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, 16 September 2021

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Subastral

Game: Subastral

Publisher: Renegade Game Studios

Designer: Ben Pinchback & Matt Riddle

Year: 2021

 
 
Subastral is a small-box card game for 2-5 players in which each player is collecting notes of the different biomes of plant Earth. You'll be treated to beautiful artwork from prolific board game artist, Beth Sobel decorating the cards for the eight different biome types, as well as the 6 central cloud cards which form a panorama.
 
Whilst Subastral has a serene and beautiful look to it and very simple card design, don't let its simple aesthetics fool you. While the rules are indeed simple, this set collection game treats you to some very elegant tricks when it comes to card selection and scoring, which will really get you thinking.

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Around the World in ~80 cards :- Subastral

Game: Subastral

Publisher: Renegade Game Studios

Designer: Ben Pinchback & Matt Riddle

Year: 2021

Subastral is a 2-5 player card game in which you compete to explore the globe, discovering the many and varied biomes of Earth. There are eight biomes to explore and you'll be rewarded both for variety of biomes visited, and for having extensive notes on your two most visited biomes. At the start of the game you'll have three cards in hand numbered from 1-6. These cards relate to the six cloud locations in the centre of the table. On your turn you'll play one card from your hand to the cloud matching it's number. You'll then have a choice to take cards in one of two ways. If you are taking from a cloud location of a lower number, then you'll draw the cards into your hand, along with a bonus from the top of the deck, before giving the now empty cloud a replacement card. If the cloud you choose is higher than the card you played then you'll add the cards to your tableau before refilling the now-empty cloud. 
 
The game will continue like this with each player taking a turn to do one action until the end game card is revealed, at this point everyone continues playing until they’ve all had an equal number of turns. Scoring consists of two phases; first you score your runs in your tableau. Runs are a series of up to the eight different terrain types. As you gain cards of differing terrain they are placed in the order you acquired them, while repeats of the same terrain type are placed in a stack on top of the old one. You can therefore have multiple runs so long as you have multiple copies of the first card you collected, but as soon as a run hits a gap the run ends. For example if you had 2 forests, 1 desert, and 2 tundra and you had gained them in that order you'd have a run of three and a run of one as there wasn't a second desert to continue the second run. Lastly you will score points for the two largest piles of one terrain type that you have. The point value of these cards is based on how far along your tableau they are. For example if you manage to get three copies of the eighth terrain type you went to then you'll get a handsome 24 points.

Sunday, 12 September 2021

The Game Shelf Previews:- Verdant

Game: Verdant

Publisher: Flatout Games

Designer:  Molly Johnson, Robert Melvin, Aaron Mesburne, Kevin Russ, Shawn Stankewich

Year: 2022

 
Verdant is a puzzly spatial card game for 1 to 4 players, where each players lays cards to create their own home in the form a tableau of cards. You are however, all playing as houseplant enthusiasts, so at least 50% of your home is taken up by plants, which would all like to be situated in ideal light conditions around your home. 
 
If you've enjoyed Calico, or you're anticipating the arrival of your copy of Cascadia in the coming days/weeks, then you'll be familiar with how the Flatout Games Colab excel at designing puzzly games. Verdant is no exception with its many different scoring objectives and areas to optimise. It's also filled with delightful, artwork from Beth Sobel, that comes together to convey that stylish, cosy type of home decor that I can only hope to be able to achieve some day.

Thursday, 2 September 2021

The Game Shelf Previews:- Solar Sphere

Game: Solar Sphere

Publisher: Dranda Games

Designer: Ayden Lowther, Simon Milburn

Year: 2021


Solar Sphere is a competitive dice placement game coming to Kickstarter in September 2021. It's the second game from the design team of Ayden Lowther and Simon Milburn, under their publishing company, Dranda Games. It has artwork that's consistent with their first game, Solar Storm, which was a really fantastic cooperative game, but offers a completely new game, only with a somewhat similar, sci-fi theme.

Solar Sphere is set ten years after the events of Solar Storm, and players are competing to win prestige by contributing to the building of a solar sphere, enabling mankind to harness the power of the stars. Contributing to the solar sphere is, however, just one of the ways to gain prestige, along with defending against aliens and building a strong crew with high morale.
 

Thursday, 26 August 2021

The Game with your name on it:- Bullet

Game: Bullet♥︎

Publisher: Level 99 Gams

Designer: Joshua Van Laningham

Year: 2021
 

Bullet is a 1-4 player puzzle game in which players take the role of anime heroines defending the earth against a never ending rain of destruction. Until they are the last heroine left, at which point the rain of destruction mysteriously ends in completely normal and not at all suspicious way. If you are playing solo then you can play the boss battle mode against mega-strength versions of the other heroines, or simply play normally attempting to get a high score.

A game of Bullet takes place over several rounds. In each round players will add a number of bullet tokens into their personal bag, reset their energy to full and draw three pattern cards. Then the three minute timer begins. During the three minutes you'll be drawing tokens from the bag, a token will go into the column equal to its colour and then drop down a number of spaces equal to it's number, skipping any spaces that already contain a bullet token. Should a token ever fall to the bottom of your track then it will damage you, take enough damage and you are out of the game.

Thursday, 19 August 2021

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Bullet♥︎

Game: Bullet♥︎

Publisher: Level 99 Gams

Designer: Joshua Van Laningham

Year: 2021
 
 



Bullet♥︎ is a real-time game that contains a number of game modes, but with the main one being a competitive game where your success becomes your opponent's problem!

Each player plays as a heroine and it's great to see a board game cast full of strong women. Not only that, but all of the heroines are well-dressed too; especially rare in a game with a manga-like style that all too often means that the female characters are far from appropriately dressed.

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Dunaia

Game: Dunaïa

Publisher: Blam!

Designer:  Thomas Dupont

Year: 2021

 
 
 
Dunaïa is a 2-4 player game with a somewhat generic fantasy theme, in which each player controls six dunaias who are individually awakened in each turn to activate the areas around them. The theme is very weak, but gives rise to very colourful artwork of lush green landscapes and futuristic looking buildings hidden mamong the hills. The cover artwork, on the other hand looks quite dated to my eye, but is it worth getting past that to discover the tile-laying and resouce management game within?

Thursday, 5 August 2021

Thoughts from The Yellow Meeple:- The Initiative

Game: The Initiative

Publisher: Unexpected Games

Designer: Corey Konieczka

Year: 2021

The Initiative is an immediately intriguing game - the cover is wonderful and for a brand new publisher, there was a lot of buzz for this title when it released earlier in the year. Corey Konieczka is a very well known game designer, involved in many of Fantasy Flights Games' greatest hits. Unexpected games is his own publishing brand, but you can see the links back to fantasy flight, even down to the basic insert and the proof of purchase token in the punchboard!
 
The Initiative is a cooperative game for 1-4 players which uses a comic book to tell the story of a group of teenagers who like to play a board game (yes it's very meta!). The game is a campaign, with sequential missions that take you through the story, adding new game mechanisms and increasing the difficulty of the codes you solve. We're about half way through the campaign at the time of writing our reviews.

Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Roll For:- The Initiative

Game: The Initiative

Publisher: Unexpected Games

Designer: Corey Konieczka

Year: 2021
 
The Initiative is a 1-4 player cooperative game which has you wandering through maps collecting clues in order to solve the mission's puzzle. The missions themselves are tied together into a campaign story told via an interactive comic book. Naturally then there are spoilers as you go through the story, so I won't be talking explicitly about anything story or mechanically past the intro of the first mission. Throughout the game you'll also be finding secret cards, these might unlock new rules, tell more story, or introduce a new puzzle for you to complete between missions.

Once you have read the intro for your mission you set up the mission by placing the player board in the center of the table and adding the shuffled clue tokens to the spots marked on the mission card. You then place the mission card into the decoder's slot. The decoder has a series of flippable panels which should all start down, hiding the solutions. Above many of the panels will be one of the symbols from the clue tokens, when you collect one of these tokens you can flip the panel, giving you a part of your solution. Eventually, once you have flipped enough of the panels, the answer for the round may become clear to you. As a group you can, at any time, agree on what you think the answer is. If you do so you can reveal the answer, if you were correct then you win, otherwise you will lose.
 

Sunday, 1 August 2021

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Sky Towers

Game: Sky Towers

Publisher: EX1ST GAMES

Designer:  Charles Ward

Year: 2019
 
 
 
Sky Towers is a Forever Free Print and Play Game from Charles Ward of EX1ST GAMES. Whilst there are plans to publish a physical copy of the game, it will always be available for free here: https://www.ex1st.com/games/skytowers/. It recently won best 2-player game in the 2021 54 Card Game Design Contest
 
Sky Towers is a tactical, set collection card game from 1-4 players . It features charming artwork and clever card abilities and given it's two player credentials, it's a game we were keen to try out.

Saturday, 31 July 2021

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Peruke

Game: Peruke

Publisher: Peruke Games

Designer:  Mark Littlewood

Year: 2019
 



Peruke is a self-published game, which can be purchased in the UK from the designer's website. It plays 2-4 players and features lovely chunky wooden pieces in a very simple game of dice rolling and push your luck.

Peruke is a very portable game, neatly packed into a small tin. We've played it outdoors, on the sofa, using the foot stool as a table, and I'm sure it would be right at home in a trendy bar setting.



 
 
Gameplay
  
At the start of a game of Peruke each player will take a row of wooden tokens numbered from one to six. In the case of a two-player game you will take two rows or tokens. After a quick set-up roll so that some of your tokens start defended, players will then take turns rolling the three dice. You can use the results of your dice to attack or defend. If you defend then you flip a token matching the number rolled on a die over to make it harder to take. If you attack then you either take a face up token from an opponent of your choice, or flip one of their face down tokens to be face up. You repeat this process for all three of your dice, meaning that a roll of a double may let you take even a defended piece from an opponent. 

 
The game will end when one player has run out of tokens in their row. At which point all players will score the value of each of the tokens they took, plus the value of any tokens remaining in front of them.

 
Amy’s Final Thoughts

Luck and Strategy are two of the biggest components of board games. Some games are high strategy, no luck, like Chess, which certainly has it;'s place but can be a 'marmite' game. Some games are high strategy, high luck, like wargames, where having the right unit in the right place should do wonders, but occasionally, every now and then, the dice decide that a peasant will win the fight against a dragon.Very rarely you encounter no strategy, high luck games, Snakes and Ladders being the perfect example, and, well there's a reason that adults don't enjoy that game. Unfortunately while Peruke isn't quite Snakes and Ladders level of no strategy, it's not far off. You roll the dice then make a very basic choice. Moreover, this choice becomes further and further limited as the game goes on. When your opponent only has a three left and you only have a two left it's a race to see who can roll their opponents number more often than they can roll it themselves. Hardly a battle of the brains.

While it may be lacking in substance, Peruke certainly gets some style points. The moment you open the tin you are greeted by tasteful, chunky, wooden tokens. Even the way they are stored in the tin is surprisingly satisfying. I'm also willing to confess that the gameplay is likely to be better with more players, as then you have the option to bully one player out of the game early in order to score your high value tokens still in front of you, this in turn makes you more inclined to play defensively so you aren't the target of the bullying. If you are looking for a simply, but pretty looking filler game for 3-4 players then  you probably will get some entertainment out of Peruke.

Overall Peruke feels like a 'gift shop' game, the kind of thing that someone might buy for you for secret santa, because they know you like games, and this one looked pretty. It does have some value as a filler game, though I strongly advise against playing the two player variant, which only manages to further dilute the slim number of choices you will be making over the course of the game.


Fi’s Final Thoughts

Peruke really lacks any real decision making at all, it's the least thinking I've done while playing a game for a long, long time. You are completely at the mercy of the dice and simply choosing whether to attack or defend on each turn, if you're presented with a choice at all. In the latter stages of the game, you might even roll the dice and do nothing at all.

The two player game seems to make choices even more obvious, with the choice of keeping your own back row of pieces seeming to be doubly as powerful as attacking and/or defending elsewhere. Very rarely are you presented with a choice that is not obvious and even when you're forced to think it'll either be good luck or bad luck that will win or lose you the game over the course of many pointless rolls of the dice.

The most fun I had with Peruke was the task of trying to get the parts back into the tin - it's really well designed packaging that fits the pieces very snuggly, plus it ends up displaying the game really well too. Peruke has a lovely hand crafted look and when you open the tin, it looks really enticing. Unfortunately, I'd be surprised if most people are not disappointed by lack of fun inside the tin.

 
You Might Like...
  • The presentation of Peruke is lovely.
  • Peruke might make an OK activity to play at the bar.
You Might Not Like...
  • This is 'roll dice and hope you like what you roll' the game.
  • 80% of moves are obvious and the remaining 20% require very little thought.

The Verdict
3/10 Peruke is presented really nicely and looks like the sort of gift you might buy at a craft market. Sadly there is very little game in the box and it seems unlikely that it would be the kind of gift that might get a friend interested in the hobby. Roll some dice, make very few decisions and whoever rolled the best will win...


Peruke was kindly provided as review copy by Peruke Games.

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Decktective

Game: Decktective: Bloody-Red Roses & Decktective: The Gaze of the Ghost

Publisher: dV Giochi

Designer:  Martino Chiacchiera, Silvano Sorrentino

Year: 2019 & 2020
 
 
Decktective is a series of murder mystery style games from publisher dVGiochi. Much like their Deckscape series, which is a series of escape room games, Decktective aims to do a lot with a small deck of cards. The main gimmick here is that each game of Decktective involved you assembling a 3-D crime scene of of the first few card you encounter as you work your way through the deck - the scene is likely to contain clues that will help you solve the mystery. We've decided not to include photos of the 3D scenes, to avoid spoilers in this review.
 
We've played the first and second game from the series and definitely had mixed experiences which well share in this combined review covering both titles.
 

Thursday, 15 July 2021

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Fired Up

Game: Fired Up

Publisher: Drawlab Entertainment

Designer: Giorgos Eleftheriadis, Theofilos Koutroubis

Year: 2021

Fired Up is a competitive game for 2-5 players, set in a futuristic world where digital fighters are pit against each other in arena combat. However, the twist to the game is that players are playing as the audience and not the fighters themselves. As spectators you can bet of the outcome of the event, but you also have an influence on how the fight proceeds. You have huge influence from your premium seats, able to cheer and boo competitors, but also able to influence who they attack, who attacks first and who has the greatest attack or defence strength.

We first got the chance to try out Fired Up at the UK Games Expo a couple of years ago. After a couple of rounds we really impressed with how innovative the game was and how well it blended competitive gameplay with a game that felt almost cooperative. Now that we've had the chance to play the final version, let's see how it holds up to those positive first impressions.
 

Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Gladiators, Ready:- Fired Up

Game: Fired Up

Publisher: Drawlab Entertainment

Designer: Giorgos Eleftheriadis, Theofilos Koutroubis

Year: 2021
 
Fired Up is a 2-5 player arena combat game with a twist. Instead of each player having a character of their own to fight in the arena, they are spectators able to watch, and influence, the ongoing game. Your goal is not necessarily to support any individual fighter, but to manipulate the spectacle to become the most enjoyable show for your own personal tastes. Perhaps you like the best warriors fighting head to head, or the little guy making a comeback? Of course nothing increases your enjoyment more than winning a bet, so you can do that too. Perhaps with a little clever manipulation you can make your bet come true! 
 
At the start of the game five combatants are drawn and placed on the arena, each has a miniature which illustrates which way they are facing and therefore which opponent they will be attacking, and a character board which presents all of the other useful information, health, wounds, morale and current combat strength and defence along with their unique special ability. Players will then draw up to four spectator cards and choose two for the round, these are the objectives that tell you what you want to see happen this round. They can be anything from powerful hits during the combat round, to the weakest fighter squaring up against the strongest when the combat round begins. Once cards have been chosen the manipulation can begin. 

Friday, 9 July 2021

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Fort: Cats & Dogs Expansion

Game: Fort: Cats & Dogs Expansion

Publisher: Leder Games

Designer: Nick Brachmann, Grant Rodiek

Year: 2021
 

Fort: Cats & Dogs is the first expansion for Fort - a deck-building game from Grant Rodiek with charming artwork from Kyle Ferrin. If you enjoyed figuring out which of the children characters in Fort were most like you as a child then you're almost guaranteed to enjoy identifying which dog or cat is channeling either you, or your furry friend.

Fort: Cats & Dogs contains two modular expansions, which, unsurprisingly are cats...and dogs. Cats are fickle creatures who run between players based on whoever most recently caught their attention. Dogs are also rather fickle though, and will run away if left in your yard (fair!), but will become loyal if you give them a place to sleep in your dog house.

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Go Dotty

Game: Go Dotty

Publisher: (Self-Published)

Designer: Neil Barrie

Year: 2019
 

Perhaps the most overused phrase on this site in the last 12 months has been 'puzzly tile laying game'. We are enjoying them so much and find that they are perfect games for two players who only have 30-45 minutes to spare after long days at work. We have reviewed many and have a large collection that all justify their shelf space for different reasons.

This addiction to the genre led us to decide to give Go Dotty a chance. It's definitely a lesser known game, by an independent publisher, but it does have a listing on BoardGameGeek and is available to purchase directly in the UK and a number of other countries, including the US and Canada. Go Dotty is an abstract tile-laying game for 2-players that plays in around 20-30 minutes.

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

The Game Shelf Previews:- Villagers: Shifting Seasons

Game: Villagers: Shifting Seasons

Publisher: Sinister Fish Games

Designer: Haakon Gaarder

Year: 2022

Villagers was successfully funded on Kickstarter in 2018. Its charming artwork and clever tableau building gameplay really charmed backers and made this small card game from a UK-based publisher into a huge Kickstarter success. This month, Sinister Fish will be back on Kickstarter with a new expansion, Shifting Seasons. Shifting Seasons adds a collection of modular expansions, including seasonal event cards, a new clay suit, helpful builder and harvest teams and an all new solo mode.

It's coming to Kickstarter on Tuesday 29th June. Should you be looking out for this expansion, or perhaps picking up the base game with all of its glorious Kickstarter content?

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Ecos: New Horizon

Game: Ecos: New Horizon

Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group

Designer:  John D. Clair

Year: 2021
 

Ecos: First Continent
is a game we've loved, ever since we discovered it at a board game convention (remember those?!) almost two years ago. It works using a bingo-style mechanism where all players play simultaneously and meshes this with a tile laying game where all players are working together on the same central landscape. It's got a lovely puzzly optimisation feel and you're constantly participating in the game, expanding the landscape and adding, removing or moving the different animals around the map to boost your point scoring.
  
New Horizon is the first expansion for Ecos: First Continent. It adds a handful of new animal tokens, two new starting decks and a new type of card that encourages you to build certain patterns with the landscape tiles, ultimately creating a multi-layer landscape in the centre of the table.
 

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Now with Zebras!:- Ecos: New Horizon

Game: Ecos: New Horizon

Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group

Designer:  John D. Clair

Year: 2021
 
New Horizon is an expansion to 2019's Bingo-style tile layer Ecos. The Expansion adds a handful of new cards (including two new starter decks to play with), half a dozen new animals and the new terrain tiles. You'll also find some player aides for the animals which help players remember which animals can be placed in which areas. 
 
For those who might not be familiar with the base game; Ecos: First Continent is a 2-6 player map building game with a core bingo style mechanic. Players start with three cards on the table and the current first player starts drawing energy tiles from the bag. These allow everyone to simultaneously place a cube over the batching energy symbol on one of their cards. Once all energy symbols on a card are covered that player calls out "Ecos" and then performs the cards powers. These powers typically earn you points along with adding/moving animals/landmasses to the board. The cards can be extremely simple, but the more powerful points cards tend to demand more of you, building up certain combinations, such as a lion on a mountain shaded by a tree, in order to gain the most points.
 

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Hadrian's Wall

Game: Hadrian's Wall

Publisher: Garphill Games and Renegade Games Studios

Designer: Bobby Hill

Year: 2021
 
Hadrian's Wall initially caught our attention because it comes from Garphill Games, publisher of the North Sea Trilogy and The West Kingdom Trilogy, which both have a huge following in the gaming community. Hadrian's Wall stands alone as a whole new 'roll and write' style game set in the Roman period of history.

However, if, when I say roll and write, you're thinking of abstract games like Qwixx or Ganz Schon Clever where it's a game all about the numbers you roll on the dice, then Hadrian's Wall is a whole different beast. There's no rolling, and it's not really a 'Flip and Fill' game (like Welcome To or Kokoro) either, but there is a random input generated each round that will be the same for every player, and you are writing on a sheet of paper and filling in boxes.

If you've enjoyed Fleet Dice, or are looking forward to Three Sisters, both from Matt Riddle and Ben Pinchback, or you've played and (unlike us) enjoyed Rome and Roll, another heavy take on roll and writes in the same setting, then here are some thoughts on Hadrian's Wall.
 

Saturday, 5 June 2021

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Tucano

Game: Tucano

Publisher: Helvetiq

Designer: Théo Rivière

Year: 2021
 
Tucano - flat box
 
Tucano is another lovely looking game from publisher Helvetiq. Most Helvetiq games are unified by their small box size, and eye-catching bold artwork, which makes them a perfect pick for toy stores, gift shops or other places where you might not find modern board games on sale. It always makes me happy to spot a stand full of colourful Helvetiq games in an unusual shop, just imagining that they might be an avenue into some new and interesting modern board games for those on the look out for a pocket-sized gift.

Tucano is a family game for 2-4 players, in which players will be collecting tasty (and adorable) fruits into sets to try and score points, but the toucans who live in the forest might have other plans, swooping in towards the end of the game to steal, or gift fruits to or from other players around the table.

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

The Game Shelf Reviews:- The Rival Networks

Game: The Rival Networks

Publisher: Formal Ferret Games

Designer: Gil Hova

Year: 2021
 
The Rival Networks is a two-player sequel to The Networks from Gil Hova and Formal Ferret Games. The Networks already had a player count of 1-5, but you did have to make a few modifications to play at two players. For us, the modifications were small and not detrimental to the game, but two player variants can really put some gamers off. The two player only, The Rival Networks, is a smaller box game that distills many of the same concepts and certainly shares the same theme and tongue in cheek references to your favourite shows.
 
Each player is responsible for their own television network, selecting shows and pairing them with the right stars to get the most ratings. Plus, if you advertise at the right time for your target audience you'll also start raking in cash, as well as viewers!

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Maglev Metro

Game: Maglev Metro

Publisher: Bezier Games

Designer:  Ted Alspach

Year: 2021

Maglev Metro is a game from the same designer and publisher as Suburbia and The Castles of Mad King Ludwig - two games that share quite a bit of DNA. Maglev Metro is something completely different, combining pick up and deliver with engine building, in a pretty familiar setting of a railway or metro network. The setting does try to stand out from the crowd by injecting a futuristic theme, but aside from the components, we certainly didn't feel any thematic elements brought about by the setting. Your train is a striking plastic piece with metal trim, to denote a train capable of magnetic levitation, and it's robots (bronze, silver and gold meeples) who are key to the early phase of the game before your network starts to attract actual people. 

Maglev Metro uses a triple (!) layer player board to invite you to build a metro system in either New York or Berlin, and players use transparent hexagon tiles to build tracks around the city. The transparent tiles can be layered to create a pretty accurate representation of how many city metros have lots of interlinking and overlapping routes. The game certainly has a striking look on the table and its mix of mechanics are two favourites of ours, so Maglev Metro holds a lot of promise.

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

I'm flying high, defying gravity:- Maglev Metro

Game: Maglev Metro

Publisher: Bezier Games

Designer:  Ted Alspach

Year: 2021


Maglev Metro is a 1-4 player pick up and deliver game which sees you setting up metro stations either across Berlin or Manhattan. This new state of the art Magnetic Levitation (Maglev for short) system offers next to no friction allowing for fast, easy transit of passengers. So long as you can build all the lines, stations, and fix all the technical hurdles involved. Starting with a small team of robots that can be assigned as you want, you'll spend actions in order to locate, collect and drop off robots to the correctly coloured station. Doing so lets you put the robots on your player board, increasing the efficiency of your actions and ultimately letting you transport people. As cool as a train system for robots would be, your system is meant to take people, so these are where you'll get the majority of your points. 
 
The map starts nearly empty, with only a copper, silver and gold station to begin the game. Each station will have a couple of robots on it. On your turn you'll take two actions from the list of options in the centre of the board. Most of the actions are self explanatory, track lets you place new track tiles or remove existing ones, move lets you move along track to the next station, capacity is how many people you can carry, while pick up is how many you can collect from the station you are at for one action, build stations lets you add new stations to the map and reverse train lets you switch directions without reaching the end of the line. This leaves a couple of more complex actions: Drop off is used to deliver passengers to the station you are currently on. If they are the matching colour then they are placed on your board on a matching colour slot. Refill station lets you pull passengers out of the bag to the station you are on. Adjust is perhaps the most unique of all, letting you take robots off of your player board and then reassign them, letting you tweak your engine for the current requirements.

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Mandala Stones

Game: Mandala Stones

Publisher: Board&Dice

Designer: Filip Głowacz

Year: 2021
 
 
If you attend board game conventions, then you'd perhaps recognise Filip Głowacz as the co-owner of board game publisher Board&Dice, wearing a flashy Pac-Man themed suit. Mandala Stones is his first published board game design, and we were fortunate to try out a digital version late last year and immediately fell in love with it. The physical version makes itself even easier to love with its fantastic, colourful heavy plastic pieces which remind me of the pieces in Azul.

Mandala Stones is an abstract game for 2-4 players in which you will collect towers of colourful stones to optimise your scoring opportunities. It has lots of puzzliness and an every changing game-state that both looks fantastic and keeps you constantly engaged in the changing opportunities on the board. It's one we have been really excitd to share our thoughts on.

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Overboss: A Boss Monster Adventure

Game: Overboss: A Boss Monster Adventure

Publisher: Brotherwise Games

Designer:  Aaron Mesburne, Kevin Russ

Year: 2021

Boss Monster is one of the earliest games I remember playing when I was introduced to board gaming. Amy's friends were not board gamers at the time, but they were geeks and video gamers who were dipping their toes into the hobby. Boss Monster is exactly the sort of game, alongside Munchkin and Catan, that university students with a geeky disposition were playing 10 years ago. It's not a game I ever really revisited, finding it too be a bit basic, but it certainly has an audience, is perfect for comic store shelves and has spawned many expansions.

Overboss takes that same theme and 8-bit artwork, but applies it to a tile-laying game, co-designed by Kevin Russ who designed the fabulous Calico - a truly special puzzly tile-laying game. With those credentials, we had to take a look at what twist on tile-laying Overboss has to offer

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Where was that secret wall?:- Overboss: A Boss Monster Adventure

Game: Overboss: A Boss Monster Adventure

Publisher: Brotherwise Games

Designer:  Aaron Mesburne, Kevin Russ

Year: 2021

Overboss is a 1-5 player tile laying game set in the world of Boss Monster. Playing as one of the titular boss monsters, you have finished designing your dungeon and now it's time to create a dangerous overworld to defeat all but the most valiant heroes. You don't want to spend time and effort resetting your traps after 'Steve the Farmer' wanders in afterall! To do this you'll be drafting tiles and monsters from a common market and using those to create an overwold. Each landscape type scores differently, creating a unique puzzle every game.

Each player starts the game with a 3x4 board (4x4 in the advanced game) and optionally a choice of two Boss Monsters to play as. Five terrain types will be selected for the game, and all tiles of those types are gathered and shuffled before four tiles are dealt out into a market. The associated monsters are then put into a bag and four monsters are drawn, one paired with each tile. On a player's turn they simply take a tile and the associated monster and place it anywhere on their board. The monster must be placed on the empty space in the middle of the placed tile with a couple of exceptions. The game will continue like this until everyone's boards are full.

Friday, 7 May 2021

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Ashes Reborn: Rise of the Phoenixborn

Game: Ashes Reborn: Rise of the Phoenixborn

Publisher: Plaid Hat Games

Designer: Isaac Vega

Year: 2021
 
Ashes Reborn is a re-release of Plaid Hat's successful two-player customisable dueling card game, Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn. The reprint is described as version 1.5, with not significant changes from the original game, but some improvements to the wording and balance of the cards. If you've never played Ashes before, then this would be your entry point, or you could use the 1.5 Upgrade Pack to upgrade your original copy.
 
If you want to dive deep into the game, then a huge number of expansions are on the horizon with a new phoenixborn character in each pack. Plaid Hat Games are even running a direct subscription service, but frankly, there is a huge amount of content in just this base game box, with the six phoenixborns allowing you to play 15 different combinations with the preset decks, plus the option to deckbuild, making the variety pretty endless!

Saturday, 1 May 2021

Keep Droning On:- Cryo

Game: Cryo

Publisher: Z-Man Games

Designer: Tom Jolly, Luke Laurie

Year: 2021

 
 
 
Cryo is a 2-4 player worker placement game that tasks you as a survivor of a ship that has crashed on a strange, and cold, planet. In the last moments about your great starship the resident population split into factions and began infighting. Now you find yourself in control of the drone bay, desperate to preserve what human life you can save, so long as you know you can trust them! You'll send drones out across the planet's frozen surface in order to gather supplies, rescue your crew and construct transportation that can carry the humans safely underground before the cold night makes the planets surface entirely inhabitable.

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Cryo

Game: Cryo

Publisher: Z-Man Games

Designer: Tom Jolly, Luke Laurie

Year: 2021



New Z-Man games always catch my attention, in particular because they don't release a ton of games every year and each one seems to attract a fair amount of buzz. Cryo definitely has the eye-catching artwork that was enough to get my attention, and Luke Laurie seems to be a designer name to look out for these days with both Whistle Mountain and Dwelllings of Eldervale receiving many positive reviews.

So, putting aside our disappointment with Z-Man's last big release, Paleo, I went into Cryo excited, particularly by its description as an 'engine building, worker placement game', in addition to its good looks. In Cryo, you are hostile factions vying for control of underground caverns on an icy planet. From the safety of your engineering platform, you can send out drones to scavenge resources and ultimately transport your crew to the caverns.

Saturday, 24 April 2021

The Game Shelf Reviews:- A Gentle Rain

Game: A Gentle Rain

Publisher: Mondo Games

Designer: Kevin Wilson

Year: 2021

 
A Gentle Rain is a solo or cooperative game from designer Kevin Wilson. This small game (think of the box size of Oink Games, like Deep Sea Adventure and A Fake Artist Goes to New York) is perhaps not what you might expect from a board game design behemoth like Kevin Wilson, best known for his work on Fantasy Flight titles like Elder Sign and Arkham Horror.

It's definitely a little out there with its packaging and concept, inviting you to put on some comfy clothes, make a cup of tea and take some deep breaths before enjoying the relaxing experience in the box where you'll be trying to cause eight blossoms to bloom with optimal tile placement. There's not many games out there that can truly make me relax, so I wonder if A Gentle Rain can bring some much needed calm to our board game table.

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

The Game Shelf Reviews:- The Quacks of Quedlinberg: The Alchemists

Game: The Quacks of Quedlinberg: The Alchemists

Publisher: Schmidt Spiele

Designer: Wolfgang Warsch

Year: 2021


The Quacks of Quedlinberg
is a game that I absolutely love. We play it so much that the Geekbits felt like a great investment in spite of their high price tag. It's a game that I will always recommend since it's fantastic for both gamers and non-gamers, so I can recommend it to anyone. The Herb Witches expansion was easy to fit into the base game and we play with it every time we play because it doesn't add too much that is new and different. The Alchemists is the second expansion and it definitely adds something brand new, and I'll need to remove the base game insert to fit it into the box! 
 
The Alchemists introduces a reason for you to be brewing your medicines and that is to cure the ailments of the patient you select to treat each game. Strangely the patients aren't after anything specific - your brand of science is more about throwing everything in there and crossing your fingers, but somehow that works!

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Fairy Tale Inn

Game: Fairy Tale Inn

Publisher: CMON 

Designer: Remo Conzadori, Paolo Mori

Year: 2021

 
 
When you think of CMON as a board game publisher, then perhaps you think of Eric Lang, big miniatures and huge games, but they also have a considerable line of abstract, or puzzly games. Fairy Tale Inn falls into that abstract game line alongside games like Potion Explosion, Gizmos and Sugar Blast, which collectively stand out for their bright colours and high quality production.

Fairy Tale Inn
is what you might expect from a gamer version of the classic Connect 4. You're dropping tokens into the vertical board that sits between two players and the only downside is that you don't have that flap at the bottom of the board that releases all of the pieces at the end of the game!

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

The Fourth Pig Made a House of Plastic:- Fairy Tale Inn

Game: Fairy Tale Inn

Publisher: CMON 

Designer: Remo Conzadori, Paolo Mori

Year: 2021

 
 Fairy Tale Inn is a two player tile placing game with an immediate resemblance to the classic connect four. However instead of faceless tokens, the tiles you are adding to the grid represent different fairy tale characters, each with their own abilities and uses. Your objective isn't simply to get tiles in a row, but instead to place them so that each can maximize their own unique scoring mechanism to get you the most coins.

Each turn you'll be taking one tile from the market of four to place. The first two options are free to take, while the final two will cost you a coin or two to pick. You then can drop that tile into the top of the vertical grid board. Many characters then have an immediate ability that can be triggered, for example the little pigs want to be grouped in clumps, scoring you one coin per friendly pig they are in a group with. After placing a tile you'll draw a new one from the bag and place it at the top spot of the market ready for the next player to play. Turns continue like this until there are three columns where the tiles have reached the roof of the inn. At this point the game ends, end game scoring characters are assessed and the player with the most coins will win.

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Escape Tales: Children of Wyrmwoods

Game: Escape Tales: Children of Wyrmwoods

Publisher: Board&Dice

Designer: Jakub Caban, Bartosz Idzikowski

Year: 2021

Escape Tales: Children of Wyrmwoods is the third in the Escape Tales series from publisher Board&Dice. These narrative driven escape room experiences are the most in depth tabletop escape room games we have found and their themes definitely speak more to an older gaming audience than a family one. Children of Wyrmwoods is best played over two sittings since its a long game, especially if you go out of your way to explore each and every puzzle

Children of Wyrmwoods takes inspiration from vintage fantasy for it's theme, presenting you with a rather underwhelming character to start with. Naturally things aren't going quite as well as he would like in his small rural community and he soon finds himself out in the wild with no understanding of his surroundings or how to survive. With a bit of ingenuity you can guide Gilbert from commoner to hero... or at least to the end of his journey, hero might not be on the cards!