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 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.

Skype/Teams/GoToMeeting etc.

  • Welcome To is one of the games that I regretfully left in the office just before the lockdown began. I've used it at work game nights before and it always goes over well, so I finally decided to put the work into it. I watched an online playthrough and created a Powerpoint version of the game, to replace the previous top-down webcam strategy. Either method works really well and one is far less effort to implement, but it was a great game night as a result. I also tried the free-to-download app which replaces the player sheets and it was great to use and did all the scoring for you.
  • Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale is one of my heavier roll and write games, which I reserved for playing with other gamers, rather than some of my other online gaming groups, making it much easier to teach. The other player downloaded a score sheet and I took care of drawing the cards as well as sending him a photo of the A,B,C and D scoring objectives in advance. It reminded me how much I love this game and I'll definitely be making sure to play it some more.
  • Deep Sea Adventure, from Oink Games, is a game that only one player on your call needs to own. One player should layout the route of tokens of ever increasing potential value, into the depths of the sea. Each player will take a turn rolling the dice and diving, turning back only when they want to collect treasure and surface. A collective timer, representing the available oxygen, will be shared among all players, so you need to turn back soon, lest you run out of air to breathe! With very simple rules and an easy way to implement this over Skype, it's a great choice.
  • Nine Tiles Panic is another game from Oink Games that works well if you both have a copy. It's a real time, tile-laying game that only lasts 10-15 minutes. Each household will need to work with the same three objective cards in every round, and then all players are racing to lay out their 9 tiles in a 3x3 grid that nets the most points in accordance with the objectives. Over a course of the rounds, it's a race to be the first to hit a required total. You don't need to be able to see what other people are doing, just trust each other.
  • Can't Stop is a classic push your luck dice game from the 80s. We've played the game once at a board game cafe, but it's not one that we own. There's a few ways to pay online, but when we saw someone made an underwater version, we had to copy them! My Powerpoint version plays exactly the same as the original game and we asked everyone to bring 4 dice to make their own rolls, although you could just roll on camera. The added puffin in the top left of the board went down particularly well!
  • Space Base is the latest game that AEG have added to their daily livestream, which takes place a 8pm BST every weekday. We've been enjoying Tiny Towns, but last week they introduce Space Base. They've created a variant where all players take their personal turns, but operate with a common, dice-driven AI. I love how publishers are not only relying on their games that already work over Skype, but are now releasing new rules to allow for this new kind of board gaming.

Digital Games

  • Bullet is a Kickstarter project coming from Level 99 Games on 19th May 2020. They currently have a mod on Tabletop Simulator which you can access through their Discord Channel or from the Kickstarter when it launches. Bullet is the love child of Candy Crush and Quacks of Quedlinberg, and if that sounds awesome, its because it kind of is! The game plays in four different modes, but in each one you'll be playing as one of the heroines, with a grid of 5 x 6 called your sight. You draw different value and colour tokens from a player bag which slowly fill up this grid, but you need a bit of luck and a lot of manipulation powers to get them into the patterns that will cause as many bullets as possible to explode. When you explode bullets, different things will  happen depending on the game mode, but in the 'Free for All' PvP mode, you'll pass these tokens to other players. Passing tokens of high value, or all in a specific colour is particularly mean because your opponent will have a hard time next turn when those tokens are in their player bag. They might get overwhelmed and a bullet might break though and make them lose a hit point. Bullet is a quick (~20-30 minute) puzzly game which sounds like it will have promise in all four of the game modes and I'm really keen to play some more.
    • Yellow and Yangtze is the third digital game implementation that I've recently tried from Dire Wolf Digital. I've only gotten into the tutorial so far, but it certainly seems to have a bigger learning curve than either Sagrada or Raiders of the North Sea. The tutorial is split into about eight segments, guiding you through the scoring, combat, and area control in the game. So far it still seems like a very good looking app, but I'm less convinced I'll get a great deal of enjoyment out of it. If you've played and enjoyed the physical game though, then I imagine this is a great way to play during this lockdown period.

    Work board game nights are still proving to be a big success for me, sometimes playing games from previous weeks, and sometimes trying something new. I am always excited by how much they seem to want to try new things! We also had another games night over Skype with my parents and this week my Mum bought her own copy of a Azul, so hopefully we'll be playing that over Skype very soon too! 

    Finally, as well as the AEG livestreams of Space Base and Tiny Towns, which are great if you have some downtime one evening, Gamewright also did their first livestream of MetroX on Facebook - a game that we reviewed last week and will never say no to playing!

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

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