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Glass Road is a medium weight euro game designed by Uwe Rosenberg, known as the man who created Agricola and Le Harve. The game is much simpler than those classics, but it will give you a lot of game packed into 4 rounds of play that will take about 20/min per player. At its heart it is a resource management game with tile placement and simultaneous action selection elements.
Glass Road is produced by Z-Man games, and the game features high quality components that are the norm for Z-man. Each player gets a 5 x 4 board which starts with forest, pit, grove, and pond tiles on the board. All of the cardboard, from the landscape tiles to the buildings, are just beautiful and they are thick enough to really be of a good quality.
Aside from the landscape board are the production boards, boards that have two wheels and players manipulate them in order to get the resources they need to produce goods to buy buildings and, in turn, get points. These boards look great, but I do find it fairly easy to have the good tokens move off the place they are supposed to be. This isn’t a huge problem, players just need to be careful not to hit the board in such a way that the goods move.
Lastly there are wooden tokens that indicate the 8 different goods, all which need stickers applied to them before the first play, which is annoying. I get upset when I don’t place these markers correctly. Each player also has 15 specialist cards, which have very neat backsides and the art on the front side is great. More importantly, the cards are very easy to read and understand, making it easy to teach new players. Overall, the components of the game are great, as expected from this publisher.
The game can be played with 1-4 players, but I am going to talk about how to play for 3 or 4 players. I play the game often with 2 players and I highly recommend it; it is mostly the same, but it takes out the simultaneous action selection. I don’t play games solo and thus have no opinion on that.
Glass Road is played in 4 rounds. Each round consist of 3 turns. At the start of each round, all players secretly select which 5 of the 15 specialist cards they possibly want to use that round. After this, the round begins. All players simultaneously select which of their 5 cards to play first. Then, starting with the first player, he flips up his card. If one of the other players has the same card in his hand, he must place it down on table and follow him.
Each card has two actions on it. If no one followed the card player, then the player who played the card gets to take both actions on it. If someone did follow, then all the players who played the card(both the leaders and followers) get to take only one of the two actions on the card, starting with the one who led with it. Everyone in order flips their card and follows if able, and this is repeated twice more each round. Thus each round every player is guaranteed to lead with 3 cards and can possibly get more actions by following with 2 more.
So what do these cards do? For the most part, two things: gather goods and add tiles to the players’ landscape boards. There are 6 lower goods, on two wheels. The first wheel is the glass wheel and has glass, sand, food, charcoal, water, and wood on it. The second wheel is the brick wheel and has brick, charcoal, clay, and food on it. Glass and Brick are the most valuable goods, and are automatically created whenever all of the other goods are greater than zero (look at the wheels to get a better grip on it). Many of the cards acquire the lower goods. For example, the woodcutter, at the cost of removing one forest tile, has 2 identical actions on it, earning 2 wood. So, if no one follows someone when woodcutter is played, that player gets 4 wood, otherwise receiving two.
Other cards allow building tiles to be built, buildings earn players victory points in order to win the game. There are 3 types of buildings. The first is a processing building, each player utilizing it makes some kind of conversion that is beneficial to them for the remainder of the game. For example, the sandstone factory allows a player to convert 3 sand into 1 brick. The second type of building is an immediate building. As the name states, the play just gets an immediate effect, and the building itself has no use apart from that it may be worth some victory points. All processing and immediate buildings are worth up to 4 VPs. The last type of building is a bonus building, which does nothing except give end-game victory points.
So, through points of buildings, plus a small amount of points for glass and brick remaining, the points are added up and the player with the most wins!
This game is so quick that you are not able to make some very long-chained engine in order to win. Look for a combination that works in the buildings worth a lot of points. In terms of selecting cards, the optimal way to play is to select 3 cards no one else will play and 2 cards that others will play. That will net a player 8 actions on 5 cards. The most popular cards, in my experience, are Supplier and Feudal Lord. The Supplier is just a very versatile card, it provides a resource and its one of the easiest ways to build a building. The Feudal Lord is great in that it offers 3 buildings that only you can build. The building in the general area can be built by anyone, so being able to plan around your private stash is nice.
The fun in this game is the balance between maximizing actions and going for combinations among the buildings. The scores are low, with the winning score usually in the mid-20s. With how quickly the game goes, I really analyze each and every point. This makes me play slower than most games.
I love Glass Road. It is exactly what I am looking for a medium weight, 1 hour game. The way the production wheels move is great. Some hate the action selection portion, not I, as I am a huge fan. I feel great when I get a double action, and sad when I expected to get a double action and someone follows me. There are 92 buildings, and only a fraction of those come out each game, so re-playability on this one is great. I like that you really have to change your strategy based upon the buildings that come out.
I would suggest this game for anyone to play after a longer game with serious gamers. Also, it’s a great “next step” from the gateway games. Glass Road is a great value for your gaming dollar.
DNA results:Scottish, Dutch, English, Irish, German, French, Iberian Peninsula = 100% American!
Nice. Haven't played this, but from your review of the game, it does sound like a 'love to have' on my want list.