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.

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Wednesday, 3 May 2017

The Yellow Meeple's First Impressions 27th April - 2nd May

With International Tabletop Day, plus spending our bank holiday Monday dedicated to board games, we've managed to play quite a lot of new games this weekend and are working our way through the growing pile of shame. Amy attended most of Tabletop day without me, but I still managed to play a couple of new games too.

So, here are the Yellow Meeple's first impressions;
  • Sagrada is a beautiful looking game that has been popping up all over twitter. I was really glad to get an opportunity to see what all the fuss is about. The game is very simple and is just dice drafting and placement. There are simple placement rules - no two same colours or numbers orthogonally adjacent and obeying the rules on your player board, which can vary each game. Scoring is based on three common objectives and one private objective. Sagrada is nothing to write home about, but it's a very strong filler, which has very high production quality and looks great on the table. I've not seen this game at retail yet - if it has a filler price point then I might pick this up, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's priced like a full game, at which point I will probably give it a miss.
  • Junk Art is a stacking game - probably the only kind of dexterity game I really enjoy. Each game has different objectives, such as building the tallest tower, matching coloured bricks or having the fewest blocks fall of your tower in a speed game. I guess the rule set is slightly over complicated for the game-play, especially when you have to read the rules for every round, so 3 times during a game. The game has an admirable design and got a lot of admirers. Importantly, it was also really accessible with our game having 3 generations of players.
  • Archaeology is one of ZMAN's deluxe card game line. I've heard good things about this and other games in the line so picked up a copy. Archaeology is a mixture of push your luck and set collection where you are digging for treasures, trying to build big collections to sell to the museum before a sandstorm comes and buries half of your collected treasures. Mechanically, you are drawings from a deck, trying to build up sets and trading cards into the central pool to try and enhance your set. In most cases, a bigger set means each card is worth more points, so it's good to hold out for bigger sets, but if one of the sandstorm cards gets drawn from the deck, you have to discard half your hand so it's risky to hold out for too long. Unfortunately we found the game to be complete luck of the draw, especially with two players - if you only draw low value cards then it takes you ages to build up to bigger trades whilst your opponent might just draw a value 4 pharoah's mask, giving them way more possibilities to either trade or sell it. We gave it two chances and just couldn't get a fair game from it.
  • Broom Service won a Kennerspiel des Jahres in 2015 so had to be worth a look. The core mechanic is simultaneous action selection, with the concept of brave and cowardly actions. If you're brave, then your opponents can steal your action if they pre-selected the same card, but the cowardly action is less powerful. You're using your actions to fly around the different areas of the board and deliver potions to different towers for points and sometimes magic wands which are used to control the weather - another way to earn points. Broom Service was a really slick game with a  nice play-time, playing in under an hour with 2 players. I'm not sure I would enjoy it with higher player counts though, since there will be more instances of the same card selection, meaning more following and less control over your own actions on each turn.
  • Battle Sheep is a game somewhat similar to Hey That's My Fish. You're splitting and moving your stack of sheep to try and get the most coverage of the hexes on the board. It's a super simple game, but actually requires some tough thinking to figure out how to out-wit your opponent and block them in a corner. For me, it seemed like the board was a little too big, since both games we played ended with one player spread with one sheep per tile, getting maximum points and the loser being only one or two hexes behind. I imagine Battle Sheep is a perfectly good game for young families, but for us it just wasn't interesting and it's lovely components are not enough of a draw for it to stay in our collection.
  • Hardback is the "pre-quill" to Tim Fowers' Paperback which has just finished a successful Kickstarter campaign. Like the original, Hardback is a deck-building game where you are making words. Letters you use give you either currency or victory points. You use your currency to buy more cards from your deck which give you more currency or VPs but also other special abilities. In Hardback there are often boosted abilities when your word contains two or more cards of the same colour/genre. Currency can also be used to purchase ink - your risky, but only way to start building words longer than five letters. Ink is one of the two mechanisms that really stand out in Hardback, allowing you to flip over an extra card from the top of your deck which must then be used in your word. The second cool mechanic is that any card in your hand can be flipped and used as a wild which soles those moments where you think you 'nearly' have a word. You don't get the abilities of the card but you can make longer words and perhaps use more cards from your hand overall. Hardback is a really solid game and I think I do prefer it to Paperback so I'll have a tough decision to make further down the line.
I'm always happy when I have a clear-cut opinion after playing games and this week has definitely been a week like that. Archaeology and Battle Sheep hit the trade pile immediately and Junk Art and Sagrada will probably not join our collection. I think we'll play Broom Service from time to time. With Hardback, we currently have the Kickstarter print-and-play but we already own Paperback so I think that's enough for us. One day we might choose to replace Hardback with Paperback.

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