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Subject: Europhile reviews: More than the sum of its parts. rss

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Adam Porter
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Europhile reviews: More than the sum of its parts.

Glen More is the very definition of a Euro-game. Wooden cubes, resource gathering, tile-laying, engine-building, worker placement, a rondel mechanic, victory points, Meeples, it's all in there. And it works very well too.


With thanks to BGG user a_traveler for use of image.

Very Brief Summary of the Rules

Players move as far as they wish around a rondel selecting tiles to add to their development area. Sometimes these are free; sometimes they cost resources. They always bring benefits. The tiles are placed in your area of the table with some limitations as to placement. They must always be placed next to a clansman (a black "meeple"). You start with one of these clansmen but you can gather more and they can move around your tiles during the game. When a tile is placed, it activates all the tiles adjacent to it, so forests produce wood, quarries produce stone etc. Later in the game, more complex tiles start to emerge. For example, when activated, the distillery converts wheat into whisky barrels; butchers convert animals into victory points etc. Further to resource gathering, there is a tight little economy going on: players can buy and sell resources and the price of the resources fluctuates depending on demand. Turn order is controlled by your placement on the rondel - the player furthest from the end of the trail of tiles goes first. This might mean they get multiple turns before another player due to not moving far round the rondel to collect a tile. The end-game penalty for this is harsh. A player with many more tiles than the others will be punished heavily losing many victory points in the final scoring. Other methods of scoring are gathering whisky barrels, coins, clansmen (who can be inactivated by converting to chieftains to score points), special locations (Lochs and Castles which give you neat abilities), and bonnets (small illustrations on some of the location cards. The game ends when all the tiles have been placed on the rondel.


With thanks to BGG user Markus Unger for use of image.

Components

The tiles are small and most of their surface is covered with pretty nice illustrations. This means that the information on them is tiny by necessity. However, they are sturdy enough and any larger would cause problems with space on the table. The central board is uninspiring and disappointingly thin.


With thanks to BGG user Jason C for use of image.

Wooden cubes are supplied for resources, but I prefer to use wooden tokens from Mayday. Their Agricola set has everything you need, except for whisky barrels. Fortunately, these are the one token in the Glen More set which is not cube shaped, so they don't feel out of place.



The cardboard coins and victory point tokens are standard Euro-fare. There is nothing to excite me with regards to components in this game.

How well does the theme hold up?

Not very well really. It is aided by purchasing additional wooden shaped resources to use in place of the cubes provided, so that you can see your forests producing wood instead of simply green cubes, (Oddly, in this game wood is green, presumably because cows are brown...), or quarries producing stone instead of grey cubes. The buying and selling of goods, with its built-in supply-and-demand is quite thematic. There is logic in the actions on the tiles - butchers converting animals to victory points, fairs converting multiple resources to victory points, distilleries converting wheat to whisky. But overwhelmingly, you feel like you are playing a multi-player puzzle with interaction only in accidentally taking resources that your opponents wanted, or driving up the price of resources.

Complexity

It is quite hard to explain how to play this game, and people tend to be a bit confused for the first half of the game. By game-two, however, all should be clear. The engine-building aspect of the game is complex. There are multiple paths to take, and you need to keep an eye on what your opponents are doing, because your score for each criteria is based on a comparison to your opponents. Your score is based on the difference in number of whisky barrels between you and the person with the fewest whisky barrels, for example. The game rewards specialisation to a degree. It is not Puerto Rico complexity, but it is certainly in the Power Grid level of complexity.

The Luck Factor

The tiles on the rondel are randomised to a degree. They are split into three phases, so all the number-1 tiles come out before the number-2 tiles and number-3 tiles. Within each phase the tiles drawn are random. However there are multiple of each tile-type, so whichever tile-type you want is likely to be on the rondel provided your opponents don't grab it first. Grabbing a location tile (castles, lochs etc.) is more luck-dependant because these are unique and someone else could get there before you have a chance purely based on tile placement on the rondel. Generally, this is a game of strategy, with little luck.


With thanks to BGG user binraix for use of image.

Playing Time (in my experience).

45 minutes to one hour. Time increases with increasing player counts, unfamiliar players, and analysis-paralysis (AP) prone individuals.

Number of players

Officially 2-5. I have played it solitaire using variants on the forums and it works well at this number too. With 2-3 players, there is a dummy player controlled by a dice roll. This works fine, and limits options appropriately for the real players as tiles are removed from the rondel each turn.

Will my non-gamer partner enjoy it?

There is too much going on here for my own girlfriend's tastes, but that shouldn't put others off. My girlfriend loves Agricola because she can see the farm grow before her. You don't quite get that level of immersion in Glen More. This is leaning more towards a gamers' game than a casual-players' game.

What other games is it like?

It has features in common with many Euro-games. The engine-building feels similar to Agricola, Walnut Grove, Village etc. Although tiles are laid on your turn, the pattern of placement doesn't score you points in itself, as in Carcassonne/Walnut Grove, so the tile-laying aspect feels fairly unusual. It is driven by adjacency of useful tiles and the decision to place is based on which tiles you wish to activate.

The supply and demand economy of Glen More feels to me like a very simplified/streamlined version of Power Grid's market. It also recalls the market in Uwe Rosenberg's At The Gates of Loyang. Rosenburg's game feels similar in some other ways too - firstly in the placement of fields to produce a yield of a particular crop (resembling Glen More's placement of tiles) and then the supplying of customers (in Glen More, this takes place at the fairs) in return for victory points. These mechanics work very differently in the two games but, for me, the feel is similar.

The rondel is a familiar feature from many games including (again) Walnut Grove. Despite the discussed similarities to Walnut Grove, which are quite superficial, Glen More is a much deeper game. Glen More is more than the sum of its parts. The overall effect feels unique.


With thanks to BGG user binraix for use of image.

Positives:

- Ingenious merging of traditional Euro mechanics
- Multiple paths to victory
- End-game penalties prevent a runaway leader
- Looks nice with wooden resource tokens added
- Deep strategy involved - great for gamers
- Relatively short playing-time

Negatives:

- Hard to explain
- First game will be confusing
- Components are only adequate
- Not truly thematic or immersive
- Hard-going for casual-players

Is it a keeper?

Yes, it's a great Euro-game, if a little dry. Personally I only suggest playing it when with gamers, and in that situation it makes an ideal long filler, or a short main-event.

Edited for clarity and grammar.

See my other reviews at http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/146115/europhile-reviews-a...
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Nice review, concise and precise, I like it!
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Mo
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unet wrote:
Nice review, concise and precise, I like it!

+1 to that.

Yet another well written and informative review from Adam.

I picked this up recently and look forward to getting it to the table soon.
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Chris Wood
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He's right about the rules. It is a great game, but I ultimately traded it because it is mostly inaccessible to new or non-gamers. If using the dice as a dummy player, it really gets confusing for the other person when you start removing tiles from the main board in an almost haphazard way. This really adds to the confusion.
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Adam Porter
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mo7189 wrote:
unet wrote:
Nice review, concise and precise, I like it!

+1 to that.

Yet another well written and informative review from Adam.

I picked this up recently and look forward to getting it to the table soon.


Thanks!

The solitaire version discussed in the following thread works well if you're struggling to get it to the table with other players.
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/643104/anyone-worked-up-a-so...
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Meeple Me
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Nice and concise review, with an accurate portrayal of the game.

The negatives listed perfectly describe what I disliked about this game.
For me personally, the negatives overshadowed the positives and I traded it away. It's funny because I always looked for a game I could beat my husband at, and I had a good winning streak with this one, but the theme fell flat and the game play felt very samey to me after several plays. There is also a strong new player disadvantage as new players have no way of knowing the type of tiles (and bonuses) that will come out later, and what resources/tiles will be useful.

This game taught me two things:
1. I may not like a game even if it has a large fan base and solid reviews.
2. It showed me what features I value in a game (ie. teachable, approachable for casual gamers, theme that ties more closely to mechanics, higher production quality).

It's a solid game, it's just not for me.
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David Jones
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Adam78 wrote:
Negatives:
- Components are only adequate


This is the only point of your review that I would counter. Yes, technically this is correct, the bits are a bit bland. However, this is the standard for any game in the Alea big/medium box series. They are meant to be inexpensive games. If you look at games of similar complexity with good components, they MSRP at $50-$70. At only $35, this game is a great deal. If you want better bits, you can take the $15+ you saved down to your local craft store. I'm not saying you have an invalid point, I just think it needs to be evaluated in context.
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Adam Porter
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davypi wrote:
Adam78 wrote:
Negatives:
- Components are only adequate


This is the only point of your review that I would counter. Yes, technically this is correct, the bits are a bit bland. However, this is the standard for any game in the Alea big/medium box series. They are meant to be inexpensive games. If you look at games of similar complexity with good components, they MSRP at $50-$70. At only $35, this game is a great deal. If you want better bits, you can take the $15+ you saved down to your local craft store. I'm not saying you have an invalid point, I just think it needs to be evaluated in context.


Fair point. I would rather pay more for a game and have a nice weighty board and some neat components - particularly for a game of this complexity level. But it is good that inexpensive games exist for those who don't want to (or can't) invest as much in board-games as I tend to (and probably shouldn't). Incidentally, my copy of Glen More wasn't all that cheap. I believe board games are generally quite expensive in the UK when compared to other parts of the world. It may have cost me £5 less than an average big-boxed game. This is still considerably cheaper than Agricola and its kin, of course.
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Jeff Binning
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The folks I game with on a regular basis really like this one. I've also had very good luck teaching this one to casual gamers, who have so far all liked it as well.
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Mo
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Adam78 wrote:
The solitaire version discussed in the following thread works well if you're struggling to get it to the table with other players.
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/643104/anyone-worked-up-a-so...

Thanks. I did check it out and added my own tweaks to them. Feel free to try them out. I tried to increase the difficulty of the solo rules and give them more of a feel of a 2P game. Hopefully, I succeeded.
 
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Steve Evans
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Great review, again, and I agree with most of the points, even where I disagree I can still respect where you're coming from.
I don't see how people think is complicated though. I'm not really a heavy Euro player (in spite of my belly) but the wife and I sailed through this one the first time we played it. We couldn't play Hamburgum at all, that just baffled us. Maybe something here just clicked with us.
 
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