Shelf of Shame Smackdown: January

Welcome to Shelf of Shame Smackdown! Marti and Sarah have resolved to take the time and start working on their Shelf of Shame throughout 2018, trying to get 4 to 7 games off of it monthly so that we can figure out what we love, what we like, and what really doesn’t need to stay in our collection. Here’s a look at the games we got off of the Shelf of Shame during the month of January.

Codenames: Marvel

Sarah: FYI, this game uses the comic art, not imagery from the movies, so that makes it a bit more difficult for those of us who really only know the cinematic universe. Regardless, it is still a blast because it’s a fun, themed twist on the Codenames formula. The cards are double sided, with words on one side & the comic art on the other – and the art looks great. Good news is, you can still win even if you don’t have a ton of knowledge about the comic books and/or the individual characters in the cards. 

Marti: One of my biggest complaints about the game is that I feel like the components aren’t as high quality as what you get from the CGE editions of Codenames, but that isn’t too big of a deal. That being said, even though I’m not really big into Marvel, I did have fun with this game. I’ll always like Codenames, and while I definitely had to think a bit harder to work through clues, I was able to pull out a few wins and have a great time while doing so.


Sarah: Great set collection and card drafting game with a push your luck element. I love the bright colors and unique backgrounds on all of the chameleon cards. The wildcards are very important and can be game-changing. Only three sets of different colored cards will score. If you have more color sets than three, you will score negative points. Overall, it’s a really enjoyable game, excellent (and quick) little filler. This game is my Shelf of Shame Smackdown winner for January. 

Marti: Coloretto is definitely a different little game. I love anything set collection, so this was in my wheelhouse for sure. The bright colors are great and they’re distinctive, so even in low light, you’re able to tell which color is which. We have the 10th anniversary edition (thanks Game Surplus!), so it also has the golden joker, which really looks good. Great components, quick gameplay, definitely a fun game to start or end an evening.


Go Nuts for Donuts

Sarah: This playful card drafting and set collection game is reminiscent of Sushi Go!, which is one of my favorite card drafting games. It has cards that are specifically tailored to the number of people playing, which means it can scale extremely well. It also has absolutely adorable card art. I definitely recommend this one. 

Marti: I really liked Go Nuts for Donuts, but Sarah definitely liked it better. While the variety of donuts that are available for 2 players are not as great as they would be for more, it still is a lot of fun at two. Like regular Sushi Go, I feel like I’m going to like this one a lot better when we play with 3 or more people.

Timeline: Challenge

Sarah: Timeline Challenge has a quality design and stellar production value. It would definitely benefit from more of the timeline decks being combined into it – we only played the base challenge game, and we want to get some of the Timeline decks to add variety. Historical knowledge doesn’t necessarily help, which can level the playing field. As a result, this is definitely a lighthearted party game. My biggest complaint is how they decided to deal with B.C. and A.D. indicators – B.C. is indicated as negative numbers. While I understand that they did it for the mechanisms of the game, it can make things confusing for people who may not be as adept at working with numbers. 

Marti: Timeline Challenge, while fun, was also a bit frustrating to try and work through as well. As Sarah mentioned, the BC/AD indicators could be made much more clear than they are. I also felt like some of the cards were too far apart in terms of dates, making it too easy for those of us who don’t know dates super well to be able to “wing it.” So, basically, I agree with Sarah all around – it’s a light party style trivia game that really could benefit from throwing some of the other Timeline decks in the mix so that it can be more challenging.


Sarah: This Kickstarter release is a well done set collection game with a unique star and science theme. Everything that they’ve done with the game is high quality, from the art to the cardboard hexes. The cards are well designed and include trivia about the type of star that is depicted on the card – and the trivia is different on every single card. This is a very intelligent gateway game that anyone could pick up easily. When the constellation is completed, it’s very satisfying and it looks great. 

Marti: This is my Shelf of Shame Smackdown winner of the month, period, no questions asked. It feels a lot like Ticket to Ride, because you’re collecting sets of cards to complete a constellation so that you can add it to the board – it’s about that weight too, maybe a little lighter. The reason it stands out so much to me is due to the theme – science themes draw me like a moth to a flame, and Xtronaut Enterprises did a wonderful job of capturing the wonder of the night sky. They even did the research so that you can get adjacency bonuses based on the constellations that are actually near or associated with others. How cool is that? Oh man, I love it.

Unlock: the Formula (No Spoilers)

Sarah: I really enjoyed this style of escape room game. It gets bonus points for being all contained in one deck of cards and the fact that no destruction is necessary, so you can pass it along to friends. It’s the first Unlock series game we have played, but we are looking forward to more. The theme was interesting, even though I didn’t think it was super original. This is definitely a buy if you enjoy escape room games. 

Marti: I don’t have quite as much of a shining review for this game as Sarah does. While I did enjoy it, I was super frustrated with the way it was done. Partially because of my eyesight – you have to really be able to see what is going on in some of the pictures. And they are tiny. I didn’t feel clever like I did at the end of Exit: The Abandoned Cabin because the puzzles weren’t as… puzzly? I definitely will try another Unlock (especially because I’ve heard good things about the second set of them that was released around Essen), but at this point, I’m definitely leaning more toward Exit for my escape room games.


What new games did you get to the table this month? Let us know in the comments or share with us on Twitter!

Game On!
Marti and Sarah


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