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, 7 June 2020

The Digital Game Shelf:- Week 11 of Board Gaming During Covid-19


Finally, after 11 weeks we might have come towards the end of all our ideas for board games that you can easily play over Skype with friends. We have one addition this week that is on the slightly more ambitious side. With friends and co-workers some favourites have really started to right to the top and the games I'm playing most are Azul, Trails of Tucana, Welcome To and Telestrations.

New to me though, is that I've finally been persuaded to try Board Game Arena and Tabletopia. When other people are so familiar with these online platforms it can be hard to persuade them to go the route of playing a game over Skype and I do kid of see why. Board Game Arena in particular has fully scripted games and it's so quick to play games like Incan Gold, Coloretto and Takenoko.

Skype/Teams/GoToMeeting etc.
  • Ecos: First Continent is the most ambitious I've been so far with playing games by Skype. I've seen people go further with top-down cameras facing the boards of euro games, but something like Ecos might be my limit where you still get full enjoyment of the game, with no compromises. Both households need a cop of the game and one person will take charge of creating the map when players place tiles, animals, trees and mountains. What I particularly like is that all players get a turn being the 'bingo-caller' and the bingo style works perfectly for Skype gaming. So long as you're not hung up on all playing the the same deck and discard pile then Ecos is great to play by Skype. It was great to be able to pick a game from the shelf that I really had a craving to play, rather than just picking based on being a sure-fire bet for ease over Skype.
Ecos with Nick from Board Deck & Dice
Online Board Game Conventions

Last weekend would've been the UK Games Expo. It's our favourite board game weekend of the year and it's so sad to have to miss out this year. UKGE won't be running their online board game convention until later in the year, but the UK's largest Facebook group dedicated to board games did run a 'convention' of sorts to mark the weekend. This weekend we also joined some of the Renegade Con Virtual events.

Like many, I've been skeptical of online board game conventions, but now with some experience, I think it's awesome that so much effort is going into connecting people and I'm glad that I've been able to play with people all over the country and all over the world. it is no comparison to a real convention, but I've played new games, got some good deals on board game purchases and felt connected to a wider community of people.

Codenames online with Board Game Trading & Chat UK
  • Board Game Trading and Chat UK is the biggest UK Facebook group and really makes the effort to create a real world community too with convention meetups, t-shirts and many friendships formed over the years. These days, the most committed members are regulars on the Discord server, organising gaming online. To mark the dates of the UK Games Expo, the admins of this group went big and used the Facebook group to organise a convention of sorts. Store owners and publishers could take a 'stall' which was simply a Facebook post to advertise and most offered discounts or promotions over the weekend. The group is often used as a marketplace, but this weekend in particular was arranged as a bring and buy sale, which I took advantage of on more than a couple of occasions for buying and selling. Some lives games and quizzes were also available and we took part in a game of Codenames with Paul from Gaming Rules! using the new online Codenames from CGE. Feel free to watch us lose over on Youtube! The whole weekend was a fantastic effort, a great way to support struggling businesses in our hobby and a real testament to creativity and the ability to build community even in this difficult time.
Just some of the deals I picked up during the convention weekend. Lot's of Kickstarter expansion content thanks to The Ludoquist!
  • Renegade Con Virtual had a whole bunch of events lined up this weekend, including game demos for both board games and RPGs as well as many panels and livestreams. I took the opportunity to check out Succulent, an upcoming release from Renegade games and designer J. Alex Kevern. Demos were hosted in Tabletopia, which voice chat on Discord - both technologies that are pretty new to me. After the joy of scripting in Board Game Arena - Tabletopia was definitely more tricky to get to grips with, but it does work, especially when you know the game. Succulent is a tile laying and set collection game with a good amount of player interaction in the way that you place your tiles. The game is quite simple and reminds be a lot of Indian Summer, with the holes in the tiles. I think it's a game that we would really enjoy, but the slow pace in the Tabletopia environment meant that it wasn't the best sales pitch! I hope we get to try Succulent on a real tabletop in the future.
Succulent in Tabletopia
At the end of this article, I wanted to admit that I am really starting to tire of playing games online. It's good to stay connected and sometimes it's still enjoyable, but it does take a lot of energy! I've taken a few of my regular nights down to once every two weeks instead of weekly to try and keep up some enthusiasm. If you're similarly getting really tied of this, in spite of trying to remain positive, then give yourself a break! Hopefully we'll be able to play at a real board game table with friends soon.

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

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