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 31 December 2020

Overthinking by the Yellow Meeple:- Top 5 Board Games of 2020

This year has been strange for many reasons, but a couple of those have really affected the way we consume board games. We were never extremely social gamers, so this is not a story of only ever playing 2-player games, because that's all that we ever did! Instead, this year, our number of games played has barely changed, but we've been playing a specific subset of games a lot more - the games that we're able to play over Skype. We've had lots of plays of Tiny Towns, NMBR 9, Codenames and our collection of roll and write games, meaning that we've definitely played fewer unique titles this year.

The other big factor for us has been a lack of conventions. I get very excited for new convention releases, checking out the listing on Board Game Geek and making plans using the Tabletop Together Tool. This year, this obviously didn't happen and so my finger was far less on the pulse in terms of hot new games. Don't get me wrong, we've still played 85 new 2020 releases, but that's quite a lot less than in previous years, so I'm going to stick to a top 5 games of 2020, rather than the usual top 10.

Wednesday 30 December 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Dinosaur Island (2nd Edition)

Game: Dinosaur Island

Publisher: Pandasaurus Games

Designer: Jonathan Gilmour, Brian Lewis

Year: 2017

This year, I was very excited that by friends asked me what they should get for their 8-year old brother for Christmas. I came up with some great ideas, because my interests are probably pretty well aligned with those of an 8-year old boy - LEGO, games, toys and, of course, dinosaurs! Dinosaur Island was perhaps the first dinosaur themed board game we added to our collection, but it certainly wasn't the last as the theme really took hold over the last couple of years. Since we're always trying t control the size of our collection, we have tried to keep the number of dinosaur games down to a reasonable number, but Dinosaur Island and a couple of others always survive the cut.

With the 2nd edition, Pandasaurus Games have added more unique dinosaur meeples to the mix. If you're not already sold by the dinosaur meeples, then read on to find out more about psychedelic game game of dino cooking.

Thursday 24 December 2020

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Nevada City

Game: Nevada City

Publisher: Rio Grande Games

Designer:  Alan D. Ernstein

Year: 2020



Nevada City is a worker placement game for 2-4 players in which players each represent a family in the Old West, trying to earn a reputation through farming, wheeler dealing and constructing buildings around town.

Over the course of four years, from 1855-1858, your family members will work hard to adapt to the events that occur, including famine, bandits and fire at certain key buildings in the city.

Tuesday 22 December 2020

Panning for... Silver?:- Nevada City

Game: Nevada City

Publisher: Rio Grande Games

Designer:  Alan D. Ernstein

Year: 2020

Nevada City is a 2-4 player worker placement game in which you'll use the four members of your family to mine silver, farm cattle and earn money in order to buy materials and land rights needed to build the various buildings in town. Not only do buildings earn you points, but can be part of your income too, they each have new worker placement spots and when other players use them they'll be paying you for the privilege! If you find you don't have enough workers in a round you can always hire some workers, if you like them you can even marry them into the family to use them in future rounds. Different members of your family (and workers) come with different skill sets, though often he more skilled a worker is the less actions they have.

Each round of Nevada City represents a year of time. At the start of a year a number of events are laid out, new workers become available and new building plans become ready to acquire. After revealing the first event card the first player will choose one family member/worker to act who will have anywhere between one and three action tokens on them. Each action token lets you perform one action, this might be adding resources to a farm tile your your personal board, completing contracts for points by spending the resources required or acquiring building rights by visiting the town hall. Many characters have skills, such as mining, which let them perform certain actions more efficiently, or provide resources for free when they build a building. One your chosen character has used their last action point it becomes the next player's turn. After all players have used their first character the next event will be revealed and players begin using their second character.

Wednesday 16 December 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Islands in the Mist

Game: Islands in the Mist

Publisher: Schmidt Spiele

Designer:  Volker Sch├Ąchtele

Year: 2020
Since the release of The Quacks of Quedlinberg in 2018, I have been looking out for an annual 'big box' game release from Schmidt Spiele each year. with Quacks being such a smash hit, it's a tough act to follow, and even its prolific designer didn't quite have a repeat success with The Taverns of Tiefenthal in 2019. In 2020, Schmidt Spiele have not gone with another Wolfgang Warsch title (in fact, I've not heard of any games from him recently after 2018's smash hit year), but from a relatively unknown designer, Volker Sch├Ąchtele.
Islands in the Mist has come out in an English language edition, but you'd be forgiven for not knowing that since its page on BoardGameGeek has the title 'Die Inseln im Nebel' and a picture of the English cover can't even be found. I feel like we've stumbled upon an obscure German game, rather than the classic feeling gateway game that Islands in the Mist actually is, so it's a nice game to be able to share this review.

Saturday 12 December 2020

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Curious Cargo

Game: Curious Cargo

Publisher: Capstone Games

Designer:  Ryan Courtney

Year: 2020

Curious Cargo is a new, two-player game from the publisher and designer of Pipeline. If you're familiar with Pipeline, then the board covered in interconnected colourful pipes will certainly be a blast from the past, but the rest of the game is pretty unique and streamlined. Pipeline was a 2019 release that caught my eye straight away, but I didn't get around to playing it until very recently. After my first play I considered it a must buy, but I exercised some restraint and decided to wait and see if Curious Cargo provide a two-player experience that I would enjoy more. Now that I've played both, I realised the only share a small amount of DNA and the reality is that I probably need both in my collection.
Perhaps one of the most used phrases on this blog is 'puzzly tile laying game' and that's because I deliberately seek them out as games I have a very high chance of enjoying, and I'm very glad to say that Curious Cargo is no exception. It burns my brain even more than most, but it's extremely unique, and here's why!

Tuesday 8 December 2020

What's in the Box!?:- Curious Cargo

Game: Curious Cargo

Publisher: Capstone Games

Designer:  Ryan Courtney

Year: 2020

Curious Cargo
is a two player tile laying game in which you'll be trying to produce goods into waiting trucks to deliver them, while at the same time building pipelines to intercept your opponents outgoing goods before they can reach the market. All of this is done by connecting your factories' machines up to loading bays via a series of coloured tubes. In the base game you'll have two types of cargo to deal with, while the advanced game adds a third colour to make things even more difficult. Combine this with careful manipulation of the incoming and outgoing trucks and you have a game that really requires your thinking cap!

Each round of Curious Cargo consists of two phases, during the first phase players will get to construct the new production pipelines to make their factory work, while during the second phase they will be able to load/unload cargo and manipulate the trucks. In the first phase each player will get three action points. These can either be spent to draw a new tile from the bag, or to place a tile onto your factory floor. Tiles may be placed over existing tiles in order to change the flow of the pipes, and each player has a supply of 5 scaffold tiles to help with this. Left over tiles can be saved for future rounds. Any pipelines which connect from a machine to a loading bay in a continuous path of one colour make a connection. Each connection you make moves you up a track which gives out bonuses and determines the first player.

Sunday 6 December 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Whodunnit: Mystery at the Museum

Game: Whodunnit: Mystery at the Museum

Publisher: YULU Games

Year: 2020
When I am asked, I say that I found board gaming relatively recently, thanks to an introduction from my now wife. Around 5 or 6 years ago, her friendship group started to dabble in modern board games and I reluctantly joined in. The rest is history, but that origin story probably isn't quite accurate. My family certainly played board games, and, as an only child, two player deduction games were a definite favourite. I loved to take on my Mum or Dad in Battleship, Downfall or Guess Who when I was younger. It's those childhood deduction games that I feel have really stood the test of time best. Guess Who is a really great game concept, sure it's simply, but it asks you to formulate questions that give you the best bang for your buck - a skill that seems quite advanced for the age of players who play it.

Whodunnit is a twist on Guess Who, where you're trying to identify a suspect, location and weapon to solve a crime, like you might be familiar with from Cluedo. It's a two player game, although the box suggests you can play in teams to accommodate more players, but two players is obviously the intent.

Friday 4 December 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Kingdom Rush: Rift in Time

Game: Kingdom Rush: Rift in Time

Publisher: Lucky Duck Games

Designer: Helana Hope, Sen-Foong Lim, Jessey Wright

Year: 2020

Around 12-18 months ago, it seemed as though Lucky Duck Games planned to make a whole catalogue of board game themed upon different mobile apps, with releases like Jetpack Joyride and Fruit Ninja. They've diversified a lot since then, but Kingdom Rush: Rift in Time is another game based upon an app that just fulfilled from Kickstarter.

We're not really mobile gamers, and have never tried the Kingdom Rush app, but having tried out the prototype of Kingdom Rush: Rift in Time, we got a taste for this unique cooperative, tower defence game. You and your allies are fending off the onslaught of the time mage. You'll build castles and use mages, archers and other troops to attack the incoming troops.