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

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.

Saturday 15 February 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews: Ishtar: Gardens of Babylon

Game: Ishtar: Gardens of Babylon

Publisher: Iello

Designer: Bruno Cathala, Evan Singh

Year: 2019

Ishtar is a game from well-known designer Bruno Cathala. With great games like Five Tribes, Kingdomino, 7 Wonders Duel and many, many more to his name. Bruno Cathala's games are ones that I will often be eager to check out. The Cathala games I've played are simple and elegant without exception, even though they vary in weight and I really enjoy how easy his games are to play.

Ishtar is certainly an abstract game, but the Gardens of Babylon theme is certainly used to great effect in the artwork, from Biboun, as well as in the production. Every tree card in the game is unique and some our humorous, and the wooden trees themselves are charming in shape.

Ishtar plays from 2-4 players and the board size and length of the game scales with player count. In Ishtar you'll be laying tiles, to obtain gems to upgrade your personal player board, take special actions and plant trees. At the same time you'll control gardens adjacent to the temples on the board and plant flowerbeds - filling them with as many flowers as you can.

Tuesday 11 February 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- War of the Worlds: The New Wave

Game: War of the Worlds: The New Wave

Publisher: Jet Games Studio and Grey Fox Games

Designer: Denis Plastinin

Year: 2019

War of the Worlds: The New Wave is an assymetric 2-player game based on the original "War of the Worlds" story by H.G. Wells. Set in a future, a few years after the original story, it's not only the iconic tripods that are invading Earth, but now they're invading with UFOs too, and your 1940s military technology simply doesn't know how to handle a UFO.

War of the Worlds: The New Wave is a deck-building game where one player represents the people of earth (in this case, the UK) and the other player represents the invading forces. Deck-building is woven into a head-to-head combat and area movement game, in which both players will try to be the first to attack each other with enough force to eliminate the other. This spatial element with pieces on a board map of the UK definitely brings something extra to this deck-builder.

Thursday 6 February 2020

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Epic Digital App

White Wizard Games know how to put together a great app! Star Realms was the first ever game I bought in a board game store and I downloaded the free version of the app soon after. I've been playing it ever since and have been happy to simply make the most of the free content - even though there's a lot of paid for content too.

I've never played the physical version of Epic, but on February 18th, White Wizard Games will be launching an app implementation and all of the content will be free. This includes a tutorial, campaign, AI and online play, as well as the ability to use standard decks or customise and deckbuild.

Tuesday 4 February 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Cairn

Game: Cairn

Publisher: Matagot

Designer:  Christian Martinez

Year: 2019

Cairn is an abstract two player game that tries hard to have a theme. One player represents the sea shamen, whilst the other represents forest shamen. Your goal is to enchant the land by building megaliths. Perhaps the theme isn't there, but it tries hard with cute miniatures and art.

We don't play abstract 2-player games because we have a big mis-match in skill level. Amy is good at them, and I am not. But, we always like to give games a chance. In 2019, by favourite game was an abstract 2-player game (Moon Base), so perhaps there are a few special games out there that have a something that makes them different, gives me a chance to be competitive and the novelty of finding a game like this really makes them stand out. On the face of it, Cairn seems like the chess-like game I won't enjoy, but I've definitely been proven wrong.

Saturday 1 February 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Enchanters: Overlords

Game: Enchanters: Overlords

Publisher: Gindi

Designer: Rafał Cywicki

Year: 2018

Enchanters is a card-drafting game for 2-4 players, which was brought to Kickstarter by Polish publisher Gindi. The game has had four successful Kickstarters, releasing different expansions, but never game to retail, and as a result it certainly flew under our radar.

Mythic Games, famous for plastic miniature fests like Joan of Arc and Mythic Battles: Pantheon, have recently announced their new Phoenix line of games, which looks for games just like Enchanters. A game that has had Kickstarter success, which mythic will bring to Kickstarter with a new expansion, and then support into retail, alongside the original publisher. Their campaign for Enchanters: East Quest, will be the first Kickstarter campaign of this type. The campaign launches of 4th February 2020.