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.

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Saturday 12 October 2019

Overthinking by The Yellow Meeple:- Top 10 Most Anticipated Board Games of Essen 2019

After much regret last year when we didn't go to Essen, we booked our 2019 hotel room right away. This year will be our first visit to Essen and I'm equal parts excited and terrified. Our biggest convention experience so far has been the UK Games Expo and Essen promises to be double or triple the size, with perhaps 50 times the number of new releases. It's really the peak of the board gaming year, where many of the big new games will first find their way into gamers' hands. Since we're travelling by plane and our currency,the British Pound, is worth next to nothing right now, we will be limiting the games we bring home, but that doesn't stop me from getting very excited about them!

SPIEL is taking place from 24-27th October 2019. According to the listings by BoardGameGeek and Tabletop Together Tool, there will be nearly 1200 new games available at Essen this year. 66 games made my long list, and I was strict! To whittle this down to just a Top 10, I've applied a few rules;
  • No games that we've backed on Kickstarter.
  • No games we've already played. (A few of the big games have had a UK release in the past few weeks, and we tried a couple at SHUX last weekend.)
So here's my Top 10 Games we are interested to get hold either during Essen or soon after. There's a range of reasons why a game might hit this list, so welcome to an insight into my mind at work!

1. Clank Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated is not a game we'll get at Essen due too size and weight, but it is a pre-order we have made ready for the UK release date. Clank is a deck-building dungeon crawl that we come back to again and again. We have a bunch of expansions, both played and unplayed, but it's always a fun game to play. Legacy games are an experience that we've enjoyed every time so far - with Pandemic Legacy being the best and Charterstone probably being our least favourite - but still one that we played to its conclusion. Legacy games just grab me and all of the early feedback I've seen on Clank Legacy is incredibly good - I really cannot wait for it to arrive!

2. Escape Tales: Low Memory is the second game in the escape Tales line, following Escape Tales: The Awakening from last year. Our experience with Escape Tales: The Awakening was perhaps one of the best gaming experiences we've ever had. After 3 or 4 hours of play with puzzles and choose your own adventure style choices, all supported by an intriguing narrative we had a brilliant time. Not only that, but the story was so good that it made me really emotional. When skimming the book for the alternative endings we could've had if we made the wrong choices, I had tears in my eyes. I am not a narrative gamer, so for Escape Tales: The Awakening to be that powerful, I can't help but have huge expectations for the sequel.

3. Orleans Stories is a 2-4 player campaign version of Orleans. Each game that you play will introduce new rules to one of our favourite games, Orleans. Orleans Stories is a standalone game with two stories - one plays as a 3-game campaign and one as a 5-game campaign. Campaign games always get me hooked and I'd love a reason to play a ton more Orleans I'm not sure if Orleans Stories will be replayable, but any game on our shelf that gets played 8 times is lucky. I can;t wait for more bag building and euro game enjoyment and the different modules that Orleans Stories will bring. The designers already proved with the Invasion expansion that they're amazing at iterating on this theme.

4. Deep Blue will actually arrive with us just before Essen, but since I've not played it yet, it belongs on the anticipated, rather than recommended list. I think that I will forever hotly anticipate the next Days of Wonder release and Deep Blue is their big box release for this year. With fantastic artwork and good designer pedigree from Asger Harding Granerud. Mixing push your luck and engine building sounds intriguing to me and although push your luck wouldn't be a mechanism I gravitate to, Quacks of Quedlinberg totally converted me on that. From early reviews, it seems to be quite divisive, but I'm looking forward to forming our own opinions with reviews coming soon.

5. Nine Tiles Panic is from Japanese publisher Oink Games. Oink Games travel far and wide to conventions with their pocket sizes micro-games and there's a few, like Deep Sea Adventure and Fake Artist goes to New York, that really seem to have taken off with gamers. Nine Tiles Panic is still not available in Europe, bu should be at Essen. I've seen that it has a larger format box and a much bigger price tag than some of their smaller games, but I love the artwork, with its Men in Black kind of theme and real-time tile laying to create a town that best meets the scoring objectives. It will only be a fun filler, but it really has caught my attention.

6. Rush MD is coming from Artipia games and is a re-implementation of their real-time cooperative game, Kitchen Rush. Kitchen Rush is an absolute favourite for us and we love the difficulty in this cardboard version of Overcooked. Rush MD takes the same feel to a hospital setting. It's a great, underused theme and Rush MD also seems to change things up quite a bit - keeping the hourglass workers and real-time fun, but adding some ridiculous dexterity elements with tweezers and syringes to administer medicine. On first appearances, Rush MD seems to add some complexity so I'm interested to see if it's as much fun as Kitchen Rush. We'll be picking up a copy to find out more.

7. Skytopia is coming from Cosmodrone Games, who make a big splash with Smartphone Inc last year at Essen. Not only does this game have the same publisher, but also the same designer as Cosmodrone Games. Skytopia has incredible artwork, but what really sells it to me is the combination of engine building, tableau building and worker placement. This mechanism recipe is what made Everdell really shine for me, so Skytopia went straight onto our pre-order list.

8.Trismegistus: The Ultimate Formula is on my list through pedigree alone. Coming from the same designer and publisher as Teotihuacan and has a similarly hard to pronounce name. Also similarly, Trismestigus is a dice drafting game with very high complexity. With only three rounds in which you draft only 3 dice, I can only assume that the 90-120 minute play time accounts for sufficient AP and perhaps two fast players like Amy and I will find it a little quicker. As is a common theme on this list, we've not really played Teotihuacan enough yet, but we did really enjoy it, so Trismegistus makes our pre-order list.

9. Miyabi comes from Haba's family line of games. I've definitely enjoyed some of their family game line, particularly Karuba and Iquazu, but I've not been too excited about some of the recent additions. Miyabi drew me in with its colourful cover, but also the multi-layer tile laying game about Japanese gardens. The last game I recall with multi-layer tile laying was Gingerbread House which admittedly wasn't a big hit for me, but puzzly tile-laying is my current favourite style of game to play, so Miyabi is one I'll be checking out.

10. Underwater Cities: New Discoveries is on this list for perhaps the most tenuous reason. We have Underwater Cities and we've played it once. Even though we loved it, it's not like we really need an expansion yet. We got the Delicious Games first edition though, not the Rio Grande reprint, and I want the base game and expansion to match each other. After reading Vladmir Suchy's designer diary, New Discoveries sounds like an expansion to add variety, rather than length or complexity. It's definitely one for fans who've played the game numerous times already, but the Museum module in particular looks like my kind of mechanism, with a race to achieve certain goals, sounding like it could bring structure to my strategy in the game.

Last year it seems I was quite good at predicting some of the games that would really stand out for us from the 1200 new releases, so I'm hoping to have made some good judgments here too! In case you want a more solid recommendation, then I'd recommend checking out Ecos: First Continent MegaCity:Oceania, Jetpack Joyride, 50 Clues and Letter Jam. All of these games are ones we've had a chance to try and really enjoyed!


  1. Have a great time! Wish I was going but all seemed a bit too complicated this year... Next year I hope. Look forward to hearing how you get on with some of these. Miyabi and Orleans would definitely have been on my list.

    1. Thanks!

      We'll definitely have a few reviews coming up after Essen for Deep Blue, Rush MD and Escape Tales: Low Memory.

      I have no idea if we'll get time to demo anything at Essen itself, but we'll definitely be giving a first timer's impression from the show!