Glen More is a game about expanding Scottish clans in the 1600s. Each clan leader will acquire land tiles and grow their own personal empire. They can raise livestock, build castles, discover lochs and even (awesomely) distill whiskey. This game has a neat turn order mechanic and also a pretty cool market system. Glen More lasts three rounds with a scoring at the end of each round. During the scoring players will be comparing how many special cards, chieftains and whiskey barrels they were able to produce.
Each player starts with a humble village and a clan member to run the day to day affairs there. Each village has a road running East/West and a river running North/South. Throughout the course of the game players will be adding tiles to their land (almost Carcassonne style) and gaining more territory. As new tiles get added to their board they activate themselves and any tile around them, so placement is key.
The tiles up for grabs are held on the central board in the middle. They form a rectangular track on the outside of the board which also holds the players’ meeples in turn order. The player in last position will move to one of the available tiles claiming it and adding it to their growing empire. Another tile gets added to the track and play continues. Just like in games like Tokaido, it’s possible to have many turns in a row if only make small jumps on the tile track. That can give you some power when deciding what to add to your land, but it comes at a cost. Players compare how many tiles make up their personal land at the end of the game. For every tile a player has above the person with the fewest tiles, they will lose three points. It’s OK to take a lot of land, but you have to make sure that it will generate enough points to offset that tax.
Adding land tiles to your empire comes with some rules. You can only have one road and one river in the game, so if the tile being added has one of those features you must add it to the road or river that are started in the original village. There also must be a clan member connected to the new tile either diagonally or orthogonally. Once the new tile is added then it, and every surrounding tile are activated. Resource tiles like quarries, pastures and forests will produce the associated good. Brown tiles like the butcher or annual fair will allow you to turn some of those resources into points. The distillery gives you the chance to turn wheat into whiskey (and really, why wouldn’t you?). Then there are the villages and castles. They will give you one point of movement to use on your clan members on the board. They can be moved orthogonally on the board to a better position for future tile placement or taken off the board to become chieftains (one of the scoring categories at the end of each round). How to spend movement is important, because there are times when you really want to grab a tile off the track, but have no legal place to put it on your board due to your clan member positions. Having chieftains can score you points, but they can never come back into play as clan members. Taking off too many can leave you with limited options when adding tiles.
Some tiles come with additional benefits on top of their activation bonus when you acquire them. Villages and castles come with new clan members, lochs and castles comes with special cards that will give you some benefit as well as be used for scoring between rounds and your new distillery will come with a whiskey barrel already inside it.
The central board also holds the marketplace for the five resources in the game; wood, stone, sheep, cattle and wheat. The market allows you to buy or sell goods for the going rate. Each resource can be bought up to three times, paying one, two or three coins before the market sells out of that particular resource. When buying players cover the current cost in the market with their coin(s), raising up the cost for the next person. When selling to the market players will take the highest stack of coins, effectively dropping the value for the next person to sell. You can’t sell goods if there’s no demand (i.e. no coins on that resource in the market) and you can’t buy the resource if the market is sold out (i.e. all three coin slots are filled). At the end of the game each coin you have is worth one point, so it’s a wise decision to sell as much as you can to both get some of that sweet, sweet money and to flood the market with goods, driving down the price for everyone else.
Each of the three rounds are divided into stacks of tiles. As they get taken from the board, new ones are added from the stacks. Once the last tile of any stack is added the game is paused for scoring. You get points for having more than the person with the least whiskey barrels, special cards and chieftains. The final scoring takes into account coins and the overall size of the players’ empires.
In this review I’ve mentioned both Tokaido and Carcassonne and if you’re a fan of those games then I think Glen More will really appeal to you. The desire to get as many turns as possible by making short jumps on the board is tempered by the end game scoring. It’s quite fun to build the land for your clan to live on and the activation and placement rules make each decision important. Glen More games can fly by pretty quickly and the timing can take a few goes to get used to. Just as people are revving up their engines, you’re entering end game. Knowing that helps a lot with building a strategy. Although I don’t get to play it a lot, Glen More is a real favourite of mine and I’ll get it to the table every chance I get. Any game concerning itself with the production of whiskey is OK by me.