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

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.

For demos, there are a huge number to choose from - a sign of things to come later this year, at Essen, for sure. Number 1 on my list would be Toy Story: Obstacles and Adventures coming from The OP (formerly USAopoly) - a cooperative deck-building game based on the mechanisms of Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle, themed with my favourite movie franchise of all time. Next would be Calico, from Flatout games - a beautiful looking game about cats and quilting which catches my eye every time it crosses my Twitter feed. Edge of Darkness from AEG is another game I'm hotly anticipating, using the card crafting mechanisms from Mystic Vale in a more grandiose experience. Barenpark: The Bad News Bears has to be one of my most anticipated expansions. It will actually release in the UK before Essen but it's only showing as a demo on the preview list. And finally Aquatica, which caught my eye based on the publisher, Cosmodrone Games, who released the very hot Smartphone at Essen last year.

Moving on to my top five most anticipated releases - there were around 8-10 games that could truly have made this list of games I must get my hands on soon.

     1. Letter Jam is definitely lined up to be the next gamer friendly party game to take hold of our hobby. After playing it at the UK Games Expo, I'm sure it's going to be a bit with my family, friends and work colleagues. There's a lot more to think about in this word game than you would expect in a party game, but I still think it falls into that category of a large group game that will be accessible to all. Decrypto recently dethroned Codenames for me and I think Letter Jam might be a contender to the throne or at least an equal.
     2. Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale is a roll and write game (well, a flip and fill) from the makers of Roll Player and, more recently, Lock Up. In Cartographers you are adding tetromino shapes to your player sheet, much like Second Chance, or Patchwork Doodle, but your map is seeded with special features and the scoring conditions change each game, which is hopefully an added level of complexity that makes Cartographers rise above the crowd of games in this sector.
     3. Machi Koro Legacy is an odd addition to this list because I wasn't a big fan of Machi Koro. Games like Valeria Card Kingdoms and Space Base did what Machi Koro did, but better. However, I will try almost any legacy game and when you add into the mix that it's got a strong grounding in a successful game and then add in Rob Daviau who turned Pandemic into the incredible Pandemic Legacy experience, then Machi Koro Legacy just can't be ignored.
     4. Quirky Circuits is a cooperative robot programming game from Plaid Hat Games with incredibly cute characters. As a big fan of Mechs vs. Minions and Magic Maze, Quirky Circuits looks like a quick game with no communication that we'll really enjoy. Each character is a mini that I just can't wait to paint and has a really endearing asymmetric objective. It looks like a light game with 21 scenarios that I can't wait to try!
     5. MegaCity Oceania, from Hub Games, is a re-implementation of Tokyo Jukatu and is an extremely impressive looking game on the table. It's part dexterity game and part euro game as you take turns acquiring pieces to build structures that meet different objectives. The placement of your buildings,the height of your buildings and whether you can build them to meet the requirements of different cards are all important, but so is your ability to gently push your finished structure towards the rest of the city built collectively by all players. I got a chance to try this one at UKGE, but I still need to show Amy and see if she agrees that this is a great game to get family and colleagues interested to play, but also accidentally playing something with some strategy behind its looks.

And finally, if you haven't had the chance to check out these games yet, then I would definitely recommend seeking these four.
  • Moon Base from Itten Games was our stand out game of UKGE. It's an abstract two player game that uses very simple components to deliver a game that's both beautiful and strategic on so many levels. Amy and I love this game and it's been a hit with my Dad too, which is an incredible seal of approval for a board game! You can check out our full review here.
  • Lanterns Dice from Renegade Games is another game that we got to try at UKGE. It's a roll and write game of filling out your board to try and place tetromino tiles and score points in various ways. Combining tetrominoes and interesting dice mechanisms in a roll and write game is certainly a path to a great game!
  • Bunny Kingdom in the Sky from Iello is a really great expansion to Bunny Kingdom. By adding a new board, new special resources and new tricks and mechnisms to help both in-game and end-game scoring, it really boosts Bunny Kingdom to a new level. You can check out our full review here.
  • And finally, if you missed out on the first printings of Everdell, then it's finally back in stock and is a must for fans of engine building games. It's beautifully illustrated and an absolute treat in terms of gameplay as well.

Are you going to GenCon? Which new games are you excited for? Let us know in the comments below.


  1. Hello Fiona, love the blog, sorry you can’t make it to GenCon ...(I’m a 35 year Gen Con veteran that has never been to the UKGE, but hope to remedy that in the near future) Any how, I was wondering how you felt about “hot games at cons” in general. All the hype and chasing to purchase only to warm the shelf a mere few weeks later. Somewhat a disappointment for me. I find some of the smaller, less known games introduced at the cons to be the real gems. Games like Piepmatz, War Chest and Arboretum come to the top of my mind.
    Keep up the great posts

    1. Hi Jeff - 35 years - that's amazing!

      Unfortunately I do still get sucked into the hot new games. It's a bit of a side-effect of being a reviewer and wanting to cover the games people want to read about. There's certainly a lot to be said for smaller gems in the long run, but I wonder how you find those at a convention as big as GenCon?