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

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.

Games Played

Sunday morning certainly turned out to be a morning of roll and write games. Thankfully this means that you can play a lot of games in one morning and it's quite interesting to compare them all and observe how much of a glut of games there are in this genre right now. It would be crazy to own them all so lots of demos is a great way to go.
  • Lanterns Dice is a roll and write game from Renegade Games based on the tile-laying game Lanterns. Each turn, four dice will be rolled into a tray and the active player will rotate the tray so that they get a coloured dice they want. Each other player gets assigned the dice facing them. With that coloured dice you fill in a half square on your player board, gaining any bonuses. You can add firework tiles once you've completed the right shapes on you paper and the value of fireworks tiles diminishes throughout the game. The way that the special abilities combo in the game is really the key to making large joined up areas, the second largest of which will score at the end of the game. Lanterns Dice is a slightly more meaty roll and write game that was a real hit with us.
Lanterns Dice
  • Deadly Doodles is a flip and fill that pits you as adventurers trying to loot the dungeon, kill the monsters and slay the dragon. The game takes place over 7 rounds, each of which you will (typically) get 4 route cards which everyone will use. These vary from lines, crossroads, t-junctions and even dead ends.Each player has identical cards and an identical map so it's all about how you use it. Using the multiple entrances to the dungeon you want to move over treasure tiles and weapon tiles. If you have the correct weapon you also want to cross over monsters, but if you don't collect the right weapon then you'll lose points instead. Some tiles give you traps which you draw on your board and at the end of the game everyone who walked through the same grid coordinate as your trap will lose points! I enjoyed the extra interaction added into what was otherwise a good roll and write style game.
Deadly Doodles
  • Patchwork Doodle is a drawing version of the classic 2-player tile-laying game, which supports up to 6 simultaneous players. Each player is given a large starting piece to draw into their 9x9 grid and then the game begins. Each round a pool of cards are laid out in a circle and a die is rolled to determine the movement of the pawn. Whichever card the pawn lands on everyone must draw into their doodle. When there are only 2 tile cards left the round ends and players score for the biggest solid square in their doodle, then +1 for every line that makes it into a rectangle (for example a 6x4 solid mass would make 18 points, while a 5x6 would make 25 points). This mid-game scoring is what elevated Patchwork Doodle above Second Chance for me, though both are solid games in their own rights.
Patchwork Doodle
  • Board Game Cafe Frenzy is a new game coming from The Wood Games, publishers of A Pleasant Journey to Neko, which we picked up on Day 1. First of all we love the theme, because visiting board game cafes around the UK is a big part of our board gaming hobby, plus it's where Amy works. The game is a mixture of a drafting phase, followed by a trick taking phase in which you're ultimately looking to create a cafe with all the features to satisfy any common customers, as well as any secret, personal customers you have. In addition getting WiFi is incredibly important and something we neglected in our first game. The graphic design style is charming and the gameplay is interesting and something we'd love to dig into on a second play now we're more familiar.
Board Game Cafe Frenzy

  • Detective Club combines Dixit style cards with a social deduction game. Each round a secret word is chose and given to all but one player. Players then take turns playing 2 rounds of cards before a final round where the word is revealed and everyone explains their reasoning. Points are given out for working out who didn't receive the secret word, or for getting away with it if you were the spy. This is a whole lot of fun, the abstract art in the cards allows for all kinds of wild excuses for why you played a card, and if your hand of cards doesn't match the clue you can be desperate trying to tell everyone that you aren't the spy only to fall on deaf ears!
  • Super Fantasy Brawl is a fast-paced miniatures combat game. You will start the game by fielding a group of 3 warriors and shuffling their individual cards into a common deck. Each round you have a hand of 5 cards to use in 3 different colours. You will also have 1 gem of each of the 3 colours to spend, spending a gem lets play a card in the matching colour which may let you move and attack or push your opponents around. The combat is fast paced and brutal, but since your characters can almost instantly re-spawn you are encouraged to play a bit reckless. If you fancy playing more tactically then you won't be disappointed as controlling both your movement and that of your opponents is important to claim objectives that constantly scroll across the objective track, being worth more or less victory points as time goes by.
Super Fantasy Brawl
  • Team 3 is a party game from Brain Games, based on the three monkeys -see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. The game is a three player team game that plays up to 6 players (unless you use more than one set) and as a team you're trying to stack the coloured blocks to match the card. The player who can't talk is the only one who knows how things are supposed to look. They communicate to the person who can't hear through hand signals. The parson who can't hear then directs the player who can't see to pick up and stack the bricks correctly. This is great fun to watch and play and it's one I'd love to try with family and work colleagues, if only they hadn't sold out!
Team 3
  • Albedo: Yggdrasil Albedo: Yggdrasil is currently live on Kickstarter where you can also back the base game. Albedo is a wonderful deckbuilding game where you send forces to planets in order to either conquer them for points, or recruit new units to your forces. The Yggdrasil expansion adds the game's second new faction. Instead of starting with a relatively small deck, this factions starts with a massive deck, and also starts with all of it available in their hand. This makes them very strong early game, but they are limited in recruiting and their massive deck size means that it's hard to get those good new cards reliably. In addition there are also new gambits which are awarded each turn to the player who is behind in points. These can be used for one-off surprise actions to help you win crucial fights, or simply held onto for bonus victory points. Both these additions slot nicely into the existing gameplay and we were very pleased to see that the new faction didn't just decimate the other player in 2-player games!
  • The Gig puts you in the shoes of the members of a jazz band, all trying to work together to produce a fantastic song, but secretly all vying to be the star of the show, stealing the spotlight and performing the most solos. Each round a number of dice are rolled and placed into two pools. Each player has a crossword style area to place drafted dice in order to complete solos, or instead they can directly add dice to the central song.While you gain immediate points for contributing either way, you also want to ensure that the song has a strong focus in both your colour and your number in order to earn end game points. One of the nice things about the Gig is how important it is to go last sometimes, it gives you access to the fresh dice rather than last turns rejects, and since each player requires different dice for their 'crossword' what is good for one player might be awful for another.
The Gig
Games Bought

We actually bought no new games on the Sunday. We had intended to run around and look for retailers or publishers discounting games in the last couple of hours, but we had forgotten that the show closes at 4pm on the Sunday, rather than the usual 6pm. Our wallets will probably thank us! Amy did get a chance to pick up a few RPG related items for herself and friends including a very nice dice tray from D N Dice.

By Sunday the Bring and Buy was a very quiet place with no queue and about half as many games as either of the prior days. Some sellers cut their prices on the last day though, and I was able to find one such game as well as another that is hard to find in the UK.
  • Ganymede is a game that I've wanted for a while. When I saw that Lucky Duck Games has the license I thought we'd get the chance to try it, but then I realised their license wasn't for Europe. Whilst I probably overpayed for this one, it seems pretty hard to find in the UK, so I'm happy with my choice.
  • Now Boarding is a recent release from Tim Fowers that seemed to go out of stock after rave reviews from No Pun Included. We've been fans of a number of his games and the airline theme is one that looks really appealing. This game was reduced by the seller from £38 to £24, which is still quite pricey, but good for a game I currently can't buy in stores,

Things we Saw
  • Sierra West is a western in 4 parts. Basic gameplay remains the same along all games, you have a wagon that is traveling along a trail and some explorers climbing a mountain. Along the way you will collect new trail cards which will improve your actions via upgrading one of 2 paths on your personal board. Building homes in your camp may improve your actions too, but once both your meeples have headed out on the trail there will be no-one left to grant those bonuses to you.
    Sierra West
  • Iron Forest is an upcoming release from Brain Games following on from the Ice Cool series. It's another game in a box where the game box becomes the playing area. Though this time the game forms two layers. You'll be using the same weeble-style flicking mechanism to move around, but gaps in the top floor can drop you down to the ground below. Not to fear there is a chute on the side with a flicker that you can use to propel yourself up to the upper echelons. Iron Forest is sure to be full of table-appeal! 
Iron Forest
  • T.I.M.E. Stories is returning with its second season, T.I.M.E. Stories: Revolution. This time there is going to be less focus on the overarching story and more focus on the individual receptacles that you posses during the game. This includes individual conversation options depending on which characters are talking and hidden personal objectives to give the players a more personalized experience. If you liked Time Stories for the overarching story there will be a separate box that you can buy that allows you to run the games as an overarching campaign like season one and ties the story of each mission together.
T.I.M.E Stories: Revolution
  • Aeolis is the second game coming from Dreamcraft Games who's stand lured us over with some impressive miniature sculpts. Aeolis is a cooperative city defence game where each player will take the role of different noteables from the city seeking to defend it from pirates, barbarians and other incursions. Depending who you play as you will approach problems in different ways, the Queen is able to use diplomacy, while the witches are happier throwing fireballs.

Fi's highlight from Day 3 - Loot Pile

Loot piles...some love them and some hate them. Much as they are a hideous mountain to consumerism - I love seeing what games people bring home from conventions. Our loot pile is ridiculous, it has enable be to get my coveted 500 board game microbadge over on BoardGamGeek and we have nowhere to house it except the floor. I will probably not play some of these game before next years expo, like man games in years before. But, I did restrain myself and the quality of the games I selected to buy is something I'm really happy with. It's also worth nothing that a portion of the pile is review copies, kindly given to us by publishers so we'll have a lot of exciting content on the way soon.

Amy's highlight from Day 3 - Seeing Friends

The Expo isn't only about seeing new games, it's also about seeing old friends. The love of board games brings people from all over the country and for me it's a rare chance to catch up with some of my old university friends, friends who no-longer live so locally or even friends that I have met through the board game industry. Indeed many people barely step foot in the trade hall at all, but instead use UKGE as an excuse to see those dear to them and bond over 3 days of epic gaming from the moment the sun rises to the wee hours of the early morning. Some of the highlights of the show were playing party games with people I haven't seen for months, or even years!

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