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 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!

Skype/Teams/GoToMeeting etc.
  • Welcome to Dinoworld joins the ever growing list of roll and write games we have played over Skype. This one takes a little bit more effort to set up, but you're rewarded with the feeling that you've played a heavier game than is often possible over Skype. With two players, there's no need to adapt, you just layout 2 of each visitor card, but you would do the same no matter how many players and play with the 10+ players rules on the back page of the rule book. You could either use a top down webcam or share a photo of all of the objective cards with your other players. Otherwise, one player rolls dice and everyone writes down the roll and uses it as they wish - the player sheets even have a place for you to write dice rolls, making the Skype aspect extra simple.
  • Telestrations is a favourite party game for some of our friends, as well as my work game group. I have been thinking about implementing it by Whats App, or email, but decided that would lose a lot of charm. Then I found cosel.io, a website where someone has implemented it for you. It's a really faithful implementation and works flawlessly. The only downside is that there's no big reveal at the end of a round - the screen just displays the final 'books' for everyone to look at.
  • The Quacks of Quedlinberg is perfect for Skype gaming - everyone needs a copy of the game and you'll all create the same setup, but then most of the game is played in a very 'multi-player solitaire' fashion. At the end of each round you'll need to check in with your friends to see who did best, who gets to roll the dice and make any comparisons required, especially to score your black tokens. One player will also run the fortune teller deck so that you all get the same bonus each round. It's nice to be able to play a slightly more involved game with ease over Skype.
  • The Mind might not be the most obvious pick for gaming over Skype, but I heard a rumour that it might work and it actually did! We had two households with two players each. One household played with the odds and the other with the evens. Both had a top down webcam and both webcams represented a joint 'pile in the middle of the table'. The pace of the game was slightly slower because you had to keep an eye on both piles, but the game survived this really well. It's not quite the same as playing around the same table, you lose a bit of the atmosphere and intuition, but it still works pretty well.

Print and Play

There's still a good number of print and play games being released for free or low cost by publishers who are trying to keep us entertained during this difficult period. Our printer is certainly running low on ink, but we're enjoying the chance to get a few new gaming opportunities at a low cost to bring some variety into our gaming and this might be even more important to those with smaller game collections than might currently have a combination of boredom and a low budget.
  • Shadow of the Obelisk is a 'tick and write' game from Board & Dice, available on their web store. In anticipation of their upcoming big box release - Tekhenu: Obelisk of the Sun - this roll and write style game has some cool mechanisms and brings to life some of the Egyptian theme. It's a slightly more complex roll and write in which you are obtaining tetris-like pieces but have a few choices for how you use them - either building your obelisk from the ground up, or inscribing symbols onto you obelisk. There are rewards for building your obelisk the quickest, but as you build higher you overshadow the wall on which all of the symbols are written and can no longer transcribe symbols that are in shadow. It's really clever and could easily become one of my favourite roll and writes once I laminate some player sheets!
      • Carcassonne: The Land Surveyors is a free print and play expansion for Carcassonne. We recently brought Carcassonne back to the table because it's a great game to play outdoors, since no pieces can be blown away! Every time we play a new expansion for Carcassonne I'm impressed by how well they work and how seamlessly they integrate into the base game and The Land Surveyors is no exception. There are a set of tiles which adapt the scoring of roads cities and monasteries, in either a positive or negative way, but each time someone scores a feature all three rotate. They have a huge impact, for example, on whether you want to finish  a city right this second and might even influence you to finish a city or road for somebody else if it really detrimentally affects their scoring potential. It's another hit that we've added to our growing Carcassonne collection. Thankfully that base game box can hold a lot of content!

      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! 

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

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