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Glen More II: Chronicles

Ever wanted to wander round and round in circles collecting pieces of Scotland? Control a Scottish Clan? Breed livestock? Distil whisky? Well in Funtails' reimplementation of the original Glen More by Matthias Cramer you can. Tho' I am sure everyone has an opinion about BoardGameGeek ratings, it is difficult to deny the fact that for a game to chart in the top 200 hobby board games as GM2C does, it must have something about it...

The first point to discuss here is the artwork and components. Why? Well, if you look at the original implementation of this game entitled simply Glen More (Ravensburger), you could have been forgiven for thinking that it was for 8 year olds. I suppose you could say that the artwork was 'of its time' (2010), and by that I mean that board games had yet to catch on to the fact that really eye-wateringly good art could improve both the theme and the sales of a game. With art from Jason Coates and Hendrik Noack, GM2C does not miss a beat with really making this a eurogame of today’s standards. But how does the game hold up?

Glen More II: Chronicles is a light-to-medium weight euro, probably a little too complex to be a gateway game, but it is certainly not heavy, and even at four players the game advances at a reasonable clip. In essence, this is a rondel game, although players are proceeding around a square rather than a circle, so perhaps we should classify GM2C as a 'squondel' game. The players start in a row on one side of the squondel and the last player jumps forward to any available tile, takes it and resolves the tile - in most cases, adding it to their individual Highland tableau. It really is as simple as that. All the tiles are either famous places or famous people hailing from Scotland. When you take a tile you place it on your board, which comprises just a starting castle and a river at the beginning of the game, and then you activate all adjacent tiles. Again, relatively simple. The only added complication is that you have to have a clansmen on a space next to where you want to add the new tile. Imagine that you are backing up the truck, just about to drop Loch Lomond off next to your new castle. Well, you wouldn’t want to prang your castle, would you? You need a clansmen to help you back up the truck to the right spot. It is not surprising that Klaus Jurgen Wrede is credited in the rulebook because the tile laying really does give you a feeling of Carcassonne (Hans im Gluck) and I mean that in a positive way.

Adding a new beauty spot makes everything around it happy and so your resource producing tiles give you sheep, cows, wood, stone or barley, your distilleries might be able to use that barley to make whisky, or you may have a tile that exchanges resources for victory points. You may even find new clansmen. The game also has a very simple market, so if you don’t have that cow you need to buy the tile you want, then you may be able to get it from the market. The game actively tries to help you build your jumbled up piece of Scotland and placing resources on tiles adds to the thematic feel of the game and takes your mind off the fact that you just parked Inverness next door to the Old Man of Storr.

You can also land on famous Scots who will provide you with the ability to put tokens out on a clan map which provide one-off benefits, resources or special abilities, and this adds a welcome additional wrinkle to the game, giving you more juicy options without wildly overcomplicating the decision space.

The turn order fluctuates with the person at the back of the squondel taking the next turn, and it is entirely possible for them to hoover up vast swathes of Scotland if the other players have shot off around the square to bag a particularly juicy looking tile. However, the scoring does penalise anyone who owns too much of Scotland and there are negative points for all other players that have more tiles than the player with the smallest area...

Now I can hear you cry, that all sounds just dandy, but there’s not a lot of heavy crunchiness in the game then. Well, that’s where we come to the fact that Matthias Cramer put the Chronicles into Glen More and has created several separate modular expansions that add further mechanics to the game and you can incorporate one or more of these. Want to have a Loch Ness monster potentially handing out treats as you circle, or is that square, the board? How about a dragon boat race around everyone’s rivers? The game never lets the theme get in the way of a strange mechanic! This all adds even more to an incredibly fun game, and well worthy of its lofty position on the BGG hall of fame!

(Review by Jason Keeping)

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