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

Tuesday 30 July 2019

Snow Time to Lose:- Tuki

Game: Tuki

Publisher: Next Move Games

Designer: Grzegorz Rejchtman

Year: 2019

Tuki is a 1-4 player dexterity stacking game with a strong puzzle element. In the game you create inukshuk, structures of snow and stone used as landmarks. But you'll have to do it fast, you only need 1 copy of a landmark, so the first one to complete it will be the one who's monument stays erected for future generations to see.

In a game of Tuki each player is handed 4 coloured blocks 5 times as long as they are wide and tall, along with 4 white blocks in various shapes. Each round a die is rolled to dictate which of 3 ways up the puzzle card is placed on the central stand. It also dictates whether the puzzle is to be placed straight on the table, or if the coloured pieces must all be suspended off the table by the white blocks. Each card dictates the relative positions of 3 or 4 of the coloured blocks, but leaves no hints as to where the white blocks need to go. It's up to you to find that solution, and fast.

Friday 26 July 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- City Explorer: Tainan

Game: City Explorer: Tainan

Publisher: Moaideas Game Design

Designer: ゆお (Yuo)

Year: 2018

We met with Moaideas Game Design and talked about some of their more well-known titles, but we also came away with City Explorer: Tainan - a small box game comprised of just 35 cards that feels almost like a souvenir from the trip to Taiwan that we've never had. Each card features a site of interest in Tainan and tells you a little about it (in both the local language and English) and whilst this was pretty much overlooked by us when we played the game, I'd comment on the fact that this game might be able to sell modern board games to a tourist audience if it could be found in gift shops. (I made a similar comment about the power of Ticket to Ride: London, and I really to hope there's some truth to it!)

City Explorer: Tainan is the second such game from Moaideas Game Design, with a Kyoto version also available. It's a set collection game for 2-4 players which plays in as little as 10 minutes, but packs some interesting mechanisms into its small package.

Thursday 25 July 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Blackout: Hong Kong

Game: Blackout: Hong Kong

Publisher: Eggertspiele

Designer: Alexander Pfister

Year: 2018

Blackout: Hong Kong is a prime example of why we need to go to Essen. The game released at Essen 2018 and it didn't get a UK release until July 2019! That's 9 months that Blackout: Hong Kong could have been sitting on my shelf of shame waiting to be played. Thankfully committing to review a game gets it to the table far faster and I'm very excited to share my review today.

The positive aspect of waiting for a UK release is that this release upgrades the graphic design that really tarnished the first impressions I heard of the game after its initial release. A lot of the views I heard were that the game was long and that it was really difficult to keep going when the board was so dark and incomprehensible. Whilst I haven't seen the original, I have zero problems with the graphic design now and found it really slick and intuitive. Perhaps an added bonus would be a little bit more distinction of the symbols on the custom dice. So with that reservation truly blown out of the water, it's a lot easier to get to the meat of the game itself.

Tuesday 23 July 2019

This little light of mine, it no-longer shines:- Blackout: Hong Kong

Game: Blackout: Hong Kong

Publisher: Eggertspiele

Designer: Alexander Pfister

Year: 2018

Blackout Hong Kong is a 1-4 player deck-building and resource management game in which you seek to restore order in Hong Kong after it has been hit with a massive, total blackout. You'll need to manage your worker cards in order to gather gather the resources you need to enact your emergency plan. You'll be looking for the essentials, food, water, fuel, tools, medicine and books, along with the ever-useful batteries. Those resources can be used to hire new people, or complete tasks for the public good. Do well and you will restore order to a rioting city, making districts safe and bringing a sense of normality back to the city.

Each turn a set of 3 dice will be rolled and added to the rondel. These assign which resource each colour of worker will be able to collect this round. Players will then have a chance to add 1 worker card to each of their 3 (later in the game 4) slots. Workers come in each of the 3 colours, which simply harvest resources, and in purple which have more specialised actions, such as recovering your workers from hospital, or generating GPS tokens. After adding these 3 cards players take turns to activate their columns. Each column may contain multiple cards and they will all activate at once so you'll need to plan your workers to ensure you have the right resources for special abilities as you go. Any resources gained are marked by placing cubes on the Rondel.

Saturday 20 July 2019

Overthinking by The Yellow Meeple:- Top 5 Most Anticipated Games of Gen Con 2019

With just two weeks to go until GenCon, it's time to scroll through the preview list on BoardGameGeek and to start getting excited for the barrage of new releases that this gigantic board game convention will bring. We don't attend GenCon, but it still marks the point in the year when the wave of hot new games starts to emerge and we start to get very busy trying to keep up with playing those exciting new games.

At time of writing there are 551 games on the preview list. I've picked my top five new games that you will be able to buy at GenCon for the first time, as well as selecting some notable demos that I'd be trying to play if I were there and pointing out a few games that we've been able to play, since they either had a pre-release at the UK Games Expo, or came out in Europe earlier than in the US.

Friday 19 July 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Barpig

Game: Barpig

Publisher: Self-Published

Designer: Jonathan L Franklin, Phillip Melchers

Year: 2017

If you've visited the UK Games Expo or Essen, then it would be difficult not to have noticed Barpig. For at least two years now we've noticed their stand at UKGE, since it's made up to look like a fantasy themed bar and all of the stall staff are dressed up as bar wenches, or similar, no matter what the gender of the person working the stall. Barpig is the work of Johno & Phil, who have turned their original idea of BaRPG - an RPG that you play with your friends in a bar - into a take-that card game full of pigs, puns and a dose of queer flare!

If, after reading our review, you find yourself excited to discover the world of pub-dwelling swines and to play a raucous take-that game with friends, then you can still get hold of the game and it's recently Kickstarted expansion, direct from the publisher with (hopefully) Essen 2019 pick-up.

Thursday 18 July 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Dust in the Wings

Game: Dust in the Wings

Publisher: Board & Dice

Designer:  Dennis Kirps, Christian Kruchten, Jean-Claude Pellin

Year: 2019

Dust in the Wings was one of a glut of UK Games Expo releases from Board & Dice. Since acquiring NSKN games, they are bringing out more and more notable titles that are definitely making them a publisher to look out for.

Dust in the Wings is a mancala-style, abstract game for 2-4 players in which you are artfully arranging butterflies to take the perfect photograph. The game has fantastic production quality with three colours of wooden butterflies, each in corresponding unique shapes (helpful for colour blind players) and a colourful board which makes setup a breeze and has enough visual interest, but doesn't distract from the gameplay.

Tuesday 16 July 2019

Flutter by Butterfly:- Dust in the Wings

Game: Dust in the Wings

Publisher: Board & Dice

Designer:  Dennis Kirps, Christian Kruchten, Jean-Claude Pellin

Year: 2019

Dust in the Wings is a 2-4 player abstract game in which you take the role of photographers trying to line up the perfect shot of butterflies frolicking through a meadow. You'll be using Mancala style movement in order to arrange the butterflies in either composition shots, or simply gatherings of certain butterfly colours.

Dust in the Wings is simple to learn. After setting up with one random butterfly on each flower on the board the game is ready to begin. There will always be 3 objective cards of each type available. Gathering cards require you to gather a certain colour combination of butterflies and are assigned a random number of points which increases over time. Composition cards have a fixed number of points and require a certain pattern on the board to have a certain number of butterflies, for example a 2x2 square with 3 or fewer butterflies in it.

Saturday 13 July 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Subatomic

Game: Subatomic

Publisher: Genius Games

Designer: John Coveyou

Year: 2018


Subatomic was Kickstarted last year by Genius Games, who are know for their games that combine real science with modern board game mechanisms. As geeks both on and off the tabletop, we originally fell in love with Cytosis and have been seeking out more games from the publisher ever since. Cytosis has been the heaviest of these games we've played and along with delivering a good medium-weight gaming experience it also packed in a lot of hard core science. At the other end of the spectrum was Covalence which touched on the science of covalent bonding with a light deduction game. Subatomic falls somewhere in the middle as a light deck-building game that certainly has some gamer appeal as well as having a good grounding in the science of atoms and subatomic particles.

Thursday 11 July 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Pandemic: Rapid Response

Game: Pandemic: Rapid Response

Publisher: Z-Man Games

Designer:  Kane Klenko

Year: 2019

You've saved the world from global pandemic many times. Perhaps you've also prevented floods, built railroads to help cure cholera, or even defended Rome from invading armies. But, this time in Pandemic you're aid workers, throwing supplies out of the back of your plane to help a humanitarian crisis. Not only that, but Matt Leacock's name, ubiquitous with the Pandemic series, is nowhere in sight!

Pandemic: Rapid Response is a real-time cooperative dice rolling game for 2-4 players, designed by Kane Klenko. Kane Klenko is the master of stressful games where you roll dice really quickly while anxiously watching a timer, with both Fuse, and one of our favourites Flatline, to his designer name. Pandemic: Rapid Response certainly takes a lot of inspiration from these previous games, as you work together to deliver supplies of aid all over the world to cure the pandemic before it spreads out of control.

Tuesday 9 July 2019

No time to explain, let's roll:- Pandemic Rapid Response

Game: Pandemic Rapid Response

Publisher:Z-Man Games

Designer: Kane Klenko

Year: 2019

Pandemic Rapid Response is a 2-4 player real-time dice based re-imagining of Pandemic. Instead of wandering around the globe on foot like a bunch of schmucks, this time you have a state of the art plane capable of producing all the emergency supplies you could every need. Sure it produces a small amount of toxic waste, but that's all recyclable if you put the effort in. You aren't responding to disease outbreaks this time, but instead humanitarian crisis. Survivors of disasters need relief such as safe food and water, medicine and electricity. All of this is done by rolling dice to move around the plane, activate the various rooms to generate, and deliver resource cubes.

At the start of the game each player will be handed 6 dice, a character role card with their special ability and a pawn to represent them. The board will then be set up with a couple of active cities already needing relief and a deck of cities that will appear during the game, the exact numbers depending on difficulty. Each room is filled with it's resource, the timer is flipped and the game can begin. The game takes place in turns, each turn the active player will roll all of their dice, and then has 2 chances to re-roll as many dice as they want. Dice can be spent to do actions, for example any die can be used to move you 1 room over or a plane die can be used to move the plane to the next city along the route. Most commonly though dice are used to activate rooms, each room is a little different, but generally you'll need a lot of 1 die face in order to power them. It's not all luck though, so long as you reach certain points in a room's requirements you can leave your dice there for the next player's turn, where they can add additional dice to finish off your work.

The Game Shelf Previews:- Dice Hospital: Community Care

Game: Dice Hospital: Community Care

Publisher: Alley Cat Games

Designer:  Mike Nudd

Year: 2019

Dice Hospital was something of a breakout hit for UK-based publisher Alley Cat Games. After a brilliant Kickstarter success back in 2017, a new expansion for the game is coming to Kickstarter in July 2019. Community Care is three expansions in one box. It takes your ambulance out onto the road, introduces mothers and babies and allows you to make improvements to your hospital wards.

If you're not familiar with Dice Hospital, then you've been missing out on a dice drafting and dice manipulation game with a fantastically universal theme. Your dice are patients and their value indicates how bad their ailments are. Each turn you'll use doctors and nurses in the different wards of your hospital to increase the value of your patients until they're healthy enough to go home. If you can't make them better then they deteriorate, and if they deteriorate too far, or you run out of bed space, your patients will unfortunately end up in the morgue. If the stress of the base game wasn't enough, the Community Care expansion is adding more factors into your hospital running experience. Let's take a look at what you'll find in the expansion.

Sunday 7 July 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Bunny Kingdom: In the Sky

Game: Bunny Kingdom: In the Sky

Publisher: Iello Games

Designer: Richard Garfield

Year: 2019

Bunny Kingdom is one of my favourite games. It's one that continues to hit the table and it was the game we played to bring in the New Year of 2019. (Yes, we do have wild New Year's Eve parties!) When I saw that it had a new expansion coming this year, it was an instant must have, even though the Bunny Kingdom base game feels like a very neat standalone package.

If you've not played Bunny Kingdom, then in a very brief overview - it's a card drafting game where you are using the cards to place bunnies on the board grid to create fiefs containing towers and resources to score points over four rounds. Whilst it's not an area control game, it is a game of building up presence on the central board and our opponents can try to prevent you from expanding lucrative fiefs with some hate drafting - even more so in a two-player game. 

Saturday 6 July 2019

Over-thinking by the Yellow Meeple: The Dice Tower Awards 2018

The Dice Tower was definitely one of the first board game media outlets I was aware of when entering the hobby. When we started The Game Shelf around 12 months later, the Dice Tower Awards were the first awards I covered. It's now the 5th year I've covered the awards. Of course, no-one can ever play all of the new games each year, but we try extremely hard, logging on average around 80 games played each month and generally being a little cult of the new in the games we choose to play.

Unlike last year, where Gloomhaven took home a huge number of awards, this year's winners are more spread and represent a wide range of games. One or two match my own picks for best games of 2018, which a few seem to have been influenced by 'The Dice Tower effect'.

For those interested in the context for my opinions on the winners, the nominated games we have had the change to play are: Gizmos, Reef, Space Base, My Little Scythe, Grimm Forest, Cerebria, The Mind, Endeavor: Age of Sail, High Society, The Estates, Brass Birmingham, Coimbra, Terraforming Mars: Prelude, Roll Player: Monsters and Minions, Duelosaur Island, Decrypto, Drop It, Architects of the West Kingdom.

Thursday 4 July 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Walking in Burano

Game: Walking in Burano

Publisher: Emperor S4

Designer: Wei-Min Ling

Year: 2018

Emperor S4 are building a reputation for elegant small box card games. The two-player game Hanamikoji is perhaps the most well known amongst the crop of recent releases. What's great about this Asian publisher is that they're made enough of a name for themselves that they're starting to build partnerships with North American publishers for wider distribution. A number of their games were localised by Deep Water Games, and now Walking in Burano is coming out from AEG.

Walking in Burano takes its inspiration from the island of Burano, near Venice, known for its brightly colored fishermen's houses. In this 1-4 tableau building game, each player will create a street of five houses by building up each of the three storeys with cards. Looks are important, so houses should be matching in colour and should also be built to match the whims of locals and tourists.

Wednesday 3 July 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Slide Quest

Game: Slide Quest

Publisher: Blue Orange Games

Designer:  Nicolas Bourgoin, Jean-François Rochas

Year: 2019

Blue Orange Games are responsible for a number of the great family games in our collection, but they certainly put out more kids games and recently there's been a huge influx. After initially overlooking Slide Quest, it completely overtook our Twitter feed during Origins and really came across as a lot of people's game of the show.

Slide Quest initially seems like a dexterity version of the drawing game Loony Quest, with some cooperative elements thrown in from Magic Maze. Since both of these games are ones we love having on our shelves, Slide Quest looked like the perfect silly game to take for a test run.

Tuesday 2 July 2019

Too good for Gondolas:- Walking in Burano

Game: Walking in Burano

Publisher: Emperor S4

Designer: Wei-Min Ling

Year: 2018

Walking in Burano is a 1-4 player tableau building game in which players compete to make the prettiest street and attract the most tourists. Of course what each tourist finds appealing varies, whilst they all enjoy the brightly coloured houses, some might be looking for the impeccable floral decor , while others are obsessed with spotting all the cats they can! Of course there are people living in Burano too and they are just as invested in their beautiful island as the tourists. Create the most beautiful street to spread the most joy and win the game!

At the start of a game of Walking in Burano each player is handed 2 scaffold tiles 4 penalty tiles and a small handful of money. A central market is made, 3 high (1 ground floor, 1 middle floor and 1 roof in each column) and of varying length based on the player count. Each turn will consist of 2 phases. First the selection phase where players will choose which tiles to take and a building phase where players may spend money to build their tiles and lure tourists.