board game reviews from the bottom shelf

Welcome to the Bottom Shelf! This is a place where I can share my thoughts on board and card games. It's mostly a place where I can futz with web design, product photography, and video production while talking about one of my favorite things.

Each game I cover will usually begin with an initial thoughts video. These videos run around 3-5 minutes and provide a quick overview along with my impressions of the game after a few plays. These aren't comprehensive by any means, but I will have played the game enough that I feel comfortable giving an opinion. They're meant more as a starting off point than anything. You'll get an idea what the game is about and if it's something you might be interested.

Following the initial thoughts video will be a final thoughts article. These will be more in depth than the videos and will assume you are familiar with how the game works. I'll address issues that arise after multiple playthroughs, what works and what doesn't. If you have any thoughts, questions or concerns about a particular game, be sure to post them in the comments and I'll be sure to address them.

Thank for visiting!

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I use a simple five star system for ratings. No half or quarter stars. I don't have rigid guidelines for my final rating, but rather give them based on the ever nebulous realm of 'feel'. I'll give a game five stars because it feels like a five star game to me. That's not to say that I don't try to be consistent, just that I don't follow a strict rubric.

Generally speaking, a five star game is one I consider one of my favorites. It may not be perfect, but I will almost always play it when asked. A four star game is a great game that has just a little something holding it back from being a favorite. I'll enjoy playing it, but it may not be the first game I recommend. A three star game is a good game. Mechanically sound, but perhaps not too exciting. It's fine and I'll play it every once in a while, but they tend not to leave a long lasting impression. A two star game is a game that just isn't for me. It may be thematic or mechanical, but I just don't like it. A one star game is a game that just doesn't work. No one should consider playing it because of gross misdesign.

You might have noticed that I haven't awarded any game one star and few games two stars. There's an easy explanation for that. As I'm starting off here, I've been reviewing games that from my own collection and I tend to only have games in my collection that I enjoy. It's not that I haven't played a one or two star game, just that I tend to gravitate towards games I think I'll like.

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My name is Alex. I have a website. This is my website! I work. I take pictures. Sometimes both at once. I also play an unhealthy amount of board games. 

I started playing board games about 8 years ago and that's about it. I haven't been to a convention. I haven't designed a game. I haven't been quoted on any box covers. I'm just a regular guy who loves to play games. What I do have is opinions and hopefully you find them helpful!

My goal with Bottom Shelf Board Games is to provide insight into how a game makes you feel, rather than just explain how to play the game. There are plenty of places do that much better than I ever could. But I hope to bring a bit more insight to my reviews and present them to you on in an attractive manner.

If you are so inclined, you can check me out on Board Game Geek. And here are some the games I've been playing.

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I'm by no means a wealthy person. I have my struggles and hardships, but I'm thankful that I don't have to worry about having food on my table or a roof over my head and it's mostly because of where I was born. Both my parents are immigrants from completely opposite ends of the world and by some miracle met in the U.S. where I have had more opportunities and luxuries than anyone can rightly ask for. I don't take this privilege lightly and make it a point to donate funds to help the world community.

Playing games is important. Everyone plays games. Maybe not board games, but some type of game. I truly believe play is important. But board games are silly. Board game culture is even sillier. Having a board game website is downright absurd. I love board games, but if you really think about it you have to admit it's all just a bit silly. It's just plastic and cardboard after all. In order to remind myself that board gaming is a privilege, I've began combining it with charity. Every month I host a game night at my home and run a charity tournament of Cloud 9. It's a simple, silly game about flying balloons and pushing your luck. To enter the tournament there is a recommended donation and and the winner wins a small prize. All the proceeds are then given to the Red Cross. It's not much, but every little bit helps.

I plan to hold a fundraising event on the site in the future, but until then I'd urge you to consider donating to a charity.