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

Sunday 24 November 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Escape Tales: Low Memory

Game: Escape Tales: Low Memory

Publisher: Board&Dice

Designer: Jakub Caban, Bartosz Idzikowski

Year: 2019

Escape Tales: Low Memory is the second game in the Escape Tales series from Board&Dice. Escape Tales: The Awakening is one of the best escape room experiences we've ever had, and if we had played it during 2018 it would certainly have hit Fi's Top Ten of the Year. The escape tales games are large, narrative driven escape room experiences and The Awakening was a bit of a surprise for us because of how we got invested in the story - finding it to be really emotional - even though Fi in particular doesn't typically get invested in narrative in games.

Escape Tales: Low Memory is a standalone experience with no links to The Awakening, besides a couple of Easter eggs hidden in the artwork and story. You don't need to have played the first game to try out this one and there will be no spoilers for either game in this review.

Thursday 21 November 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Keyforge: Worlds Collide

Game: Keyforge: Worlds Collide

Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games

Designer: Richard Garfield

Year: 2019

Keyforge: Worlds Collide is the third wave of Keyforge. It's the first time that new factions have been introduced to the game and also introduces a few new formats that you can purchase the game in. We've been playing Keyforge since the beginning in a very casual way. We own a few decks from each wave and just grab two decks for a casual game from time to time. It's a great game to travel with because it's just a deck of cards and a few tokens for each player and I've always liked the idea that any two people might meet up at a convention and play a game. The reality is that when we took our decks to the UK Games Expo, we were accosted by lots of players who were far too serious and now it's a play at home only kind of game!

Since we've never reviewed Keyforge before, I'll give a brief overview and thoughts on both the game system and this latest release.

Tuesday 19 November 2019

Sorry, not Saury:- Keyforge: Worlds Collide

Game: Keyforge: Worlds Collide

Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games

Designer: Richard Garfield

Year: 2019

In case you have been paying no attention to card games over the last 12 months. Keyforge is Fantasy Flight's Unique deck game. What's a unique deck game? Well it's not quite a TCG, not quite a LCG, but man... Essentially imagine an trading card game where you can only buy fully made decks. You can't deckbuild, the cards in your decks are locked to that deck. If you ever want a new experience then you simply have to buy another deck. But the decks are cheap, costing about as much as 3 trading card booster packs. Every deck you buy will have 3 of the 7 factions present in equal amounts with a computer generated decklist. They are quite serious when they say every deck is unique!

World's Collide is the third and latest set of Keyforge. As the third set they have chosen to freshen up gameplay a little. Two factions have been cycled out and replaced with the Saurians (huge dinosaurs, but also Romans?) and the Star Alliance (Imagine a Star Trek Crew but less competent... no, less competent still, Galaxy Quest, yeah that's the level we're at). These new factions have brought with them some new gameplay mechanics, new combinations and lots and lots of dinosaur puns! World's Collide brings with it not just 2 new factions, but also the deluxe deck - a 1 player starter set for those who are ready to jump into the game with their friends.

Sunday 17 November 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Rush M.D.

Game: Rush M.D.

Publisher: Artipia Games

Designer:  Anthony Howgego, Konstantinos Kokkinis, D├ívid Turczi

Year: 2019

Rush M.D. is a sequel of sorts to the game Kitchen Rush, from Artipia Games, Stronghold Games and now Pegasus Spiele. You might have noticed that Kitchen Rush is a bit of a favoutrite for us here at The Game Shelf. It was number 1 on our best Kickstarter games list and frequently hits Fi's top ten of all time.

Rush M.D. had a successful Kickstarter and released at Essen with a lot of theatrics from the live action nursing team at Artipia's booth. Much like Kitchen Rush, it's a real time cooperative game, but Rush M.D. adds more dexterity elements and mini games to get in the way of you successfully treating patients requiring operations or simple in-patient treatments. 1-4 players will each play as a doctor, as well as calling on the help of nurses to ensure that the hospital runs smoothly, treating all patients and making sure no accidents happen!

Saturday 16 November 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Kingdomino Duel

Game: Kingdomino Duel

Publisher: Blue Orange Games

Designer:  Bruno Cathala, Ludovic Maublanc

Year: 2019

Kingdomino is a Spiel des Jahres winning, family game. It’s definitely on the simple end of gaming, but it’s an elegant play on dominoes as you try to create large areas of matching terrain, scoring based on the crown symbols that are within each area. Kingdomino Duel reimplements this classic as a roll and write game – following the trend that has certainly had more longevity than I anticipated.

However, unlike any other roll and write I’ve encountered, which tend to be my go-to for a crowd of gamers, Kingdomino Duel is a 2-player only roll and write game. Dice become the tool that determines your terrain type – in this case denoted by different flag designs, but otherwise the placement and scoring rules of Kingdomino still stand. However, with the addition of some extra bonuses to work towards, a little extra complexity is added and I was hopefully that this would spice up Kingdomino for me – a game that we’ve long since grown bored of.

Thursday 14 November 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Parks

Game: Parks

Publisher: Keymaster Games

Designer: Henry Audubon

Year: 2019

Parks is a game that is brought together by the wonderful artwork of the Fifty-Nine Parks print series, featuring poster artwork for the national parks of the US. Artwork and production value – with wooden animal meeples and Gametrayz inserts are certainly something that first attracted me to Parks, but the game seems to be getting a good amount of buzz in its own right – making it well worth checking out.

Parks is a game for 1-5 players in which your two hiker meeples will trek through different trails over the course of the four seasons of the year. Along the way you’ll collect memories and take a few photographs, as well as collecting canteens for water and gear that may make your travels easier. Those memories can be assembly into visits to National Parks at the end of each hike.

Tuesday 12 November 2019

A Natural Wonder:- Parks

Game: Parks

Publisher: Keymaster Games

Designer: Henry Audubon

Year: 2019

Parks is a 1-5 player worker placement game in which you play as hikers traveling and camping across America's national parks. You'll want to stock up on the best gear, stay alert to the current weather and perhaps even take a photo or two along the way. The game acts as a worker placement with a twist. The worker placement spots come in the form of a linear hiking trail. Your workers can only ever move forward on the trail, meaning careful choice of movement with both your hikers is key to get the most out of any one round.

The game begins with a trail being made up of 5 standard action spaces and 1 random action spaces from the pile of 4 unlockable ones. Players will then be handed a canteen each, a choice of 2 'Year' cards worth end game points, and place their 2 hikers at the start of the trail. The weather card for the round will be revealed, seeding the trail with water and sun resources as well as revealing the special rules for the round. Players will then take turns taking one of their two hiker meeples as moving it as far along the trail as they like. Wherever they leave their hiker will activate. If there is a resource token there due to the weather forecast then they can take that for free.

Monday 11 November 2019

The Yellow Meeple's First Impressions of Games from Essen Spiel 2019

We've spent the last two weeks staring at a pile of games we brought home from Essen and trying to find the time to play them. I think it might be a long time before we play them all, but we have managed to play a few from our own pile, as well as a few from the haul we took to The Ludoquist board game cafe in Croydon, UK. Here's some first impressions and some reviews to look forward to.

Sunday 10 November 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Board Games to Create and Play

Book: Board Games to Create and Play

Publisher: Pavilion Books

Author:  Kevan Davies & Viviane Schwartz

Year: 2019
I imagine there's a lot of board gamers who dream of designing their own board game. I know a number of people who have prototypes they're working on, but it's not something we've ever taken the plunge into doing. The closest we get is a game design discussion on a long car journey, or a dream about a game design, both of which we swiftly forget.

I don't think there is a board game design in me, but this book certainly made me turn over a few rocks to see whether my very limited imagination could come up with something good. Board Games to Create and Play leads you through a step-by-step process of designing increasing complex games. It also provides you with charming artwork and ideas to inspire you along the way.

Saturday 9 November 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Walking in Provence

Game: Walking in Provence

Publisher: EmperorS4

Designer:  Wei-Min Ling

Year: 2019

Walking in Provence comes hot on the heels of the success of Walking in Burano, which we reviewed earlier this year, which was picked up for broader distribution by AEG. Walking in Burano used the setting of Burano, with its multi-coloured houses to create a really stunning looking card-laying and drafting game. Walking in Provence takes another beautiful setting, and uses it to create a very different card-laying game, with lavender and wheat fields, punctuated by mills, churches, small towns and sunflower fields.

After you've created a beautiful landscape, its important to take the perfect picture. You can do this by whizzing around on your moped, or taking an aerial shot with your drone. After all, if there's no photos on Instagram, did you really even go to Provence at all?!

Walking in Provence is a competitive card game for 2-5 players that takes just 20-30 minutes to play. You'll be racing to take the best shots first, but also hoping to arrange your landscape to meet various objectives by the end of the game.

Thursday 7 November 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Machi Koro Legacy

Game: Machi Koro Legacy

Publisher: Pandasaurus Games

Designer: Rob Daviau, JR Honeycutt, Masao Suganuma

Year: 2019

Machi Koro was a one time play for us when it first came out. I found it for a bargain of £1, but the luck factor in the game meant that we quickly moved on to games like Valeria: Card Kingdoms and Space Base.

However, I am one of those gullible people who will try a game if you put 'legacy' in the name. Aeons End Legacy proved to me that you don't need to like the original game to enjoy the legacy version - it's probably one of the best gaming experiences I've had during 2019. Not only that, but Rob Daviau was the designer of Pandemic Legacy, my favourite gaming experience of all time. As a result, I set aside my concerns and we launched into a 10-game campaign of Machi Koro Legacy. Here's my *SPOILER FREE* thoughts.

Tuesday 5 November 2019

Money makes the die go round:- Machi Koro Legacy

Game: Machi Koro Legacy

Publisher: Pandasaurus Games

Designer: Rob Daviau, JR Honeycutt, Masao Suganuma

Year: 2019

Machi Koro Legacy takes the core dice-rolling, town building action from Machi Koro, and adds in everything you would expect from a legacy game. We're talking sealed boxes of goodies, an ongoing storyline, cards thrown away and many stickers applied. Machi Koro Legacy will take you on a series of 10 games, with choices along the way which will make your game distinct from everyone else's.

The gameplay starts simply as a typical Machi Koro game. For those not familiar Machi Koro is a town building game. Each turn you will roll a die (or two dice later on), with the results of that die dictating which buildings in your tableau will activate. Buildings come in a couple of different types, blue buildings tend not to make much money but will do so on any player's turn. Green buildings tend to be more efficient, but only activate on your turn. Red buildings activate on opponents turns and let you steal money from the active player. Money makes the world go round, and it also lets you build buildings. Each turn you can buy one building from the central pool and add it to your tableau, eventually making a better and better town. Each game there are a number of special buildings that can be built instead of a normal buildings, and once one player has build all of these they win the game.