The Game Shelf

The Game Shelf Blog can be found at thegameshelf.blogspot.co.uk We post twice a week, with our thoughts on games that we've recently been playing. As a couple who are relatively new into gaming, we post the following content; - Recommendations of games that are either 2-player or work great with 2-players but also for a larger group. - Two contrasting opinions on each of the games we review each week. - Thoughts that are relevant to newer gamers and gamers trying to get their spouse in the hobby. - Photos of games, as our collection expands almost every week. You can also follow us on twitter @game_shelf

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Week 120:- Nusfjord

Fiona Dickinson
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Horley
Surrey
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I've probably told this story a few too many times on the blog, but here we go again. We have been eagerly anticipating Nusfjord since it was announced during the summer of 2017. We went on honeymoon last year to the Norwegian fjords and one evening started talking about designing a game themed around this impressive and beautiful landscape. We were considering different mechanisms, including the tetris-style boards from A Feast for Odin. When we heard that the designer of A Feast for Odin was releasing a game about this exact setting, we were intrigued to see if he would use any of the mechanics we discussed and hoped that the game could live up to our expectations.

Nusfjord is a worker placement game for 1-5 players from designer Uwe Rosenberg. Uwe Rosenberg has of course designed many worker placement games, such as Agricola, Caverna and Fields of Arle, but this design feels slightly different with less of the farming theme and 'feed your people' mechanisms and more of an economic feel, in what is overall a lighter game, in my opinion. So how does Nusfjord play?



Check out the full reviews here;
http://thegameshelf.blogspot.co.uk/2018/02/thoughts-from-yel...
http://thegameshelf.blogspot.co.uk/2018/02/fish-100-of-balan...

@game_shelf posts on Tuesdays and Thursdays with two different opinions from two halves of a gaming couple.
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Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:09 pm
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Week 119:- Terraforming Mars: Venus Next

Fiona Dickinson
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Horley
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Venus Next is the second expansion for Terraforming Mars – an engine building game that has taken the board gaming world by storm. We are no exception, and are big fans of the original game and all expansions are an instant buy for us. Unlike the first expansion, Hellas and Elysium, which only added new boards, Venus Next adds additional cards to the decks, introducing both variety and new strategies for earning end game points in particular. Venus Next also adds a new global parameter – the Venus track. We don’t necessarily feel the need for expansions to Terraforming Mars, because the game feels very complete, and we don’t need new content to ensure it hits the table, but does Venus Next add enough new elements to make it a must-buy expansion?



Check out the full reviews here;
http://thegameshelf.blogspot.ca/2018/02/thoughts-from-yellow...
http://thegameshelf.blogspot.ca/2018/02/completely-uninhabit...

@game_shelf posts on Tuesdays and Thursdays with two different opinions from two halves of a gaming couple.
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Thu Feb 8, 2018 6:42 pm
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Week 118:- Papa Paolo

Fiona Dickinson
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Horley
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Papa Paolo is a traditional pizza maker from Naples, the birthplace of pizza. He is passionate about pizza and wants it to remain the most popular dish in the city. However, he's not getting any younger, so he's enlisted the help of some new blood. He's putting the young pizza makers through their paces to see who is his most worthy successor. Each young pizza maker starts with just a small pizzeria but will have to grow to satisfy the most households with deliveries of delicious pizza.

So much about Papa Paolo makes me excited to play it. Its theme is running a pizza delivery service - something that is definitely unique in board gaming. The board looks amazing and the city tiles remind me of Capital - a game I'm really glad that I got to try in 2017. And finally, the mechanisms include pick up and deliver - something I've really come to enjoy over the last 12 months of gaming. So, how does Papa Paolo stand up to my high expectations?



Check out the full reviews here;
http://thegameshelf.blogspot.co.uk/2018/02/thoughts-from-yel...
http://thegameshelf.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/slice-but-no-dice...

@game_shelf posts on Tuesdays and Thursdays with two different opinions from two halves of a gaming couple.
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Thu Feb 1, 2018 8:33 pm
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The Yellow Meeple's First Impressions:- 19th - 22nd January 2018

Fiona Dickinson
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Horley
Surrey
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Most of our new game experiences in the last couple of weeks came from a game day last weekend. We had the awkward player count of five people which limited our choices but we were able play Wasteland express Delivery Service - one of our favourites from 2017, as well as trying some new games that I've been looking forward too. We're also trying to work on our unplayed games pile, although that's a bigger challenge!

There's not many this week, but here's the Yellow Meeple's first impressions;


Flamme Rouge is a bicycle racing game that we've been meaning to play for quite some time. On this play with five players we also played with the new Peleton expansion. Each player has two cyclists and a deck of cards representing different speeds - you are racing around the track, trying not to get tired in first position, but instead to stay near the front in the slipstream and draft other players where possible to conserve your fast cards for a sprint towards the end of the race. I really appreciate how the mechanisms thematically echo bicycle racing so well. It was quite fascinating to watch the board positions develop and play out like a real race - with the cyclists slitting into packs and jockeying for position. With five players I'm not sure we quite got to make the most of tactical decisions and second guessing since there were so many cyclists that drafting occurred extremely rarely. I'd love to play Flamme Rouge again but maybe with three or four players.

Champions of Midgard is a worker placement game I've been waiting a long while to try, but especially since I heard such good things about the two expansions released in 2017. In the game you are placing workers to gain resources, but primarily to gain dice and kill different creatures for points. You need to claim a battle early since each encounter is a worker placement spot, but all combat is resolved at the end of the round. With the expansions, you also lose some dice in battle whether you win or lose, but you gain tokens in return that have another purpose in the game. With five players I found the worker placement far too tight, with not enough dice to keep the game moving and interesting. I really struggled to find a good strategy and was hosed by the randomness of the negative effects that surprise you when entering a fight at sea or in the mountains. I found that this bad luck added to the luck inherent with rolling dice just made Champions of Midgard un-enjoyable for me and I was really disappointed.

Nusfjord is a game we had really high expectations for after honeymooning in the Norwegian Fjords last year. Nusfjord is gold to build buildings and gain victory points. The game is pretty simple straight out of the rulebook, but it's not until you are playing that you realise the possibilities and strategies you can pursue. The game was solid and it was quite a meaty experience in a sort space of time (with 2 players). However, it was a little disappointing that the game didn't capture the beauty of the scenery. Some boards had nice art but it was covered with plain, boring cards whilst other board were just a picture of grass. I wasn't blown away by Nusfjord, but I think our second game will be more interesting now that we understand it better.

This week we'll be playing games with friends on Wednesday, where the threat is that we have to try an old Games Workshop game called Calamity!. I'm pretty apprehensive, but hopefully we'll also have time to play some tried and tested games too.

Next week I'll be setting off on a trip to North America, so it is likely to be a hiatus from gaming unless I get lucky and manage to find some people to play with at meetups or board game cafes along the way. Next Sunday I'll be visiting Snakes and Lattes in Toronto which I'm super excited about! Then I'll be moving onto Winnipeg and finally San Francisco. If anyone happens to be able to meet up in one of these cities I'd love to see the gaming sites and play a game!


Please check out thegameshelf.blogspot.co.uk for more weekly reviews from this UK-based board-gaming couple.

Follow us on twitter @game_shelf
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Sun Jan 28, 2018 10:22 pm
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Week 117:- Pulsar 2849

Fiona Dickinson
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Horley
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Pulsar 2849 is a 2-4 player dice drafting space game in which you will race other players to explore the galaxy, harvest energy from pulsars and construct satellite relays to transfer this power back home. You'll have to balance your investment of time into all of these activities, while also improving your technologies and investing in your home base if you want to succeed.

At the start of each round of Pulsar 2849 the first player will roll all of the silver dice before placing them on their spaces on the game board. At this point you work out the median roll for the round and place a marker there. Players will then take dice, should they take a dice with a face value below the average then they will get to move down on either the engineering or the player order track. If you take a die above the current average then instead you move up the track. This works as a really nice counter to the inevitable luck swings in a dice game, sure you still have rounds where high dice rolls are rare, but while the first player will get the chance to take the best dice, that comes with an associated cost.



Check out the full reviews here;
http://thegameshelf.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/harnessing-power-...
http://thegameshelf.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/thoughts-from-yel...

@game_shelf posts on Tuesdays and Thursdays with two different opinions from two halves of a gaming couple.
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Thu Jan 25, 2018 9:51 am
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The Yellow Meeple's First Impressions:- 15th - 18th January 2018

Fiona Dickinson
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Following on from last week's first impressions, where I bemoaned the fact that I couldn't find Clans of Caledonia for sale, Amy came through and got be the game in a complete masterpiece of good fortune. This has a weird symmetry with the occasion when this happened with Terraforming Mars and I hope Clans of Caledonia goes on to be one of our favourite games.

Fitting in board games around a significant amount of work travel is becoming quite difficult, but has given me the opportunity to take a look at a board game cafe in Copenhagen, and it's likely to mean I'll be visiting Snakes and Lattes in Toronto in early February. Nevertheless, we've still managed to play a few new titles, so, here's the Yellow Meeple's first impressions;


The Big Book of Madness is a cooperative deck-building game where you are fighting the monsters in a book in your magic school. After a bad experience with Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle (also magical cooperative deck-building) we were surprised our friends wanted to play this game. Each player builds a deck of different elements that will be used to power spells, repel curses and buy better element cards or spells. If any curses remain on the board after one circuit then you don't defeat the monster and you suffer the bad effect instead of the reward. I think we underestimated the depth and cooperation in this game and were definitely playing it too lightheartedly to win. I'd like to try this again as a 2-player experience where it will be much easier to manage your support actions to help out the other players turn. I think it really has potential to be a good, thinky cooperative game, but it just didn't go over well on this occasion.

Rocca Rails is a fantastic looking game. The hexagonal cards have a lovely art style and they are made to look like 3-D cubes. On each card is a railway line in a different colour - two colours travel in one direction, whilst the other two travel in a perpendicular direction. You are together laying out cards to continue the railway in matching colours, using bridges to change the colour and tunnels to change the direction. As nice as Rocca Rails looks, it is nothing more than dominoes, except with the addition of rules that add randomness with the storm card and the guy in the hat who make you and/or your opponent draw cards and become further away from winning the game by using all of your cards. The game is just too random and not very interesting at all - I wish this art had been used for something more fun!

Papà Paolo is a game we decided we wanted partially based on a great theme - delivering pizza. It also describes itself as having pick up and deliver and tile laying - both mechanisms we really enjoy and looking at the board reminded me of Quadropolis and Capital. During each round you place your workers out onto a grid either to take the action of the row or column, or to take the city tile to add to your city. You'll be making pizzas in your pizzeria, making some money, building new pizzerias or drop shipping some pizza at the outskirts of your city. You'll get to make local deliveries at the end of each round in an auction for the best delivery vehicles. We were particularly happy to find that the auction mechanism for two players works really well. Ultimately Papa Paolo didn't quite live up to the hype I built up for it, but it's still a really good game and it's different in both theme and gameplay from anything else we own, which is a great accolade in itself.

Doodle Rush is a speed drawing game, which is like a rapid fire Pictionary. Each game you will be given 6 secret words. In each round you have 60 seconds to draw all 6 on a different piece of wipe clean cardboard. The next 60 second phase involves revealing all of your drawings and then everyone around the table simultaneously guesses what you've drawn. After 60 seconds you repeat the process with any words that were not guessed, amending your drawings or completing those you didn't get a chance to finish. I really enjoyed Doodle Rush, but no-one else around the table liked it very much. I have to admit, the guessing phase was just a bit too chaotic - it's very hard to shout and listen at the same time. Noticing who guessed it first can be really hard and can result in some annoyance for the person you didn't hear. I'm looking forward to taking Doodle Rush to my work board game group, but I'm not convinced yet on whether it will be a classic party game for the collection.

Tomorrow we have another board game day planned. It's a small celebration of one year since our motley crew of gamers got together and formed a Facebook chat. Hopefully we can play a few new games and perhaps some recent favourites too. Pulsar 2849 and Clans of Caledonia are already in the bag and ready to go.


Please check out thegameshelf.blogspot.co.uk for more weekly reviews from this UK-based board-gaming couple.

Follow us on twitter @game_shelf
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Sun Jan 21, 2018 9:11 am
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Amy's Top 10 Board Games of 2017

Fiona Dickinson
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Horley
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2017 was an incredible year for gaming, so many good games came out that it's been very hard to populate this list. I can't help but feel that I'm cutting out games that really were a vital part of my gaming landscape for the year. Being so spoiled for choice really is an amazing thing though, here's hoping 2018 follows suit and gives us another fantastic year!

2017 was the first year we started supporting games on Kickstarter, only 1 game a month, and I think it's testament to our selection process that 2 of those games have appeared on this list! Especially when only 4 of them have delivered so far! On top of that we had the wonderful experience of visiting UKGE, though again only for 1 day, making sure we do the whole event this year! Of course our wedding can't go without mention, while the day wasn't solely about board games, I can safely say that a large number of guests appreciated the chill out room run by the lovely people at Thirsty Meeples!

Without further ado, please check out the full blog post to hear about my top 10 new releases and 2017 and why I chose them.
http://thegameshelf.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/amys-top-10-board...
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Fri Jan 19, 2018 5:29 pm
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Week 116:- Fog of Love

Fiona Dickinson
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Fog of Love is a 2-player story driven game in which you follow the struggles of a couple falling into (or out of) love. Fog of Love straddles the blurry line between board game and roleplaying game, while your main actions will be playing cards, the cards will prompt you to make decisions for your character which further the developing story. Fog of Love is cooperative... at times, the reality is it's hard to classify. At the end of the game each player will be committed to an end objective, these may be complementary, allowing you both to win together. Though it's quite possible that even then only one, or neither of you managed to reach your goal. As you get further into the game new objectives are added which can make the game competitive, though you don't know if your partner is going for these objectives or not!



Check out the full reviews here;
https://thegameshelf.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/baby-dont-hurt-m...
https://thegameshelf.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/Yellow-Meeple-Fo...

@game_shelf posts on Tuesdays and Thursdays with two different opinions from two halves of a gaming couple.
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Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:37 pm
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The Game Shelf 2017 Year in Review

Fiona Dickinson
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Originally Posted at http://thegameshelf.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/the-game-shelf-20...

I've written my Top 10 list of board games released in 2017, but I also wanted to reflect on a great year for our blog and for us as part of the board game hobby. There have been a few standout moments that really keep us going both in the hobby and working on this blog.

The Stats

We have played a lot of games this year, including new games released in 2017, but still primarily older games, both new to us and old favourites.

Number of Plays (Including Expansions): 825
Number of Unique Games and Expansions Played: 333
Number of 2017 Releases Played: 98
Most Played Game: Beasts of Balance with 37 plays

UK Games Expo 2017

The UK Games Expo stands out as the highlight of our board gaming year. This year we obtained press passes for the convention which allowed us to attend the press event, before the convention opened. I was pretty nervous for the event, but it was great to get up close and personal with some prototypes and brand new games and make relationships with publishers and designers that we've built on since the event.

Unfortunately we were only able to spend one day at the Expo in 2017 and we crammed in as much as possible, which meant not getting the chance to demo many games and not playing any of the new purchases we acquired. We did get the chance to meet a few groups of friends, but in 2018 we're there for the full weekend and can't wait to catch up with old and new friends and really make the most of the event!

Board Game Wedding!

The UK Games Expo was only the gaming highlight of this year, because this year, we got married! Obviously this was our highlight of the year, but we also related it to board games (of course!). We had small board game references in our decoration, but our big gesture was the board game room in the evening. We specifically looked for a venue with an additional space that we could use for board games in the evening and our venue was perfect for it. The evening was hosted by Thirsty Meeples - the board game Cafe in Oxford who also supply the mobile library for the UK Games Expo. The game room was a massive hit and some people spent the whole evening in there! Even our families who were skeptical of the idea had to admit that it was a huge success and I recommend it to anyone as some additional or alternative evening wedding entertainment for guests who don't just want to dance and get drunk!

Kickstarter

2017 was the first year we decided to look at Kickstarter. I am naturally risk averse, so the idea of Kickstarter and the potential for a creator not to fulfill was really scary. On the other hand, I love a good deal and the huge campaigns with tons of good value content became too much to resist.

We backed our first game, Tao Long: The Way of the Dragon, in January 2017 and allowed ourselves to back one game a month. We typically stuck to this rule, although during November and December we didn't back any projects and I regretted not 'using' those credits earlier in the year when choosing just one game per month was heart wrenching! So far we've received Gloomhaven, which was very exciting and Kokoro: Avenue of the Kodama, which has been a really good hit with our game group. We also expect Dinosaur Island and Tao Long to arrive any minute now - in fact, I'm staring at the front door of our house in expectation!

In 2018, I think we'll be slightly more cautious with what we back. It really has to be a game I can't resist, so that it can maintain my excitement level while I wait for the game to arrive!

Zatu Games

This year we started to write for Zatu Games, an online board game retailer in the UK. Zatu have enlisted the help of bloggers to write reviews of the games they sell, giving consumers a better insight into whether a game is right for them. Importantly, it's created a great community of bloggers and it's been great to get to know different people who write for the site.

Board Game Exposure

Probably the best thing to come out of our involvement with Zatu Games is our relationship with Board Game Exposure. The Board Game Exposure Collective are a group of UK reviewers who share review copies of games to increase exposure for publishers. We've had the opportunity to review some exciting new games such as Merlin and the expansion for Sheriff of Nottingham and are very excited to try Chronicles of Crime from Lucky Duck Games at the start of 2018. I'm hoping that we can meet some of our fellow reviewers at conventions during 2018.

All of the above has resulted in a large increase in the number of people who are reading this blog and engaging with us on Twitter and Instagram. Thank you for coming along for the ride! We've seen our number of blog views increase by around 400% in the last 6 months, and we're really excited to overcome some social hurdles to approach more people at conventions during 2018. We're hoping to at least attend Airecon in March and the UK Games Expo in June, as well as anything else I can persuade Amy to allow me to attend!


Check out my top ten games of 2017 here: http://thegameshelf.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/overthinking-by-y...
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Sun Jan 14, 2018 6:02 pm
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Week 115:- Harvest

Fiona Dickinson
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Horley
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Harvest is a new release from Tasty Minstrel games, which positions itself as a follow up to Harbour - a pocket sized worker placement game that we enjoyed for a time. It's only really the art and the publisher that are the same, but there's a definite resemblance in the setting for the two games. When it arrived, I was surprised to see that the box is about 3 times the size of Harbour, but it's still a pretty small game box. For me, Harbour represented a very light Le Harve, and my expectations were that Harvest could be the lighter Agricola, following the same relationship. Although Harbour made a good travel game for us because it packed a bit of punch for its size, we eventually traded it away because it really dragged at the higher player counts, so let's see how Harvest plays and whether it overcomes some of the small box game problems.



Check out the full reviews here;
https://thegameshelf.blogspot.com.es/2018/01/Yellow-Meeple-H...
https://thegameshelf.blogspot.com.es/2018/01/old-mcdonald-ha...

@game_shelf posts on Tuesdays and Thursdays with two different opinions from two halves of a gaming couple.
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Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:11 pm
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