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 31 August 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Atelier: The Painter's Studio

Game: Atelier: The Painter's Studio

Publisher: AEG

Designer:  Nicolas Bongiu

Year: 2019

Atelier is a game all about 19th century paintings. In fact, BGG credits 30 artists to the game, presumably because most of the artwork is original artist from some classically famous artists. In Atelier you are playing as an artist managing an art studio during the 19th century. By managing your assistants you can collect the combinations of paint you will need to complete different works of art. Works of art vary in complexity and depending on their content they might be more or less suitable for your patrons who are always demanding something different. Of course, you might just want to ignore your patrons and produce only the most stunning and valuable works of art in order to win the game.

Tuesday 27 August 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Alien Artifacts: Breakthrough

Game: Alien Artifacts: Breakthrough

Publisher: Portal Games

Designer: Joanna Kijanka, Ignacy Trzewiczek

Year: 2019

Portal Games really knows how to make a card driven engine builder. Imperial Settlers, 51st State, Alien Artifacts and now the latest Empires of the North, are all built off similar engines. Alien Artifacts definitely made an impression on us, with its interesting hand management system for resources and the three very unique types of cards that structure your strategy.

As with many games from Portal, the expansion strategy seems to be with small booster packs. The boosters add new factions that work in interesting new ways, adding new resource cards and some new mechanisms. The first expansion was Discovery, which added the alien resource, which was a powerful wildcard, but felt a little to diluted in amongst the rest of the cards in the game. Breakthrough adds another new resource type and faction, and works with either just the base game, or with the Discovery expansion.

Monday 26 August 2019

The Game Shelf Previews:- Orchard

Game: Orchard: A 9-Card Solitaire Game

Publisher: Side Room Games

Designer: Mark Tuck

Year: 2018

I first encountered Side Room Games during their last Kickstarter campaign for Maquis. I was really impressed with the art design of their games, as well as the solid gameplay. What surprised me the most though was that Maquis made me enjoy a solo game - something that isn't normal in my gaming experience.

Much like Maquis, Orchard is a solo game with a solid history as an award wining print and play game. It won the 2018 9-card nanogame award on BoardGameGeek, as well as becoming the 2018 Golden Geek Best Print & Play Board Game Winner. Since Golden Geeks are otherwise awarded to only the hottest titles of the year, Orchard is definitely worth checking out when it comes to Kickstarter on September 3rd 2019.

Saturday 24 August 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Roll for Adventure

Game: Roll for Adventure

Publisher: Kosmos

Designer:   Matthew Dunstan, Brett J. Gilbert

Year: 2018

In Roll for Adventure your kingdom is in danger. Monsters are attacking from all four angles, crossing the different terrains. To save the kingdom, you must work together to collect power stones without allowing any territory to fall into the clutches of the Master of Shadows. Players take on the roles of various questing heroes, using dice to power their quest for power stones and to fight of the incoming hoards.

Roll for Adventure is a 2-4 player cooperative dice game from frequent designer duo Matthew Dunstan and Brett Gilbert. As designers they certainly have a good track record with us, and putting their heads together to design a style of game we tend to enjoy is a good combination. Whilst we typically like our cooperative dice games to be real-time, Roll for Adventure allows you to go at your own pace, but still includes plenty of challenges and tough decisions.

Friday 23 August 2019

The Game Shelf Previews:- Gangsta!

Game: Gangsta!

Publisher: Schmeta Games

Designer: Yves Rosenbaum

Year: 2019

Gangsta! is a competitive card game where each player starts out as a mafia boss, recruiting additional gangsters into their gang with the necessary skills to complete all sorts of crime. The rewards for your crimes might be reputation, but of course, there's also money involved as well as the power to get one over on rival gangs or recruit new gangsters based on your prowess and notoriety.

However, being a mafia box is no joke! You'll have to arm up to come out on top in gang wars as well as outwitting police snitches to ensure that your gang doesn't start to lose power.

Gangsta! is a 2-4 player card game coming to Kickstarter in August 2019 and we've had a chance to take a look at the prototype.

Thursday 22 August 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Old West Empresario

Game: Old West Empresario

Publisher: Tasty Minstrel Games

Designer: Stan Kordonskiy

Year: 2019

Old West Empresario is a sequel to Pioneer Days from Tasty Minstrel Games. The two games have different designers but a fair few other elements in common. The games are both set in the Wild West, they have a common art style and one of their cores mechanisms is dice drafting. Pioneer Days didn’t shine for me and a year later, it’s accurate to say it was forgettable, however, dice drafting in general is still a favourite mechanism of mine.

Old West Empresario is a dice drafting and tile laying game for 2-4 players in which each player is competing to build the most valuable town that attracts the most settlers through its range of amenities and the convenience with which those amenities are laid out in the town.

Tuesday 20 August 2019

Taming the Wild West:-Old West Empresario

Game: Old West Empresario

Publisher: Tasty Minstrel Games

Designer: Stan Kordonskiy

Year: 2019

Old West Empresario is a 2-4 player tile laying game in which you play the part of the leader of a fledgling town in the Wild West. You'll use dice drafting to claim blueprints to build your town or to activate your buildings in order to reap the rewards of the infrastructure you have build. Can you be the first to fulfill the wanted posters? Can you  build the most prosperous and efficient town?

In each round, two dice per player plus one will be rolled and added to the board matching its number. Each of these boards is associated with 2 un-constructed buildings at all times. On your turn you choose one dice to take, you then use this dice to either take a blueprint of a building associated with the rolled number, or to activate all buildings in your town that match the number on the die. When you take a building blueprint you add it to your town face down next to any built building. You'll need to activate a building later that can build in order to construct it. There is one exception, the native tiles, which come pre-built and offer a way to quickly expand, at the cost of not having any lasting abilities.

Sunday 18 August 2019

Overthinking by the Yellow Meeple:- My Top 10 Board Games (2019 Edition)

Each year, for the anniversary of The Game Shelf, I update my top ten games of all time. Unfortunately, this year I forgot my own birthday, but, back in May, The Game Shelf turned four years old! With over 700 articles written for the site during those 4 years, you bet we've been busy playing new games, and so, two of these games have done very well to stand the test of time from my first ever Top 10. If you're looking back at that first top ten now, then I'd still rank Pandemic Legacy Season 1 as my best ever gaming experience, but I now choose to exclude legacy experiences from my list and I took the approach of 'what game do I want to play most right now?' when making this list.

Thanks to the ranking engine at PubMeeple, I didn't lose too much sleep over this top ten - this is just exactly how my ranking came out.

Saturday 17 August 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Little Town

Game: Little Town

Publisher: Iello

Designer: Aya & Shun Taguchi

Year: 2019

If you're a convention go-er, a BoardGameGeek addict, a Twitter junkie or a frequent podcast listener, then it can sometimes be hard not to be swept up by the exciting and interesting games coming out of Asia. It's great to see games that are designed from completely different perspectives and I'm certainly a gamer who likes to look at this category of board games and seek out some of the different titles at conventions and through friends who travel to that part of the world.

Fortunately though, publishers like Iello also keep an eye out for titles from Asia that can be brought to a wider market and Little Town is one of those titles. However, Little Town certainly doesn't feel like a quirky Asian game. It's routes are truly in eurogames with tile laying and worker placement aimed at the family gaming end of the spectrum.

Thursday 15 August 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Arraial

Game: Arraial

Publisher: MEBO Games & Pandasaurus Games

Designer: Nuno Bizarro Sentieiro, Paulo Soledade

Year: 2018

Arraial is a game that makes me grateful not to have a Youtube channel or a podcast. I've heard its name pronounced many different ways, from the phonetically obvious, all the way to something sounding like 'Ohio'. Arraial was first published by Portuguese publisher, Mebo at Essen 2018 and has now been picked up by Pandasurus for English-speaking markets. It appears that in Portuguese, arraial means village or fair, and you can see from the tiles in the game that a 'fair' seems to be a pretty raucous party!

Arraial is a tile laying game for 1-4 players that plays in around 30 minutes. It's perhaps one of the closest recreations of Tetris that I've seen in board games, even surpassing Spring Meadow and the roll and write game, Brikks. That means we took the opportunity to play Arraial with both two-players, as well as with some video game fanatic friends!

Tuesday 13 August 2019

Best played to B-Type music:- Arraial

Game: Arraial

Publisher: MEBO Games & Pandasaurus Games

Designer: Nuno Bizarro Sentieiro, Paulo Soledade

Year: 2018

Arraial is a 1-4 player tile laying game in which you will seek to make the best summer celebration. Squeeze as many people into your celebration as possible serving food, drink and entertainment in order to create the best Arraial ever! You'll be adding these performers and chefs as tetrominos, trying to fill your board as efficiently as possible, but also to group up the same type of entertainers in order to attract more guests!

If you've ever heard of an obscure little video game called 'Tetris' then you already know almost exactly how to play Arraial. You have a bar at the top of your board where new tiles will be added, they then fall directly down to the bottom of your board until they hit another block. Heck, you can even shove them across one space once they land. Completing lines will cause the bar to raise higher and reward you with points. But there are some distinctions from the classic videogame. Rotating pieces cannot be done mid-fall, but instead must be done as an action before you take a piece.

Saturday 10 August 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Silk

Game: Silk

Publisher: Devir Games

Designer: Luis Ranedo

Year: 2018

Have you ever encountered a board game theme so obscure as giant silk worms? In Silk, you each appear to be rival silkworm farmers, shepherding your 'flock' with just your hardy shepherd and their dog, who are the only folks brave enough to take on the cold (and the monster) on the mountain tops.

Silk is a competitive game for 2-4 players of action selection, area control and silk worms eating all your crops.

Wednesday 7 August 2019

The Game Shelf Previews:- Taxi Derby

Game: Taxi Derby

Publisher: Skipshot Games

Designer: Brady Hunt, Romney Trejo

Year: 2020

Pick-up and deliver games are some of our favourites. There’s something immensely satisfying about planning efficient ways to deliver goods from point to point, whether it’s the typical theming in train games, post-apocalyptic worlds in Wasteland Express Delivery Service or fulfilling missions a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away in one of the latest games in the genre, Star Wars: Outer Rim. These themes range from a genre thought of as heavy and boring, to an effort to spice things up for the genre. Back down to earth and you can deliver pizza in Papa Paolo, but perhaps one of the most basic of pick up and deliver themes is running a taxi service, and that’s the focus of Taxi Derby.

Taxi Derby is coming to Kickstarter in August 2019, from first time publishers, Skipshot Games. They’re certainly getting things right with the quality of the artwork in the game, and we’ve had the chance to play the prototype so we can tell you more about it.

Saturday 3 August 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Horizons

Game: Horizons

Publisher: Daily Magic Games

Designer: Levi Mote

Year: 2018

Horizons is a game from publisher Daily Magic Games, who are perhaps most well-known for their games set in the 'Valeria' kingdom. Horizons was a successful Kickstarter project with interesting cover art by the Mico, that doesn't have a huge prominence in the game itself.

In Horizons, each player is a species, looking to manipulate resources to explore and ultimately control the galaxy. In this competitive game for 1-5 players you'll find some area control, engine building and resource management, combining in a race to gain the most victory points for dominance of the different planets in the galaxy and any more that you've collected throughout the game.

Thursday 1 August 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Tuki

Game: Tuki

Publisher: Next Move Games

Designer: Grzegorz Rejchtman

Year: 2019

Tuki has some big shoes to fill! Next Move's first game was Azul - now a Spiel des Jahres winner and probably one of the biggest selling games of recent years - a true modern classic. They followed up with Reef - another family weight game with stacking Duplo-like coral that really won me over and was actually a game that I enjoyed more than Azul. Over time, Azul has had the staying power, but both games are still in our collection.

Following suit, with a four letter name and an abstract feel, Tuki - themed around the inukshuk's of the Inuit culture. I've certainly spent some time on pebble beaches in Vancouver trying to recreate their well known inukshuk monument - symbol of the 2010 Winter Olympics. I am not so skilled at stacking pebbles, but I'm known to be pretty adept at speed games, so let's see how Tuki plays out.