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Subject: Glass Road - Review rss

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Florian Liouville
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Glass Road



Designer: Uwe Rosenberg

Publisher: Feuerland Spiele

Published: 2013

Players: 1-4

Time: 20 min per player


Glass road is an action selection game where you try to establish a network of artisanal buildings on the Bavarian glass road.

Goal

The Winner of the game is the player who can amass the most victory points, which you can find on the buildings that you erect.

Overview

Glass road is an action selection game which is mainly driven by two very elegant mechanisms.

1) The action selection mechanism is card based. You have a deck of 15 cards which represent different kinds of workers, each of which have two actions. For example the Carpenter can clear a forest Tile from your player board to get a wood/ build a building. The water carrier can spend a food to get you two water and a wood/ two water and sand.

In each round you will select five of your fifteen cards to be the workers you want to hire. Then you will select one of those five and set it face down. In player order you will then reveal those cards. If anyone reveals a card that you have in your hand you will also play it at that time to piggyback onto their action. In that case the worker will only perform one of his possible actions for you. However if no one can reveal that card from their hand, that worker will perform both actions for you. Once every player has revealed their card this process is repeated two more times for a total of 3 actions per player per round. The piggybacking is only allowed up to twice per round so that you will always have three cards to actually play.

2) The resource management happens on two wheels; one for glass, the other for bricks which are the two advanced resources. The brick wheel also has food, coal and clay while the glass wheel has sand, food, coal, water, and wood. Whenever you accumulate 1 of each base resource on one wheel, it is automatically converted into an advanced resource.

As you can see on the picture below the player has one of each ressource on the glass wheel except sand (A). He then gains 2 sand at which point there is an empty space to the right of the dial(B). You then immediately turn the dial one space to the right so that eac base ressource now shows one fewer but there is now one glass(C).



3) Your player-board is the third thing you have to manage. It starts with 2 open spaces, 2 ponds, 2 thickets and 2 mines. The rest of the 20 spaces is covered in forest. You will have to use action cards to clear the forests to get space to put buildings on which you will acquire by spending resources and more action cards. There are three kinds of buildings and you will have 4 or 5 of each kind to choose from, depending on the number of players.

There are processing buildings which turn one kind of resource into another kind of resource as often as you want, one-shot buildings that give you something when you build them and point buildings that give you endgame points based on certain conditions. (amounts of resources or adjacency to other tiles.

This will go on for four rounds of play at which point you tally up points.

Review

Component Quality

When I first picked up the box for Glass road it felt like there was a brick inside. This being a Rosenberg I readied myself for a waterfall of wooden bits but sadly there were hardly any to be found. What was to be found were 16(!) punchboards worth of cardboard goodness.

The player-boards and cardboard tiles are a really good thickness and size and feel great in your hand. The cards are regular playing card size and have a nice linen finish. The resource wheels look and feel great and they are very functional. The wooden disks that represent the resources come with little stickers so that everything is nice and clear.

Ultimately, once I got over my initial disappointment of not having any cool wooden bits I had to realize that the quality of the components is just really great.

Artwork and Graphic design

The artwork by Dennis Lohausen is your typical euro faire. It looks nice and cozy without being spectacular. The graphic design is pretty good, the icons and the card layout all help you understand exactly what things do without having to consult the rulebook (which does have a nice summary of everything anyway) My only nitpick is that the cost of the buildings is pretty small on the tiles.

Theme


This is where glass roads loses points. I am not one of those who complains about “cube pushers” and I can usually find quite a lot of theme in many euro games. However Glass Road feels mainly mechanical to me. Maybe that is because Glass manufacturing is just a theme that doesn’t appeal to me. I guess if you think about all of the worker cards and buildings, most of them will make some sense but I never thought about that while playing.

Rules

The rules are very simple and elegant, there are two things that you need to understand and you’re ready to go. The rulebook is very well laid out and concise. I was able to understand and remember how the game works by reading the rulebook once. I don’t know if I was able to give you a good understanding of how the rules play out in my overview but when you teach the game with the material on hand it can be taught well, quickly.

Gameplay

Glass road is quite an exceptional game to me. It comes with a very simple rule-set and short(ish) playing time (I think 20min per players can be undercut significantly once you know the ins and outs) yet astoundingly deep game-play.

Fair warning: when you first play this it will twist your brain in a way that won’t feel comfortable. I haven’t yet found a first time player who thought the game flowed naturally. The card selection can feel very overwhelming even though you’re only picking out of 15 cards you have to consider what actions you will need, which isn’t easy at first, what your opponents might pick so you can get those extra actions and what they might take away from you by piggybacking onto your choices.

The resource management is very unusual because you don’t get to keep an amount of each resource. Instead they are automatically turned into advanced resources which will feel irky at the beginning and I can all but guarantee that you will mess up quite a bit in your first games and end up in situations where you can’t do what you planned because your plan didn’t work out. Glass Road is a game that needs learning time.

However once you get used to Glass Road it is a very deep and engaging euro that offers you a wealth of deep strategic and tactical choices and very little luck in a very short and elegant design. I would go as far as saying that there is no other game that I have played that achieves these levels of depth in that short of a playing time.

One thing you might want to know is that it is possible (read: I’ve done it once) to pull off an “infinite combo” with three buildings, which broke the game wide open and annoyed my opponents quite a bit. However it can be stopped by not allowing a player to get both key buildings so I don’t think I’ll be doing that again.

Final Thoughts

Glass road is a strange mix of very light (rules/time) and very heavy (combinations/decisions) resource management/ action selection euro game that isn’t easy to get into but can be very rewarding if you’re willing to put in the time and learn the ropes.
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David Etherton
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I find it hard to believe a real "infinite combo" slipped past playtesting? Or was it just an extremely powerful combo?

-Dave
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Ben
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etherton wrote:
I find it hard to believe a real "infinite combo" slipped past playtesting? Or was it just an extremely powerful combo?

-Dave


Agreed. OP, care to elaborate?
 
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John Sheppard
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Thanks for the fair warning. I'll keep it in mind when I finally get to try this game.
 
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Stanislaw Juzwicki
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I can't check right now, but I guess that the combo gives you "infinite" (i.e.: 7) of a resource or two. While it can be powerful, I don't think it's anywhere near game-breaking. After all the game is about VPs. While there are some buildings which give you VPs for resources you have at game's end, you probably won't get that much points for those.
 
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Shawn Fox
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chally wrote:
etherton wrote:
I find it hard to believe a real "infinite combo" slipped past playtesting? Or was it just an extremely powerful combo?

-Dave


Agreed. OP, care to elaborate?


The roofing company allows you to turn 1 brick into 2 basic resources of your choice.

The sandstone factory allows you to turn 3 sand into 1 brick.

There are 4 buildings which allow you to turn 1 type of resource into 2 sand (sand producer turns 1 wood into 2 sand, sand screening plant turns 1 clay into 2 sand, sand pit turns 1 water into 2 sand, or sand factory turns 1 food into 2 sand).

So let us say you have the roofing company, sandstone factory, and sand producer, then you can do this:

You turn 1 brick into 2 wood, 2 wood into 4 sand, 3 sand into 1 brick (thus giving you +1 sand). So this gives you an unlimited supply of sand. You can then always turn 3 sand into 2 of any other resource (3 sand to a brick, 1 brick into 2 of any basic resource). So infinite resources. That doesn't mean infinite points since you can't directly translate infinite resources into points, but it will almost certainly result in you winning the game.
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Clyde W
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Nice, doesn't sound game breaking, because you're limited to only a certain number of each resource, but still powerful if you can pull it off.
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Rollo Tomosi
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Oh dear. Maximally ungood....

sfox wrote:
chally wrote:
etherton wrote:
I find it hard to believe a real "infinite combo" slipped past playtesting? Or was it just an extremely powerful combo?

-Dave


Agreed. OP, care to elaborate?


The roofing company allows you to turn 1 brick into 2 basic resources of your choice.

The sandstone factory allows you to turn 3 sand into 1 brick.

There are 4 buildings which allow you to turn 1 type of resource into 2 sand (sand producer turns 1 wood into 2 sand, sand screening plant turns 1 clay into 2 sand, sand pit turns 1 water into 2 sand, or sand factory turns 1 food into 2 sand).

So let us say you have the roofing company, sandstone factory, and sand producer, then you can do this:

You turn 1 brick into 2 wood, 2 wood into 4 sand, 3 sand into 1 brick (thus giving you +1 sand). So this gives you an unlimited supply of sand. You can then always turn 3 sand into 2 of any other resource (3 sand to a brick, 1 brick into 2 of any basic resource). So infinite resources. That doesn't mean infinite points since you can't directly translate infinite resources into points, but it will almost certainly result in you winning the game.
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Matt N

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How well does this game play with two? The selection mechanism sounds like it's meant more for 3-4 with more leeching possibilities.
 
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Florian Liouville
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clydeiii wrote:
Nice, doesn't sound game breaking, because you're limited to only a certain number of each resource, but still powerful if you can pull it off.


It's gamebreaking since you can use it over and over again at any time so you can use building action after building action without having to play any ressource gathering actions. However as I stated in my review, once you know about it you can stop that player by taking one of the combo pieces away. (There's only one of each tile)

The game plays ok with two, the rules change slightly. You still choose 5 cards but you simply play them alternatingly from your hand which slightly increases the chance of leeching an action. It still doesn't happen as often as in 3 or 4 players in my experience.
 
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Jan B.
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From my point of view it is not "maximally ungood" but an early goal in this game to build a nice combo for resource conversion. That sand combo might be the strongest in the game but for me it seems intended to give players the chance becoming as much independent from resource gathering actions as possible.

On remark: it is random of course, if all needed buildings fall in your lap, resp. are even in the game.
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James Derbyshire
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Stunna wrote:
How well does this game play with two? The selection mechanism sounds like it's meant more for 3-4 with more leeching possibilities.


Really well. We've played it a lot 2p, and are keen to try with more.
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Stanislaw Juzwicki
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Well, first of all, you have 93 buildings in the game. During one playthrough you will have access to roughly 30-40, so the chance of this precise combo being even possible in the game is not that big.

If it does happen however, and your opponents let you build all three buildings, then:

a) it's partly their fault - in Glass Road you need to be conscious of what your opponents do
b) you just spent actions to build 3 buildings which most likely will not give you any VPs... so chances are you won't even benefit from this (ok, bricks give 1 VP each from a building pre-printed on your player's board, but 3 VPs is nothing to write home about)
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Frank Heeren
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etherton wrote:
I find it hard to believe a real "infinite combo" slipped past playtesting? Or was it just an extremely powerful combo?

-Dave


Shame on us there is actually one building that slipped our attention:
Roofing Company (Dachdeckerei)
blush

Since the high number of buildings we never had that building in a game together with two other buildings you need for a loop but it can happen (if in addition one player manages to get all those buildings)

But since it can happen we might officially ban this building from the game!
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Rollo Tomosi
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The way your post reads-it sounds like you are a either a play-tester or otherwise closely associated with the game design/implementation?

If so-first let me THANK YOU for admitting that there is an error. So many designers seem to want to defend flaws in their games at any cost-to the point of ridiculousness.....

Second-what would happen if we added a restriction on the Roofing Company that it cannot produce sand?

nan3000 wrote:
etherton wrote:
I find it hard to believe a real "infinite combo" slipped past playtesting? Or was it just an extremely powerful combo?

-Dave


Shame on us there is actually one building that slipped our attention:
Roofing Company (Dachdeckerei)
:blush:

Since the high number of builings we never had that building in a game together with two other buildings you need for a loop but i can happen (if in addtion one player manages to get all those buildings)

But since it can happen we might officially ban this building from the game!
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David Etherton
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Just for clarification, it seems like banning either Roofing Company *or* Sandstone Factory from any given game would avoid the loop?

Those are the only two buildings that use Brick.

So would a potential fix be to simply take those two buildings, shuffle them together, discard one into the box, and then add the other to the building tile mix during setup?

Although I guess any loop which produces charcoal, clay, and food will also produce infinite Bricks too, so I guess Roofing Company has got to go. But it does seem a lot harder to set up the combo without Sandstone Factory.

-Dave
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David Etherton
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Dark_Knight wrote:
The way your post reads-it sounds like you are a either a play-tester or otherwise closely associated with the game design/implementation?


Hint: Click on his Game Publisher badge and see what comes up.

But yeah, preventing it from producing Sand seems like a simpler fix than what I suggested, good idea! I can't see any other combos that can turn sand -- oh wait, no... Inn turns Charcoal into 2 Sand. But now it's a four-building combo.

-Dave
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Frank Heeren
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etherton wrote:
[q="Dark_Knight"]oh wait, no... Inn turns Charcoal into 2 Sand. But now it's a four-building combo.

-Dave

The Roofing Company has to go I'm afraid. Just taking the sand from this building would lower the chances for a loop, but the possibility would still be present.
We discovered this last week and our first thought was to add some additional costs to the brick like cutting down a forest, thus limiting the use of this building. But since a four building combo is also possible (even if unlikely) that solution would not be good enough.
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David Etherton
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Maybe it's worth editing the description of the game here on BGG or something, not everybody is going to read this entire thread. Fortunately there are plenty of other buildings to choose from so it's not a big deal.

-Dave
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Frank Heeren
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etherton wrote:
Maybe it's worth editing the description of the game here on BGG or something, not everybody is going to read this entire thread. Fortunately there are plenty of other buildings to choose from so it's not a big deal.

-Dave

Good idea - and done!
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nan3000 wrote:
etherton wrote:
Maybe it's worth editing the description of the game here on BGG or something, not everybody is going to read this entire thread. Fortunately there are plenty of other buildings to choose from so it's not a big deal.

-Dave

Good idea - and done!

Did you edit here? Or somewhere else?
 
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David Etherton
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Look in the More Info part below (which I think is a better place for it myself)

-Dave
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Ah, great; thank you. I have that section collapsed by default and didn't think to look there.

blush
 
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nan3000 wrote:
etherton wrote:
[q="Dark_Knight"]oh wait, no... Inn turns Charcoal into 2 Sand. But now it's a four-building combo.

-Dave

The Roofing Company has to go I'm afraid. Just taking the sand from this building would lower the chances for a loop, but the possibility would still be present.
We discovered this last week and our first thought was to add some additional costs to the brick like cutting down a forest, thus limiting the use of this building. But since a four building combo is also possible (even if unlikely) that solution would not be good enough.


Frank, it's probably too early to say, but do you have any plans to officially modify the Roofing CO's function and issue an updated tile? It's certainly not necessary - the game comes with more than enough unique tiles already, but I was just curious what your guy's plans are.

I'm going to be filming a video runthrough of the game tomorrow, and I'll mention that the Roofing Co should be removed, and would love to be able to include any "official" thoughts
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Frank F.
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Quote:
Shame on us there is actually one building that slipped our attention:


The "damage" is done, so I don't want to blame or argue, but I'm curious: How did you approach play-testing concerning interaction between buildings?

You would have (possibly) been able to avoid such a problem if you included a few avid magic players: The basic preparation for deck building and/or new editions is to look for synergy - and the 1 -> X card is a typical part of infinity loops.
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