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

The Game Shelf Previews: Arkosa

Game: Arkosa

Publisher: Toon Hammer

Designer: Anglea Dickens

Year: 2021


Arkosa is a 1-4 player colony survival game in which you play the part of a colony leader on an alien planet. Fortunately you too are an alien, as are all your buddies, less fortunately there has been a great disaster, you and your handful of buddies are all locked up in an underground bunker trying to survive. That's when you get a reply to your SoS signal. A passing spaceship is coming by, in just three cycles, but they only have enough room on their ship to take one bunker's worth of people. Can you brave the dangerous wastes to scavenge enough resources to not only survive, but thrive on this wasteland of a planet, surely the visitors will take with them the most talented and ingenious people! Well, It couldn't hurt to bribe them with a few mega batteries and a good meal too! 

Thus starts a game of Arkosa, on your turn you'll be taking two actions, or passing to remove yourself from the round. There are four potential actions to do, you can trade, turning in food and air for building resources to expand your base. You can build, turning in said resources to add a new room to your bunker. You can take a bribe card, these end game cards represent potential offerings to give to your saviours, worth points should you complete them, but fail and you'll upset them with the broken promise. Lastly you can play a worker card, workers are varied and can help in several ways, often they can simply generate a few resources or morale, but most importantly they can scavenge the wastes. Whenever you do this you must pay, and then claim the reward, from a space on the board. The rewards can be anything from power crystals (needed to make your rooms function) to new crew members to join your bunker (there's only so much room, but no-one likes Dave anyway). They will also progress the exploration marker along the exploration track. Should this marker land on an item, you get a lucky find, but should it land on an event... who knows what will happen. Even worse every now and then it will reach a raid space, those are never good!

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.