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 18 months and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every other 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

Sunday, 26 February 2017

The Yellow Meeple’s First Impressions 19th February – 25th February

Yesterday we had a second game day with a bunch of new friends we’ve met through a Facebook board game group. It was another great session with loads of new games taught to each other, including 3 games that were new to me – games that I’ve been super eager to try. We also tried a couple of new games in the week, so all in all, this is going to be a long blog post! Not only did we try a lot of board games, but we also tried the computer game, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, which was a fantastic deduction style bomb defusal game, which we’re really going to enjoy over the next few weeks.

Here are Yellow Meeple’s first impressions;

Saturday, 25 February 2017

The Yellow Meeple Starts a Board Game Group at Work - Week 9

I think I’m now down to a select few people who even pay attention to my invites and emails about board game group. It’s a shame, but I think when I changed to Monday evening I lost a few people. I don’t have many free evening but perhaps I’ll set up a poll to see when people think they can actually play games in any given 2 week period and hope that one turns out better than my standard 3 or 4 attendees. Nevertheless, this week I had a really nice time and we played a lot of games.

Week 9

Number of Attendees: 4
Games Played: Dingos’s Dreams, Sushi Go, Codenames, Karuba, 6 Nimmt

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Cottage Garden

GameCottage Garden

PublisherEdition Spielweise

Designer: Uwe Rosenburg

Year20
16

Cottage Garden is one of Uwe Rosenburg’s 2016 releases, building on the basic mechanics of Patchwork. We’ve enjoyed a number of games of Patchwork, although it’s a two-player game that Amy wins 80-90% of the time. I was excited to try Cottage Garden on a recent trip to Draughts board game cafe in London, because it has similar mechanics but also plays 1-4 players, meaning it is likely to hit the table more often.

In Cottage Garden, each player is planting groups of flowers in two flower beds. When a flower bed is complete it scores based upon the number of flower pots showing, as well as the number of plant covers showing. Flower tiles are obtained from a central 4x4 grid and have different shaped and sizes, similar to the pieces in Tetris. You can also use turns to obtain additional plant pots or to place cats into your flower beds.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Planting the seed of a good time:- Cottage Garden




GameCottage Garden

PublisherEdition Spielweise

Designer: Uwe Rosenburg

Year20
16


Cottage Gardens is a 1-4 player tile game in which you collect different shapes of flower beds to add to your garden. Cottage Garden  is very much a continuation of Patchwork, but expanded to take more players, and with the addition of kittens, which makes everything better! Both games feature square grids which you fill up with various shapes of tiles, one of the key differences is that Cottage garden expects you to complete multiple grids many times over, while Patchwork gives you one grid which is near-impossible to complete before time runs out.

In Cottage Garden there is a central board with a dice that moves around it as play goes on, you can only ever take tiles from the row the dice is on during your turn. Should you only have 1 option on your row then you get to refill the row with flower patches from the wheelbarrow track, though at any time you can use a kitten to do this regardless of how full the row is. Every time the dice makes a full rotation of the board you turn it up one, once the dice is on 6 the game is over... though you can push on a little bit if you are willing accept a penalty. The central board works well, it gives space for strategic options, as you may want to leave tiles that you want for now as they will be in a future row of yours. However it’s far more laid-back than Patchwork, partially because you always know which rows will be yours, and partially because kitten use can get you out of a bad situation.

Cottage garden set up and ready to play, on the left is a wheelbarrow that fetches the new plant tiles once the central board is empty. You don't *have* to put the tiles in it and roll them to the board... but it's heavily encouraged!
The garden grids which you place tiles on are all double sided and have a varying amount of the 2 scoring elements in the game: plant pots and planters. Every time you complete a garden grid you get to move one of the 3 orange tokens up the score track equal to the amount of plant pots on show, and a blue marker equal to the number of planters. Planters are rarer than plantpots, but are worth 2 points each, that being said the final place on the score track is a big jump for both colours. There’s a minor bonus for getting one marker to the end of the score track first and second, but there are also bonus kittens for getting each marker a little way along and a free flower pot token for getting all of the markers of each colour off of the starting point, so you have to make a choice between racing to the end, or collecting multiple little bonuses.

The garden on the right has just been completed, a cat was called in the fill the last slot, though if I wanted to I could have used another turn to get a flowerpot tile instead.
Part of what makes Cottage Garden feel more laid back than Patchwork is the kittens, you can use a kitten to instantly fill a 1x1 spot on your garden grid, which is very useful when you selection available to you isn’t quite right. You get a number of kittens as you play, but they are rare enough that you don’t want to use them too regularly and find yourself without, however if you have time to burn or not kittens to spare you can spend your turn picking up a flower pot, theses are 1x1 tiles too, but given that other tiles in the game can be six times as big it’s very time inefficient to rely on these too much. Between kittens, flowerpots, and the fact that you are working on 2 plots at a time it’s almost impossible to find yourself in a situation that you can’t remedy.

I don’t feel the question you should be asking yourself is “should I be buying Cottage Garden”, it should be “should I buy Cottage Garden, or Patchwork?”. There isn’t a hard answer to that, the two are similar enough that I don’t think you can warrant owning both, but different enough that each person will have their preference. Patchwork is better for the strategic gamer, who wants to go up against another person it a battle of wits... and knitting. Cottage garden is more of a casual experience, it’s enjoyable for everyone from start to finish because no-one can really be attacked, you all do your own thing, with a minimum amount of interaction. Personally I prefer Cottage Garden, it really is a superb game to sit back and relax with.

7.5/10

Saturday, 18 February 2017

The Yellow Meeple’s First Impressions 12th February – 18th February

This week it was my birthday, which of course meant new games!! Mainly things I’d specifically asked for and then a curve ball from my parents which you’ll hear about below. My new games are; Takenoko: Chibis (so happy that my mum managed to track down one of the last copies in the UK!), Above and Below, Tides of Madness and Monkey Butt. Then my finger slipped and I bought Best Treehouse Ever on Facebook and unfortunately later in the day I slipped again and bought Lotus on eBay – a good day’s haul and plenty to look forward to!

Here are Yellow Meeple’s first impressions;

Friday, 17 February 2017

The Yellow Meeple Starts a Board Game Group at Work - Week 8

This week, once again, the board game group was victim to work and other commitments. After much persuasion of my close colleagues I persuaded two to come along for a 45 minute break from work, after which they headed back to their desks, leaving just two of us playing games again.

Week 8
Number of Attendees: 4
Games Played: Set, Dingo’s Dreams, Hanabi

Saturday, 11 February 2017

The Yellow Meeple’s First Impressions 22nd January – 11th February 2017

There’s not a huge amount of new games to talk about this time. In fact I’m trying to not buy any new games during the month of February, which is proving really difficult! At least this is giving us the opportunity to try and reduce the number of sad, unplayed games on our shelves. We’ve gone from 20 to 18 in the last few days!

Here are Yellow Meeple’s first impressions;

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Potion Explosion

GamePotion Explosion

PublisherHorrible Games and CMON Limited

Designer: Stefano Castelli, Andrea Crespi, Lorenzo Silva

Year201
5


We first played Potion Explosion at Draughts board game cafe in London and it was a perfectly enjoyable game. When we went back recently, Amy said that she really wanted to play it again and so we made sure that happened during our 4 hour gaming slot. It became apparent that I was going to have to buy this one! Potion Explosion doesn’t seem to be appearing on the second hand market (probably a good sign that it is well liked) so I did what any self respecting board game addict would do and started at £100+ game order including Potion Explosion...

Potion Explosion is most often compared to the mobile phone app Candy Crush. It shares some of the mechanisms with this very popular app. The main game component is a three-dimensional dispenser for a bunch of marbles in 4 colours. On your turn you remove a marble from a column in the dispenser and when any 2 matching marble colours hit each other as a result you add the colliding marbles to your pool too.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Great Balls of Fire!:- Potion Explosion



GamePotion Explosion

PublisherHorrible Games and CMON Limited

Designer: Stefano Castelli, Andrea Crespi, Lorenzo Silva

Year201
5


Potion Explosion is a 2-4 player game, which I suppose you could call set-collecting based on the scoring system, but really the gameplay is more akin to games like candy crush. This unique system leads to turns with huge combos, especially once you start using power ups to manipulate the rack and score huge marble runs!

Sunday, 5 February 2017

The Yellow Meeple Starts a Board Game Group at Work - Week 7

I can’t deny that running a board game group at work is starting to become a little disheartening. Every two weeks I carefully decide which games will best suit the group, which games have previously been successful and which new mechanisms and ideas I want to introduce to the group. Unfortunately other people’s priorities, including work itself get in the way of attendance each week and unfortunately there aren’t enough people reliably there each week to keep me motivated.

Week 7
Number of Attendees: 3
Games Played: Set, Sushi Go, Takenoko