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

Wednesday 15 December 2021

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Wok and Roll

Game: Wok and Roll

Publisher: Origame

Designer:  Daryl Chow

Year: 2020

Wok and Roll is a roll and write game from publisher Origame, from Singapore, publishing games by designer Daryl Chow. The roll and write craze, which seemed like it would be a flash in the pan, is still alive and kicking and Wok and Roll brings with it a delightful theme, that I've not yet seen in roll and writes. Each player is creating a menu for their own Asian restaurant, picking ingredients from the roll of the dice.

Amy has always been a source of groan-worthy puns, but the opportunity to name your restaurant at the beginning of each game of Wok and Roll, really took this trait to new depths. I would be happy to play this game for the sole purpose of seeing what Amy could come up with next. Why naming a restaurant is so much more fun than naming a town in Welcome To, I'm not sure, but the photos in this review will give you a little insight into the mind of my wife.

Wednesday 24 November 2021

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Canopy

Game: Canopy

Publisher: Weird City Games

Designer:  Tim Eisner

Year: 2021

Canopy is primarily a two-player game where players complete to grow a rainforest, filled with many tall trees, beautiful flowers and a variety of exotic animals.

The game was funded on Kickstarter and what really stood out to me was the publishers focus on the environment. For each game sold, a tree is planted, and the game itself uses no plastic beyond the two seals that hold the lid on the box in place of shrink wrap. Cards are wrapped with little paper bands, and there are no plastic baggies in site, with lovely, branded paper bags provided instead.

Wednesday 3 November 2021

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Small Islands

Game: Small Islands

Publisher: MushrooM Games & Lucky Duck Games

Designer:  Alexis Allard

Year: 2018

The first impression of Small Islands is like a maritime Carcassonne - it has the familiar square tiles, with land and sea edges that must be matched as you build a central landscape together throughout the game. Like many gamers, Carcassonne was one of our first modern board games and it's one that has really stood the test of time, with a number of expansions having also been crammed into our base game box over the years.

 Small Islands caught our eye when it was shown at the UK Games Expo a few years ago and then I had regrets when it was really hard to find for the next couple of years. Thankfully, that problem has been solved, with Lucky Duck Games announcing a reprint of Small Islands to share it with a larger audience and we have been excited to give it a try.

Wednesday 20 October 2021

The Game Shelf Previews:- Steam Up: A Feast of Dim Sum

Game: Steam Up: A Feast of Dim Sum

Publisher: Hot Banana Games

Designer: Pauline Kong, Haymen Lee, Marie Wong

Year: 2022

Theming in board games is really a distraction for me. I’ll play anything, no matter the theme, but food or cute animals are pretty universally appealing and I’m not immune. Steam Up, in particular, is built upon a brilliant theme, giving rise to a game that, frankly, looks delicious. The arrival of the prototype of Steam Up caused me to;

1. Invite over my friends for a weekend stay
2. Take said friends on a trip to the Chinese supermarket
3. Buy a heck of a lot of dim sum
4. Even buy a steamer so that we could correctly cook the dim sum
5. Be taught to cook dim sum
6. Eat a whole ton of dim sum and take some nice photos of this wonderful looking game

But, like I said, theme doesn’t a matter to me…

If you’d like to host your own dim sum get together, then perhaps a game of Steam Up is the perfect appetiser. 

Wednesday 13 October 2021

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Sierra West

Game: Sierra West

Publisher: Board&Dice

Designer:  Jonny Pac

Year: 2019


I remember getting a quick look at Sierra West at UK Games Expo two years ago. At the time, I feel like both the publisher, Board&Dice and the designer, Jonny Pac were both on the verge of becoming a big deal. Jonny Pac is a designer who mainly designs games with a Western theme, and Sierra West is no exception. You are playing as pioneers in the 1840s, who are travelling out West no a trusty wagon over the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The game is not hugely thematic in nature, but the game's setup has you recreating a mountain out of cards, which is just one of the many unique aspects in this card driven euro game for 1-4 players.

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.

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 among 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 resource 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.

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.