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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Saturday 26 September 2020

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Glasgow

Game: Glasgow

Publisher: Lookout Games

Designer: Mandela Fernandez-Grandon

Year: 2020


Amy and I spend 95% of our gaming time playing with only two players. It's one of the fantastic benefits of being a board gaming couple! We are happy to play any game that says on the box that it plays two-players, even if other people might consider it better with more people at the table. We're even happy to accommodate the odd 'robot' player to help with the two-player experience. However, I accept that we're unusual in this regard and that many gamers who play exclusively or primarily at a player count of two are keen to seek out two-player only experiences. For those players, some of the best places to turn are the 2-player lines from Kosmos, Z-Man and Lookout Games.



Glasgow is the latest two-player only title from Lookout Games, whose most popular two player game is perhaps Patchwork. Set in 18th century Scotland, a diverse cast of characters will help you, a merchant, to make the biggest contribution to developing the new city of Glasgow for the 'modern' era. Through trading goods and acquiring real estate you, two players will be a 5x4 area of one of the first grid-plan cities in Europe, but one player will contribute more highly and become more notable for the history books.

Glasgow is a game based around a rondel. Your first task is to distribute the action tiles and architect tiles into a circle able to hold the 4x5 grid of Glasgow's city streets that you'll construct during the game - a task that involves either measuring or great judgement! Each player has one worker and each turn you will move it as far around the rondel as you like and take the action you have chosen to land on. Much like games like Patchwork or Tokaido, your opponent, who is now behind on the track can take as many moves as they like until they overtake your meeple, leaving you with a choice of guaranteeing yourself that action tile in the distance that you really need, or taking a risk and preventing your opponent from getting to take a ton of actions in your wake.

Most actions allow you to obtain resources - brick, steel, gold or whisky, but a few are special, allowing you to trade goods, get a free build action or double-up on a future action. Every four action tiles you'll encounter an architect. Each architect holds two building tiles and you can buy them and place them in the central city for their resource cost. You can buy and place more tiles by paying additional gold to do so. Tiles are either buildings, which score points in different ways, or factories which generate resources when tiles are built in the same row or column of the city on future turns. Balancing how much of each you choose to build is very important to your strategy. When Glasgow is fully built with twenty tiles, the game will end and points total from buildings you have built throughout the game will determine the winner.

It's surprising to me how this type of rondel mechanism seems to work so well in two player only experiences like Patchwork and Glasgow and yet in other games . With just two players you've got to really, really want something if that decision means that your opponent will get a change to visit every tile you leave behind, untouched. And yet, that still happens quite often in Glasgow. Perhaps your factory game is so good that your warehouse is full and some tiles are of no value, or perhaps your lovely wife is doing everything in her power to stop your from scoring 20 points for those two train stations and you simply have to go all in for a park tile!

It's a rare game that makes me really interested to try out new strategies, so I'm not too despondent about the fact that I played the train station strategy in ever single game. However, it just seems so strong that there was noting else I was keen to do. On a superficial level, you need 5 tiles to score 10 points from a train station, but you only need 6 tiles to score twenty, or 7 tiles to score a whopping 30 points if your opponent is sleeping on the job. Sure, tenements can mount up the points too, but that's all they do. The monument I'm using to score my train station also scores 5 points simply for being a lovely looking monument. I only ever lose with this strategy when Amy focusses on blocking me and then we both have a miserable game.

If it weren't for the dominant strategy, I think I'd really enjoy Glasgow. The factories, in particular, are the aspect of gameplay that really stands out for me. Triggering your factories is really satisfying and causes you to think carefully a out which building types you want. Buildings like monuments don't have a spatial element to their scoring, so work quite well with factories, while shops only score for being in the corners so don't have the flexibility to work so well with factories. Glasgow adds something new to the shelves for gamers curating a strictly two player collection, but for me, allowing myself the whole world of multi-player games to play with - Glasgow just doesn't stand out and I find myself playing the same game, every game. For the Yellow Meeple, it's a 5.5/10.

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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