot of promise with Undo, so let's dive into our SPOILER FREE review.

Saturday 8 June 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Moon Base

Game: Moon Base

Publisher: Itten Games

Designer:  Naotaka Shimamoto

Year: 2019

Moon Base is a two-player abstract game from Japanese publisher, Itten Games. Itten are certainly most well known for Tokyo Highway which was originally a two-player game that was turned into a 2-4 player game for wider distribution in North America and Europe. Itten's other games have typically been harder to find here in the UK, but this year Itten were at the UK Games Expo showing all of their beautifully crafted games, including Tokyo Highway with it's new buildings and vehicles extension, Here Comes the Dog, Tribe and more. I really hope that lots of UK gamers took advantage of this opportunity to get some really unique games.

Moon Base is Itten's latest release, which I believe was launched at the recent Tokyo Game Market and just one look at it on the demo table was enough to persuade us to give it a try.

Overthinking by the Yellow Meeple:- UK Games Expo Awards 2019

The UK Games Expo awards happen each year at UKGE in Birmingham. They're quite a small affair, but still great recognition for designers and publishers who are at the show. The 2019 awards recognise game products on demo and on sale at UK Games Expo 2019 and which have been released in the UK in the preceding 12 months, or are released at UK Games Expo 2019. Reprints are also sometimes eligible and between geography and this rule, most of the awards below can be explained as 2019 awards...

I'll start with the list of winners, followed by some commentary on my favourites! For context, the full shortlist can be found here.

Friday 7 June 2019

The Game Shelf @ The UK Games Expo 2019 - Day 3

I often find that the last day of the UK Games Expo can be a bit of an ending on a low, rather than ending on a high. All of my adrenaline is gone, I'm tired, I have all of the games I want and the bring and buy has nothing new and exciting to offer me. Fortunately, what we did have left to do on this particular Sunday was a lot of demos and there are many that we regret not having time to take a look at. I particularly regret not getting the chance to demo Venice from Braincrack Games, Homebrewers from Greater Than Games, Seize the Bean from Quality Beast and Hadara from Z-Man Games, but there are many more that there simply wasn't time to play at the show.

Wednesday 5 June 2019

The Game Shelf Previews:- Shaolia: Warring States

Game: Shaolia: Warring States

Publisher: Bad Comet

Designer:  Hani Chang, Gunho Kim

Year: 2019

In Shaolia: Warring States, each of you is a talented leader, building up your territory to become the new emperor, emerging from the chaos of wars all around the region.

The game is primarily a head-to-head game for two players, although one of the five game modes in the box is a 2v2 team game. This beautifully crafted game makes use of engine building, dice worker placement and combat to create a game full of strategy in which players can forge a unique path, pursuing wither military or cultural prowess.

Shaolia: Warring States launches on Kickstarter on 5th June 2019.

The Game Shelf @ The UK Games Expo 2019 - Day 2

On Friday, Amy had to make a dedicated trip back to our hotel to drop off some games and we sill had too many games for two people to carry when it came to the end of Friday evening. We spent our evening gaming with an old school friend of Fi's and only managed to play Forbidden Sky and Century: A New World. At UK Games Expo we're not frequently late night gamers, because the days are just too exhausting!

A reasonable bed-time refreshed us for another full day of demos on Saturday, as well as continuing with our 8am-9.30am gaming session in open gaming which is always a really nice and relaxed start to the day and a chance to play some new games acquired the previous day.

Tuesday 4 June 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Ticket to Ride: London

Game: Ticket to Ride: London

Publisher: Days of Wonder

Designer:  Alan R. Moon

Year: 2019

Ticket to Ride: London is a sequel to Ticket to Ride: New York, a small 15 minute version of the classic Ticket to Ride. Like with all Ticket to Ride games, London brings its slight scoring twist, but is really a shrunk down version of the original. Once again, playing Ticket to Ride: London reminds how much I love Ticket to Ride. The pile of expansion maps, as well as multiple base games on our shelves is a testament to that.

What's so exciting about Ticket to Ride: London for us is the power it will have to bring modern gaming to the masses. Imagine yourself as a family in the Tower of London gift shop, picking up a copy, enjoying it and noticing the flyer for its larger cousin Ticket to Ride: Europe. With it's first release at UK Games Expo, it's clear that Asmodee and Days of Wonder know exactly what they're doing with targeting the UK market with this game.

Monday 3 June 2019

The Game Shelf @ The UK Games Expo 2019 - Day 1

We just got back from an exhausting weekend of gaming at the UK Games Expo 2019. After arriving on Thursday, Amy visited the retailer event in her capacity as Senior Games Guru at The Ludoquist board game cafe, whilst I played some games with Joel from the Devon Dice podcast. In the evening we had the press preview which was both bigger and longer than ever before - with publishers showing off all sorts of exciting goodies. 

There's no attendance figures yet, but there seems to be no doubt that UKGE grew again this year. They took up more space than ever before, with more open gaming space, more exhibitor space and a larger bring and buy. Although we've never been to Essen, some are saying that Saturday was as crowded as Essen (I don't quite believe this!). The show also attracted a larger crowd of big international publishers, and it's great to see UKGE becoming a major destination on the board game convention circuit.

We played 43 games in total this weekend, so we have a lot to write about, starting with Friday...