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, 27 May 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Electropolis

Game: Electropolis

Publisher: Homosapiens Lab

Designer: Chang Yu Di, Ku Chun Wei, Wang Liang

Year: 2019

In 2019 we visited Essen for the first time. One of the great things about Essen is that it's so international and attracts publishers whose games you might not otherwise have access to. One of the stands we found most overwhelming was Taiwan Boardgame Design. They bring over games from many publishers in Taiwan and there's really no way to know which are going to be the gems. We brought home four and Electropolis is the first real gem, with one left to try.

Quite fittingly, Electropolis reminded us most of Quadropolis, except that instead of building all aspects of a city, all that you are focusing on is building an electricity network, hence the very fitting name. Quadropolis has a place on our shelf, so Electropolis really needed to stand out, and fortunately it did!

Saturday, 23 May 2020

The Digital Game Shelf:- Week 9 of Board Gaming During Covid-19

Lockdown restrictions are lifting very slowly here in the UK. You can meet with one person, in a park, so long as you are two metres apart. It is possible that you could play a board game whilst abiding by these rules, but I don't think I'll be doing so any time soon. Instead Amy and I are enjoying some sunshine, taking a few games outdoors and still trying to stay connected with friends in the best way we know how - through games!

In the last couple of weeks I've continued by work board game night, as well as Monday evenings with Board Deck and Dice and some online gaming with friends and my parents. In addition, I had the chance to reconnect with old school friends through playing Illusion and Trails of Tucana online. One of the silver linings of the lockdown is that it's given people an excuse to reach out to people they might have lost touch with, and that's really kind of cool!

Thursday, 21 May 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Zoom in Barcelona

Game: Zoom In Barcelona

Publisher: Cucafuera Games

Designer: Núria Casellas, Eloi Pujadas, Joaquim Vilalta

Year: 2019

Zoom in Barcelona is the fist published game from Cucafuera Games, but the design team comes with experience in the design and development of successful board games, such as Shikoku and Uxmal.

Zoom in Barcelona is a family weight board game, similar in complexity to Ticket to Ride with options to play a basic or more advanced game mode, both of which still fit into family weight. You play as a tourist in Barcelona, collecting photographs of well known sites, presumably to impress your Instagram followers. The game is enhanced by wonderful artwork, which really captures the colours and atmosphere of Barcelona, as well as picking up on certain features which will be rewarded by the game's mechanisms. It's a really eye-catching package.

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Tiny Epic Tactics

Game: Tiny Epic Tactics

Publisher: Gamelyn Games

Designer: Scott Almes

Year: 2020

Tiny Epic Tactics follows in a long line of Tiny Epic games from Gamelyn Games and designer Scott Almes. These games really do try and keep to their name-sake - by focusing on a small box size and often smaller components, they do try to cram a full size game into the box size of a small card game. Not only that but many of their games often feature something unique in terms of their production. Tiny Epic Quest had the 'ITEMeeples', where you could accessorise your meeple with swords shields and other battle gear. Tiny Epic Tactics uses the box itself in a big way. The base of the box, as well as many smaller boxes inside of that come together to create the 3D terrain of the game, and also flip to create the dungeons that are used in solo and 2-player cooperative mode.

Games that boast cooperative and competitive play, and many different game modes always make me nervous - have all of those modes truly been considered well or is one of them the 'best' way to play. If so, which one? We've explored both cooperative and competitive modes with two players for this review.

Saturday, 16 May 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Imhotep: The Duel

Game: Imhotep: The Duel

Publisher: Kosmos Games

Designer:  Phil Walker-Harding

Year: 2018

Imhotep: The Duel is a standalone, 2-player only, sequel to Imhotep - a game where you play as builders in Egypt, from designer Phil Walker-Harding. This smaller format game sacrifices the cubes of the original and replaces them with square tiles, which are more versatile and some in a greater number of specialties. Building the different monuments like the obelisk and the pyramids is still the goal, but otherwise the game plays out significantly differently to its bigger brother.

In Imhotep: The Duel, players take on the role of Nefertiti and Akhenaten, one of Egypt’s most famous royal couples. Each player must build their own four monuments by unloading goods from the six boats in order to outshine the other player in the head-to-head rivalry.

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Taking Board Games to the 3rd Dimension:- Tsuro VR

Game: Tsuro

Publisher: Calliope Games

Designer: Tom McMurchie

Digital Edition By: Thunderbox Entertainment

Year: 2004

It is quite normal in these times to take our traditionally analogue hobby into the digital world. For some time many popular games have developed app versions of their games to entertain people on the go, or when they can't gather everyone around one table. Tsuro VR is one such app, being a take on the popular tile-laying game Tsuro. The rather obvious difference being that it isn't a game you play on a flat screen, but rather a game for VR devices.

VR has been a thing in sci-fi for as long as I can remember, whether it's the Holodeck in Star Trek or the Artificial Reality video game on the "Back to Reality" episode of Red Dwarf (although that was actually a giant squid, long story). It has long been portrayed as a way to take characters out of their 'mundane' reality and into situations that would be impossible in the show's main storyline. The road to VR in real life has been rather more bumpy. Many people will point at the ill-fated Virtual Boy as the first failure to get VR into consumer's hands, but more recently various 'Google Cardboard' style devices have let you turn your phone into a VR device. While these certainly can be used in impressive ways, such as the crime scenes of Chronicles of Crime, they're a long, long way away from what modern VR is capable of. If you want to see that you're going to have to put down some serious cash.

Saturday, 9 May 2020

The Digital Game Shelf:- Week 7 of Board Gaming During Covid-19

As we start to repeat plays of games online I am switching to bi-weekly content about the games we've been playing. I want to bring you new ideas for games to play, not just reiterate old ones. Hopefully you've already found lots of ways to play, but as this situation continues, I'm finding that I want to connect with an even wider circle of people - the people who I see less often in real life, but who it's starting to be quite some time since I've seen! If I was having a physical game day, I'd tailor the games we play to the friends I had coming over and the same is true for my online board game nights, so our pool of games is getting bigger and bigger.

Adding more games to this list is also highly addictive, so I've got plenty more ideas to share! If you're looking for more ideas, check out some previous blogs from this lockdown period too.

Thursday, 7 May 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Oceans

Game: Oceans

Publisher: North Star Games

Designer:  Nick Bentley, Dominic Crapuchettes, Ben Goldman, Brian O'Neill

Year: 2020

Oceans is a standalone game in the popular Evolution series from North Star Games. This 2-4 layer game is all about creating underwater species who have a symbiotic relationship that allows all of your species to feed and thrive. Only one of your species is actually able to forage for food at the reef or attack another species per round, but you need every species to be able to feed. To solve this, you might have some species who are whale cleaners or shark cleaners, activated by their respective co-dependent buddies. Or perhaps a parasite, feeding off others.

When the cambrian explosion comes, evolution is suddenly happening a whole lot faster - you need to grow your population quicker to feed more and weird and wonderful creatures from the deep will also be injected into the game.

Oceans really captures this colourful underwater word, but did it captivate us more than Evolution?

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Over-thinking by the Yellow Meeple:- The Golden Geek Awards 2019

Every year, I write a commentary sharing my thoughts on the winners of the Golden Geek awards. I almost didn't write it this year.

TLDR: Wingspan won!

I personally decided to sell Wingspan. It was fine, but didn't thrill me. The European expansion made me mad. On the other hand, I can't deny it's popularity, and it seems to really work for a lot of people. I also love how its theme helps broaden the audience and media coverage for tabletop gaming. It's a game that has been fantastic for our hobby and I'm very happy for the designer and publisher and everyone who loves the game.

However, it's a little odd how can a game win for Best Strategy Game AND Best Family Game? Personally it seems like a better fit among the family game nominees.  And Most Innovative? Perhaps it's innovative that a game break down barriers like Wingspan, or perhaps people generally just pick their favourite game on the nominees list and don't think about how well it fits the actual category. Wingspan also won for Best Expansion, Best Solo Game, Board Game of the Year, Best Artwork and Presentation and Best Card Game. 7 awards in total!

Now that that's out of the way, let's see if we can find some other games in the list of winners and runners up. We played a lot of new releases last year, but we had a big blind spot, surprisingly, in our two-player gaming, so let's find out what else we need to play.

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- MetroX

Game: MetroX

Publisher: Gamewright Games

Designer: Hisashi Hayashi

Year: 2018

Metro X was originally published by Okazu Brand, from Japan, and was not widely available in other regions. We were very lucky to have friend spend a year in Japan last year and we were able to play the original version. Having a copy of a much coveted game felt special, but it's even better that Gamewright have managed to add it to their roll and write line and bring it to the masses. The design itself has not changed from the original, but the production is quite different.

Metro X made it to number three on my top ten roll and writes list, based on the original, Japanese version of the game. How does the new edition compare and could it go even higher for me?

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Raiders of the North Sea Digital

Game: Raiders of the North Sea

Publisher: Garphill Games

Designer: Shem Phillips

Digital Edition By: Dire Wolf Digital

Year: 2015

Raiders of the North Sea has become a very popular euro game. It really put designer Shem Phillips and his publishing brand, Garphill Games on the map. Raiders is the most popular of the North Sea trilogy, but that has since been followed up with the West Kingdom Trilogy which perhaps surpasses even Raiders in terms of praise.

What was unique about Raiders of the North Sea was the worker placement mechanisms. On your turn you place a worker and retrieve a worker from another spot on the board - meaning that you essentially take two actions per turn. This also gives you the ability to swap out the type of active worker you have, which in turn unlocks access to new places that your vikings can raid.

We played the physical game once and were quite taken with the mechanisms, but not enough to add it to our collection. Fortunately, digital board games take up no shelf space, so Raiders of the North Sea Digital was a great addition to our Steam library.

Thursday, 30 April 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Traintopia

Game: Traintopia

Publisher: Board&Dice

Designer: Przemek Wojtkowiak

Year: 2020

Traintopia is a commuter's dream. Train lines that go anywhere and everywhere. Whether you're trying to transport goods, commuters or tourists - there's a train line for you in the future.

Traintopia is a tile laying and route-building game for 2-4 players, releasing soon from publisher Board & Dice. It's on the lighter end of games that Board & Dice release, with a play time of around 30 minutes and very accessible gameplay. Think more 5-Minute Chase than Teotihuacan. If you're looking for a game that's a bit of twist on Carcassonne with slightly higher player interaction, then it's a game that might be worth checking out.

Sunday, 26 April 2020

The Digital Game Shelf:- Week 5 of Board Gaming During Covid-19

Observant and dedicated readers might notice that there was no post last week - week 4 of lockdown. In week 4, I really lost my enthusiasm for creating unique board game experiences over the internet. The cabin fever got to me and I was pretty frustrated. Fortunately I got some enthusiasm back and have some more hints and tips to share for games played over the internet in the last two weeks. You can check out more tips in previous posts.

Saturday, 25 April 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Montmartre

Game: Montmartre

Publisher: BLAM!

Designer: Florian Sirieix

Year: 2019

I have memories of school trips to Montmartre as a teenager. Teachers' warnings to keep a close eye on your bag, warnings not to accidentally get your hair braided, or let your arm be grabbed for a henna tattoo. But once you've reached the top of the steps, a quaint area of Parisian alleyways, and many artists is revealed.

Montmartre is a card game for 2-5 players that focuses on the artistic charms of this area of Paris, rather than the tourist trap features that stick in my memory. As an artist you are inspired by your muse to create beautiful paintings, but also offering those paintings to art dealers, or selling them off for smaller sums of money when your gallery is over-flowing. Making ends meet as an artist is hard and you need to attract art dealers in a competitive market where other artists are also trying to sell. Montmartre is a tactical game of set collection, where timing is key.

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Uxmal

Game: Uxmal

Publisher: Blue Orange Games

Designer: Eloi Pujadas

Year: 2019

Uxmal is a game about to honour your idols. As rival priests, you might pray to different gods, but you can also curse those that other priests are praying to - the favour of the Gods is ever changing.

Uxmal is an abstract strategy game for 2-4 players, published by Blue Orange Games. Blue Orange are known for their family weight games and Uxmal certainly shares that look and feel. All players will be working towards building a 3-dimensional pyramid - formed from plastic tiles, using the box as a base. The appearance is impressive and somewhat toy like, aside from the various shades of brown, but don't be fooled into thinking that Uxmal is a light family game. Looks are certainly deceiving with this mean and tricky abstract.

Sunday, 19 April 2020

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Sagrada Digital

Game: Sagrada

Publisher: Floodgate Games

Designer: Adrian Adamescu, Daryl Andrews

Digital Edition By: Direwolf Digital

Year: 2019

Sagrada is a perfect family weight dice drafting game that I've recently been playing in two different ways. Firstly, it's a great game that you can play long distance by Skype, but secondly, Direwolf Digital just released an app implementation on Steam, iOS and Android.

In Sagrada, each player has a 5x4 gird that must be filled using the coloured dice. Each player has a different grid, with certain colour and number requirements for different squares of the grid. You can put anything in the other spaces, so long as no two matching colours or numbers can be orthogonally adjacent. A number of dice are rolled for each of ten rounds and drafted so that each player drafts two per round.

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Abomination: The Heir of Frankenstein

Game: Abomination: The Heir of Frankenstein

Publisher: Plaid Hat Games

Designer: Dan Blanchett

Year: 2019

Abomination: The Heir of Frankentein is inspired by Mary Shelley's classic novel, but it is not about Frankenstein's monster. It is set twenty years later, in Paris, and a mysterious benefactor has emerged in the scientific community, never showing his face, claiming to possess the late Frankenstein's research.You are each scientists, experimenting in the same dark rituals as those before you, haunted by Frankenstein's monster and trying to cover your tracks - making a name for yourself in the scientific community, donating to the church and all the while, trying to summon life from your table.

Abomination is a worker placement game for 2-4 players. If you're squeemish, or not a fan of macabre themes, then look away now. But, if you like your game theses a little bit twisted then you might discover that there's a lot of fun to be had with the story of Abomination.

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Grave Robbing: the Moral Choice:- Abomination: The Heir of Frankenstein

Game: Abomination: The Heir of Frankenstein

Publisher: Plaid Hat Games

Designer: Dan Blanchett

Year: 2019

Abomination: The Heir of Frankenstein is a 2-4 player worker placement game in which you take the role of a scientist trying to create a second Creature. Whether you are doing it for the thrill of scientific discovery, of through fear of the rage of Frankenstein's original creation you'll need to do the same thing: gather up body parts (the fresher the better) and learn to surgically attach them together to create a patchwork mockery of the human condition. Before exposing the creature to just the right amount of electricity to bring the spark of life to it, without burning its limbs off! Exactly how you will go about this varies. An honourable doctor might be able to take cadavers from the morgue for "research purposes", while a less respectable, or more desperate, scientist might find a willing thug to bring them a body "no questions asked". If you get really desperate, you have a scalpel and Paris is filled with dark alleys...

Saturday, 11 April 2020

The Digital Game Shelf:- Week 3 of Board Gaming During Covid-19

When I wrote our first guide to how we've been playing games under our current lockdown situation, I though it would be a one-off blog. I had a few ideas about how I might be able to play games with friends online, but I had no idea I would take it this far.

So far, I have created Powerpoints, translated resources from French, borrowed games from The Ludoquist board game cafe, reformatted an old laptop to enable it to run Steam without crashing and photographed at least 50% of the spines of my board game collection to create ransom notes to post on Twitter.

Yes, we have a little bit more free time on our hands, but I'm still working full time and yet still lucky enough to find lots of time to get creative and keep gaming. I'm seeing people over Skype that I usually wouldn't talk to or see for months and connecting with colleagues in Canada for valuable social and morale boosting time too. I understand that I'm the exception to the rule when it comes to enjoying lockdown, but hopefully a few of this weeks ideas can bring some enjoyment to others too!

Thursday, 9 April 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Sensor Ghosts

Game: Sensor Ghosts

Publisher: Wren Games

Designer: Janice Turner, Stu Turner

Year: 2020

'You have escaped both the virus-ridden space station and the clutches of the station's computer in Assembly.' Perhaps an enviable position right now? If you're reading this review in April 2020. You can only return to Earth if you bring with you an uncontaminated virus sample, for use in a vaccine.

Thankfully, Sensor Ghosts is an abstract puzzle game that doesn't hit too close to home, in our currently climate. Perfect for playing solo, or with 2,3 or 4 players, a puzzle might be just what you need right now and this one is certainly a challenge! Sensor Ghosts was successfully funded on Kickstarter, by independent publisher Wren Games and has recently found its way into backers' hands.

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Ka Pai

Game: Ka Pai

Publisher: White Goblin Games

Designer: Mads Fløe

Year: 2019

Ka Pai is a roll and write game which released with it's first expansion, Ranu, at Essen 2019. In this roll and write, you'll roll dice, but they'll offer you geometric shapes rather than numbers. Perhaps slightly unfortunately, the game has been given the unnecessary theme of Maori tribes, which is enough to drive some people away. The game is completely abstract though, so the theme could be anything.

This roll and write is mainly about making routes between the different totems of the board and creating groups of the different shapes (tribes). It's simple, but different enough from a lot of other numerical roll and write games and with expansions to dig into straight away, as well as more to come, there's lots to try in Ka Pai.

As well as whole host of expansions for Ka Pai coming in 2020 (according to BGG), the designer has also re-themed one of his games and made it free to play during the current Covid-19 crisis. Vaccine is available to download with links on BGG.

Sunday, 5 April 2020

The Digital Game Shelf - MORE Board Gaming During Covid-19

We're now on our second week in lockdown here in the UK and we're still finding new games that we can play online, and new ways to do it. In spite of the fact we downloaded Tabletop Simulator, we haven't used it yet because I'm finding it a lot more satisfying to figure out new and exciting ways to play games.

At the same time, we're fortunate to be getting lots of time together at the table too. We're currently playing a lot of games that our on our 'one last play' list to make some space on the shelf for some new games. Once we've made some space, we might be able to start playing some games from our cupboard of shame!

Here's some more ideas to connect with far away friends through gaming, based on what we've been playing this week.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- The Isle of Cats

Game: The Isle of Cats

Publisher: The City of Games

Designer: Frank West

Year: 2019

The Isle of Cats joins a long list of polyomino games, but it does have the magic ingredient of cats, which immediately makes it jump up in popularity. Isle of Cats also made a fantastic marketing move, including a surprise in the box lid for all cat owners out there. Sadly our neighbours cat was not available for a photoshoot, but you can find lots of incredible cat photos here!

The Isle of Cats is a 1-4 player tile-laying game which uses drafting of polyomino tiles. Each players lures cats on board their boat with fish and different colour cats like to stick together. It's a lot bigger than most polyomino games and has super high quality production, even if you're getting hold of the retail version, so does it pack a much bigger punch than Barenpark, Cottage Garden and a couple of other favourites?

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Purrfect Tessellations:- The Isle of Cats

Game: The Isle of Cats

Publisher: The City of Games

Designer: Frank West

Year: 2019

The Isle of Cats puts you in the shoes of benevolent sea-captains seeking to rescue the indigenous feline population of an island before a less benevolent pirate comes along. Just like your standard cat, these creatures are frustratingly capricious, so you'll need to weave baskets and fish up treats to tempt them aboard your ship. Once aboard their fear of water presumably keeps them in place! If you happen to find some treasure along the way, and your new feline friends deal with your rat problem, well all the better!

Each round each player will be given 20 fish which represents their morning catch. The central island will be surrounded by a number of cats in two locations before players draft a hand of 7 cards each. From your drafted hand of 7 cards, you can spend fish to buy the cards, or simply discard them if they aren't worth the cost. Cards come in a variety of types: Green cards contain boots and baskets which help you be the first player to collect cats and improve how many cats you can catch respectively. Blue cards are lessons which give end game scoring and can either be personal, or public. Gold cards grant you treasures which can be used to fill awkward gaps on your boat, bigger treasures are also worth points. Finally purple cards tend to reward you with Oshax, this elusive breed is not only larger than most other cats, but is very adaptive, being able to behave like any other colour of cat.

Saturday, 28 March 2020

The Digital Game Shelf - Board Gaming During Covid-19

We're really lucky that, even under lockdown, we have each other to play games with. Amy and I have some extra time to play together now that I'm not commuting. So we're not desperate for gaming opportunities right now, but instead we still want to connect with friends. Chatting on Skype is OK, but gaming can be a great way to connect with a big group of people, or to avoid the negative subjects that chatting with each other inevitably leads to at the moment.

What I'm really enjoying right now is that I have the chance to get super creative with how we game. I love thinking outside the box and finding different ways to game and connect with people. Here's a few ways that we've played games in the last two weeks.

Friday, 27 March 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Albedo: Yggdrasil

Game: Albedo: Yggdrasil

Publisher: Herbertz Entertainment UG

Designer: Kai Herbertz

Year: 2019

Albedo is the hidden gem of our board game collection. Of over 500 games we only have a very small number of games from indie publishers and Albedo is one of the only ones that I wish I could tell everyone to go out and buy!

We've met the designer at the UK Games Expo and Essen and he often has a small booth, as well as running Kickstarters for the base game and expansions. They only have small print runs and they're not the most polished games in the world, but more people should give this deckbuilder a chance. Albedo: Yggdrasil is the second expansion that has successfully funded on Kickstarter, following the previous expansion, Space Pirates. It brings on board a whole new faction - with a new way to play, as well as a new catch-up mechanism, and we've added it straight to our growing collection for this game.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- The Big Book of Madness: The Vth Element

Game: The Big Book of Madness: The Vth Element

Publisher: IELLO

Designer: Maxime Rambourg

Year: 2020

The Vth Element is the first expansion to The Big Book of Madness. When I saw the announcement of this expansion, I was really surprised to see that it was being expanded at all, given that the original game came out in 2015. We didn't discover The Big Book of Madness until a couple of years ago and when we did we felt like we'd found a hidden gem - a cooperative game that no-one seemed to talk about, that provided us with a good level of challenge and felt different to many of the other cooperative games we were playing at the time. It's been a staple of our collection ever since and so a new expansion was certainly something to get excited bout.

The Vth Element is a modular expansion, with both modules designed to add a little more challenge to the game. You can play with each module independently or play with both at the same time depending on your taste.

Saturday, 21 March 2020

The Game Shelf's Airecon 2020 Round-Up

Last weekend, we visited Airecon, in Harrogate, UK, for the third time. Airecon is a 3 day event, held on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Harrogate Convention Centre. Their focus is on open gaming - they claim to have the most open gaming of any European board game convention - and I wouldn't be surprised if that's true.

This year, given the global health concerns, in was touch-and-go whether Airecon would go ahead, but we, and many other people, did make the hard decision to take the risk and attend. Attendance was up on last year, which is a huge credit to the organisers, given how many people chose not to attend. It was also great to see a bunch of UK retailers and publishers getting what might be their last chance to sell at a convention for quite some time!

We had the chance to play a few demos with exhibitors and arranged a lot of larger games with old friends and new people. We also picked up more than a few games to add to our pile of shame at home!

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Fast Sloths

 Game: Fast Sloths

Publisher: Stronghold Games

Designer: Friedemann Friese

Year: 2019

Sloths are pretty slow! If I had to name slow animals, I might list snails, tortoises and then sloths. But, there's plenty of fast animals out there, and what if they could simply lend a hand, or a trunk, or a very long neck to help sloths get around?

In Fast Sloths, you're a sloth who's trying to visit all the trees in the local area. Other species are around to lend a hand, and traditional predator-prey relationships appear to have been set aside. You, the sloths, are the cargo in this pick-up-and-deliver game where players race to be the first to visit 8 trees. With twelve different species and only 6 used in the game, you can use a crocodile boat, be thrown by an orangutan, or travel between villages on the shoulders of a human.

Fast Sloths is a fast-paced, accessible, pick-up-and-deliver game for 2-5 players and its endearing cover and use of our favourite genre in gaming, shot it up the list of games we were excited for post-Essen. So let's see if it really delivers.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

A Relaxing Race:- Fast Sloths

Game: Fast Sloths

Publisher: Stronghold Games

Designer: Friedemann Friese

Year: 2019

Fast Sloths is a 2-5 player race game with a catch, you must win the race without having moved an inch by your own locomotion. Instead you must recruit the high-energy efforts of other animals to carry you to victory while you sloth about munching on leaves. There isn't a fixed race course, instead you are free to move about however you desire in order to collect 8 out of 9 leaves in your colour. You'll have to best recruit the varied abilities of the animals dotted around the resort if you want to be the 'fastest' sloth around!

Each turn you will draw a number of animal cards depending on how many leaves you have already collected (the more full you get the more slothful you feel about this whole 'race' thing). You then may play any number of one type of animal card from your hand. Exactly what the animals do vary wildly. The basic rules are that you can only move one animal of that type and they can move a number of spaces equal to the sum of the value of the cards you played. An animal may also pick up your sloth if they move within one hex of you and drop off your sloth either on their space or one of the surrounding hexes.

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- On the Underground: London/Berlin

Game: On the Underground: London/Berlin

Publisher: Ludicreations

Designer: Sebastian Bleasdale
Year: 2019

On The Underground was originally a 2006 title from Rio Grande Games, which has been out of print and hard to find for a long time. The new reprint from Ludicreations gives the game a fresh new look, as well as adding in a second map. Now you can play on the classic London map, with the original rules, or the new Berlin map, which introduces some different scoring mechanisms, which it swaps out for some of the old ones from the London map.

On The Underground is a competitive game of route building for 2-5 players. Players are responsible for building different underground lines, creating the best connectivity across the city to attract passengers, travelling to the different tourist sites.

Sunday, 8 March 2020

The Game Shelf Previews:- Cleocatra

Game: Cleocatra

Publisher: Sunrise Tornado Game Studio

Designer:  Ta-Te Wu

Year: 2020


Cleocatra is the third cat-themed game we've seen from Ta-Te Wu and Sunrise Game Studio - all featuring the extremely endearing artwork of Kaiami. Their last successful Kickstarter was for Cat Rescue - an extremely clever cooperative game, and no they're back with Cleocatra - a tile-laying an worker placement game for 2-4 players.

In Cleocatra, players are Egyptian cat rescuers, and the goal is to save cats in pyramids. Cleocatra is coming to Kickstarter on 11th March 2020 and with feature lots of mini expansions, in addition to the basic and advanced games featured in this preview, plus stretch goals that might add more cat drawings to the game!

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Mechanica

Game: Mechanica

Publisher: Resonym

Designer: Mary Flanagan, Emma Hobday, Max Seidman

Year: 2019

Mechanica is a board game themed around roombas. Slightly evil roombas, but, doesn't everyone love roombas? Robot vacuum cleaners featured in Quirky Circuits - one of my favourite of 2019 and now I get to play a SECOND game with roombas in it?!

In Mechanica, you're not just limited to your standard roomba - you're building a roomba factory! Your sole purpose is to upgrade your factory and build upgraded roombas to sell for money or towards contracts. Mechanica takes mechanisms and theme and really blurs the lines - you're constructing a production line that you'll run every turn and you're literally building it in front of yourself out of puzzle pieces. I dare you to disobey the rule that recommends that you push the big button (first player toke each turn) to signify that it's time to run your production line! I dare you harder not to make a buzzer noise while you do it!

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Roomba, or Doomba?:- Mechanica

Game: Mechanica

Publisher: Resonym

Designer: Mary Flanagan, Emma Hobday, Max Seidman

Year: 2019

Mechanica is a 1-4 player engine building game in which you are the sole human operator of a factory that creates a range of murderous killbots fantastic cleaning robots. You'll earn money by shipping off constructed robots which you can then spend on buying new upgrades for your factory letting you make more or better robots. Gift-wrapping services or completing special orders will earn you money into your vault, this money isn't accessible to you during the game, but counts at the end. May the richest surviving human win!

At the start of the game you have only a single measly fabricator to your name, capable of producing a single roomba-style robot every turn. At the beginning of every round everyone will activate their factories moving each robot they own along the marked conveyor belts until it reaches the next hole. After moving their robots everyone will activate their equipment, this often involves destroying the robots in the input holes and replacing them with more/better robots on the output holes ready to move next round. While this starts simple, as you build more machines you can set up intricate factories to turn even meager input into fantastic robotic cleanliness!

Saturday, 29 February 2020

The Game Reviews:- Paris: La Cité de la Lumière

Game: Paris: La Cité de la Lumière

Publisher: Devir Games

Designer:  Jose Antonio Abascal Acebo

Year: 2019

Ahhhh Paris, the city of love lights. In the late 19th century, Paris was captured by the concept of public street lights during the World's Fair. Street lamps light the facades and those buildings that are most well illuminated capture the most attention.

In Paris: La Cité de la Lumière, two-players compete to be the owners of the most well-lit facades on the cobbled streets of Paris. It's a competitive tile-laying game of two phases - one where you lay out the multi-coloured cobbled street and select your tetromino shaped buildings, and a second where you add those buildings to the city streets. Additionally, postcards from Paris enable you to take extra actions, adding statues, more street lamps and other notable landmarks to the streets until, together you've built a map of a small zone of the city and you will assess who has captured the most light and the most attention.

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Curios

Game: Curios

Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group

Designer:  (Uncredited)

Year: 2019

In Curios, players are archaeologists, collecting different treasures from sites around the world. But you're not simply historians, you're in this for money. The only problem is that the markets for ancient goods are constantly changing and there is limited information about the current value of different types of artifact.

Curios is a game of bluffing and deduction for 2-5 players in which you use workers pawns to acquire different coloured artifacts. Each game, the four different colours will each have a different value - 1, 3, 5 or 7 and this value will only be revealed at the end of the game, when you can add up the total value of artifacts in your collection. During the game, each player will have some limited information about the value of each artifact and more will be revealed throughout the game. You will need to either go with your gut, deduce your best options, or follow the crowd when deciding which gems to add to your collection. Or perhaps you'll throw out a few workers as bluffs as well.

Saturday, 22 February 2020

Overthinking by the Yellow Meeple:- Top 10 Roll and Write Games

We play a lot of roll and write games and I've wanted to make this Top 10 list for a long time. My hesitation has been that it feels like a new roll and write game gets released every week, so when have you played enough to make a top ten list and is it OK to make a top ten list when there's two roll and write games sitting on your shelf of shame? (I'm looking at you, Fleet Dice and T-Rex's Holiday!)

Whilst I don't think that a roll and write will ever be my favourite game of all time, or perhaps even break into my Top 10, I get a lot of enjoyment from them. They're quick, easy to teach and it's fun to see all of the variety that can be found in this smaller design space. The other big plus for me has been the ability to play them remotely. I've played Brikks over Skype with a friend in Japan and I've played Kokoro over Skype with work colleagues in Canada. A care parcel with some sheets for Welcome To is also on its way to Canada as we speak. The fact that everyone is working with a common source of randomness - be that dice, or revealed cards, is what unlocks the ability to play remotely, but it also means that you all have equal chances - something which can be extremely satisfying.

My final positive note on roll and writes is that I can fit about 30 or 40 into a single draw in my Kallax shelves, so I can own almost as many as I like. Even then, I do cull them from time to time, keeping only the best, including every game on this Top 10!

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Homebrewers

Game: Homebrewers

Publisher: Greater Than Games

Designer: Matthew O'MalleyBen Rosset

Year: 2019

Homebrewers is a game all about brewing your own beer and entering it into competitions. Having brewed my own beer on a couple of occasions in the past, I certainly have no aspirations of entering a competition any time soon, but it is cool to find a board game that so neatly aligns with your other hobbies. Finding a game that matches someone's hobbies is obviously a great way to get them hooked on board gaming too.

Homebrewers doesn't focus on the process of brewing, so sadly I've learnt nothing more and got no hints and tips out of the game! Instead, each player has the opportunity to brew four different types of beer, adding different flavourings, like chocolate, vanilla, honey etc. to then enter those beers into competitions and earn points, and sometimes prize money. The game is sort of thematic, although Amy's chocolate and coffee IPAs were surely not worthy of prizes, but really it's a euro style, resource management and dice allocation game for 2-5 players.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

More ingredients, more awards!:- Homebrewers

Game: Homebrewers

Publisher: Greater Than Games

Designer: Matthew O'Malley, Ben Rosset

Year: 2019

Homebrewers is a 2-5 player economic dice game in which you play as an eager amateur brewer hoping to win a home-brewing competition. The game takes place over 8 rounds, each representing a month. During the month you will use your dice to perform actions with the intent of brewing ever-better beers. At the end of each 4-month period there will be a competition to gauge who has the best beer with points awarded based on standing. At the end of the Oktoberfest competition you will additionally gain some benefits if you have appealed to the judges' individual tastes

At the start of each round every player will roll a set of 3 dice to determine which actions they can perform in the upcoming round. If you happen to roll 3 of a kind these can be re-rolled. Players can then trade dice with each other until everyone is satisfied. You can also pay $1 to change a die to any face you want (which may in turn give you 3 of a kind allowing for a re-roll). Once dice have been selected each player takes turns performing the 3 actions on their dice. You can also sell dice for money and spend money for bonuses such as changing a die face or gaining a wild action.