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

Thursday 27 August 2020

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Dominion: Menagerie

Game: Dominion: Menagerie

Publisher: Rio Grande Games

Designer: Donald X. Vaccarino

Year: 2020

"I wonder which number expansion to Dominion this is?"

"It must be a lot - they've run of colours and gone back to base game brown."

Dominion: Menagerie is the 13th expansion to Dominion. It's a classic deck-building game and it's one a the first board games we ever added to our collection. It's still in our collection, and it's still one of our favourites because it's so quick to get to the table, it's possible for every game to be different and it's just super satisfying to play.

As you might expect from the name, Dominion: Menagerie is themed around animals. It comes with two new core game modes, one of which is simply 'Horses' and the other is 'Exile. In addition 'Ways' and 'Events' can be introduced to every game.

We've got one box on the shelf for Dominion, and it's got Seaside and Prosperity crammed into it. We didn't expect to be trying to cram Menagerie into the box too, but let's find out why we did.

Tuesday 25 August 2020

Horses in Exile:- Dominion: Menagerie

Game: Dominion: Menagerie

Publisher: Rio Grande Games

Designer: Donald X. Vaccarino

Year: 2020


To anyone who has been in the hobby for a while Dominion is a game that needs no introduction. Ever since its 2008 release the quintessential deck-building game has had expansion after promo after expansion. The 13th expansion to the game Dominion: Menagerie is a non-standalone expansion that adds thirty new kingdom cards to the game. These cards build upon existing mechanics that have previously been brought in by expansions, such as actions that activate on your next turn and Events. But it's not just a revisit to old mechanics Menagerie also adds in three new big mechanics: Horses, Exile and Ways.




For anyone not familiar with Dominion, it is as traditional a deck-building as you'll ever see. You start with seven copper cards, each worth one money, and three estates, powerless cards worth victory points. From these humble beginnings you'll use your money to buy action cards (which you can typically only play one of per turn), invest in better currency cards and eventually buy more victory point cards to win the game. The trick in navigating which of the 10 action cards are worth investing in, how much money to invest in and when to commit for going for victory cards, knowing that they will gum up your deck if you act too soon. Over time this formula has had many different mechanics bolted onto it, several of which Menagerie revisits, but for the sake of explanation let's focus solely on the new mechanisms.

Saturday 22 August 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Paradise Lost

 Game: Paradise Lost

Publisher: Green Feet Games

Designer: Tom Butler

Year: 2020

Paradise Lost brings together characters from mythology, fairytales and fables, into one fantastical world where Hercules and the Billy Goat Gruff might be in search of Medusa or the Jabberwocky. All heroes have a miniature, whilst the artwork for the villains and heroes could perhaps be described as haunting. The odd world of Paradise Lost is truly captured, but does mashing together fictional characters translate into a successful mas-up of mechanics in this hybrid of Tokaido and Cluedo?
As heroes you will be travelling the world of the Water Witch in a quest to deduce who has been selected as the Villain in this story and what weapon is best used to defeat them. On your journey you will encounter oracles, learn secrets from the truthseekers, build knowledge by growing your scrolls, and exchange goods at the market to enable you to buy or perhaps bribe information out of those you encounter.


Thursday 20 August 2020

Dark Imp Cracker Games

It's August, are you already gearing up for the festive season? Often I'm the first person to grumble about the ringing of Christmas cheer in stores as early as October, but this year I shouldn't be hypocritical, having bought an advent calendar last week! If you want to prepare early, then Dark Imp games are running a Kickstarter in September, guaranteed to fulfil to UK backers by December 1st 2020, bringing the perfect Christmas cracker for gamers to your table.

If you're hosting for up to a part of six this year, then The Dark Imp Cracker Games is a single, extra large Christmas cracker for the centre of your table. When you pull this cracker, you'll find instructions and components to play six different board games that introduce modern board gaming mechanisms in a very simple way. You'll also find some rather good jokes, very tricky puzzles, but no party hats, nail clippers, thimble, tiny pack of playing cards or measuring tape to be seen.

Saturday 15 August 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Hues and Cues

Game: Hues and Cues

Publisher: The Op

Designer: Scott Brady

Year: 2020

Hues and Cues is a party game for 3-10 players where you are trying to get on the same wavelength as other players when it comes to colours.

Each round there will be an active player, who gets to look at a card from the deck and pick one of the 4 colours that card shows. They then give a single word clue to help other players guess the colour. Each player, in turn order then places out one of their markers on the grid to make their guess at which colour the clue giver meant. 

After all players have made a guess, the clue giver can then choose whether to give a second, two-word clue. If they do, then players take a second marker and mark a second guess on the board. At the end of either the one or two rounds, points are awarded. The clue giver gets one point per marker in a 3x3 square with their correct colour at the centre. Guessing players get 3 points for the correct answer, 2 points for being in the ring of 8 squares surrounding the exact answer or one point for being one space further out. A handy frame is provided to remind you of this scoring and you can mix up the frame to show different point configurations to vary your game. 

Every player gets either one or two turns as clue giver before the game is over and the player with the most points wins.

Tuesday 11 August 2020

Our first visit to Gencon? Some first impressions of online demos

Given our location in the UK, it might be fair to say that we'll never make it to GenCon in the flesh. Perhaps one day we'd consider tying the trip into a holiday in the USA, but I don't see that happening in the next few years. This year though, pretty much every big convention, and many small ones, have made the effort to go online.

For GenCon, that primarily seems to be a mixture of paid events and some free live-streaming, as well as unofficial events run by publishers on the side, making the most of the buzz around the weekend. For me, the idea of paying to play an online demo isn't at all appealing, perhaps it's worth it to try before you buy with some new or unreleased games, but for me an online experience would never proxy for the real experience anyway, I'd still need to try the physical game. However, as content creators, we've been fortunate to take advantage of a few press demos, as well jumping on some free demos. 

We don't ever plan to review games based on an online simulation on this blog, but we're excited to share some first impressions of some new and upcoming games, as well as imminent Kickstarters that we've had the chance to try out over the GenCon weekend.

Saturday 8 August 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Scooby-Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion

Game: Scooby-Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion

Publisher: The Op

Designer: Jay Cormier, Sen-Foong Lim

Year: 2020

Scooby-Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion is marked as a 'Coded  Chronicles' game - a new line in escape room style games from The Op. We play a lot of the tabletop escape room games, keeping up with the Exit, Deckscape, Unlock and Escape Room: The Game series, so trying out a new one is always a treat. Coded Chronicles is a story driven experience, and, as you might expect from the Scooby-Doo theme, you'll be trying to solve the mystery of which fool is running around pretending to be a ghost.

So, if, like me, you need an excuse to pull out your best Scooby-Doo impressions, then grab the Scooby book before anybody else does and spend an hour or two sniffing objects, being scared of the smallest things and shouting 'Rooby-Rooby-Roooo!' on an infinite loop. 

Saturday 1 August 2020

The Game Shelf Previews:- Swatch

Game: Swatch

Publisher: Minerva Tabletop Games

Designer:  Scott James

Year: 2020

Colour swatches are a pretty universal part of DIY, home renovations and design. I'm sure most people have found themselves in the paint aisle of a hardware store, comparing swatches and picking out tester pots. Swatch seems to take inspiration from some of those ludicrous paint names and creates a game all about mixing together primary colours to make secondary colours and then blending all three to make that prefect shade of lime green, or hot pink.

Scott is a local game designer to us and is bringing his first game to Kickstarter in October this year. We've been playing a few two player games with the prototype in order to tell you all about it.