Shelf of Shame Smackdown: February

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 February!


Sarah: Azul is a lovely tile-laying abstract puzzle. I’m impressed with the immense amount of decisions packed into a shorter playing time, and it really hits the spot for complexity to play time ratio. As with Century Spice Road, Azul has excellent production value and it is very aesthetically pleasing. Really enjoy the challenge that it inherently provides. A favorite abstract that’s sure to be in our weeknight rotation for a long time.

Marti: I really like abstracts, and as time goes on, I accept that more and more. I never had any interest in chess growing up (even though I know how to play), but I enjoy the great games that are out there nowadays. Azul caught my attention instantly and my brain started to work out the amazing puzzle that is this beautiful tile laying game. It may become my favorite abstract with time (yes, even over Sagrada, sorry honey). With all that, Azul is actually my Shelf of Shame Smackdown winner for February – and it may sneak into my top 20 games of all time with time.


Sarah: If you like Star Realms & word games, this is the game for you. Everything ties into the theme, and it just oozes throughout the game. All of the faction powers correlate with literature genres, which is a wonderful touch to this game. Gameplay is a blast and, like Paperback, seeing what words you are able to create is part of what makes these game(s) so interesting every time. Hardback is my Shelf of Shame Smackdown winner of the month.

Marti: Hardback and Azul were neck and neck for my winner, because Hardback is a ton of fun. It’s no secret that Sarah and I really enjoy Star Realms/Hero Realms, and the twist on that mechanism caught my attention. We have enjoyed Paperback for awhile, but I actually think I like this a lot better than Paperback because of that more gamerly aspect. I cannot wait to try some of the modules that were included in the game.

Rocky Road a la Mode

Sarah: Rocky Road a la Mode is a delicious engine building game with a whimsical theme and artwork. For such a small game, it has a great production value. I love the chunky Ice Cream Truck pieces. There’s an excellent design of the multi-use cards. Nice incorporation of set collection and card drafting. In short, I think that this game is truckloads of fun.

Marti: I had no idea what I was getting into when I won this game from Eric Booth/Josh Mills, but when we got it, I immediately loved the fun art and the theme. And as I figure out my tastes more, I find that multi use cards are something that I crave again and again. In short, Rocky Road a la Mode is a lot of game in a little box, and I think it’s going to become one of my favorite appetizer games as time goes on.

Pocket Ops

Sarah: Pocket Ops is a strategic pattern building game that is an advanced version of Tic-Tac-Toe. You win if you win two out of three rounds. At the beginning of each round, you draft a special power piece that can give you a great advantage depending on how and when you utilize it. It’s a nice, quick, mind-reading appetizer game (the term appetizer is thanks to Brad Scaggs from Board Games with Panda – we like it better than “filler”). Great option for busy evenings. And yes, true to its name, it could definitely fit in your hoodie pocket. 

Marti: I never thought that you could make Tic-Tac-Toe entertaining – my go-to game as a teenager was that one with the dots where you had to draw lines and claim boxes (anyone know what that’s called?). Then, the Grand Gamers Guild did it. Pocket Ops is a delightfully thinky way to deal with Tic-Tac-Toe; the push and pull of guessing where your opponent is going and using special token powers is what really takes this game up a notch.


What new-to-you games hit the table in February? Which of these games have you played and how did you like them?

Game On!

Marti and Sarah


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