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

Wednesday, 28 October 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Chronicles of Crime: 1400

Game: Chronicles of Crime: 1400

Publisher: Lucky Duck Games

Designer: David Cicurel, Wojciech Grajkowski

Year: 2020

Chronicles of Crime had a hugely innovative first release in 2018, following a successful Kickstarter campaign. It is one of just a handful of story-driven crime-solving board games out there and really stood out from the crowd with it's use of technology. It introduced VR to our board game table for the first time, with the ability to look around crime scenes using just your smart phone and some 3D glasses, but what felt most innovative was its use of QR code technology. 

Chronicles of Crime: 1400 is the first of three standalone sequels, known as the millennium series. In the 1400 edition you'll be transported to 15th century France where crime and backstabbing are rife. A further two games in the series, 1900 and 2400 will be released next year.

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Troyes Dice

Game: Troyes Dice

Publisher: Pearl Games

Designer:   Sébastien DujardinXavier GeorgesAlain Orban

Year: 2020


Troyes is one of those older euro games that we've still not got around to playing. I select it in every math trade I participate in, but so far, we've never matched and received it in trade. As a result, this review will be a straightforward review of its latest incarnation as a roll and write game. The momentum behind roll and write games does show a few signs of slowing recently, but new titles and implementations linked to a larger board game version are still being released and we still have a high level of excitement for all of them. Troyes Dice edges towards the heavier end of the roll and write spectrum and it's unlikely to become part of my Skype gaming rotation, but it could do if your Skype gaming is with a more gamerly crowd.

Troyes Dice is a game that takes place over 8 days, each with a morning phase and an evening phase. Over the course of the game you will draft 16 dice and use them to build a city on your player board in order to gain end game victory points. After a couple of days, invaders get wind of your city and twice a day they will try to invade and destroy different areas of your city. The greatest city with the greatest population and collection of buildings will win.

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Build a Wall, Let the Invaders Pay for it:- Troyes Dice

Game: Troyes Dice

Publisher: Pearl Games

Designer:   Sébastien Dujardin, Xavier Georges, Alain Orban

Year: 2020 

Troyes Dice is a 1-10 player roll and write game in which you'll be using dice to upgrade your civilization for the good of all. Will you build walls to fortify the city, or focus on economic or religious development? Whatever you decide you need to be prepared for the invaders that will start to attack from day 3 onwards. While they won't burn down any already built buildings, they do spoil the land preventing future construction. Unless, of course, you have built strong enough walls to keep them at bay, but those walls aren't doing much else for your development...

Troyes Dice is a game of 8 days, each of which consists of 2 rounds, a day and a night round. Each round has a player rolling the four dice and placing them in numerical order along the coloured round tiles. Three of the dice are clear, representing that they are of the colour of the tile they are placed on, while one is black, marking that tile as blocked for this round. Blocked tiles flip over a the end of the round, usually causing them to change colour as the game progresses. Once the dice are rolled each player independently chooses one of the three available dice to use, with fees needing to be paid for the higher numbered dice. They then choose to either build one of the two buildings in the section of their player sheet that matches colour and number with the die they chose, or to use the die to generate resources.

Saturday, 17 October 2020

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Wingspan Digital

 Game: Wingspan

Publisher: Stonemaier Games

Designer: Elizabeth Hargrave

Digital Edition By: Monster Couch

Year: 2019


I could name only a few board game releases from the last 5 years that have really broken through to gain 'modern classic' status.  With a wife who works in a board game store, modern classic, for me, means a game that will be an evergreen, there is no board game store that shouldn't have this game in sock because people will be buying it for years and years to come. I'd put Azul in that category, along with Codenames and perhaps a few others, but one of the heavier games to make it is Wingspan.


Wingspan is not the most simple game, it has relatively advanced engine building mechanisms and yet its theme is so refreshing to modern board games that it really caught people's attention, and for most people it was a real winner. For me personally, I did not get into the game. I respect it immensely, but the engine building just never quite clicked for me. No matter what I did, the game always felt like a grind that only rarely resulted in a satisfying engine. However, the Wingspan Digital Edition looked so beautiful that I had to try it. It had an early preview release for a couple of days and I was hooked, and now it's available on Steam and soon to be on Nintendo Switch.

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Tekhenu: Obelisk of the Sun

Game: Tekhenu: Obelisk of the Sun

Designer: Daniele Tascini, Dávid Turczi

Publisher: Board & Dice

Year: 2020

If you enjoy heavy euro games, then you will have been hard pushed not to notice the series of games that seems to be never ending from designer Daniele Tascini and publisher Board & Dice. Teotihuacan was first on the scene, and much loved, then it was Trismegistus which didn't seem together the same enthusiastic response. Tekhenu is the third game beginning with the letter T to hit our table, with a fourth following later this year. We don't find a huge amount of time for longer games and so Teotihuacan is a game we played once, loved and purchased and have not played since, and we followed the crowd on Trismegistus, enjoying the game somewhat, but deciding it did not need a space on our shelves.

Board & Dice got us excited for Tekhenu quite early by releasing a print and play roll and write game as a teaser, which is still available on their web store. We enjoyed that quite a bit and are still excited to see how much Daniele Tascini can melt our brains with just a few super important dice drafting decisions over the course of a game. Tekhenu is, once again, a game where every dice counts and every dice has a huge amount of different meanings in its number, colour and position on the board. If you too are looking to melt your brain in the blazing sun of ancient Egypt, then let's try to explain the gameplay of Tekhenu.

Thursday, 8 October 2020

Thoughts from The Yellow Meeple:- Magic Maze on Mars

Game: Magic Maze on Mars

Publisher: Sit Down Games

Designer: Kasper Lapp

Year: 2019

Magic Maze was a really revolutionary cooperative game for us. Long before the mind, Magic Maze was a game that asked you to work together as a team without talking to each other. The best chance of communication you were given was the passive aggressive, "do something" pawn which you could slam on the table in front of your friends. Magic Maze is a game that we've played countless times. It's tutorial-sytle rulebook means that every time we introduce it to a new audience we can start with the easy missions and the game essentially teaches itself. What's amazing is that we don't get bored of that first mission either - Magic Maze isn't a game you can get really good at and carry the team - it really levels the playing field.

After a couple of expansions to Magic Maze, which we've not fully explored, Sit Down Games have now taken the concept to space with their new, standalone game, Magic Maze on Mars. We're definitely excited for more Magic Maze content, but we were intrigued to see what has been changed in the new game and see if we needed to add it to our shelves.

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

A Maze, in Space, How Sweet the Sound:- Magic Maze on Mars

 Game: Magic Maze on Mars

Publisher: Sit Down Games

Designer: Kasper Lapp

Year: 2019

Mars is popular. That rust-coloured orb that floats throughout the night sky, our closest neighbour in the solar system, with such potential for life, if only we can learn the technology to inhabit it. Magic Maze on Mars takes the frantic, silent action of the original game and takes it to space! Instead of being thieving adventurers after free weapons you play as Robots, busying themselves creating the infrastructure needed for Humans to come to Mars. In order to do that you'll need resources, and the right ones in the right place at that, for humans have the strangest need for metals, crystals and bananas.

Of course in Magic Maze things are never easy. The game starts simple with only a time limit and no restrictions on speech, Over time the game adds rules to each new play until the full game is unveiled. The essence of the gameplay is that you have a sand timer tracking your time, should this ever run out you will all lose. In order to win the game you'll need to generate and move resources around the surface in order to unveil new locations, build habitation domes and manage waste. Eventually all the habitations domes will be complete and people will arrive, who also need to be moved around the roads to get them to their domes. All of this is done with each player being restricted to only using certain colours. That means you can only generate resources of those colours, used roads of those colours and spend resources on exploration spots of that colour to reveal a new map. To top it off you have to do this all in silence, with only a passive aggressive token to place in front of someone if you think they should do something.

Saturday, 3 October 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Tokyo Sidekick

Game: Tokyo Sidekick

Designer: Yusuke Emi (江見祐介)

Publisher: Japanime Games

Year: 2018

Tokyo Sidekick had an initial small print run from Japanese publisher Little Future, and now Japanime Games have successfully funded a second edition on Kickstarter. Having won awards at Tokyo Game Market, this is one to take notice of, and for some gamers, a great opportunity to get hold of those rarer Japanese games that are sometimes rather coveted.
Tokyo Sidekick is a cooperative game for 2-4 players in which each player plays a superhero and their sidekick, to take on all manner of villains whilst trying to spin plates and take care of all of the incidents happening around town. You're very much a Spiderman-type character when it comes to handing anything from a slight misdemeanor, all the way up to a plane crash, but then you need to switch it up and become Iron Man to take on the bad guys with full force. Can you defeat your adversaries in time to save the city?

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Mooncake Master

Game: Mooncake Master

Designer: Daryl Chow

Publisher: Origame

Year: 2019

This year the Mooncake Festival (or Mid-Autumn Festival) falls on October 1st. I only know this because I was inspired to research mooncakes and a few other more obscure aspects of Asian culture thanks to a parcel we received from Origame. Origame is a board game publisher from Singapore, which currently publishes designs by Daryl Chow. Daryl has made two games we really enjoy - Overbooked and The Artemis Project and also gave us a demo of the upcoming Plantopia, so it seems that his designs fit pretty well with us.

Mooncake Master first strikes you with its packaging. I know people generally don't like box sleeves, but this particular sleeve feels so thematic, sliding off to reveal the red box with gold lettering that, at least from my Western perspective, makes me think this box is perhaps reminiscent of a real box of mooncakes. Once inside, the cards have a really unique texture too, helping to really give a feeling of quality to the game.

Saturday, 26 September 2020

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Glasgow

Game: Glasgow

Publisher: Lookout Games

Designer: Mandela Fernandez-Grandon

Year: 2020


Amy and I spend 95% of our gaming time playing with only two players. It's one of the fantastic benefits of being a board gaming couple! We are happy to play any game that says on the box that it plays two-players, even if other people might consider it better with more people at the table. We're even happy to accommodate the odd 'robot' player to help with the two-player experience. However, I accept that we're unusual in this regard and that many gamers who play exclusively or primarily at a player count of two are keen to seek out two-player only experiences. For those players, some of the best places to turn are the 2-player lines from Kosmos, Z-Man and Lookout Games.



Glasgow is the latest two-player only title from Lookout Games, whose most popular two player game is perhaps Patchwork. Set in 18th century Scotland, a diverse cast of characters will help you, a merchant, to make the biggest contribution to developing the new city of Glasgow for the 'modern' era. Through trading goods and acquiring real estate you, two players will be a 5x4 area of one of the first grid-plan cities in Europe, but one player will contribute more highly and become more notable for the history books.

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

A Matter of Factories:- Glasgow

Game: Glasgow

Publisher: Lookout Games

Designer: Mandela Fernandez-Grandon

Year: 2020

Glasgow is a two-player only, city building game in which players will move their workers around a ring of action tiles in order to gather the resources needed to build buildings in the city. You can navigate the action ring as fast as you like, but the faster you go the more actions you give away to your opponent. Once built, each building belongs to one of the two players and will reward that player with more goods or end game points should their scoring requirements be met.

Gameplay in Glasgow will be immediately familiar to anyone who has played games like Tokaido. Each player has a worker which moves around a ring of action tiles. On your turn you can move your worker as far as you'd like along the ring to perform the action you land on. However it is always the turn of the player furthest behind on the ring, so skipping a long way ahead often gives your opponent several goes in a row as they catch up to you. Most of the action spaces are simple, rewarding one or two of the four basic resources, with a few more advanced ones dotted around such as a market to trade resources between types and being able to activate a row of factories (more on those later). 

All the action takes place in and around a large circle of action spaces, with the city slowly forming in-between.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Tellstones: King's Gambit

Game: Tellstones: King's Gambit

Publisher: Riot Games

Year: 2020

Video game giant, Riot Games, catapulted into the board game space with Mechs vs Minions in 2016. Mechs vs Minions was a super high-quality game at a more than attractive price point, set in the world of League of Legends. This huge box contained a mixture of pre-painted and inked minis and gave players a cooperative campaign experience which really suited a family audience and avid board gamers alike.
After waiting a few years for another game from Riot Games, you may have been forgiven for thinking that Mechs vs Minions was a one-off, but earlier this year, they announced Riot Tabletop and set out an intention to continue to publish accessible, innovative and beautiful games. Their second game is Tellstones: King's Gambit. A small tin, only around 4" square, but certainly in keeping with their intent to create games with high component quality. Once again, the game is set in the League of Legends world, but this time the theme is not at the forefront, this is simply a battle of wits.

Monday, 14 September 2020

The Game Shelf Previews:- Cascadia

Game: Cascadia

Publisher: Flatout Games

Designer: Randy Flynn

Year: 2021

Flatout Games are perhaps best known for their fantastic card game Point Salad. But, with Calico just fulfilling and Dollars to Donuts recently funded on Kickstarter, what we know them for is their puzzly tile laying games. Tile laying games with a spatial puzzle and lots of interesting scoring mechanisms really level the playing field for Amy and I in two-player games. Amy tends to have an advantage in abstract games, but I love a good puzzle.

Cascadia brings an abstract game to life, with lovely artwork from Beth Sobel, as well as colours that do a great job of evoking the landscape of the Pacific Northwest of the USA. If you're enticed by a world of creating landscapes and populating them with wildlife, then Cascadia will be on Kickstarter in September 2020.

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Truffle Shuffle

Game: Truffle Shuffle

Publisher: AEG

Designer:  Molly Johnson, Robert Melvin, Shawn Stankewich

Year: 2020



Truffle Shuffle is a new card game from the design team at Flatout Games, who are continuing their publishing partnership with AEG, who brought out their fantastic design Point Salad. Point Salad won a number of awards in 2019 in the different card game and family game categories and is a game that we love to play when we visit board game cafes. 

With Truffle Shuffle we have a food theme that I feel a lot more enthusiastic about and the artwork looks particularly tasty on some of the cards, and of course the box. Truffle Shuffle is a drafting and set collection game for 2-4 players that plays in around 30 minutes. It calls on a number of mechanisms that are familiar from modern board gaming and traditional card games, so could Flatout Games have another family hit on their hands?

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

...You Never Know What You're Gonna Get:- Truffle Shuffle

Game: Truffle Shuffle

Publisher: AEG

Designer:  Molly Johnson, Robert Melvin, Shawn Stankewich

Year: 2020


Truffle Shuffle is a 2-4 player card game that has you drafting chocolate cards in order to complete sets to earn chocolate coins. The game revolves around picking cards from a drafting pyramid, where only the cards no currently partially covered by another card are available to draft. Each card has both a colour and a number associated to it. To prevent things from being too predictable half of the cards are placed upside-down so you only know the colour of the chocolate, and even then there are special chocolates which are used in atypical ways so there's no guarantee of what you will get.

Saturday, 5 September 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Rurik: Dawn of Kiev

Game: Rurik: Dawn of Kiev

Publisher: PieceKeeper Games

Designer:  Stan Kordonskiy

Year: 2019

Rurik: Dawn of Kiev is a realm building game set in Eastern Europe where each player is working to expand the control and prowess of their leader by controlling the lands with troops and buildings. You'll be accomplishing great deeds along the way, by taxing the lands you control and fighting off the troops of other players. After funding with a very successful Kickstarter in 2018, Rurik is now back on Kickstarter with reprint and an expansion, called Stone and Blade.
Rurik: Dawn of Kiev is not a game we would immediately jump to play, because it has some roots in area control, but we're glad we got the chance to give it a try because it's actually got a lot more going on than simply area control. With some very smart actin programming and lots of in-game and end-game goals to work towards, there's a lot of fun euro-game mechanisms, alongside the conflict-driven area control. Were those euro aspects enough to win us over?

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Wizard Kittens

Game: Wizard Kittens

Publisher: Magpie Games

Designer:  Brendan G. Conway, Marissa Kelly, Mark Diaz Truman

Year: 2020

Magpie Games are best known for their roleplaying games and first caught our attention with a hugely successful Kickstarter for the Root roleplaying game However, it's no surprise that Wizard Kittens was also a well funded Kickstarter campaign, after all, it has cute cat artwork and everyone knows that cats sell board games.

Each player is one of a group of wizard kittens who have released a number of curses in a library. They need to use magic to defeat the curses before they are caught by a rather angry librarian - Professor Whispurr.

Thursday, 27 August 2020

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Dominion: Menagerie

Game: Dominion: Menagerie

Publisher: Rio Grande Games

Designer: Donald X. Vaccarino

Year: 2020

"I wonder which number expansion to Dominion this is?"

"It must be a lot - they've run of colours and gone back to base game brown."

Dominion: Menagerie is the 13th expansion to Dominion. It's a classic deck-building game and it's one a the first board games we ever added to our collection. It's still in our collection, and it's still one of our favourites because it's so quick to get to the table, it's possible for every game to be different and it's just super satisfying to play.

As you might expect from the name, Dominion: Menagerie is themed around animals. It comes with two new core game modes, one of which is simply 'Horses' and the other is 'Exile. In addition 'Ways' and 'Events' can be introduced to every game.

We've got one box on the shelf for Dominion, and it's got Seaside and Prosperity crammed into it. We didn't expect to be trying to cram Menagerie into the box too, but let's find out why we did.

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Horses in Exile:- Dominion: Menagerie

Game: Dominion: Menagerie

Publisher: Rio Grande Games

Designer: Donald X. Vaccarino

Year: 2020


To anyone who has been in the hobby for a while Dominion is a game that needs no introduction. Ever since its 2008 release the quintessential deck-building game has had expansion after promo after expansion. The 13th expansion to the game Dominion: Menagerie is a non-standalone expansion that adds thirty new kingdom cards to the game. These cards build upon existing mechanics that have previously been brought in by expansions, such as actions that activate on your next turn and Events. But it's not just a revisit to old mechanics Menagerie also adds in three new big mechanics: Horses, Exile and Ways.




For anyone not familiar with Dominion, it is as traditional a deck-building as you'll ever see. You start with seven copper cards, each worth one money, and three estates, powerless cards worth victory points. From these humble beginnings you'll use your money to buy action cards (which you can typically only play one of per turn), invest in better currency cards and eventually buy more victory point cards to win the game. The trick in navigating which of the 10 action cards are worth investing in, how much money to invest in and when to commit for going for victory cards, knowing that they will gum up your deck if you act too soon. Over time this formula has had many different mechanics bolted onto it, several of which Menagerie revisits, but for the sake of explanation let's focus solely on the new mechanisms.

Saturday, 22 August 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Paradise Lost

 Game: Paradise Lost

Publisher: Green Feet Games

Designer: Tom Butler

Year: 2020

Paradise Lost brings together characters from mythology, fairytales and fables, into one fantastical world where Hercules and the Billy Goat Gruff might be in search of Medusa or the Jabberwocky. All heroes have a miniature, whilst the artwork for the villains and heroes could perhaps be described as haunting. The odd world of Paradise Lost is truly captured, but does mashing together fictional characters translate into a successful mas-up of mechanics in this hybrid of Tokaido and Cluedo?
As heroes you will be travelling the world of the Water Witch in a quest to deduce who has been selected as the Villain in this story and what weapon is best used to defeat them. On your journey you will encounter oracles, learn secrets from the truthseekers, build knowledge by growing your scrolls, and exchange goods at the market to enable you to buy or perhaps bribe information out of those you encounter.


Thursday, 20 August 2020

Dark Imp Cracker Games

It's August, are you already gearing up for the festive season? Often I'm the first person to grumble about the ringing of Christmas cheer in stores as early as October, but this year I shouldn't be hypocritical, having bought an advent calendar last week! If you want to prepare early, then Dark Imp games are running a Kickstarter in September, guaranteed to fulfil to UK backers by December 1st 2020, bringing the perfect Christmas cracker for gamers to your table.

If you're hosting for up to a part of six this year, then The Dark Imp Cracker Games is a single, extra large Christmas cracker for the centre of your table. When you pull this cracker, you'll find instructions and components to play six different board games that introduce modern board gaming mechanisms in a very simple way. You'll also find some rather good jokes, very tricky puzzles, but no party hats, nail clippers, thimble, tiny pack of playing cards or measuring tape to be seen.

Saturday, 15 August 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Hues and Cues

Game: Hues and Cues

Publisher: The Op

Designer: Scott Brady

Year: 2020

Hues and Cues is a party game for 3-10 players where you are trying to get on the same wavelength as other players when it comes to colours.

Each round there will be an active player, who gets to look at a card from the deck and pick one of the 4 colours that card shows. They then give a single word clue to help other players guess the colour. Each player, in turn order then places out one of their markers on the grid to make their guess at which colour the clue giver meant. 

After all players have made a guess, the clue giver can then choose whether to give a second, two-word clue. If they do, then players take a second marker and mark a second guess on the board. At the end of either the one or two rounds, points are awarded. The clue giver gets one point per marker in a 3x3 square with their correct colour at the centre. Guessing players get 3 points for the correct answer, 2 points for being in the ring of 8 squares surrounding the exact answer or one point for being one space further out. A handy frame is provided to remind you of this scoring and you can mix up the frame to show different point configurations to vary your game. 

Every player gets either one or two turns as clue giver before the game is over and the player with the most points wins.

Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Our first visit to Gencon? Some first impressions of online demos

Given our location in the UK, it might be fair to say that we'll never make it to GenCon in the flesh. Perhaps one day we'd consider tying the trip into a holiday in the USA, but I don't see that happening in the next few years. This year though, pretty much every big convention, and many small ones, have made the effort to go online.

For GenCon, that primarily seems to be a mixture of paid events and some free live-streaming, as well as unofficial events run by publishers on the side, making the most of the buzz around the weekend. For me, the idea of paying to play an online demo isn't at all appealing, perhaps it's worth it to try before you buy with some new or unreleased games, but for me an online experience would never proxy for the real experience anyway, I'd still need to try the physical game. However, as content creators, we've been fortunate to take advantage of a few press demos, as well jumping on some free demos. 

We don't ever plan to review games based on an online simulation on this blog, but we're excited to share some first impressions of some new and upcoming games, as well as imminent Kickstarters that we've had the chance to try out over the GenCon weekend.

Saturday, 8 August 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Scooby-Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion

Game: Scooby-Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion

Publisher: The Op

Designer: Jay Cormier, Sen-Foong Lim

Year: 2020

Scooby-Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion is marked as a 'Coded  Chronicles' game - a new line in escape room style games from The Op. We play a lot of the tabletop escape room games, keeping up with the Exit, Deckscape, Unlock and Escape Room: The Game series, so trying out a new one is always a treat. Coded Chronicles is a story driven experience, and, as you might expect from the Scooby-Doo theme, you'll be trying to solve the mystery of which fool is running around pretending to be a ghost.

So, if, like me, you need an excuse to pull out your best Scooby-Doo impressions, then grab the Scooby book before anybody else does and spend an hour or two sniffing objects, being scared of the smallest things and shouting 'Rooby-Rooby-Roooo!' on an infinite loop. 

Saturday, 1 August 2020

The Game Shelf Previews:- Swatch

Game: Swatch

Publisher: Minerva Tabletop Games

Designer:  Scott James

Year: 2020

Colour swatches are a pretty universal part of DIY, home renovations and design. I'm sure most people have found themselves in the paint aisle of a hardware store, comparing swatches and picking out tester pots. Swatch seems to take inspiration from some of those ludicrous paint names and creates a game all about mixing together primary colours to make secondary colours and then blending all three to make that prefect shade of lime green, or hot pink.

Scott is a local game designer to us and is bringing his first game to Kickstarter in October this year. We've been playing a few two player games with the prototype in order to tell you all about it.

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Fort

Game: Fort

Publisher: Leder Games

Designer: Grant Rodiek

Year: 2020

Did you build forts as a child? Taking every sheet, blanket and pillow from around the house and creating my own hideaway was certainly a favourite pass-time of mine. As an adult I now have a hankering for a treehouse though, surely the logical next step! A treehouse might have attracted more friends than my very solitary fort-building did, and that’s what Fort is all about. Who do you want to be in your friendship group and how much more powerful will your gang be if you’re working on the same things. If you are all keen on skateboarding, you’ll be surprised how much more pizza you will get!

Fort is all about collecting toys and pizza. With enough stuff you can upgrade your small fort into THE ULTIMATE FORT. Along the way you’ll fill your backpack with goodies, try to steal each other’s friends and keep lookout for hostile attacks. Fort is a deck-building game that evokes a very endearing theme, but also really challenges its players. It’s perhaps not the family game it first appears to be, so let’s take a closer look.

Saturday, 25 July 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Endangered

Game: Endangered

Publisher: Grand Gamers Guild

Designer: Joe Hopkins

Year: 2020

Cooperative games are among some of our favourites, and those that transport you to a real-life crisis situation are among the ones that we enjoy the most, with Pandemic, Kitchen Rush and Flatline being firm favourites that certainly vary of the scale of severity of the crisis!

Endangered is about the crisis facing some of the world's rarest species. Each player takes on the role of an individual who is in some way trying to save these endangered species, perhaps through political activism or shooting wildlife documentaries. Can you save the tigers from deforestation, or the sea otters from the pollution of their maritime habitat? Do you have the powers of persuasion to have whole nations vote for your cause?

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Chai

Game: Chai

Publisher: Steeped Games

Designer:  Dan Kazmaier, Connie Kazmaier

Year: 2018

Chai is a game all about tea. Each play is a tea merchant., specialising in either rooibos, green, oolong, black or white tea. In order to fulfill customer orders you'll need different flavours and ingredients to suit their tastes. Some like tea with milk or cinnamon, while others love a whole variety of fruit in their tea. Depending on the complexity of their order, characters will give you different points, but will also tip you for your services (most of the time!). If you can fulfill the most demanding of customers you'll make a name for yourself as the best tea merchant around.

Dan and Connie's enthusiasm for tea is incredible! They are true tea ambassadors and have really embraced everything they can in the theming of Chai, its expansion, High Tea, and their upcoming 2-player game, Chai: Tea for 2. As a very British tea drinker myself, I totally appreciate a love for tea, although it's Amy who truly embraces all of the flavours and ingredients - mine's a simple English Breakfast.

Saturday, 18 July 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Root: The Underworld Expansion

Game: Root: The Underworld Expansion

Publisher: Leder Games

Designer: Patrick Leder, Cole Wehrle

Year: 2020

Leder Games' latest Kickstarter for Root featured, not one, but two expansions. We featured The Clockwork Expansion in a review last month, and this month we're featuring The Underworld Expansion. The Underworld Expansion introduces a new double sided board, featuring the titular Underworld, as well as a lakeside scene on the opposite side. In the Underworld, you'll find the new mole faction, affectionately known as The Great Underground Duchy and a second bird faction, The Corvid Conspiracy. Both, of course, come with a set of adorable meeples and the fantastic artwork of Kyle Ferrin.

This is the second expansion to introduce new factions to Root, but it's the first one we have tried. When you grow attached to a faction in the original game, it can be a little hard to move one, but at least one of the two of us found a new favourite faction in The Underworld Expansion.

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

The Game Shelf Previews:- Dollars to Donuts

Game: Dollars to Donuts

Publisher: Crafty Games

Designer: Molly Johnson, Robert Melvin, Shawn Stankewich

Year: 2020

Dollars to Donuts is a puzz-ly tile-laying game coming to Kickstarter from small publisher Crafty Games. Don't be fooled though - the three designers credited for Dollars to Donuts are the same three names you'll see on the box of Point Salad - one of the best family card games to be released in 2019! Much like Point Salad, Dollars to Donuts is a family weight game a similar short gameplay and caused us to want to play over and over again.

As a partly Portland-based design team, perhaps there's a nod here to the famous Voodoo Donut store in Portland, where I have queued for a maple bacon donut with the tourist masses. In Dollars to Donuts you'll be trying to create the most enticing and customer pleasing tray of donuts for your shop window, but with just three varieties of ring donut, some jelly donuts and a few donut holes. Perhaps the classic donuts are best after all?

Or perhaps not?

Saturday, 11 July 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews: Dice & Ink: Vol. I

Game: Dice & Ink: Vol. I

Publisher: Inkwell Games

Designer:  Toni Catino, Jesse Catron, Robin Gibson, Ryan Hoye, Grance Kendall, Nat Levan, Joe Montgomery, Sarah Reed, Will Reed, Behrooz ' Bez' Shariari, Alexander Shen

Year: 2020

Dice & Ink is an anthology of roll and write games, which successfully funded on Kickstarter. The book contains 10 roll and write games, including pages of rules and tear-out game sheets. Multiple sheets are provided for each game, and you could, of course, laminate or photocopy sheets for the games you find that you'll want to play again and again.

Inkwell games have collected games from 11 different designers, and all you need to do is add dice and pens in order to access this library of games, including options for multiplayer and solo games.

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Cowboy Bebop: Space Serenade

Game: Cowboy Bebop: Space Serenade

Publisher: Japanime Games

Designer:  Johan Benvenuto, Florian Sirieix

Year: 2019

Cowboy Bebop: Space Serenade brings the critically rated anime to the tabletop in the form of a 2-4 player deckbuilder. Each player takes the role of one of the four crew-members of the Bebop as you travel from planet to planet hunting down bounties. As you might expect from the anime, you are a crew working together, so you can request help from the other crew-members. But the Bebop has a rather dysfunctional crew, each out to prove that they are the best and bring home the most woolongs. Just because you can call on each other's help, doesn't mean you can't also hinder each other, this isn't a cooperative game!

Cowboy Bebop was one the the first animes I saw, airing alongside Dragonball Z in the late 90s. But while Dragonball had more episodes than you could count, and has resulted in more video games and tabletop games than you could care to play. Cowboy Bebop is a more reserved series, with only 20-odd episodes to its name it still remains a very approachable series to watch. Similarly it hasn't received the bloated collection of games to its name either. So will this rare Bebop game be an all-time classic, or will fans just buy it for the minis?

Saturday, 4 July 2020

A Restful Week in Sleepy Arkham:- Wrath of N'kai

Book: Wrath of N'kai

Author: Josh Reynolds

Publisher: Aconyte Books

Year: 2020

Wrath of N'kai: An Arkham Horror Novel: Amazon.co.uk: Reynolds ...
It's fair to say I have barely scratched the surface of the Arkham universe. Early on in my gaming life I picked up Elder Sign, giving me my first insight into the Massachusetts town where nothing is as it seems. While it was good, the story wasn't really there, with the theme feeling more like a monster of the week game set in a Ripley's Believe it or Not. While I've played many Cthulhu themed games in the years that followed, none of them really dragged me into the story. Mostly they relied on the titular tentacled monster on card art and named a mechanic "sanity".

It wasn't until I picked up Arkham Horror: The Card Game that the story of the Arkham universe started to flesh out (sometimes far too literally) in front of my very eyes. Giving you a series of campaign missions with choices made during gameplay changing the story in future missions. Arkham LCG tells the tale of hapless investigators who soon find out that the world is a whole lot stranger than they could ever imagine. While the Arkham LCG is a highly story driven game, one thing I have never managed to pick up is one of the many novellas set in the universe. Each containing an investigator card ready to add to your games these small books sought to drag you further into the life of an Investigator. My understanding from more experienced Arkham players is that you bought these for the bonus cards, not for the literature.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Unlock! - Epic Adventures

Game: Unlock! - Epic Adventures

Publisher: Space Cowboys

Designer:  Cyril Demaegd, Guilaine Didier, Théo Rivière

Year: 2019

Unlock is one of many choices for bringing the experience of an escape room to your tabletop. If I remember correctly, it was the first series that we tried and it wasn't our favourite. But, it's big benefit is that you can play it once and pass it onto a friend with no destruction. With such a cost effective solution to have lots of new, 1 hour, cooperative escape room experiences at home, we've played almost every box.

Unlock initially stood out from other escape rooms because of its need for an app. In early boxes, the app seemed to be a way to take care of what might otherwise be a frustrating crib sheet to find out your answers. More recently we've been really impressed with how the app has become a hugely integrated part of the game play and has brought to the table some of the most creative things I've seen in escape room style games. I don't think anyone would be able to complain any more about the app being unnecessary - it's the best bit!

Like all Unlock releases in the UK, Unlock! - Epic Adventures contains three games, each lasting approximately one hour. We'll be sharing spoiler-free thoughts in this review of each scenario, all strangely themed around the number seven...

Sunday, 28 June 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Break the Code

Game: Break the Code

Publisher: IELLO

Designer: Ryohei Kurahashi

Year: 2017

Break the Code is a small box deduction game, now published by Iello, but originally from Jelly Jelly Games and published in Japan. Break the Code is pure logic. In this game for 2-4 players, each player has a five digit code, and you need to be the first player to guess another players code correctly. The questions you can ask are limited to a display of 6 question cards which are laid out each round, so you'll need to carefully pick the best questions based upon what you know.

To make things a little more difficult, all numbers come in a black and whit variety, so to get the codes right you'll need to know the colours and the numbers.

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Project: ELITE

Game: Project: ELITE

Publisher: Artipia GamesCMON Limited

Designer:  Konstantinos KokkinisMarco Portugal, and Sotirios Tsantilas

Year: 2020

Project: ELITE was originally published by Artipia Games, and perhaps wasn't on too many people's radar until Tom Vasel, of the Dice Tower, named it as his number one game of all time. That certainly put it on my radar, since real-time cooperative games are a favourite for the two of us. The game was picked up by CMON games who brought it to Kickstarter with huge amounts of expansion content and, quite importantly for many people, upgraded miniatures.

Players are members of the ELITE squad , working together to stop an invading force of aliens. Working in real-time, the games progresses as a series of two-minute combat rounds, where frantic dice rolling is your only option. Hoards upon hoards of new aliens will arrive each turn, but as you get slightly more powerful over time, you stand a good chance of obliterating them and completing your mission objectives.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

120DPM (Dice per Minute):- Project: ELITE

Game: Project: ELITE

Publisher: Artipia Games, CMON Limited

Designer:  Konstantinos Kokkinis, Marco Portugal, and Sotirios Tsantilas

Year: 2020

 Project: ELITE, CMON Limited/Artipia Games, 2019Project: ELITE is a real-time cooperative dice game in which you take the role of a combat-veteran ready to wade into an endless swarm of aliens and mow them down with your endless supply of bullets. Along the way you will probably have an objective to do which is more complex than put lead into non-human lifeforms. If you can complete that, and escape alive to tell the tale then you will win.

Each turn consists of a new event card being revealed, providing instant or ongoing problems to deal with. Next new aliens will spawn.
There are 3 types of spawn aliens: runners which move fast, but don't attack, biters which move at a medium speed and attack in melee, and shooters who move slowly, but attack at range. You will then also draw from the boss deck, many of the cards in here are "all clears" meaning no boss arrives, but there are a wide range of boss aliens which are all tougher and have a special ability unique to them.

Thursday, 18 June 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Adventure Mart

Game: Adventure Mart

Publisher: Hub Games

Designer: DigiSprite

Year: 2020

Adventure Mart is one of the many stores that you might choose to frequent if you're an adventurer, about to set out on an adventure. Their store mascot, Hank, is a rather charming dragon, but nevertheless each player in Adventure Mart believes that they can build a store to rival Adventure Mart, filling it with stock appropriate to catch the eye of any adventurer.

In this deck-building game you'll create a store with just a couple of members and staff and some furnishing, but the items you choose to stock will really make the difference in whether the array of adventurers each turn will buy from you or your rivals. Each adventurer only has so much money in their pocket, so you might even choose to under sell to make sure they spend with your store.

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Buzzle Box 2: Doughnuts & Cake

A Buzzle Box is a veritable treasures trove of board games and puzzles (conflation, ‘buzzle’) from publisher Dark Imp Games. Through her social media presence, it’s clear to see that founder Ellie Dix is passionate about bringing board games to families. Her Buzzle Boxes are just one of the products that are designed to provide huge amounts of activity for families to enjoy together.

Opening up our Doughnuts & Cake Buzzle Box was very much like being a kid at Christmas. In a sustainably minded way, the outer box is the box in which your collection will be posted and inside there are many treats to discover. The first thing I noticed where all of the doughnut stickers hidden all over the box and contents, which for a series of word puzzles to figure out. The box also has a couple of larger puzzles, including a word puzzle and a logic puzzle. I found these puzzles genuinely hard, so I hope they’re more aimed at the older members of the family! Then there’s a pack of three activity cards – two that give the rules to games that can be played with a standard deck of cards and one for a pen and paper game. These are a great bonus to give the box even more entertainment content! Of course, for us, the focus of the box is the three new games – Top Cake, Doughnut Dash and Sleuth Box, which we’ll give a brief overview of here.