Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

Get in touch by emailing thegameshelfblog@gmail.com

Saturday 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.

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.