So, a few Cabin Cons ago I had a chance to play the original Glen More by Matthias Cramer. Immediately smitten by the game, I declared that I'd be ordering it as soon as I got home.
"I hate to tell you this but the English version is out of print," Andrew replied. "The German version is still available, though."
After exhausting every avenue to hunt down an English copy of the game through my discount channels, I took a long, hard look at the German version. But as soon as I saw the names printed on the tiles, I knew I wasn't going to buy it.
"How can I be swept up in the Scottish theme when the villages are called 'dorfs'," I remember muttering to myself.
Soooo this pretty much killed my interest in procuring a copy of Glen More. Fortunately Andrew was there to spark my hope.
"Don't give up yet," he assured me. "I've heard rumors that they're reprinting it!"
Thankfully he was right. Cramer and his new publisher Funtails have brought the game back in a deluxe new incarnation that features completely re-vamped art, several new base game elements as well as eight (!) mini-expansions, all for around seventy bucks online!
So, what's this thing about? Well, here's the game's appropriately-beefy description from Tha Geek:
"Glen More II: Chronicles is a sequel to Glen More, expanding the gameplay substantially compared to the original game.
"In Glen More II: Chronicles, each player represents the leader of a Scottish clan from the early medieval ages until the 19th century, a leader looking to expand their territory and wealth. The success of your clan depends on your ability to make the right decision at the right time, be it by creating a new pasture for your livestock, growing barley for whisky production, selling your goods on the various markets, or gaining control of special landmarks such as lochs and castles.
"The game lasts four rounds, represented by four stacks of tiles. After each round, a scoring phase takes place in which players compare their number of whisky casks, scotsmen in the home castle, landmark cards, and persons against the player with the fewest items in each category and receives victory points (VPs) based on the relative difference. After four rounds, additional VPs are awarded for gold coins and some landmarks while VP penalties are assessed based on territory size, comparing each player's territory to the smallest one in play.
"The core mechanism of Glen More II: Chronicles and Glen More functions the same way: The last player in line takes a tile from a time track, advancing as far as they wish on this track. After paying the cost, they place this tile in their territory, with this tile activating itself and all neighboring tiles, triggering the production of resources, movement points, VPs, etc. Then the player who is last in line takes their turn.
"Improvements over the original Glen More include bigger tiles, better materials, new artwork, the ability for each player to control the end of the game, and balancing adjustments to the tiles for a better suspense curve. The game is designed to consist of one-third known systems, one-third new mechanisms, and one-third improvements to Glen More. The "Chronicles" in the title, a set of eight expansions to the base game, are a major part of these new mechanisms. Each Chronicle adds a new gameplay element to the base game.
"Another major change to the game is the ability to invest in famous Scottish people of the time, who are represented through a new 'person' tile type. Persons not only have their own scoring, they also trigger one-time or ongoing effects on the tactical clan board. This adds a new layer of decision making, especially since the ongoing effects allow players to focus on a personal strategy of winning through the use of the clan board."
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TWO PLAYER GAME PLAY-THROUGH
Clan Red advances to Ratharsair, placing the tile just below her starting village. Karen then uses the Movement Point she generated to shift her Scotsman into her Home Castle. The newly-acquired tile generates 1 Barley and a new tile is added to the rondel.
Clan Blue advances to Abernethy, and Ewan places the tile just north of his starting village. After using the resulting Movement Point to send his Scotsman packing off to his Home Castle, the newly-cleared forest produces 1 Wood and a tile is added to the end of the rondel.
The bot-die is rolled and comes up "2", which eliminates Bo Ghaidhealach. A new tile is added to the end of the track and the turn passes back to Clan Red.
Karen with Clan Red advances to Ballachulish, which she places just to the south of her Home Castle. Ratharsair produces 1 Barley and her brand new quarry produces 1 Stone. Finally, a new tile is added to the end of the rondel.
Clan Blue advances to Kerry and places the tile just to the north of his Home Castle. After Abernethy produces 1 Wood and Kerry produces 1 Sheep, Ewan adds a new tile to the end of the rondel.
The Red Clan claims Inshriach and places it to the right of Ballachulish. After Karen gets 1 Barley (the tile max), 1 Stone and 1 Wood, she adds a new tile to the end of the track.
The die is rolled it comes up "1", which strikes out Balvenie. This is replaced by a new tile at the end of the rondel.
Ewan with Clan Blue hooks up with Robert the Bruce, who introduces him to Clan McKenzie, earning him a free Barley (placed in his Home Castle) and 1 cask of Whiskey, which starts his supply. A new tile is then added to the end of the track.
A die rolls a "3" turfs Iona Marble. A replacement tile is then added to the rondel.
This exhausts the "A" stack of tiles, and a scoring round begins. Both clans have an equal number of Scotsman in their Home Castle, so that’s wash. Both have 0 Landmark Cards, so that’s also ignored. Clan Blue has one more Whiskey cask then Clan Red and subsequently scores 1 Victory Point. Clan Blue also has one more Person Tile, which nets them another point!
After selling 1 Barley for 1 Coin, Clan Red skips ahead to meet with William Wallace, who gets her in tight with Clan Chisholm. After this newly-acquired Scotsman is parachuted into Ballachulish, she adds 1 Barley to her Home Castle as well as a new tile in the rondel.
Clan Blue shifts one space ahead on the rondel to take Achfary, placing it just to the left of his starting Village. This adds a new Scotsman to that tile as well as 1 Wood to neighboring Abernathy, maxing out its capacity. A new tile from the "B" stack is then added to the rondel.
It’s still Ewan's turn, so he advances to Aberfoyle, placing the tile just east of Kerry, which adds a second Sheep to that tile. Aberfoyle's trade ability then kicks in, so the two Sheep go back into the supply for 4 Victory Points. After a Movement Point is used to shift a Scotsman in the Home Castle north to Kerry, a new tile is added to the end of the rondel.
Clan Red pays 1 Wood, 1 Stone and 1 Barley for Donan Castle, which is placed to the east of the Home Castle. A new Scotsman appears on this tile and Karen collects the corresponding Location Card. This lets her parley with Clan Monroe and retrieve the Bo Ghaidhealach tile, which she drops in just south of Raitharsair, generating 1 Cattle, 1 Barley and 1 Stone. A new tile is then added to the end of the rondel.
The die comes up "2", which jettisons Loch Lochy and adds a new tile to the end of the rondel.
Next up Clan Blue sells a Wood for one Coin. They then advance to Drumbeg, placing the tile just to the north of Kerry. After a new kilted meeple is placed on that tile, the Scotsman in Kerry a Movement Point to head back to the Home Castle. Then 1 Wood is placed in Abernethy, 1 Sheep is dropped in Kerry and 2 Coins are paid to get a Cattle. The Cattle and 1 Sheep go back to the supply for 4 more Veeps. Finally, a new "B" tile is added to the end of the rondel.
It's still Clan Blue's turn so they advance to Glen Mhor, paying 1 Barley to place the distillery just north of Abernethy. This adds 2 casks of Whiskey to Ewan's supply! This also Activates Abernethy, but there’s no room for the extra Wood. After a new Sheep is added to Kerry, a new tile is placed at the end of the rondel.
The die eliminates Castle Stalker on a roll of "2" but then a replacement tile is added to the rondel.
Robert Stewart introduces Karen to Clan Gunn, which nets her 1 Cattle and 1 Sheep, which are placed on her starting Village and Castle respectively. A new tile from stack "B" is added to the rondel.
It’s still Clan Red's turn so they advance to Pulteney, which is slotted in just south of Ballachulish. Karen settles up, paying 1 Stone which earns Clan Red 1 Whiskey barrel. Karen then uses the Pulteney tile to magically transmogrify 1 of her Barleys into Whiskey. Then the Scotsman-adjacent tiles Activate, so she also collects 1 Cattle from Bo Ghaidhealach, 1 Barley via Ratharsair, 1 Stone mined from Ballachulish and 1 Wood hacked down from Inshriach! Wow, what a haul! A new "B" tile is then added to the end of the rondel.
Clan Blue selects Culbockie and places the tile to the north of Aberfoyle. After that tile generates 1 Barley and Kerry births a Sheep, Aberfoyle returns 2 Sheep to supply for 4 more Victory Points. A new tile is then added to the end of the rondel.
The die comes up "1", eliminating Galloway but then a new tile is added to the end of the track.
Karen heads off to Loch Shiel, placing it just west of her starting village. After plunking a new Scotsman down on that tile, she adds 1 Whiskey to Clan Red's supply. The resulting 1 Movement Point diverts a Scotsman from Ballachulish to Pulteney and Ratharsair gets 1 Barley, but it's maxed! A new tile is then added to the end of the rondel.
After spending a whopping 3 Coins to get a Cattle and 2 more to get a Stone, Ewan then discards both of them, along with 1 Lumber, to claim Duart Castle, which he sets up just east of his Home Castle. After adding a Scotsman to that space and the corresponding Location Card to his supply, Ewan gets 1 Coin back and 2 more monies after he befriends Clan MacLeod. A new tile is then added to the end of the rondel.
A die roll of "2" turfs Lochridge and a new tile is added to the rondel.
Clan Rouge advances to Tomintoul Fair, paying 1 Wood to place it just east of Donan Castle. This generates 1 Wood from Inshriach. One Cattle, Wood and Stone are returned back to supply to generate a respectable 6 Victory Points via the newly-placed trade tile. Finally a new tile is added to the end of the track.
Clan Blue advances to Glaikmore, paying 1 Wood to overlay the tile on top of Culbockie. With the resulting Movement Point, the Scotsman in Duart Castle moves into his Home Castle and a Barley is added to Glaikmore. A new tile from stack "B" is then added to the rondel.
Clan Red lays claim to Cheviot, placing the tile just west of Loch Shiel, gaining a Sheep in the process. The final "B" tile is added to the rondel, so the game is paused again for scoring.
Clan Blue has one more Scotsdude in his home castle than Red, so he scores 1 Victory Point. Red has one more Landmark Card than Blue so Karen gets a Veep. She also has tied for Whiskey barrels so no more points there. Finally, Clan Red has one more Person Tile than her rival and scores another single Victory Point. The tables are turning!
The die roll comes up "2", removing Loch Lochy and adding the first "C" tile to the end of the rondel.
Clan Red selects Elgin, placing the tile just south of Loch Shiel. Subsequently, Cheviot gets 1 Sheep and the starting Village generates a Movement Point, so the Scotsman in Donan Castle moves to Tomintoul Fair. Ratharsair would get Barley but it's maxed out. Bo Ghaidhealach generates 1 Cattle and, after Elgin is Activated, the 2 Sheep and 1 Cattle are sent back to supply for a whopping 7 Victory Points. A new "C" tile is then added to the end of the track.
After Blue meets Mary Stuart, she introduces Ewan to David Hume via Clan McKay for 2 Coins. A new tile is then added to the end of the rondel.
A "2" on the die eliminates Halkirk and a replacement tile is added to the end of the track.
Clan Red pays 1 Cattle and 1 Sheep to overlay Inverness on her starting Village. This lets Karen place a new Scots(person) on that tile and nets her the Inverness Location Card, which, in turn, adds 1 Barley to the new tile and a Whiskey cask to her supply. This also generates 2 Movement Points, so the new occupant of Inverness treks over to the Home Castle. This also generates 1 Stone in Ballachulish and would give 1 Barley to Ratharsair but it's capped out. Unfortunately, Karen doesn't have any of the livestock required to activate Elgin, so she just adds a new tile to the end of the rondel.
It’s still Clan Red's turn so she's off to meet with Fionnghal nic Dhomhnaill. Try saying that five times real quick! Karen pays 1 Coin to pick up some drive-thru haggis for Clan McDonell, which lets her Activate one Material Tile and 1 Whiskey tile. After she collects 1 Stone in Ballachulish, Pulteney lets her transfer 1 Barley into a Whiskey keg! After that amazing turn, a new tile is added to the end of the rondel.
After the die knocks out James II, a new random tile is randomly selected to replace on the rondel.
Clan Blue leaps ahead, placing Dunface just north of Achfary. The new tile produces 1 Sheep, Abernethy gets 1 Wood and a new "C" tile is placed at the end of the track.
Karen guides Clan Red to Clachaig Inn, paying 1 Whiskey barrel to construct it just south of Tomintoul Fair. This generates 2 Victory Points but it also Activates Inshriach for 1 lumber and triggers the Fair. This lets her trade in 1 Barley, 1 Stone and 1 Wood for 6 more Victory Points. A new "C" tile is then added to the rondel.
A die roll of "1" means that Rothiemurchus is discarded and a new tile is placed on the rondel board.
Clan Blue advances to Kenmore Fair, paying 1 Wood and plopping it down just to the north of Drumbeg. After growing 1 Barley, he trades this in, along with 1 Sheep, to score 4 more Victory Points. A new tile is then added to the end of the rondel.
A die roll of "2" lands on and eliminates Dornie. A new tile from the "C" stack is then added to the rondel.
Clan Red pays 1 Coin for 1 Barley and 1 Coin for 1 lumber and then spends 1 Stone to claim Armadale Castle, which she constructs south of Inshriach. After adding a new Scotswoman to that tile, she collects the matching Location Card. Spurned on by a Movement Point, the Scotsman in Loch Shiel travels to Elgin. Karen then gets 2 Victory Points from Activating Clachaig Inn as well as 1 lumber for Inshriach and 1 Stone for Ballachulish. Unfortunately, the trade ability on Pulteney still has no fuel. Karen ends her turn by adding a new new tile to the rondel.
Since Karen is still further back on the track, she goes again, this time opting for Iona Abbey, paying 1 Wood to overlay the tile on top of Inshriach. This tile immediately Activates, generating 1 resource of her choice, so she opts for Cattle. She immediately sells this "harry kew" for 3 Coins! This also generates 3 Movement Points, so the Scotsman in Pulteney schleps all the way over to her Home Castle. After collecting another 2 Veeps from Clachaig Inn, she spends 2 Coins on both lumber and Barley to give all this stuff (plus her remaining Stone) back to supply for 6 more Victory Points via Tomintoul Fair. After this stellar turn she adds a new tile to the end of the track.
Clan Blue starts his turn by selling 1 Barley for 2 Coins. He then drops 3 Coins for a single Sheep so he can buy Soay and overlay it on Abernethy. In the resulting Activations, 1 Sheep is added to both Dunface and Kerry and 1 Cattle is added to Soay. Finally, a new "C" tile is added to the rondel.
The die is rolled and comes up "1", so the Muir of Ord is sent packing. Since the die is still in last place, it’s rolled again and this time it comes up "2" which discards Ayrshire. Two tiles are then added to the board, including the "World's End" tile which triggers a scoring round!
Red has 3 Scotsman versus Blue's 2 Scotsman in their respective Home Castles so Karen earns a Victory Point. Red has 4 Landmark Cards to Blue's 1 so, with a difference of 3, she gains 3 more Victory Points. Clan Red has 1 more Whiskey barrel than Blue, which earns her 1 more Victory Point. Finally Clan Blue has 4 Person Tiles versus Red's 3, so they score a single Victory Point.
Looking to put the nail in the coffin, Clan Red advances all the way to Charles I. They then spend 1 Coin to break bread with Clan Sutherland, generating a whopping 8 Victory Points from their 6 continuous River segments. A new tile from the "D" stack is then added to the rondel.
Clan Blue moves up to Achanarras, placing it just north of Glaikmore. This results in 1 Stone being furnished by that location, 1 Barley in Glen Mhor and a Movement Point. Kenmore Fair is Activated, so 1 Stone, 1 Sheep, 1 lumber and 1 Cattle is returned to the supply for 8 Victory Points! Since Stein Inn was skipped, 2 tiles are added to the end of the rondel board.
A "2" is rolled on the die, so it eliminates Coille Coire Chuilc and since Glengorm was skipped over, it's also thrown out. As a result, 2 new tiles are added to the rondel.
The die is rolled again and gets a "1", which dustbins Edradour. A new tile from the "D" stack is placed on the track.
Clan Blue advances to Taynuilt, which comes pre-loaded with a new Scotsman. Ewan also gets 1 Stone from Achanarras and 1 Barley from Glaikmore. After selling the Stone for 2 Coins and a Barley for 1, he spends 3 Coins to get another Cattle. It goes back, along with a Sheep, for another 4 Veeps courtesy of Aberfoyle. A new tile is then added to the track.
With a roll of "3", the die lands on the "World's End" tile, so it’s done for the game. A new tile is then added to the track.
Clan Blue sacrifices the Scotsman in Taynuilt to add Loch Ness west of Achfary and claim the matching Location Card. After Dunface produces 1 Sheep, Loch Ness lets Ewan get 1 of any tile's Resource so he gets Achnarras to produce 1 Stone remotely. A new tile is added to the end of the track.
Clan Red hooks up with Robbie Burns. She visits Clan McKinnon, getting 2 Coins and placing a brand new Scotsman in her Home Castle. Another new "D" tile is placed at the end of the rondel.
In Ewan's final move, he advances all the way to Elsie Inglis. He then sells 1 Sheep for 2 Coins and then pays 1 money to meet up with Clan Brody. Since they have 4 Villages, this results in a whopping 8 Victory Points being scored. A new tile is added to the end of the rondel.
Clan Red advances to Rothesay Harbour, placing it to the east of Tomintoul Fair. This gets her 1 Wood and 1 Stone as well as 2 Victory Points from Clachaig Inn. She then sells 1 Cattle for 2 Coins, 1 Stone for 1 Coin and 1 Wood for 2 Coins.
End game scoring: Red has 4 Scotsmen in their Home Castle versus Blue's 2, so they gain 2 Victory Points. Red has 4 Landmark Cards versus Blue's 2, so they get another 2 Veeps. They have 1 more barrels of Whiskey compared to Blue, so they get 1 Victory Points for that. And, finally, they're tied for Person Tiles with 5 each, so no points awarded there.
In final game scoring, both Clan Red and Blue have 15 tiles so there’s no points awarded there. Because Clan Red has Armadale Castle, all 8 of their Coins double in value for an additional 16 points! As well, Clan Blue gets 6 more points for their remaining Coins!
Clan Red: 66 Clan Blue: 46
- Mechanically the game is super simple: just advance your meeple as far as you want on the rondel, pay for the tile you settled on and then add it to your design. But what tile you pick and where you place it is where the game gets deep!
- The bot-die makes the game perfectly playable with three people. It also speeds up the game nicely when you use it with three or four players.
- The production values are INSANE. Except for a few Person Tiles that make the depicted historical figure look like they're indulging in bath salts and not whiskey, all of the art on the board, tiles and cards is absolutely phenomenal.
- There are so many options to explore now! In the original edition of the game, it was just about dropping tiles to create a synergy between them. But here, in Glen More II: Electric Boogaloo, you also have famous Locations to explore and as well as the Person Tiles and the related Clan Board.
- The only landmarks you have to contend with now with regards to tile placement now are rivers. The roads in OG Glen More resulting in a lot of take back turns and felt more frustrating than anything else.
- In a lot of rondel games, you can jump way ahead to cherry pick your favorite tile, but then your opponent would get a slew of moves before they got ahead of the pack and passed the turn. And while you can still technically do that, you don't wanna have a lot more tiles than your opponent because the end game penalties are gonna wreck you. This means that a focused strategy is still required.
- Creating an engine is imperative and the game really rewards the completion of grand schemes. There's something supremely satisfying about dropping a new tile into the middle of an 8-tile square and reaping a crap ton of benefits.
- The base game has plenty of replay value, but the presence of eight additional mini-expansions gives owners a metric crap-ton of options for such a low price point.
- If you're falling behind, don't despair! As the play-through example illustrates, it's pretty easy to storm back of you focus on a set strategy.
- You can tweak the playtime. If you want a shorter game, place the "World's End" tile on top of the "D" stack. Want a longer game? Just place it in the middle of the final stack!
- It's surprisingly fiddly. I guarantee that, during your first game, you'll forget to add tiles to the rondel after every turn and you'll probably cock-a-leekie-up what tiles Activate when you place a new one. For example, I know that Clan Red won the game I played out, but I can guarantee that there were miss-plays and the final scores aren't 100% accurate. I'm also confident that these issues would likely be mitigated after a few plays. Just remember: the location of Scotsmen dictate placement options and adjacency determines Activations.
- The language on some of the Clan Board rewards and some of the tile actions is kinda soft. For example, I'm still not sure if I interpreted this one properly.
When I first played the original Glen More, I though the rondel mechanic was the greatest invention since sliced bread. Since then, many other games have employed the same gimmick, but this new iteration of Cramer's classic still feels fresh. It's far from perfect, but the Scottish theme, simple but nuanced game-play, Carcassonne-killing tile placement and overall value of what's in this gorgeous box makes it a must-buy in my mind!