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

Friday, 18 August 2017

The Yellow Meeple Starts a Board Game Group at Work:- Week 12

Those of you who follow the blog, or have followed this series might have noticed the long hiatus. I last posted a Work Game Group report in March. Since then I moved on from that job, looked for a new job and got married. I've been in my new job one month and it's quite exciting that I've already managed to start a new group and we plan to meet once per month.

My new office has fewer than ten people, so it's a work social night, rather than a night to gather interested people. This definitely meant some people were reluctant and a couple of people didn't attend, but overall I was pleased with their willingness to take part and try something new. It's nice not to worry about how many people are going to come along, but complete non-gamers bring a new set of challenges.

Week 12

Number of Attendees: 7

Games Played: Codenames, Dobble, Spyfall, Rhino Hero, Ticket to Ride: Europe


Thursday, 17 August 2017

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Nine Worlds

GameNine Worlds

Publisher: Medusa Games

DesignerRichard Denning
 
Year20
16


Richard Denning is the man behind the UK Games Expo, Britain's largest tabletop gaming convention. He has also turned his hand to designing, under the company name Medusa Games and Nine Worlds is a big box release that, naturally, had been exhibited at the UK Games Expo for the last couple of years. We've never managed to demo this at the expo, but with a new expansion likely to be released at Essen 2017, we're taking a look at this area control game based on the nine worlds of Norse and Anglo-Germanic mythology.

At its heart, Nine Worlds is an area control game, but it also relies heavily on action point allocation mechanisms. Your glass beads represent armies and each turn you'll use your action points to recruit them, deploy them or move them around the 9 interconnected circular worlds on the board. Different actions costs different points, most are just 1 point per action but others, such as deploying troops far away from your leader, take more action points.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Valhalla or Helheim:- Nine Worlds

GameNine Worlds


Publisher: Medusa Games

DesignerRichard Denning
 
Year20
16


Nine Worlds is a 2-6 player area control game in which you control the armies of one of the nine worlds of Norse mythology and attempt to conquer all of creation. You do this by rallying your forces around your leader, moving troops around the worlds and performing rituals to cast each world’s unique magic. Nine Worlds is a completely luck-free game, with even the most complicated battles being predictable if you know the forces involved.

The game takes place on a large board with the nine worlds represented by circles joined by routes. You start with a small army on your home world and each turn you’ll be given an amount of action points to manipulate the game board. The action points can be spent on a wealth of different options, from moving and reinforcing troops, to sending your enemies troops directly to Helheim! The more powerful of these abilities tend to have a variable cost; cheaper if your leader is present, but more expensive should your opponent’s be there. Once all players have finished actions then there are battles in any world with more than 5 armies. Death of troops follows the player order, so there is a penalty for being first (in addition to your actions be entirely countered by the players going after you), but since player order is dictated by how many troops you have alive the player order is very fluid.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

The Yellow Meeple's First Impressions:- 1st - 11th August 2017

Last week was a frustratingly quiet week for games, both new and old. We finally got Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle back to the table with our 'campaign game' friends, and the game is starting to get a bit more interesting and challenging. However, this week we definitely made up for it and this will be quite a long list of new games. Hopefully we should manage a few more in the coming week too, although my main game night will be my first game night at my new job so I'll be pulling some gateway classics off the shelf.

So, here are the Yellow Meeple's first impressions;

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Thoughts from The Yellow Meeple:- Caverna: Cave vs. Cave

GameCaverna: Cave vs. Cave

Publisher: Mayfair Games

DesignerUwe Rosenberg
 
Year20
17

Caverna is a recent acquisition in our collection and we've only played it once, but found it really enjoyable and quite a quick game (60-75 minutes) with two players. This made me wonder what the target market was for Mayfair's new release Caverna: Cave vs. Cave - a two player only game, bearing the same name and from the same, prolific designer - Uwe Rosenberg. Cave vs. Cave is the next in the line of smaller two player games - Agricola:All Creatures Big and Small and Le:Harve Inland Port. So, is Cave vs. Cave a streamlined version of Caverna or a new and different experience?

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

The little game about Dwarves:- Caverna: Cave vs Cave


GameCaverna: Cave vs. Cave

Publisher: Mayfair Games

DesignerUwe Rosenberg
 
Year20
17



Caverna: Cave vs Cave is a 2-player only worker placement game that pits two rival dwarf families against each other, trying to make the most prosperous new cave home. You’ll need to carefully manage actions and resources to ensure you can mine out the mountain, build rooms in the cleared areas, and, of course, make lots and lots of gold!



Caverna (the original) was a game we only got recently, it’s a game where you have to grow crops, raise animals, expand your cave and do all of this while avoiding starvation. I can’t deny that I was a little disappointed upon opening Cave vs Cave and finding that the only one of these features that survived the transition was the cave expanding part. To me Caverna was all about finding places to put those extra donkeys that you just bred, so the lack of animals was a particularly big blow. I also miss the cuddle room. Caverna: Cave vs Cave is a heavily cut down interpretation of the original... but that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad game, the narrowed focus has allowed them to refine the cave building aspect of the game and add a lot of dynamics that there simply wasn’t space for in the original. 

The game set up ready to play, there are a selection of starting rooms on the right side of the main board.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Overthinking by The Yellow Meeple:- Top 5 Most Anticipated Games of Gen Con 2017

The second largest board game convention in the world is soon to be upon us. Unfortunately, our location in the UK means that we won't be attending Gen Con, but it's still an exciting time for new releases, not only from US publishers, but also different publishers from around the world who descend on the Indiana Convention Centre in their masses to take a look at the new and up and coming hotness in the board game industry (and other related industries too).

This year, it seems like there is no one huge release that the crowds will run to when the doors open, but there's still news of some interesting board games and expansions coming out or being previewed at the show. In this blog I want to concentrate on the new games I would actually plan to buy if I was there, even though the idea of a demo of Pandemic Legacy Season 2 or Charterstone would also be immensely exciting (but full of spoilers)!

So, here's my Top 5 of new releases I am most looking forward to at Gen Con 2017.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Over-thinking by the Yellow Meeple:- Top 10 Two Player Only Board Games

We started this blog with a focus on two-player games and games for couples, but then ended up finding ourselves playing with lots of different groups of gamers and playing many multi-player games too. However, we still get plenty of time for gaming at home and therefore we have lots of 2-player only games. We find that they can be especially good when we're travelling as many 2-player only titles have a small footprint too.

Of course, there's plenty of games that support more players that also play well with two and sometimes play best with two, but the focus of this list will be the games that only play two (excluding the fact they may also have a solo variant).

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Castles of Caladale

GameCastles of Caladale


Publisher: Renegade Games

DesignerDavid Wilkinson
 
Year20
17




Castles of Caladale is a title from Renegade Games. Renegade are certainly gaining a reputation as a publisher to watch, with many reviewers saying that they can do no wrong. So, rightly or wrongly, I was interested in Castles of Caladale, not  only based on publisher reputation, but also because the production of this game looked fantastic, with great artwork and even a box that game in its own sleeve. So, is this another hit from Renegade?


 
Castles of Caladale is a tile laying game for 1-4 players, where you each try to build the best castle with three types of castle tiles; Fairies, Tudor and Stone. There are two different variants in the box, as well as a solo variant, but typically you are trying to ensure that you can place every tile you pick up into a position in your castle where the 'terrain' matches on all sides, then you want to ensure that at the end of the game the edges of your castle are complete, rather than open and that you have lots of flags near the top of your castle to score points.

Every player gets a grass strip which limits the horizontal extent of their castle. Players then take turns to select a tile from the central face-up supply of nine tiles and add this to their castle, only building in sports which are structurally sound and where the 'terrain' matches. Some tiles have two types of terrain which allows you to switch the types your building and ultimately your castle will probably contain all three terrain types. If you really can't place a tile then you can flip it over and it will be worth one fewer point at the end of the game. When all tiles have been drawn you have one last chance to rearrange and try to ensure that all edges of the castle are completed.

A completed castle, which has no open edges.
In the speed variant, players start with an equal proportion of all the tiles face up in front of them. You can swap tiles with tiles in the central supply but ultimately, it's a race to build the best castle. When someone grabs the 30 second timer there's 30 seconds to make the best of what you have. All tiles must be kept face-up in this variant adding a small amount of difficulty, but it's still pretty easy to complete a castle. The speed variant can also probably be abused by a player who hoards all of the flags and then starts building as best they can.
The central supply.
In positive news, the castles you create always look really nice, but that's probably all the positives I have to say about it. The game doesn't feel like much of a game at all, there's no real difficulty there because not only can you flip a tile if you dot want to use it in your castle, you can also rearrange the castle at any time. We tried the speed variant to make sure that rearranging was penalised, but even without rearranging the game just seems too easy. Points are primarily scored for the number of tiles placed and since you both place the same number, the game always seems to end up with a one or two point lead getting the victory either due to one more open edge or one more flag at the top.

As you can tell, I'm really disappointed with Castles of Caladale. Perhaps it would be a fun, educational, matching activity with very young children but I just can't see it as a game for gamers or even for any adults. I so want it to be a good tile laying game with such awesome art work, but it's not and it's actually already left our collection. From the Yellow Meeple it's a 4/10 for Castles of Caladale.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

My castle has a tiled floor:- Castles of Caladale

GameCastles of Caladale


Publisher: Renegade Games

DesignerDavid Wilkinson
 
Year20
17

Castles of Caladale is a 1-4 player tile laying game in which you attempt to build a functional castle out of the wreckage of several previous castles, which evidently weren’t very functional as they are now piles of modular scrap. The game is either turn based or real time with you rushing to rotate and place your tiles to create a castle faster than your opponents while trying not to have spare tiles left over at the end or gaping holes in the side of your castle.




There are three castle types in the game, a traditional medieval stone design, a tudor design built by gnomes, or the enchanted forest preferred by fairies. The building rules have lots of nuances, but they can be summarised in 2 rules. 1) Don’t build anything that wouldn’t logically work (bridges that extend with no support on the other side, or sky touching a wall etc) and 2) the edge of each tile must connect to the same type as castle as the edges of each adjacent tile. There are plenty of tiles which allow you to change from one castle type to another, in fact a good chunk of the gameplay is disassembling and reassembling your castle to allow your newest tile to fit.