Shelf of Shame Smackdown: March and April

Editor Note: With Marti being sick in April, and life being crazy, we didn’t get Shelf of Shame Smackdown for March – so we’re doing March and April together today! 

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 months of March and April.

Baseball Highlights 2045: Spring Training

Sarah: Baseball Highlights is a futuristic sports deck building game with variable player powers. This is an introductory version of the game that we backed on Kickstarter. You play a series of mini-games as a baseball team would play a playoff series. It has a unique system with three different types of players: Naturals, Cyborgs, & Robots. In short, it seems to be an interesting way of putting baseball into a board game. We need to get it to the table some more before I have a concrete opinion.

Marti: This game is definitely interesting, but I’m not sure just how much I liked it. I absolutely love the theme, but the implementation is just “okay” in my book. The gameplay was fine, and combo-ing your cards to do cool things is always a good time, but I didn’t feel like the game was super unique or exciting. Like Sarah, said, we need to get it to the table more before I have a solid opinion about the game.

The Castles of Burgundy

Sarah: I got this as a Christmas gift from Scott, the Solitary Meeple. Castles of Burgundy definitely didn’t disappoint. The iconography and all the little hexagonal chits can seem overwhelming at first, but once you get into the flow of the game; it’s worth it. Wonderfully fun with lots of decisions and many different paths to victory. This the first of Stefan Feld’s games that we have tried and I believe that we will probably be trying a few more of his games as time goes on. I also really enjoy the farming aspect of this game. Castles of Burgundy is my Shelf of Shame Smackdown winner for the month of March and April.

Marti: Oh my goodness, where do I start with this game. While it takes a bit to really get into the game, and it intimidated me at first, I was really pleasantly surprised at how smoothly it played and how easy of a teach it was. Sure, I kept grabbing the rulebook so that I could recall iconography, but other than that, I was engrossed in the game the entire time. We actually got this to the table twice this month, and like Sarah, it’s my Shelf of Shame Smackdown winner for March and April (yes, even more so than Clank! In! Space!, which we’re talking about next). That being said, I now have the Feld bug and I want to try more of his point salad games.

Clank! In! Space!

Sarah: Clank! is a favorite here at OSG HQ. Clank! In! Space! Adds a lot of variety to the Clank! formula. I do, typically, have a slight preference for space themes over fantasy. The humor of all the different science fiction spoofs on the cards is spot on. The modular board adds lots of replayability. The different escape pods and the hacking of two different areas of the board make it so that someone can’t just run in and out like you could in the original Clank!. I’m still unsure of which version I prefer, but I greatly appreciate the differences between the two and feel there is an audience for both games and that they both have a place in our collection.

Marti: If you know me, you know that Clank! Is one of my favorite games of all time. I love the combination of press your luck, dungeon diving, and deck building and it really keeps me excited about the game every time that it gets to the table. That being said, I was very happy with Clank! In! Space! I enjoy the modular board, the art is fun, and I like the way that they tried to prevent the issue of “hey, I run in, I grab a treasure, I run out, you all die.” But, the combination of the theme (I’m just not that into sci-fi, I prefer fantasy), and the fact that I felt it took away the simplicity that base Clank! has means that I feel like, at this point, I prefer regular Clank!. I will absolutely play it, I really like it, but as of right now, I like the original better.

Not Alone

Sarah: Not Alone is a very creative one versus many hidden movement game. One player is the Creature and all other players are the Hunted. The core game mechanics are hand management, movement programming, and bluffing. The Creature is trying to catch the Hunted and find them to the planet Artemia, while the Hunted are trying to evade the Creature long enough to allow them to escape from the planet. At the beginning of the game, the Hunted players only have access to five of ten location cards, as the game goes on they will most likely gain access to other locations and therefore better their odds against the Creature. The location tools were very interesting and the Creature’s deck kept us on our toes the whole time. Not Alone is a well done, thinky, and asymmetric game that you can play in a shorter amount of time. 

Marti: This game hurt my head in the best way possible. Hidden movement is a lot of fun (I really like Fury of Dracula, 3rd Edition), and I really enjoyed the tension of trying to hide from the alien. We played this with my brother and he was really good at the deduction part of being the alien – he kicked our butts both times that we got the game out. I think I need to play it some more in order to get better at being the hunted, but I really enjoyed it and I can’t wait to get it back to the table again in the future.  

Vegas Wits & Wagers

Sarah: While this is technically an expansion (and we’ve been avoiding putting expansions on Shelf of Shame Smackdown), it is a really fun addition to Wits and Wagers Party that practically makes it a new and different game. I really loved all of the different ways you can bet and how that expanded the gameplay that is behind the original. It’s excellent for bigger groups. The Vegas mat has an awesome table presence and it’s high quality as well. You get the casino feels through and through and I definitely think I’ll always want to play Wits and Wagers this way in the future.

Marti: I actually won the Vegas game from Dukes of Dice (Thanks Alex and Shaun!), but I had been interested in it since the preview copies started coming out at Origins. I feel like they took the already fun basics of Wits and Wagers Party and turned it to 11. The new levels of betting make your betting more strategic, and woo boy that table presence. The mat is absolutely stunning and well done, and it felt like you were at a casino table – playing trivia? I’d do better at a casino if I was playing trivia. Overall, a fantastic game. 

The Chameleon

Sarah: The Chameleon is a very thinky social deduction game that has most of the group trying to find the aforementioned Chameleon. The Chameleon player is trying to blend in with the group, hence the name of the game. Everyone else knows the word on the card, but the Chameleon player doesn’t. The game is lots of fun, our game group played several times in a row and I would definitely bring it to the table again in the future. 

Marti: The Cameleon was a pretty good game, in my opinion. The social deduction aspect is something I always enjoy, and I liked how the Chameleon could kind of fake that they knew what was going on. That being said, I do feel like it’s probably better with a larger group of people or with people who are more experienced. We played at 5 and it was fine, but the Chameleon had a distinct advantage – even if they were discovered, they knew what word we were giving clues for. I prefer Werewords still, but I think The Chameleon will win my affections with more plays and larger groups. 

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What did you play that was new to you in March and April? Which new to you game was your favorite? How are you doing on your board game challenges?

Game On!
Marti and Sarah

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