Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Wednesday 22 January 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Glen More II: Chronicles

Game: Glen More II: Chronicles

Publisher: Funtails

Designer:  Matthias Cramer

Year: 2019

Glen More II: Chronicles is in the tradition of a number of big Kickstarter games that hit stores in 2019. It's a reprint of a game from around 10 years ago that has been out of print for a long time. Since we joined the board game hobby 5 or 6 years ago, it's great to see some titles coming back which we heard a lot about but never got a chance to play.

With that said, in preparation for trying out Glen More II: Chronicles at Essen 2019, we got hold of a German edition of the original, that not only made us excited to try the new edition, but also gave us something to compare to. Glen More II: Chronicles is a tile-laying game for 2-4 in which each player is the leader of a Scottish Clan. But, this game is not just a super-sized reprint - there's changes to the base game, as well as a whole world of expansion content to explore and we've been playing with it all!


There is a lot of crossover between the basic mechanisms of Glen More II: Chronicles and its predecessor, Glen More. The core of the game is an economic, tile-laying game, with a rondel for taking new tiles. It's always the turn of the player at the back of the rondel, and you can move as far around the board as you like in order to select a new tile. In most cases, this new tile is added to your landscape, respecting two placement rules; you must always place diagonally or orthogonally adjacent to one of you Scotsmen; and you must respect the river that runs through the centre of your landscape.

When you place a tile, you will trigger its ability, as well as the ability of all of the surrounding tiles that are already part of your landscape. Some tiles generate resources, others convert resources into points, and some add Scotsmen onto your board, as well as allowing you to move men around - thus allowing you to open up expansion at different edges of your play area.

The key new is the nobles. Every time you take a Person, you have an opportunity to explore a new area on the common map, called the Clan Board Everyone is using the map at the same time, and the expansion of the explored land can be taken advantage of by all players. In addition to this one off benefit, the People tiles become another type of end of round scoring, in which you compare Whisky, Landmark Cards, number of Person Tiles and number of Scotsmen in your Home Castle, in order to score victory points in comparison to your rivals. There are 4 rounds in a full game, and the game will end at some point during round four, in which you reveal and pass the 'World's End' tile.

That's the base game, which is a slight upgrade on the original in terms of art and component quality, as well as adding the new and interesting People tiles. However the chronicles give you a huge amount of extra content to explore.

The Chronicles

The eight chronicles in the base game each have their own expansion content which adds to the game. They can be added one at a time or all at once, or in mix and match combinations. Each comes in its own little cardboard box, that fits inside the overall box for the game, giving you the exciting feeling of opening up a new expansion each game.

  • Chronicle 1 - The Dragon Boat Races introduces a boat race to the game which takes place along the river of all player boards, as well as on some additional boards to connect the river around the table. It's great how this links all of your landscapes together. When you trigger Scotsman movement tiles, you can instead move your boat meeple along the river, periodically hitting bonuses, but ultimately racing to be the first to win the race. With two players, it's plus ten points for coming first, but a huge penalty for coming second which felt like a huge penalty, but didn't actually manifest in a big difference in end game scoring, implying that its quite a balanced strategy.
  • Chronicle 2 - Highlander- There Can be Only One is one of the slightly disappointing gifts under the Christmas tree. Its oversized box contains a single, green wooden hill. The hill is placed over two squares on the rondel and if you want to pass you donate one coin. However, if, instead you stop on the hill, you are king of the castle and get all of the deposited coins. It really seemed to add particularly little to a two player game, where the second player had no penalty for stopping and collecting all of the coins. I don't know that we'd ever reach in the box again to play with this chronicle.
  • Chronicle 3 - Ol' Jamey's Single Cask Reserve amps up the whisky strategy - something I'm particularly fond of. In order to make the most of your whisky, you can age it by triggering a specific new tile type - the distilleries. Ageing whisky gives it a victory point value, but only if you can sell it at one of the Cask Tiles that appear in later rounds. It's a tough choice whether to hold onto whisky to keep it for end of round scoring, or to make space in your cellar for an influx of new barrels. We loved the new strategies and chances to make big points with this chronicle.
  • Chronicle 4 - Hammer of the Scots is the only chronicle that only plays 3-4 players, and, as such, it' one we didn't get a chance to try. This Chronicles adds an Englishman, who is controlled by one player at any time. The Englishman takes a turn like all other pawns on the rondel, but you must pay coins in order to take a tile using the Englishman.
  • Chronicle 5 - Address to a Haggis is the only time in which you'll use the dice as anything other than a pesky third/fourth player who takes all of the good tiles in the rondel. New tiles are introduced which give you haggis tokens, and/or the ability to turn sheep in to haggis (sorry sheep!). Haggis tokens are collected on your haggis table and are numbered 1-3. At the end of rounds B, C and D, the dice is rolled 3 times and you can reveal a haggis that matches the number rolled. Huge victory points are available if you reveal the maximum three haggis tokens. You add the numerical values together and multiply by the number of tokens, meaning that 3 tokens fo value three are worth 27 points! he haggis felt like a bit of distraction, but were something you absolutely had to participate in if somebody else was - the points were just so high, that taking a different strategy didn't seem viable.
  • Chronicle 6 - The Dubious Tome of Scottish History switches out the landmark cards, into an alternative card that features the same landmark, but also an important event on the reverse. The landmarks have the same immediate bonuses, but to trigger the event, you need to trigger one of the new event tiles. These events add some really interesting ways to score, as well as boosting the end of round victory points for landmarks - they're definitely worth your attention.
  • Chronicle 7 - Between a Rock and a Hard Place introduces end game scoring bonuses to work towards, such as owning the most lifestock or the largest group of connected pastures. However, none of the bonuses is automatically in the game - players must vote for them using 'Aye' and 'Nay' tokens. We found that in a two player game, all of the bonuses ended up being voted for with an Aye, but higher players counts would add more swing to the voting - we had a lot of draws. These were a great addition that we'd like to add to every game because they give you extra focus. The only drawback was that voting was often quite early, whenever a Person tile was taken, so the opportunity to select something that you're good at and other people are not is limited.
  • Chronicle 8 - The Penny Mobs adds some 'colourful' characters to your game. These mobsters are worth negative victory points, but give you some sort of benefit. Players also start the game with a batch of '-1' victory point pennies, and these are flipped and added to the different mobsters each turn. At any stage you can choose to take a mobster - perhaps one worth negative 7 points, but with 4 positive point tokens on it and a cool ability that you think will easily make up for the extra 3 points lost. The choice of mobsters is limited in a 2-player game, and even then some of them don't seem to have enough value, but if you pick the right ones or you're playing with more players, they add an interesting push your luck element and can help to build new strategies.

Amy’s Final Thoughts

Glen More II: Chronicles is so much more than just a remake of the original game. Adding in the 8 mini expansions does wonders for the lifespan of this game. Not only do you feel the need to try them all. But also to try out different mixes of Chronicles until you find the combination that is just right for you. Some of them are incredibly minor such as the Highlander. Others change the gameplay in a huge way, such as The Dragon Boat Races or Address to a Haggis. While this can let you customise the game to a great extent I'd caution throwing too many of the chronicles into one game. Not only will they extend the game time, but they also will dilute each other. If you threw everything into the pot you'd struggle to get the proper enjoyment out of the resulting board game Gumbo!

But even without the chronicles Glen More II is a fantastic re-imagining of the old game. The component quality is an obvious improvement, but also the in-built 'expansion' in the form of the clan board, which is fantastic. This board lets you customise the way you play in a huge way, you typically only get to use it when you take a famous person, which means you are missing out on a tile to add to your map and all the activation that entails. But in return you get the chance to access resources you otherwise couldn't, fill gaps in your engine or simply find new scoring mechanics or powers that simply don't exist in the original game.

It's fair to say that Glen More II is not heavily geared towards the two player experience. While almost all of the chronicles are playable with two players some of them felt like an unfortunate compromise. for example 'Between a Rock and a Hard Place' introduces end game scoring that must be voted on. But in a two player game these votes are almost sure to succeed as they pass on ties. On top of this the core scoring mechanic of Glen More involves comparing your achievements in 4 areas to those of the worst achiever in the relevant area. This works fantastically in a larger player count game as improving in an area you are running behind in reduces everyone's points. Conversely there's always some reward to doing something so long as you aren't the worst at it. In a two player game not only did the wins become less significant, but it's harder to focus on one area to the same extent. These issues do little to truly diminish the game, but they have to be noted. Along with the box size, which can be only slightly unfairly compared to Gloomhaven!

Overall, Glen More II: Chronicles is a great re-imagining of a classic game. The gameplay still stands strong in this era of gaming, with only minor tweaks to the original being introduced. The Chronicles themselves are more hit and mix, with some requiring you to keep flipping through the book to check rules and others being so simple as to barely be worth using. If you can find the right combination then you can have a great game, but unfortunately Funtails have left that to the community to figure out by themselves, not giving a single hint as to what chronicles go well together. If you haven't played Glen More before then it's certainly worth giving Glen More II a try. But check you have enough shelf space before considering a purchase!

Fi’s Final Thoughts

After my first game of the original Glen More, I was impressed by this very thinking tile laying game. My first game of Glen More II, with just the base game content was definitely an elevated experience. The additional quality in the pieces, as well as the introduction of the fourth end of round scoring objective with the people, just stepped things up a notch. The people have since become a favourite strategy for me, because I love getting those extra bonuses, that can either give you a big boost, or make up for something you lack on your player board, without you needing to waste space adding tiles for it.

I was hoping to find a guide to the best combinations of chronicles, but since it wasn't in the rulebook, we instead played two Chronicles at a time, trying to add one big and one small Chronicle. Purely by accident, we seemed to add one new scoring strategy each game, and one more universal element, which was a really good way to mix them together. Each new scoring element feels super powerful, and whilst some can be ignored, others cannot. If you had two big new elements in a game, I really wouldn't know where to focus. There's some Chronicles I would add to every game, and then probably pick either the river, the whisky, or the haggis as my extra scoring element to create the perfect game for me. Exploring everything in the box was a real treat and is a great way to keep players coming back to the game - even without story or legacy aspects.

So, given that we own the original game and the new version, how do we want to play Glen More now? I definitely want to play Glen More II: Chronicles. I found four or five of the Chronicles that I really want to play again and that I want to try and mix and match in different ways. It's also hard to ignore the much higher component quality, which simply gives a better overall game experience. The problem is that the game in the box just isn't so incredible that it can justify the amount of shelf space it will take. So now, I don't want to play Glen More, because it's inferior, but I am also not sure I have a space for Glen More II. So, if you own Glen More II, I really, really want to play it with you, I just might not be able to squeeze it into my collection right now. What I really want is all of the chronicles I like, in a Carcassonne sized box - that would stay in my collection forever.

You Might Like...
  • The Chronicles each highlight either an existing strategy or a new strategy in a way that really boosts the point scoring opportunities in the game.
  • Even the base game alone has been elevated with the Person tiles and the map board which give very helpful, powerful bonuses.
  • The production quality here is extremely high, even without any Kickstarter extras.
You Might Not Like...
  • For those with limited shelf space, the box is approx. 4 times the volume as the original game and it's not 4 times the game.
  • Mixing together the right chronicles can make the difference between an OK game and a great game. We wish there was a guide to help mix and match the best combinations.

The Verdict
8/10 Glen More II: Chronicles is a fantastic example of a heavier tile laying game. The resource management aspects layered onto the simple act of creating a landscape of tiles really works well together. The excitement of having 8 different expansions in the box is fantastic for adding replayability, but an eagerness to play many times over. Mixing and matching the expansions is a lot of fun and there's a huge number of different configurations that can cause new, interesting and high scoring games. If you have enough shelf space to support the reprinted version, then its a fantastic game to have on your shelves.

Glen More II: Chronicles was a review copy kindly provided to us by Funtails. Whilst the first print run of 15,000 copies was sold out, there are more on their way to your friendly local game store by February 2020 and available to purchase online here.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there, great review. There are pros and cons for this "sequel". My major negative is the removal of the road tiles from the original game. I had never played glen more until backing Glen more II. So far, I've played the original about a dozen times, vs maybe 6 of this one. The roads made the game very tight! it was another placement restriction that added into the tableau challenge. I really don't understand why they removed it. I do love the new incorporation of clans. So far we've tried 3 chronicles, with only enjoying the boats. My other major complain is the box size. It makes sense why they made the game so big (with so many deluxe components), but I really miss that the box size is not closer to that of the original. I may just go back and trade for this one after playing all the chronicles if these dont' end up overall as good.