My husband and I started collecting board games in a purposeful and well-researched fashion in 2014. There are plenty of fantastic games that came out before then that are missing from our collection either because we weren't present for the wave of new-game-itis and no one we follow talks about them, or because the games are out of print and so we can't easily purchase them even if they've been recommend to us. Glen More falls into the latter category. Many gamers have told us how awesome the game is, but it’s no longer sold through retailers. So we were especially excited when it was announced that Glen More II: Chronicles was going to debut on Kickstarter this year.
We were invited by the publisher (Funtails) to sit down with their team in Germany and play this sequel to the first edition a few month ago. We gathered around a virtual table, through the wonder of Tabletopia, and played through a full game. In Glen More II: Chronicles (designed by Matthias Cramer), we are Scottish Highland Clan leaders in the 17th-19th centuries seeking to expand our land and wealth. We do this by moving our meeple (our Scotsman) along a rondel, selecting tiles representing lands, markets, or persons of historical interest, and placing them in our personal tableau in front of us, our “territory”. There are a few simple rules for tile placement: rivers and roads on adjacent tiles must line up, and tiles must be placed adjacent to an existing tile occupied by a Scotsman. Once a tile is placed, it is immediately activated, as are all adjacent tiles. There are various tile activation benefits including resource production, victory point gains, income realization, and clan board effects.
The clan board is a key feature in Glen More II: Chronicles . When we choose a persona tile from the rondel (which is worth victory points in and of itself), we are entitled to select a benefit from the clan board as well. Glen More II: Chronicles also features a resource market where players can trade resources for cash and vice versa. Pricing in the market is determined by supply and demand. The game is played over four rounds, with scoring after each round, and for variability in timing, an end game tile is placed in the 4th stack (stack D) to usher in the conclusion of the game.
There are multiple areas of strategic impact in this game, and to win, we can’t neglect any of them. Reviewing the tiles on the rondel, we need to formulate an initial strategy for ensuring victory point accumulation. Do we want to focus on gathering landmark tiles for set collection bonuses? Or persona tiles for clan board benefits? Maybe we want to double down on whiskey production, since whiskey provides victory points if we accumulate barrels and our opponents do not. Whatever our strategy for accumulating points, when selecting a tile from the rondel, care must be taken to balance grabbing the tile that will work best for us before others do (or conversely, hoarding tiles that would give a tremendous edge to others) with not moving our meeple too many spaces ahead (the meeple furthest from the lead on the rondel always goes next). When choosing where to place tiles in our tableau, it’s important to consider which other tiles we’d benefit from activating this turn, but we also have to consider how tile placement now will affect our options for placement in the future. If we select a persona tile from the rondel, we’ll have a range of benefits to select from on the clan board. But which one to choose? That’s another strategic decision.
With the right tableau assembly and activation, an edge can be gained over the competition. In this way,Glen More II: Chronicles is a game of engine building and execution. Sadly, engine building is not my forte, which is ironic because I love, love, love worker placement games which tend to heavily favor engine building. My first play through, my strategy was completely inept compared to my gaming partners and I came in well behind them all for a disappointing finish. I can only hope to get better over time, with more practice. And practicing engine building with Glen More II: Chronicles is a lot of fun; there are so many choices available in the game to explore and sustain player interest that replay ability is high.
All of this intriguing complexity, and I haven’t even spoken of the expansions yet. Glen More II: Chronicles will include the base game as I’ve described PLUS eight expansions or “Chronicles” as the publisher is calling them. There is the Boat Clan chronicle (which we played in our game; it involves a race around all of the tableaus with victory points for those who complete the race). There is the English Man chronicle (which involves extra workers on the rondel). There is the History of Scotland chronicle (which provides a mechanism for flipping tiles for more additional benefits). Additionally, there are five more chronicles to be announced when the Kickstarter launches.
This game, like most engine builders, can induce a high level of analysis paralysis in those who are susceptible (like me). My turns progressed very slowly with long pauses for evaluating decisions. This shouldn’t be considered a game weakness, and if you take precautionary measures (avoid playing with indecisive opponents or come equipped with plenty of time and patience) you’ll be just fine.
The artwork for Glen More II: Chronicles exhibited in the preview I was granted access to on Tabletopia is lovely. The artist is Jason Coates and his work carries the Scottish theme well and lends an air of authenticity to the game.
Components for Glen More II: Chronicles will include wooden tokens for resources, 5cm2 tiles of thick cardboard, cardboard tokens for coins and victory points, and standard thickness game boards for the rondel and clan boards. Note: since the game has not yet been physically produced en masse, I lent my personal advice to the publisher and suggested that metal or clay coins would be highly prized by board game collectors. However, I don’t think Funtails is going to be able to work that in at the price point they’ve selected for the game.
Win Condition: amass the largest amount of victory points by game’s end
Inputs: ratio of VP scoring items relative to weakest player, VP granting tiles activated, clan board bonuses activated, landmark sets collected, and more (see rule book for full VP calculation)
Strategy Tip: The persona+clan board focused approached won handily in our game.
I’m excited to play Glen More II: Chronicles with my gaming group once I get a physical copy in my hands. You can reserve a copy for yourself by backing the Kickstarter (launches March 13th, 2019). Everything about this game was great, except for the part where I lost spectacularly. There are so many hours of highly thematic gaming as a Scottish Highland clan leader packed into Glen More II: Chronicles that I'm off to purchase my tartan plaids in prep for game night.
Publisher: Funtails, Renegade Game Studios (US Distribution partner)
Players: 2-4 (We played with 3)
Actual Playing Time (vs the guideline on the box): About 100 minutes
Game type: Dice Rolling, Grid Movement, Commodity Speculation, Set Collection, Tile Placement
Jenni’s rating scale:
OUI: I would play this game again; this game is ok. I probably would not buy this game myself but I would play it with those who own it and if someone gave it to me I would keep it.
OUI OUI: I would play this game again; this game is good. I would buy this game.
OUI OUI OUI: I LOVE THIS GAME. I MUST HAVE THIS GAME.
NON: I would not play this game again. I would return this game or give it away if it was given to me
***Note: It ‘s not my practice to offer a formal purchase recommendation for or against a specific game after just a single play. Whenever possible, before writing a preview or review, I will play a game several times over a period of weeks or months, in order to see how it holds up under different player counts and circumstances and to allow enough time for any defects in the gameplay to surface. However, in this case, I was only able to play the game once before before the Kickstarter launch and so it’s important for readers to know that this preview is based on a single play.