Shelf by Shelf #2

Time for another visit to my gaming shelves. It’s been a few weeks now and I held off due to the then upcoming UK Games Expo. I planned on entering a few titles into the annual expo maths trade, so thought it best to hold off for the time being.

Now the show is over and the trades are complete, I’m ready to pick up where I left off!

#1 Planetarium

We’ve spoken about Planetarium a couple of times on the podcast. It was a Kickstarter last year and one of the first by Games Salute to actually be delivered on time and to spec. In fact, I think it actually arrived ahead of schedule, much to the amazement of Joel!

The game itself is a great thematic abstract (some would argue that EVERY game is just an abstraction of theme, but that’s far too philosophical for me tonight in this heat) of forming four planets in a young solar system. You gather up these matter types (set collection style) in order to complete recipes required to play evolution cards onto the various planets. These evolutions are planet-shaping events and features, like geothermal vents or meteor impacts and the like.

A super little game that takes no more than an hour to play, looks fab on the table and the art work is out of this world!

#2 Adrenaline

One of the games I picked up in the maths trade at the UK Games Expo, this one I had tried at prototype level a couple of years ago during a visit to our group from the venerable Paul Grogan. At that stage it was still under development, but showed promise both thematically and mechanically.

Fast forward to today and the game is essentially an area control and resource management euro encased in a deathmatch First Person Shooter theme, akin to Quake or Halo. Players roam about the board picking up weaponry and ammunition, unloading both on their competitors to attempt to do the most damage and earn points for majorities.

Too early to tell if it will stay in my collection long term, but it’s definitely fun and still has echoes of that early prototype.

#3 Gravwell

One of my older games, this one we first played many years ago in one of our first Tuesday game nights. Since then it has also named Game of the Year by Mensa!

The game is an intriguing simultaneous action selection come programming type thing where you play cards from your hand to move your ship from the centre of the board to the outer space – first player to get out wins. However, the order you move depends on the letter on the card (A moves before B before C etc). The cards also have three different movement types – move away from the nearest ship, towards the nearest ship or pull all ships towards you.

The fun of the game is not only trying to figure out what may be best for you in any given turn, but also trying to figure out what your opponents are going to do, which may wreck your plans, moving you further away from escape rather than nearer to it. This one is definitely a keeper!

#4 King of Tokyo

Another keeper and another perennial favourite, if you don’t like King of Tokyo in my group of regular players there are other groups available!

It needs little introduction, I’m sure, so I will make the explanation brief. Players are giant monsters attempting to stamp the city of Tokyo into submission and be Numero Uno among your peers, all done with a fun Yahtzee mechanic.

This is game which will never leave my collection. It has been reprinted in recent months, but the art work in the new version just isn’t as good for my money. I also have the Broken Token insert for the box to keep it all organised – a sure sign I’ll be keeping it a while!

#5 Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game

Those in the know will remember I had two of these games – I also had the Predator version until the expo. Despite how much I love the Predator theme, I love the Alien version of this game the most. Easily one of the most thematic games in my collection and also easily my favourite cooperative game.

In Legendary Encounters you’re collectively attempting to resolve the various mission steps (three per scenario, based on the different films). You do this by purchasing action cards from the general supply (a la Ascension, Dominion etc) to build your deck into something more useful. Each turn though there will be cards appearing from the Hive deck along the top of the board – these remain face down until scanned (by players using their cards to do so) or until they reach the combat zone where they are flipped face up and take effect. Most often these are nasty. Aliens, facehuggers, chest bursters… but now and again they’ll be the objective cards you need (like killing the alien eggs before they hatch or blowing the alien out of the airlock).

A fabulously realised thematic deck builder with some (mostly) great artwork which really pulls you into the theme.

And so that’s it for another shelf – you may be able to see others to the right of the image, but they’re for another day!