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My Top 10 “Shelf of Opportunity” Games

Shelf of Opportunity - Nusfjord

People often refer to their unplayed games as taking up residence on their “Shelf of Shame”! This is a metaphorical shelf (in most cases) but reflects the negativity of purchasing a game and then not getting round to playing it. I choose to refer to this as my “Shelf of Opportunity”!

This is a positive spin on the idea. It sees these games as being full of promise. They're just sitting there, close-at-hand, waiting to provide me with the opportunity to experience something new.

I don’t have the biggest board game collection, but I do admittedly have a relatively sizeable Shelf of Opportunity. I will now attempt to rank these games in order of the opportunity I perceive them to behold. (Whatever that means!)

10) WWE Superstar Showdown

As a young lad, I was a huge wrestling fan for a time. I regularly talked with my friends about the superstars of the day, and indeed partook in wrestling matches during the lunch break at school! I can’t remember my wrestling name, but can remember I was in a successful tag team called “Deadly Nightshade”!

Back then there were no decent wrestling board games. Now, however, that has all changed thanks to Gale Force Nine and WWE Superstar Showdown. I acquired a copy earlier this year but I'm not sure anyone in my games group would like the theme. I’ll brave it someday. Even if I don’t play the game, it’s worth the cost for the Daniel Bryan figure alone! – YES! YES! YES!

9) Hanabi

This one is quite shameful. My family likes quick card games such as Sushi Go and The Mind, so when I saw Hanabi for sale, second-hand, on a Facebook group I snapped it up. But just before paying I was told it was the German version. The game itself is language independent so it wouldn’t affect our ability to play it, it’s just that I still haven’t downloaded the English rules!!

8) Vadoran Gardens

I received this game as a freebie in a goody bag upon attending City Of Games in Bristol earlier this year. Vadoran Gardens is packaged into a tidy small box and the production values are very high. I really like the look of it and will play it one day but I think what’s kept this on the shelf so far is the complex-looking 20-page rulebook for what looks like a gateway game.

7) Equilibrion

I received this out-of-print solo game (also known as Urbion) from a lovely BoardGameGeek user who had noticed I was a fan of Shadi Torbey’s series of solo Oniverse games. I will definitely be playing this soon. In fact, I got so far as to read the rules and set the game up but got embroiled back into family life before I could start. I will need a rules refresh, but this game supposedly plays in 15 minutes so could be a great solo filler for me.

Will's Shelf of Opportunity
Will's Shelf of Opportunity

6) The Goonies Adventure Card Game

The Goonies was a film I remember fondly from my childhood – was it a classic or was it just a bunch of kids shouting in a cave? The answer is both! I received The Goonies Adventure Card Game in a trade that I had pursued. While the box is almost criminally too big for the meagre components it looks like a decent co-operative hand management game that I know would be popular at my games group. I need to re-read the rules soon.

5) Nusfjord

This is the only Uwe Rosenberg game I own. I was attracted by the quaint Norwegian fishing village theme, the worker placement mechanics, and the fact that you use fish as a form of currency! The thing is, there is a guy who goes to my games group who also has Nusfjord and I’m waiting for the opportunity for him to teach me how to play it rather than picking up the rulebook myself! The other thing is, he barely attends so I might have to bite the bullet (or fish) on this one and get reading!

4) Zombicide: Black Plague

I bought Zombicide: Black Plague with some of the proceeds from selling numerous games at UKGE. I diligently read the rules and set up the first scenario in my studio. However, I interrupted by another family drama. The game remained set up and ready for action on my studio table for the best part of three days before I regretfully packed it back into the box. At least I know how to play it, but the longer I leave it the more I’ll forget…

3) World of SMOG: Rise of Moloch

For me, this was the Kickstarter that got away. I didn’t back World of SMOG: Rise of Moloch because I had just backed two other CMON titles when this one started. However, I was drawn into the theme of a Victorian London with nefarious creatures moving in the dim and dingy streets.

Fast-forward a couple of years and I bought the Kickstarter (with a few expansions) from someone on BoardGameGeek. I even drove to collect it! It’s a campaign game and requires a games master known as the Nemesis (which will probably be me) squaring up against four “Gentlemen” of the Unicorn Club. I need to finish my Arcadia Quest: Pets campaign then this is sure to hit the table either later this year or early next year…

Shelf of Opportunity - Rise of Moloch (Credit: CMON)

2) Aerion

I’ve already mentioned I’m a fan of Oniverse. When the latest title, Aerion, came out earlier this year I set a reminder for the release date and hovered on the Zatu website, occasionally refreshing my browser until it became available. As soon as it did, I snapped it up! This may sound quite obsessive, but the Oniverse games are known for being difficult to get hold of.  I bought the last copy of Castellion available in the UK. Meanwhile, I had to wait a year for Onirim to get reprinted and I had to do a board game trade with a guy in Canada to get hold of Nautilion, so you can see this obsession comes with some context and a degree of necessity!

Having said that, I haven’t played Aerion yet. Indeed, I took it away to Somerset with me last weekend but it didn’t get played. It’s also been on the train to London with the same fate. Still, the compulsive collector in me is just glad to see it sitting on my shelf for now…

1) Viticulture: Essential Edition

I decided I wanted Viticulture when driving my family around the Tuscan hills on our camper van trip around Europe last year. My parents bought the game for my birthday (at my request) and I’ve had it out of the box a few times. However, I feel a sense of anguish that it’s coming up to almost a year without playing it.

Writing this is hard for me as I know it’s a game I’ll love. I just feel I’d like to be taught it rather than having to read the rules then explain to others. I’m setting myself the aim of playing this within the month, or… Or, else…?

Shelf of Opportunity - Summary

Part of me feels a little spoilt to even have a Shelf of Opportunity. I remember playing board games until they effectively disintegrated when I was a kid. These days the vast majority of my income seems to go on raising my family. As a result, the little bit of disposable income I can scrape together for myself is almost certainly spent on board games. So, overall, I feel I can perhaps justify this little indulgence.

All of the games on this list still appeal to me. I was excited when writing about each of them. Now, the only problem is finding the time to play them..


Editors note: This Board Gaming Guide was originally published on October 9th, 2019. Updated on July 20th, 2022 to improve the information available.