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

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 Fl√łe

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?