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 28 November 2020

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Gods Love Dinosaurs

Game: Gods Love Dinosaurs

Publisher: Pandasaurus Games

Designer:  Kasper Lapp

Year: 2020

If there was an award for the most strange name for a board game released in 2020, then Gods Love Dinosaurs might well win it! I just don't understand it - do all of the Greek gods collectively love dinosaurs? I wouldn't blame them, because, heck, dinosaurs are awesome! Perhaps each player in the game is playing god? Each player will be building a habitat, filling it with creatures and then nature takes its course. 

Gods Love Dinosaurs is all about the food chain. The T-Rex is top of the food chain, able to eat anything and everything, but most interested in tasty predators, like tigers and eagles. Tigers and eagles are looking for more tasty little morsels - the rabbits, frogs and rats. How well you create your habitat will determine how many dinosaurs it can support and you can let as many dinosaurs as you can hatch romp around your island.

Wednesday 25 November 2020

Like Angry, Scaly Puppies:- Gods Love Dinosaurs

 Game: Gods Love Dinosaurs

Publisher: Pandasaurus Games

Designer:  Kasper Lapp

Year: 2020


Gods Love Dinosaurs is a game all about making sure your little dinosaur buddies are fed. Being the ferocious carnivores that they are, they will eat anything, but the critters that live around here aren't enough calories to prosper off of. Instead your dinosaur pal will want to be eating the larger carnivores, which in turn need to eat the critters to survive. Before you know it you have a growing ecosystem where you carefully have to manage the population of your rabbits, frogs and rats in order to feed them to predators, so the predators can be eaten by dinosaurs. After all, it's all about the dinosaurs!

In order to do this each turn you'll choose one of the available tiles from the display. Each tiles is a pair of hexagons, typically each pair comes with an animal on it, either prey or predator. There are three main terrain types which can only support the associated critter type, along with one wildcard terrain and mountains, which is where the dinosaurs live. Play continues with each player taking a tile one at a time until a single column of the market has been emptied. Each column is associated to an animal, when that column empties that animal activates.

Saturday 21 November 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Squire for Hire

Game: Squire for Hire

Publisher: Letiman Games

Designer: Jon Merchant

Year: 2019

Eighteen card games have probably been popularised by Button Shy Games, who release one game per month. However, a few other creators have latched onto this format which is definitely appealing for its portability.

Squire for Hire is a card game for 1-2 players in which each player takes the role of a squire, hired for the noble quest of 'donkey'. You will be carrying all of the possessions of your hero on an adventure. The cards that you take during the game represent various loot, magic items etc. which will be added to your bag, which is the play area in front of you. Each squire likes to pack their bag differently and points will be awarded for cramming a bunch of good stuff and little junk into your bag, and then laying it out in your squires preferred manner.

Sunday 15 November 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Tessera

Game: Tessera

Publisher: Board Game Hub

Designer: James Emmerson

Year: 2021

Tessera is the latest design coming to Kickstarter from UK publisher Board Game Hub. Their last project, Tranquility was a beautiful cooperative game which successfully funded and recently fulfilled to backers. This latest project is another game with a simple core concept and simple components, but a quite addictive puzzly, design.

Players are collectively creating a mosaic tile floor with size colours and designs, each dedicated to a god from Roman mythology. By overlapping new tiles, a pattern is created that maximises and minmises scoring opportunities for different colours, giving a few key decisions for players to make along the way. Whilst the mosaic is a collective endeavour, the game is competitive, with one player scoring the most points to win.

Tessera will launch on Kickstarter on 18th November.

Monday 9 November 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- The Pursuit of Happiness

Game: The Pursuit of Happiness

Publisher: Artipia  Games

Designer:  Adrian Abela, David Chircop

Year: 2015

The Pursuit of Happiness
is often referred to as a gamer's version of the classic board game 'Life', or 'The Game of Life' if you live in the UK. It's a game where you will progress through a lifetime, from your teenage years, through to retirement and eventual death, which can happen at a different age depending how stressful you life has been.

The Pursuit of Happiness has been well supported with expansion content over the years and it's strange to think that it would now be regarded as an older worker placement games. We first tried it out quite a long while ago and the theme was enough for it to stick in my memory and to want to explore it some more.

If you're looking to live out a fantasy, get a new job or see if it's possible to hold down two girlfriends at the same time, then let's talk about The Pursuit of Happiness.

Saturday 7 November 2020

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Smartphone Inc

Game: Smartphone Inc

Publisher: Arcane Wonders & Cosmodrone Games

Designer:  Ivan Lashin

Year: 2018

If you were excited about hot new board games in 2018, then you probably heard about Smartphone Inc. Smartphone Inc released in limited quantity at Spiel 2018 and put Cosmodrone Games on the map in terms of board game publishers to keep an eye on. Fortunately, Cosmodrone Games partnered with Arcane Wonders to bring Smartphone to a broader market via Kickstarter and now it's possible for everyone to get their hands on it. Hopefully the same will soon be true for their 2019 release, Aquatica.

As you might expect, we were definitely excited about hot new board games in 2018 and we are fortunate to be friends with someone who was prepared to pay quite a bit of money to get their hands on a copy of Smartphone Inc. We had the chance to try it out a couple of times and really enjoyed it - it really ticked the  right boxes for us as an economic game. However, we haven't touched it since and this recent retail release was an opportunity to see if the game still had that same sparkle or if it has lost its shine now that it's no longer that rare, coveted title!

Wednesday 4 November 2020

4G or not 4G, That is the Question:- Smartphone Inc

Game: Smartphone Inc

Publisher: Arcane Wonders & Cosmodrone Games

Designer:  Ivan Lashin

Year: 2018

Smartphone Inc is an economic game for 1-5 players in which you take on the role of multinational companies designing the bleeding edge of mobile phone technology. Each round you'll decide how to run your company with a mix of making goods, getting higher quality materials, R&D and setting up distribution in new countries. Competition is fierce and most people will buy the cheapest phone first, though if you can research new features you can get access to the ought after enthusiast market, to whom price is no issue. Will you price low in order to sell bulk, or tailor to the luxury good market?

 Each round players will start by simultaneously deciding how to focus their company. This is done by overlapping a pair of 2x3 double sided "phone" grids. In addition you can place some 2x1 tiles on top to alter the visible symbols. Once decided each player has committed to the scale and focus of their operations for the round. Firstly players will generate goods and adjust price. Price has two different symbols, one to adjust up and one to adjust down. low priced phones sell first, and give you first choice in future actions, but high priced phones get you more points per sale. Either way you'll need goods, you will gain one good for each good symbol showing and a further good for each overlapping square of your two grids. Each good represents a crate of phones ready to be sold.

Sunday 1 November 2020

The Game Shelf Previews:- Ukiyo

Game: Ukiyo

Publisher: Walnut Games

Designer: Ian Walton

Year: 2020

is an 18-card tile-laying game that will launch on Kickstarter on 3rd November 2020. It's a first-time self-published design by Ian Walton and Walnut Games, that plays with solo and multiplayer modes. While it most definitely fits in your pocket, you'll need a small table to play, but if you do travel a lot by train or plane, then this would make a perfect game to take with you. At least in its prototype form, the rules are neatly included on the inside of the cardboard sleeve that holds the game, which really works with the compact simplicity of the game.