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

Thursday 26 September 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Queenz: To Bee or not to Bee

Game: Queenz: To Bee or not to Bee

Publisher: Mandoo Games

Designer: Bruno Cathala, Johannes Goupy 

Year: 2019

Queenz is published by Mandoo Games - a Korean publisher who are starting to make a name for themselves with both kids and family games, as well as some light to mid-weight strategy games. As their games begin to become more widely available, board gamers will recognise some of the designers and artists who are involved with Mandoo and I really hope that elevates their profile.

This year alone, they've had a co-publication of Cat Cafe, with Alley Cat Games in the UK, and they have a whole stack of games releasing at Essen. Queenz is co-designed by Bruno Cathala - a name familiar to many gamers and is definitely among those that caught our attention, along with Castello Methoni, also releasing at Essen 2019.

Queenz is an abstract strategy game for 2-4 players, of collecting flowers, planting a garden, and putting the most bees in your beehive.

Monday 23 September 2019

The Game Shelf Previews:- Time of Legends: Destinies

Game: Time of Legends: Destinies

Publisher: Lucky Duck Games

Designer: Michał Gołębiowski, Filip Miłuński

Year: 2020

Time of Legends: Destinies is a competitive app driven game of adventuring, set in the world of Joan of Arc: Time of Legends. Supported by both Mythic (publishers of Time of Legends: Destinies) and Lucky Duck (publishers of Chronicles of Crime), this is set to be the first game in the ‘Destinies’ series. Time of Legends: Destinies, pulls from the small scale miniatures and narrative from Joan of Arc, whilst being run by the Scan & Play technology that worked so well in Chronicles of Crime.

Time of Legends: Destinies offers something quite unique, as a competitive, narrative-driven, adventure game – a genre which would typically lend itself to cooperative experiences. It can be played as one-off scenarios or as a wider campaign

With two such successful Kickstarter campaigns as its ancestors, and a very reasonable price tag, it is certainly going to one to watch when it launches on Kickstarter on 24th September.

Saturday 21 September 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Tanto Cuore

Game: Tanto Cuore

Publisher: Japanime Games

Designer:  Masayuki Kudou

Year: 2009

Tanto Cuore is a classic deck-building game from 2009. Of course, that means that this year, 2019, is its 10th anniversary. The game has been very well supported with numerous expansions and three Kickstarter campaigns, as well as a recently announced 10th anniversary edition coming to Kickstarter soon. In its original form, Tanto Cuore is a 2-4 player deck-building game with its routes in classic games like Dominion, but with an anime theme, that certainly raises some eyebrows.

Friday 20 September 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North

Game: Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North

Publisher: Portal Games

Designer: Joanna Kijanka, Ignacy Trzewiczek

Year: 2019

If, like me, you're a fan of engine building, then it would be surprising if you hadn't tried and enjoyed a game from Portal Games. Empires of the North is a sequel or re-implementation of Imperial Setters, which itself has connections to a couple of other games in the Portal Games catalog.

Imperial Settlers is a game we own, but like far too many of our games, it has only been played once, and so long ago that we'd need to completely re-learn it if we wanted to play again. Empires of the North seems to be regarded by early reviewers as an improvement upon Imperial Settlers though, so I was looking forward to a great little engine builder. With six factions in the box, there was the promise of six completely new engines to explore and enjoy, so let's take a look at whether Empires of the North lived up to some of the early positive reviews for me.

Wednesday 18 September 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Jabuka

Game: Jabuka

Publisher: Jabuka Games Inc.

Designer: Martin Russocki

Year: 2019

Jabuka is a word game that's notably picking up some awards in the USA. It likely falls into the category of mass-market game, but word games are the kind of game that it's hard for gamers to dismiss. Admittedly, there are some mass market word games that heavily rely on players having a better vocabulary than others. However there are also others that can be fun for a wider audience, with Bananagrams being a particular family favourite for us, still travelling on most holidays.

The story of Jabuka starts with a coffee bean, inspiring the designer as he explored the ways that the letter 'E' looks a lot like an 'M' or  'W' when rotated. Taking this very literally, Jabuka is a bag full of wooden coffee bean tokens, each with a letter or letter combination. It's a competitive game of word-building for 2-8 players and we've been playing it with two, where the designers say it's the most intense experience.

Tuesday 17 September 2019

Pillaging penguins!:- Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North

Game: Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North

Publisher: Portal Games

Designer: Joanna Kijanka, Ignacy Trzewiczek

Year: 2019

Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North is a 1-4 player engine building card game in which you will take a civilization from a handful of farms to a bustling empire conquering and pillaging islands to support their lavish lifestyle. The game includes 6 factions in it, 2 each of 3 races, which all have their own unique set of cards leading to extremely different strategies needed to win and engines able to be created. Even the two viking factions have completely different approaches in how they need to be played to do well giving the game a lot of replayability.

In Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North players will first choose which of the 6 factions to play as, taking the full deck of cards and laying out their 3 starter buildings. They will then draw a starting hand of cards before beginning the first full turn. The first thing done each turn will be to draw new cards from the top of the deck. You can keep any of the cards you draw, but for each card you keep you must (temporarily) spend a worker, meaning you'll have less workers to power card abilities later. After this players will take it in turns performing one action until all players have passed.

Saturday 14 September 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Chronicles of Crime: Welcome to Redview

Game: Chronicles of Crime: Welcome to Redview

Publisher: Lucky Duck Games

Designer: David Cicurel, Ghislain Masson

Year: 2018

Chronicles of Crime was a huge hit for us last year, firmly cementing a place in our Top Ten of 2018. Chronicles of Crime is a cooperative game of deduction and crime solving which really stands out for its integration of technology. An app is necessary to drive the game and manages to create a fully interconnected world that you, as detectives, can interact with. Whilst this style of deduction games isn't typically for us, Chronicles of Crime was light enough and yet immersive enough to have us gripped.

Kickstarter backers may have received the first two expansions as part of their pledge, but now both are available to all gamers. Noir was the first, which we've still not played and Welcome to Redview is the latest expansion. Welcome to Redview looks like something out of Stranger Things or perhaps Scooby Doo, and you, a bunch of school kids are the amateur detectives, trying to establish what's turning your town upside down.

Thursday 12 September 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Passtally

Game: Passtally

Publisher: Pandasaurus Games

Designer: Masaki Suga (須賀 正樹)

Year: 2018

Passtally is a recent release from Pandasaurus Games - a publisher who certainly have my attention. Not only do they publish one of my favourite games of all time - Wasteland Express Delivery Service, but they also have Machi Koro Legacy - a game I'm hotly anticipating. In addition, they've definitely got an eye for identifying cool games from Europe and Asia and bringing them to a broader audience. They localised The Mind for North America, then Passtally, originally from Analog Lunch Box, out of Japan, and they are also bringing Silver and Gold to North America and hopefully other English markets too.

Passtally is a delightful looking tile-laying game. Amazingly produced, with the thickest punchboard I've ever seen and a fantastically useful insert. The slick and simple appearance is a great clue to the simplicity of the game, but don't be fooled by the bright colours - Passtally is a fiendish game!

Tuesday 10 September 2019

The Curliest Wurly:- Passtally

Game: Passtally

Publisher: Pandasaurus Games

Designer: Masaki Suga (須賀 正樹)

Year: 2018

Passtally is a 2-3 player abstract strategy, tile laying game in which players will take turns placing tiles and moving their pieces in order to connect them. At the end of each round points will be rewarded to the active player for each pair of their tokens that are connected based on how many tiles, the joining line passes over. The game will end when either one player reaches a point cap, the tiles run out, or there are no legal moves left to place tiles.

The game is ludicrously simple to play. Each turn you can do 2 actions, each of which can be one of two things. You can add a new tile from the board. If you choose to do this you take one of the three available tiles and place it however you'd like on the board Tiles can go on top of each other but they must go over 2 tiles when doing so and you must always place a tile in a way that it does not break the lines on the board. After you are happy with your placement you draw the next tile from the stack into the market. Alternatively you can move one of your markers. When you do this you can move a marker up to two spaces around the outside of the board, jumping over any opponent pieces along the way. After your two actions your round ends, for each pair of markers you have connected to tally the number of tiles it passes over (it may pass over the same tile multiple times, and tiles score more points if they are higher up), then use the conversion chart to change that into points.

Saturday 7 September 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- City of Gears

Game: City of Gears

Publisher: Grey Fox Games

Designer:  Chris Leder & Daryl Andrews

Year: 2018

City of Gears is a game of exploration and area control set in a Steampunk metropolis. With your worker robots you'll bring a ruined city back to life until it's running like clockwork. Together you'll make a city so wondrous that the public will be clamoring to visit. As opening day comes around, only one player will go down in history as the founder of the City of Gears, so you better try and make sure you're the most prestigious tom get the acknowledgment you deserve.

City of Gears is a game for 2-4 players, where the baseline setup is actually for two-players, which certainly ticks a box for us and seems unusual for area control. With their extremely successful Kickstarter campaign City of Gears is fantastically produced, so we've been excited to get it to the table.

Thursday 5 September 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Cat Cafe

Game: Cat Cafe

Publisher: Alley Cat Games

Designer:  Lee Ju-Hwa

Year: 2019

Cat Cafe - surely this is a board game title that is a license to print money? Add to that that Cat Cafe is a roll and write - a board game mechanism hype train that doesn't seem to be running out of fuel, and do you have a winner?

It's a theme that is a great touchpoint for people. Friends at my office asked about it when it arrived, questioning whether you're a cat cafe owner, a patron, or perhaps a cat. It turns out you're playing as a patron in I, but not the sort of patron I'd like to have in my cafe, the kind that gives Amy (who works in a board game cafe) chills. You're the kind of customer who is out to rearrange everything in the cafe to try and create the ultimate cat nip corner. If you can hoard the best toys and treats, then maybe you'll attract the cutest and fluffiest cats to pet.

Tuesday 3 September 2019

The Game Shelf Previews:- Solar Storm

Game: Solar Storm

Publisher: Dranda Games

Designer: Ayden Lowther

Year: 2019

Solar Storm is a first published game from Dranda Games. We first encountered the game at Airecon in Spring 2019 and they've been building a great following in advance of their Kickstarter campaign.

You are crew members on board a ship that has had its energy core taken out by solar flares and the ship is still taking more damage. It is only a matter of time before your ship explodes, causing certain death. You and the other crew members must repair the ship whilst using resources to divert what little power is left, back to the energy core. You must work together if you have any hope of survival. Can you survive this Solar Storm, or will you perish in the burning abyss?