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 Schächtele

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 Schächtele.
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.

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.

Wednesday 28 October 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Chronicles of Crime: 1400

Game: Chronicles of Crime: 1400

Publisher: Lucky Duck Games

Designer: David Cicurel, Wojciech Grajkowski

Year: 2020

Chronicles of Crime had a hugely innovative first release in 2018, following a successful Kickstarter campaign. It is one of just a handful of story-driven crime-solving board games out there and really stood out from the crowd with it's use of technology. It introduced VR to our board game table for the first time, with the ability to look around crime scenes using just your smart phone and some 3D glasses, but what felt most innovative was its use of QR code technology. 

Chronicles of Crime: 1400 is the first of three standalone sequels, known as the millennium series. In the 1400 edition you'll be transported to 15th century France where crime and backstabbing are rife. A further two games in the series, 1900 and 2400 will be released next year.

Thursday 22 October 2020

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Troyes Dice

Game: Troyes Dice

Publisher: Pearl Games

Designer:   Sébastien DujardinXavier GeorgesAlain Orban

Year: 2020


Troyes is one of those older euro games that we've still not got around to playing. I select it in every math trade I participate in, but so far, we've never matched and received it in trade. As a result, this review will be a straightforward review of its latest incarnation as a roll and write game. The momentum behind roll and write games does show a few signs of slowing recently, but new titles and implementations linked to a larger board game version are still being released and we still have a high level of excitement for all of them. Troyes Dice edges towards the heavier end of the roll and write spectrum and it's unlikely to become part of my Skype gaming rotation, but it could do if your Skype gaming is with a more gamerly crowd.

Troyes Dice is a game that takes place over 8 days, each with a morning phase and an evening phase. Over the course of the game you will draft 16 dice and use them to build a city on your player board in order to gain end game victory points. After a couple of days, invaders get wind of your city and twice a day they will try to invade and destroy different areas of your city. The greatest city with the greatest population and collection of buildings will win.

Tuesday 20 October 2020

Build a Wall, Let the Invaders Pay for it:- Troyes Dice

Game: Troyes Dice

Publisher: Pearl Games

Designer:   Sébastien Dujardin, Xavier Georges, Alain Orban

Year: 2020 

Troyes Dice is a 1-10 player roll and write game in which you'll be using dice to upgrade your civilization for the good of all. Will you build walls to fortify the city, or focus on economic or religious development? Whatever you decide you need to be prepared for the invaders that will start to attack from day 3 onwards. While they won't burn down any already built buildings, they do spoil the land preventing future construction. Unless, of course, you have built strong enough walls to keep them at bay, but those walls aren't doing much else for your development...

Troyes Dice is a game of 8 days, each of which consists of 2 rounds, a day and a night round. Each round has a player rolling the four dice and placing them in numerical order along the coloured round tiles. Three of the dice are clear, representing that they are of the colour of the tile they are placed on, while one is black, marking that tile as blocked for this round. Blocked tiles flip over a the end of the round, usually causing them to change colour as the game progresses. Once the dice are rolled each player independently chooses one of the three available dice to use, with fees needing to be paid for the higher numbered dice. They then choose to either build one of the two buildings in the section of their player sheet that matches colour and number with the die they chose, or to use the die to generate resources.

Saturday 17 October 2020

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Wingspan Digital

 Game: Wingspan

Publisher: Stonemaier Games

Designer: Elizabeth Hargrave

Digital Edition By: Monster Couch

Year: 2019


I could name only a few board game releases from the last 5 years that have really broken through to gain 'modern classic' status.  With a wife who works in a board game store, modern classic, for me, means a game that will be an evergreen, there is no board game store that shouldn't have this game in sock because people will be buying it for years and years to come. I'd put Azul in that category, along with Codenames and perhaps a few others, but one of the heavier games to make it is Wingspan.


Wingspan is not the most simple game, it has relatively advanced engine building mechanisms and yet its theme is so refreshing to modern board games that it really caught people's attention, and for most people it was a real winner. For me personally, I did not get into the game. I respect it immensely, but the engine building just never quite clicked for me. No matter what I did, the game always felt like a grind that only rarely resulted in a satisfying engine. However, the Wingspan Digital Edition looked so beautiful that I had to try it. It had an early preview release for a couple of days and I was hooked, and now it's available on Steam and soon to be on Nintendo Switch.

Wednesday 14 October 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Tekhenu: Obelisk of the Sun

Game: Tekhenu: Obelisk of the Sun

Designer: Daniele Tascini, Dávid Turczi

Publisher: Board & Dice

Year: 2020

If you enjoy heavy euro games, then you will have been hard pushed not to notice the series of games that seems to be never ending from designer Daniele Tascini and publisher Board & Dice. Teotihuacan was first on the scene, and much loved, then it was Trismegistus which didn't seem together the same enthusiastic response. Tekhenu is the third game beginning with the letter T to hit our table, with a fourth following later this year. We don't find a huge amount of time for longer games and so Teotihuacan is a game we played once, loved and purchased and have not played since, and we followed the crowd on Trismegistus, enjoying the game somewhat, but deciding it did not need a space on our shelves.

Board & Dice got us excited for Tekhenu quite early by releasing a print and play roll and write game as a teaser, which is still available on their web store. We enjoyed that quite a bit and are still excited to see how much Daniele Tascini can melt our brains with just a few super important dice drafting decisions over the course of a game. Tekhenu is, once again, a game where every dice counts and every dice has a huge amount of different meanings in its number, colour and position on the board. If you too are looking to melt your brain in the blazing sun of ancient Egypt, then let's try to explain the gameplay of Tekhenu.

Thursday 8 October 2020

Thoughts from The Yellow Meeple:- Magic Maze on Mars

Game: Magic Maze on Mars

Publisher: Sit Down Games

Designer: Kasper Lapp

Year: 2019

Magic Maze was a really revolutionary cooperative game for us. Long before the mind, Magic Maze was a game that asked you to work together as a team without talking to each other. The best chance of communication you were given was the passive aggressive, "do something" pawn which you could slam on the table in front of your friends. Magic Maze is a game that we've played countless times. It's tutorial-sytle rulebook means that every time we introduce it to a new audience we can start with the easy missions and the game essentially teaches itself. What's amazing is that we don't get bored of that first mission either - Magic Maze isn't a game you can get really good at and carry the team - it really levels the playing field.

After a couple of expansions to Magic Maze, which we've not fully explored, Sit Down Games have now taken the concept to space with their new, standalone game, Magic Maze on Mars. We're definitely excited for more Magic Maze content, but we were intrigued to see what has been changed in the new game and see if we needed to add it to our shelves.

Tuesday 6 October 2020

A Maze, in Space, How Sweet the Sound:- Magic Maze on Mars

 Game: Magic Maze on Mars

Publisher: Sit Down Games

Designer: Kasper Lapp

Year: 2019

Mars is popular. That rust-coloured orb that floats throughout the night sky, our closest neighbour in the solar system, with such potential for life, if only we can learn the technology to inhabit it. Magic Maze on Mars takes the frantic, silent action of the original game and takes it to space! Instead of being thieving adventurers after free weapons you play as Robots, busying themselves creating the infrastructure needed for Humans to come to Mars. In order to do that you'll need resources, and the right ones in the right place at that, for humans have the strangest need for metals, crystals and bananas.

Of course in Magic Maze things are never easy. The game starts simple with only a time limit and no restrictions on speech, Over time the game adds rules to each new play until the full game is unveiled. The essence of the gameplay is that you have a sand timer tracking your time, should this ever run out you will all lose. In order to win the game you'll need to generate and move resources around the surface in order to unveil new locations, build habitation domes and manage waste. Eventually all the habitations domes will be complete and people will arrive, who also need to be moved around the roads to get them to their domes. All of this is done with each player being restricted to only using certain colours. That means you can only generate resources of those colours, used roads of those colours and spend resources on exploration spots of that colour to reveal a new map. To top it off you have to do this all in silence, with only a passive aggressive token to place in front of someone if you think they should do something.

Saturday 3 October 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Tokyo Sidekick

Game: Tokyo Sidekick

Designer: Yusuke Emi (江見祐介)

Publisher: Japanime Games

Year: 2018

Tokyo Sidekick had an initial small print run from Japanese publisher Little Future, and now Japanime Games have successfully funded a second edition on Kickstarter. Having won awards at Tokyo Game Market, this is one to take notice of, and for some gamers, a great opportunity to get hold of those rarer Japanese games that are sometimes rather coveted.
Tokyo Sidekick is a cooperative game for 2-4 players in which each player plays a superhero and their sidekick, to take on all manner of villains whilst trying to spin plates and take care of all of the incidents happening around town. You're very much a Spiderman-type character when it comes to handing anything from a slight misdemeanor, all the way up to a plane crash, but then you need to switch it up and become Iron Man to take on the bad guys with full force. Can you defeat your adversaries in time to save the city?

Wednesday 30 September 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Mooncake Master

Game: Mooncake Master

Designer: Daryl Chow

Publisher: Origame

Year: 2019

This year the Mooncake Festival (or Mid-Autumn Festival) falls on October 1st. I only know this because I was inspired to research mooncakes and a few other more obscure aspects of Asian culture thanks to a parcel we received from Origame. Origame is a board game publisher from Singapore, which currently publishes designs by Daryl Chow. Daryl has made two games we really enjoy - Overbooked and The Artemis Project and also gave us a demo of the upcoming Plantopia, so it seems that his designs fit pretty well with us.

Mooncake Master first strikes you with its packaging. I know people generally don't like box sleeves, but this particular sleeve feels so thematic, sliding off to reveal the red box with gold lettering that, at least from my Western perspective, makes me think this box is perhaps reminiscent of a real box of mooncakes. Once inside, the cards have a really unique texture too, helping to really give a feeling of quality to the game.

Saturday 26 September 2020

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Glasgow

Game: Glasgow

Publisher: Lookout Games

Designer: Mandela Fernandez-Grandon

Year: 2020


Amy and I spend 95% of our gaming time playing with only two players. It's one of the fantastic benefits of being a board gaming couple! We are happy to play any game that says on the box that it plays two-players, even if other people might consider it better with more people at the table. We're even happy to accommodate the odd 'robot' player to help with the two-player experience. However, I accept that we're unusual in this regard and that many gamers who play exclusively or primarily at a player count of two are keen to seek out two-player only experiences. For those players, some of the best places to turn are the 2-player lines from Kosmos, Z-Man and Lookout Games.



Glasgow is the latest two-player only title from Lookout Games, whose most popular two player game is perhaps Patchwork. Set in 18th century Scotland, a diverse cast of characters will help you, a merchant, to make the biggest contribution to developing the new city of Glasgow for the 'modern' era. Through trading goods and acquiring real estate you, two players will be a 5x4 area of one of the first grid-plan cities in Europe, but one player will contribute more highly and become more notable for the history books.

Wednesday 23 September 2020

A Matter of Factories:- Glasgow

Game: Glasgow

Publisher: Lookout Games

Designer: Mandela Fernandez-Grandon

Year: 2020

Glasgow is a two-player only, city building game in which players will move their workers around a ring of action tiles in order to gather the resources needed to build buildings in the city. You can navigate the action ring as fast as you like, but the faster you go the more actions you give away to your opponent. Once built, each building belongs to one of the two players and will reward that player with more goods or end game points should their scoring requirements be met.

Gameplay in Glasgow will be immediately familiar to anyone who has played games like Tokaido. Each player has a worker which moves around a ring of action tiles. On your turn you can move your worker as far as you'd like along the ring to perform the action you land on. However it is always the turn of the player furthest behind on the ring, so skipping a long way ahead often gives your opponent several goes in a row as they catch up to you. Most of the action spaces are simple, rewarding one or two of the four basic resources, with a few more advanced ones dotted around such as a market to trade resources between types and being able to activate a row of factories (more on those later). 

All the action takes place in and around a large circle of action spaces, with the city slowly forming in-between.

Wednesday 16 September 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Tellstones: King's Gambit

Game: Tellstones: King's Gambit

Publisher: Riot Games

Year: 2020

Video game giant, Riot Games, catapulted into the board game space with Mechs vs Minions in 2016. Mechs vs Minions was a super high-quality game at a more than attractive price point, set in the world of League of Legends. This huge box contained a mixture of pre-painted and inked minis and gave players a cooperative campaign experience which really suited a family audience and avid board gamers alike.
After waiting a few years for another game from Riot Games, you may have been forgiven for thinking that Mechs vs Minions was a one-off, but earlier this year, they announced Riot Tabletop and set out an intention to continue to publish accessible, innovative and beautiful games. Their second game is Tellstones: King's Gambit. A small tin, only around 4" square, but certainly in keeping with their intent to create games with high component quality. Once again, the game is set in the League of Legends world, but this time the theme is not at the forefront, this is simply a battle of wits.

Monday 14 September 2020

The Game Shelf Previews:- Cascadia

Game: Cascadia

Publisher: Flatout Games

Designer: Randy Flynn

Year: 2021

Flatout Games are perhaps best known for their fantastic card game Point Salad. But, with Calico just fulfilling and Dollars to Donuts recently funded on Kickstarter, what we know them for is their puzzly tile laying games. Tile laying games with a spatial puzzle and lots of interesting scoring mechanisms really level the playing field for Amy and I in two-player games. Amy tends to have an advantage in abstract games, but I love a good puzzle.

Cascadia brings an abstract game to life, with lovely artwork from Beth Sobel, as well as colours that do a great job of evoking the landscape of the Pacific Northwest of the USA. If you're enticed by a world of creating landscapes and populating them with wildlife, then Cascadia will be on Kickstarter in September 2020.

Thursday 10 September 2020

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Truffle Shuffle

Game: Truffle Shuffle

Publisher: AEG

Designer:  Molly Johnson, Robert Melvin, Shawn Stankewich

Year: 2020



Truffle Shuffle is a new card game from the design team at Flatout Games, who are continuing their publishing partnership with AEG, who brought out their fantastic design Point Salad. Point Salad won a number of awards in 2019 in the different card game and family game categories and is a game that we love to play when we visit board game cafes. 

With Truffle Shuffle we have a food theme that I feel a lot more enthusiastic about and the artwork looks particularly tasty on some of the cards, and of course the box. Truffle Shuffle is a drafting and set collection game for 2-4 players that plays in around 30 minutes. It calls on a number of mechanisms that are familiar from modern board gaming and traditional card games, so could Flatout Games have another family hit on their hands?

Tuesday 8 September 2020

...You Never Know What You're Gonna Get:- Truffle Shuffle

Game: Truffle Shuffle

Publisher: AEG

Designer:  Molly Johnson, Robert Melvin, Shawn Stankewich

Year: 2020


Truffle Shuffle is a 2-4 player card game that has you drafting chocolate cards in order to complete sets to earn chocolate coins. The game revolves around picking cards from a drafting pyramid, where only the cards no currently partially covered by another card are available to draft. Each card has both a colour and a number associated to it. To prevent things from being too predictable half of the cards are placed upside-down so you only know the colour of the chocolate, and even then there are special chocolates which are used in atypical ways so there's no guarantee of what you will get.

Saturday 5 September 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Rurik: Dawn of Kiev

Game: Rurik: Dawn of Kiev

Publisher: PieceKeeper Games

Designer:  Stan Kordonskiy

Year: 2019

Rurik: Dawn of Kiev is a realm building game set in Eastern Europe where each player is working to expand the control and prowess of their leader by controlling the lands with troops and buildings. You'll be accomplishing great deeds along the way, by taxing the lands you control and fighting off the troops of other players. After funding with a very successful Kickstarter in 2018, Rurik is now back on Kickstarter with reprint and an expansion, called Stone and Blade.
Rurik: Dawn of Kiev is not a game we would immediately jump to play, because it has some roots in area control, but we're glad we got the chance to give it a try because it's actually got a lot more going on than simply area control. With some very smart actin programming and lots of in-game and end-game goals to work towards, there's a lot of fun euro-game mechanisms, alongside the conflict-driven area control. Were those euro aspects enough to win us over?

Wednesday 2 September 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Wizard Kittens

Game: Wizard Kittens

Publisher: Magpie Games

Designer:  Brendan G. Conway, Marissa Kelly, Mark Diaz Truman

Year: 2020

Magpie Games are best known for their roleplaying games and first caught our attention with a hugely successful Kickstarter for the Root roleplaying game However, it's no surprise that Wizard Kittens was also a well funded Kickstarter campaign, after all, it has cute cat artwork and everyone knows that cats sell board games.

Each player is one of a group of wizard kittens who have released a number of curses in a library. They need to use magic to defeat the curses before they are caught by a rather angry librarian - Professor Whispurr.

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.