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 30 May 2020

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Spirit Island Digital

Game: Spirit Island

Publisher: Greater Than Games

Designer: R. Eric Reuss

Digital Edition By: Handelabra Games

Year: 2017

Spirit Island is a cooperative game where players represent spirits, defending an island from incoming invaders. By controller the invader populations, destroying their people and buildings, removing their blight from the land striking fear into their hearts, the spirits can hope to protect their land.

I find Spirit Island to be the heaviest cooperative game we own. It might look more intimidating, but Gloomhaven is a breeze compared to Spirit Island. Spirit Island is a huge brain burner for me and its digital release allows me an opportunity to really dig deeper to try and get my head around the game, with the ease of quitting and restarting when everything is going very, very wrong.

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: NĂºria 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.