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 23 September 2020

A Matter of Factories:- Glasgow

Game: Glasgow

Publisher: Lookout Games

Designer: Mandela Fernandez-Grandon

Year: 2020

Glasgow is a two-player only, city building game in which players will move their workers around a ring of action tiles in order to gather the resources needed to build buildings in the city. You can navigate the action ring as fast as you like, but the faster you go the more actions you give away to your opponent. Once built, each building belongs to one of the two players and will reward that player with more goods or end game points should their scoring requirements be met.

Gameplay in Glasgow will be immediately familiar to anyone who has played games like Tokaido. Each player has a worker which moves around a ring of action tiles. On your turn you can move your worker as far as you'd like along the ring to perform the action you land on. However it is always the turn of the player furthest behind on the ring, so skipping a long way ahead often gives your opponent several goes in a row as they catch up to you. Most of the action spaces are simple, rewarding one or two of the four basic resources, with a few more advanced ones dotted around such as a market to trade resources between types and being able to activate a row of factories (more on those later). 

All the action takes place in and around a large circle of action spaces, with the city slowly forming in-between.

Once you have resources you'll want to stop off at one of the building sites. These always have two available buildings to build, should you be willing to pay the price. Normally you can only build one, but if you pay an extra gold, you can get an extra build, or if you are particularly wealthy an extra couple of coins can get you your third build action. Any buildings that are built get placed into a growing city grid in the centre of the table which can be a maximum of 4 buildings tall and 5 wide. Once a building is placed it will activate all factories on the same row and column. Factories are a special building type which generate resources for you as the game goes on. Every other building type rewards you in victory points, though most have requirements such as being built in certain spots, having certain neighbours, or you having the correct resources at the end of the game. The game will end when the 20th building has been built at which point players add up their score to determine the winner.

Resources are marked on player boards using some great components.

Glasgow takes a few mechanics which work really well in a two player game and utilities them near perfectly. Every action is a meaningful choice as you decide whether to go ahead for that tile you really want, or hope your opponent won't go for it and take smaller steps. This is added onto by the buildings themselves, with a large part of the game being preventing your opponent from getting the buildings they need to complete their strategy. You can approach the game from several ways too - building factories early can get you some guaranteed income, but factories themselves are awful for points. It's easy to fall into the trap of spending too long setting yourself up only to realize you've thrown away half the game and have nothing to show for it but a pile of bricks. There are some buildings which are noticeably better than others, train stations for example score a whopping 10 points each, which is impressive for a building in this game as the points only monuments tend to reward ~5. This would feel fine as the train station requires you to have four other buildings before you can score it, were it not that those four other buildings you need are also very good at generating points. As soon as train stations appear it becomes a battle of who gets it and then a battle of trying to stop that person from scoring it.

Component-wise Glasgow goes slightly overboard, with each resource being represented by chunky shaped wood pieces. Note that's not one piece for every resource track, that's one per resource, if you have 5 brick you literally have 5 wooden bricks in a column on your player board. The rest of the game simply comprises of cardboard action spaces and buildings, which all have a pleasant feel and decent, if forgettable, art on them. The predominance of factories and the brick/iron do enough to give you the feel of an industrial revolution happening, but there's little to represent the titular City unless you count the whisky "wild card" resource.

Overall Glasgow is a game which I greatly enjoyed my time with, however the power of certain building combos leads to a certain play-style being dominant over our games. In no way does this mean that the game is unbalanced, it is perfectly possible to work around these buildings and thwart your opponent at every step of the way, which is absolutely one of the strong points of two player gaming. However, for me the game changed as we played it from a city builder that I hugely enjoyed where we both try to create an efficient engine to score points. And warped into a battle over the one tile that won, or lost, you the game. Still a perfectly good experience, but no-longer the game that I was enjoying when I first sat down at the table.


Glasgow was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk

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