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

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.

  • Shobu is a 2-player abstract game that's easy enough for one person to set-up and run the game on behalf of both players. With this kind of game, we have an imbalance in our household - Amy is great at them and I am not. Introducing....Nick from Board Deck and Dice. Not as good at Shobu as Amy would be! (He still won, but it was close!) Shobu is definitely a tricky little game to get your head around, but it works extremely well with just a few scraps of paper to label up the grid over Skype.
  • Just One has been played with both my friends and my co-workers and is so easy to play over Skype. One person needs a copy of the game in order to share clue cards, everyone else just needs some paper and a marker pen. The player guessing each round will need to look away while the word card is being shown and while the other players eliminate their matching guesses. With my co-workers, I think this was even more popular than Codenames or Wavelength because everyone gets a turn doing the talking rather than the forced team talk that can be hard on Skype with a larger group.
  • Illusion was another game we tried over Skype with friends. It's a game about placing cards in order of their % of a certain colour. Each player takes a turn looking at a card and then telling you where they think it goes in the line-up. One person needs to own the game and place cards where people think they go. The same friends who weren't too excited when we showed them this game in real life, actually really enjoyed it now that options are more limited!

Board Games on Steam
  • The Hub Games Virtual World Tour manages to connect gamers, support friendly local game stores and recreate the convention demo'ing experience, all in one fell swoop. We managed to fit in one demo with Hub Games at Airecon, but didn't get the chance to try Prisma Arena, so I jumped at the chance to try my first ever game in Tabletop Simulator. Erin was very patient in teaching me the controls and I had a really enjoyable demo of this arena battle game. It's coming to Kickstarter soon and I'd highly recommend anyone to join in the World Tour and try this title or others. Not only that, but you'll also get a ode to purchase a game from the Hub Games website and 20% of the sale will go to a friendly local game store. We'll be picking up the MegaCity Oceania playmat, with 20% going to Ecclectic Games.
  • Raiders of the North Sea is a game I've only played once in physical form, but with the Steam game that we now have (thanks to Direwolf Digital), I'll be playing this a whole lot more. There are two tutorials which guide you through the game mechanics, so there's no problem if you've never played the physical board game. The game is clear, engaging and fun, with lots of animation and theme at every turn. I'm loving this new way to play a game that we don't own but enjoyed in the past.

  • Sagrada got an implementation on Steam and in app form just last week! It's another Direwolf Digital creation so the production quality is second to none. This week I tried out the tutorial and I'm looking forward to many relaxing games. I'll probably try and solo through he campaign mode next. I have the Steam version (kindly provided by Direwolf Digital), but I think the simplicity of Sagrada probably lends itself better to a phone app, so that's how I'd recommend getting hold of this game.
  • The Airecon Quiz is current being run weekly over on the Airecon Facebook page. Airecon is a convention that we attend each year in Harrogate UK and they're running all of their past board game quizzes. This Tuesday it will be the quiz from 2017, and hopefully I can repeat some of this week's success!
  • Guess the Game is something I posted on Twitter and Facebook this weekend, inspired by something I saw on Facebook. If you want to guess the names of the games in this 'ransom note' then please do so in the comments below! 
  • Zatu Games are also running weekly live shows with a quiz element that are fun to play along with. I'm currently angling for an invite to join them this week.

Free Print and Plays

If you're struggling to find games to play that might work with your friends over Skype, Zoom or however you hang out with friends these days, then roll and writes are your friend. It's finally become clear what the purpose of the huge influx of roll and writes in the past two years was leading up to! I loved roll and writes anyway - as you can see from my recent Top 10 list - but if you didn't jump onto the craze in the past, then maybe you can get your feet wet with some free print and plays that you can share with your friends too.
  • Super-Skill Pinball 4-Cade will be releasing soon from WizKids, but they've released one of the tables early as a print and play file. You'll only need two D6s to play. It's a really true to life depiction of pinball, which is a rally awesome thing for us, but the gameplay wasn't as much as we'd hoped. Still, why not give it a try for free?!
  • Corinth has been released for free by Days of Wonder.
  • Hex Roller, Imperial Settlers Roll and Write and many more are offering free print and plays on the Juegos Roll and Write website.
  • Rolling Realms is a new roll and write designed by Jamey Stegmaier of Stonemaeir Games. It certainly tries to promote some of their other titles, but it's getting a lot of attention and you can play against Jamey in some of his live play videos.

Once we run out of ideas then we can still find ways to play with different friends, so I'm not worried about whether we'll be board in the coming weeks! If your looking for more ideas, you could check out our similar blog from last week too.

What are you doing to stay connected in the coming weeks? I'd love to get some more creative ideas!


  1. Hi Fiona, thanks for the great article on gaming during COVID. I compiled a huge spreadsheet of online boardgame resources for the community you might be interested in checking out. Feel free to borrow or link if you like. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1pY80Cy9Zu4ed5HSa60LsHQGFau5LSkM5tZuvXv3qgFQ/edit?usp=sharing