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

Tuesday 31 December 2019

There'll Be No Accusations... :- Deep Blue

Game: Deep Blue

Publisher:  Days of Wonder

Designer:  Asger Harding Granerud, Daniel Skjold Pedersen

Year: 2019

Deep Blue is a 2-5 player push your luck hand-building game in which you play as the owner of a diving boat. Your goal is to sail the oceans to find the absolute best diving spots and come home with the most valuable treasures. To do so you'll need to recruit a highly skilled crew. But if you spend too long recruiting and you might miss the gold rush. If you can be in the right place at the right time then you can be piggyback on another's dive and get most of the rewards.

On each turn you may do one of four actions, then it is the next player's turn. You can move your boats (you have two) by discarding a number of cards that show propellers. Each propeller lets you move one boat along one path to the next dive spot/buoy. If you end your move on a dive spot then you can park your boat on one of the bonus spaces, giving you greater rewards/a safer dive when the dive begins. To recruit you discard a number of cards that have money on them and in return pick up the matching cost card from the open market and add it to your hand. Then re-fill the market back to four cards. You can also rest, to do so you will take all of your discarded cards, shuffle them, and draw 3 back into your hand.

Sunday 29 December 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Papillon

Game: Papillon

Publisher: Kolossal Games

Designer:  J.B. Howell

Year: 2020

Papillon certainly doesn't look like your typical Kickstarter game, but for Kolossal Games, Kickstarter is the business model, so they're brought all sorts of games to Kickstarter over the past couple of years. From typical big box games like Western Legends, to small games in big packages like Papillon.

Papillon certainly needs its large package and starts with a craft project, which might be something you farm out to a crafty friend or child. Your first project is assembling the 8 3-dimensional flowers which really form the centre piece of the game, as well as filling out of the space in the large box. Once assembled, Papillon is a tile-laying and area control game for 2-4 players about planting flower, capturing butterflies and little cardboard butterfly pieces on clothes pegs.

Thursday 26 December 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Letter Jam

Game: Letter Jam

Publisher: Czech Games Edition

Designer: Ondra Skoupý

Year: 2019

Letter Jam is a word game that I'd loosely categorise as a party game, even though it's truly a lot more cerebral than that. There's a few party games I'll be bringing home over Christmas this year and they're actually all word games. Codenames and Just One are sure fire hits, Decrypto will be new to the table and Letter Jam is a bit like a stretch goal. I really hope that my family enjoy it, but it's definitely the most ambitious game out of that selection and is certainly one we'll play before having too many drinks.

We were lucky enough to be taught Letter Jam at the UK Games Expo earlier this year and we now have a copy of our own. It's a very effective cooperative word game, for 2-6 players, all about decoding an anagram. With very simple, but really quite fantastic components, you need to give brilliant clues to allow every player to guess each letter of their word and ultimately unscramble their anagram.

Tuesday 24 December 2019

Word Sandwich:- Letter Jam

Game: Letter Jam

Publisher: Czech Games Edition

Designer: Ondra Skoupý

Year: 2019

Letter Jam is a 2-6 player cooperative word game in which you have to decipher an anagram. But in order to do that you are going to need to work out what letters you have to work with. You'll have to work as a team to try and give clues to the other players as to the identity of their secret letters. At the end of the game if anyone makes a mistake then you all lose!

The game starts with each player taking a selection of the game's letter cards. From these you will all make a five (or more if you're feeling ambitious) letter word in secret, shuffle the cards, and then hand them to the player to your right. You will then take your cards and lay them out in a row before taking the first one and placing it onto a stand so that everyone except you can see it. At the point you should be able to see 5 letters belonging to the other players, along with a single wildcard in the center of the table. These are the tools that you must work with.

Saturday 21 December 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- MegaCity: Oceania

Game: MegaCity: Oceania

Publisher: Hub Games

Designer:  Jordan Draper, Michael Fox (II)

Year: 2019

MegaCity: Oceania is a reimplementation of Tokyo: Jutaku from designer Jordan Draper. Hub Games have created a beautiful edition, which is colourful and extremely impressive on the table. We first got to try MegaCity: Oceania at the UK Games Expo and were really impressed by the combination of a dexterity and lightweight strategy game, so it’s been great to get it back to the table.

MegaCity: Oceania is a city building game set on the Gold Coast of Australia in the year 2100. Rising sea levels have left you with no choice but to build you towering skyscrapers on floating islands out in the ocean.

Sunday 15 December 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Vast: The Mysterious Manor

Game: Vast: The Mysterious Manor

Publisher: Leder Games

Designer: Patrick Leder

Year: 2019

If you're looking for asymmetric games, then Vast would be the first game that comes to mind for me. We never approached the original Vast because the huge amounts of asymmetry and steep learning curve I anticipated. Leder Games followed Vast with Root - with a cute appearance masking an asymmetric war game that also made us wary of whether we'd enjoy it. In the meantime, we explored the simpler end of the asymmetric market with Villainous, before taking a closer look at Vast: The Mysterious Manor.

Vast: The Mysterious Manor is a streamlined game in which each of the factions feels very accessible. With rules and combinations for 1-5 players, there's a lot of different game experiences to enjoy in the box to explore.

Monday 9 December 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Decrypto: Expansion #1 - Laserdrive

Game: Decrypto: Expansion #1 - Laserdrive

Publisher: Le Scorpion Masqué

Designer:  Thomas Dagenais-Lespérance

Year: 2019

Decrypto is one of our favourite party games. It supports 3-8 players and very quickly replaced Codenames at Fi's work board game group. It's a fantastic word game that forces you to think outside of the box and is brilliant for teams and players who might want to drop in and out.

In Decrypto, each team has four secret words numbers 1,2,3 and 4. Each turn, one player will draw a 3 digit clue and will need to give a clue to each of those three words that helps their team to identify the matching words, whilst not giving too much away to the opposing team. Turns go back and forth and so you'll start to give more clues for the same word. The opposing team will try to match new clues to old clues as they start to get an idea for each of the four words. If you guess the other team's code correctly twice, you win, or your own team guesses incorrectly twice you lose.

Thursday 5 December 2019

My Robo A-code-error:- Quirky Circuits

Game: Quirky Circuits

Publisher: Plaid Hat Games

Designer: Nikki Valens

Year: 2019

Quirky Circuits is a 2-4 player cooperative programming game in which you work together to get a group of charming robots through a book full of challenges. Each robot has their own unique charm and role. They also have their own glitches and errors which you'll have to learn and adjust for if you want to guide them to their objectives before they run out of battery. All of this would be super simple, except that you aren't allowed to communicate with each other. The only hints you get from the other player's actions are whether the card they played was a turn/straight/special and an assumption of some kind of common sense!

Instead of a board there is a spiral-bound book. Each double page spread is a combination of map and rules for the map. The rules will tell you which robot and tokens you should use and what objective you need to meet before the battery meter runs dry. They will also explain any special rules that apply for your robot, and whether to include the troublesome quirk cards. Gameplay follows a few basic rules: Each player must play at least 1 card, face down, during the round. If a player has a quirk card they must play it before they can play any other cards. At least five cards must be played each round. You must do all this without communicating with each other. When players are done playing cards the robot will then follow those commands, in the order they were played, to completion.

Tuesday 3 December 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Quirky Circuits

Game: Quirky Circuits

Publisher: Plaid Hat Games

Designer: Nikki Valens

Year: 2019

Quirky Circuits is a cooperative game where you can't talk to each others. Whilst this might sound unique, it is almost its own genre of games at this point. The Mind, Magic Maze and Mechs vs. Minions are three such games and that's only if I think about games that start with the letter M! It happens to be a genre that we really enjoy and Quirky Circuits fits right in alongside Mechs vs. Minions as a cooperative programming games.

Quirky Circuits uses Plaid Hat's history of creating story book games with fantastic miniatures to create a game that is incredibly adorable. This book doesn't tell a story, but it gives you a huge number of different cooperative scenarios to explore with the four different characters in the box - Rover - the dog, Twirl - the bumblebee, Lefty - the sushi chef and Gizmo - the roomba.