If you browse through the posts on any of the board game groups on Facebook, you won't have to search for long before you encounter a 'shelfie': a photo that shows off a gamer's board game collection, neatly or otherwise stacked on a shelving unit. And more often than not, the games will be stacked on an Ikea Kallax unit. That's not because Ikea's Kallax shelving units are especially well suited to board games - they're not - but Kallax units are relatively inexpensive and they have the advantage of coming in a variety of sizes and finishes. It's the ubiquitous nature of the Ikea Kallax that has obviously inspired Phil Walker-Harding and Matthew Dunstan to design My Shelfie for publishers Cranio Creations.
The 2-4 players each have an upright 6 x 5 grid representing their Kallax-style sheving unit. There's a central board that's populated with tiles of six types. With art from Shannon Grosenbacher and Sara Valentino, they are principally distinguishable by background colour but, for theme, they are categorised as Books (white), Games (yellow), Frames (dark blue), Trophies (light blue), Plants (pink) and Cats (green) - the latter presumably inspired by the number of posts on Facebook of cats making themselves at home in board game boxes. But what were Cranio Creations thinking in allowing valuable shelf space to be taken up with anything other than board games? :-) If My Shelfie proves a success, we expect to see promos tile sets offered that replace the tiles with six different colours of board game boxes. If the publishers don't oblige, how long will it be before gamers upload their own print & play tile designs to BoardGameGeek?
Players take turns drafting tiles from a central display. You can take one, two or three tiles but they must all be in a straight line and they must all have at least one side free (ie: they mustn't be completely surrounded by other tiles as in the computer game version of Mahjong and Horrible Guild's Dragon Castle). When you pick up two or three titles you can order them any way you like but they must all be dropped in the same column of your bookshelf grid. In this way you'll gradually be filling your 'shelves'. Your aim tho' is to maximise your points score by fulfilling scoring objectives - so it's not always wise to maximise the number of tile you pick up. Tiles of the same type score points for orthogonal adjacency, so, for example, if your grid ends up with a block of six adjacent light blue trophy tiles you'll score 8 points for them. Players have their own objective cards that score an ascending number of points depending on how many tiles you have in place to correspond with the positions shown on the card. These are normally hidden from other players, tho' we've made them visible in our Board's Eye View 360. In addition, there are always two 'common goal' cards that reward the players who soonest match those cards' specific requirements; for example, to have matching tiles in all four corners or to have two columns filled with six different tiles. One small gripe that came up in our Board's Eye View plays was that there were some individual goal cards that clashed with some common goal cards; for example, one of the individual cards has different colours in two of the corners so it wouldn't be possible to achieve that and qualify for the matching all four corners common goal.
The My Shelfie bookcase grids and dropped tiles are bound to trigger memories of Connect Four (Hasbro), adding for many players a nostalgia boost to this game, tho' the tile selection and scoring make My Shelfie a very different game. My Shelfie is intuitively easy to play, so very playable as a family game, but the theme, presentation and tile-drafting mechanic makes it equally appealing as a filler-length gamers' game. It works at all player counts but it's more tactical at two players because when you pick tiles that open up the board, you have much more chance of engineering the choice available for your next turn. Just give us more board game themed tiles please.