Reviewed by Herb Levy
GLEN MORE II: CHRONICLES (Funtails, 2 to 4 players, ages 12 and up, 90-120 minutes; $79.99)
Sometimes, if you are lucky, a long out of print quality game get retrieved from undeserved obscurity to be once again available to those of us who missed it on the first go-around. It’s even more rare than such a quality game gets such a spectacular upgrade as well! Such is the case with this new version of Glen More (originally appearing in our pages back in 2010) with this second edition, packed with a lot more, appropriately titled Glen More II: Chronicles.
The basic play of Glen More II: Chronicles as conceived by Matthias Cramer, the creator of the original, is essentially identical to the original (check out our Glen More: Flashback this issue!). But there are a few significant differences.
In the original, a river runs through each player’s kingdom, from east to west and placement of river tiles must continue the water flow. The original also had roads, running north and south, requiring tiles to link up with previously placed roads. Roads have been eliminated in GMII so vertical placement is easier. Also eliminated are “Chieftains”, the “promoted” Scotsmen that gave a “military” aspect to scoring. Landmark cards (11 of them in the base game), gained through choosing the matching tiles, are important both for the benefits they offer and for scoring.
Person Tiles and the Clan Board are totally new elements. Person Tiles will appear as the game progresses and these are linked to the Clan Board. Claiming a Person tile allows you to place one of your markers on the Clan Board to claim a Clan Field. Markers follow a path from the Start area of that board OR may continue a path from a marker placed by ANY player already on the board. Some paths require a payment in coin but all Clan Fields offer something of value. This “something” may be anything from coins to Victory Points to additional resources to activating tiles in your kingdom and more! In addition, Person Tiles are scored at the end of each round.
In each of the four rounds of GMII, players score for Scotsmen on their home castle, Landmark cards, whiskey barrels and Person Tiles. (The David Hume Person Tile, gotten by claiming a particular Clan Field, counts as TWO persons when scoring.) Travelling around the board to pick up tiles has been retained from the original game. It worked well then and it works well now. Including final scoring for kingdom size has also been kept and remains a simple yet very effective way to balance picking up every tile in your path against significant Victory Point loss should your realm dwarf others.
The size of Glen More II is striking! The box is huge! And it’s a good thing because you need the space to hold all of the components, not only for the basic game but for the EIGHT Chronicles which are, in effect, expansions you can add (or not) as you see fit, all adding new wrinkles to the game play.
Chronicle 1 (The Dragon Boat Races) gives each player a boat to race along the river. Players use movement points to move on the river with the player crossing the finish line first netting 15 Victory Points with second place earning 10 VPs and third 5 VPs. And you can’t ignore this race. In final scoring, each coin is worth 1 VP. Players not finishing “in the money” are considered “Last” and get “a bottle of cod liver oil” AND their coins are worth nothing!
Chronicle 2 (Highlander) adds a double-sized Mountain tile to the game. Passing over the Mountain requires a player to leave a coin or a resource there (if he/she has one). Landing on the Mountain enables a player to scoop up ALL items left there!
Chronicle 3 (Old Jamey’s Single Cask Reserve) adds distillery tiles to play. This helps players produce whiskey which, in turn, may be worth VPs or sold for money. (Whiskey so produced also counts for end of round scoring.)
Chronicle 4 (Hammer of the Scots) adds “the Englishman” to the game. This is, in effect, an extra playing piece to control (although this is not free. This costs the controlling player coins.) Control of the Englishman shifts when another player picks up one of the Landmark cards available in this Chronicle.
Chronicle 5 (Address to a Haggis) adds another way to score – by making Haggis (a traditional Scottish dish).
Chronicle 6 (The Dubious Tome of Scottish History) replaces the old Landmark cards with new, double-sided, ones with Events that may be triggered which can result in more VPs or tile activations and more.
Chronicle 7 (Between a Rock and a Hard Place) offers end of game goals. There are 10 cards with different goals. These are shuffled and five revealed. (The rest are out of the game.) When someone claims a Person Tile, a “Clan Assembly” is held and that player chooses which of the five cards gets voted on! Players use their voting markers to decide. If there are at least as many Ayes as Nays, the card “passes” and that new scoring card is in play. These cards reward players for the most of certain resources, territory configuration, tile types and more at final scoring. (This Chronicle works best with 3 or 4 players.)
Chronicle 8 (The Penny Mobs) references the street gang of Glasgow. “Mobster” tiles with an S on the back are considered “in jail” and placed face up next to the board. (Those with a B on the back get added when the B stack of tiles comes into play.) Players receive 7 “Pennies” with the -1 VP side face up. At the end of a turn, they can place one of their pennies on a Mobster tile with the penny placed with its +1 VP side face up OR take the Mobster tile AND all of the +1 VP pennies found on it. Mobsters are two-edged swords. While they can add VPs to your total at the end of the game, both for those +1 pennies collected AND for their various abilities (allowing you to collect coins or resources from another player under certain conditions), they will also cost you their stated value in VPs (anywhere from -4 to -11!) This is the most demanding of the Chronicles with several Mobsters tied into the use of other Chronicles.
The upgrade to components in Glen More II is generally high quality right down to the insert to hold everything! Tiles are larger, easier to read and a marked improvement (and one we recommended in the review of the original) as are the bigger resources. Sheets of stickers are provided for those who have the patience to sticker them all but you can save yourself the time and energy as these are mainly for atmosphere and are not required. Markers used on the Clan Board are not quite up to the standard set by the other components as they are very small (admittedly, to fit easily onto the Clan Fields) and “just” light cardboard. (Using small wooden cubes might have been more consistent with the component quality.) The Clan Board is two-sided but both sides are the same! It is just a matter of taste whether you prefer the brown background or the green. (Rearranging the Fields in a different configuration on each side to create more variety might have been worth considering.)
The 8 expansions that are the “Chronicles” are solid additions that can be used according to taste. While Cramer is credited with most of these, it is worth noting that other impressive designers have lent their talents including Klaus-Jürgen Wrede (whose design credits include Carcassonne) who did Chronicle 2 and Arve D. Fühler who designed Chronicle 8. Tiles are marked with icons matching the Chronicle to which they belong so sorting tiles, which could have been a daunting task, is made quite manageable. And, in these days of pandemic, a special die (a six-sider with 1, 2 and 3 values) serves as an artificial player so you can play – and enjoy – the game with 3 and even 2 players – a big plus!
Glen More has always been a solid and enjoyable game to play and one of those rare games that has aged well. With this new version, visiting Scotland is even more of a pleasure. Leaving the base game substantially intact, players can enjoy a quality game they may never have had a chance to experience. For both those who know the game and those just now discovering it, play is enhanced, according to preference, with a wide array of expansions available. No matter how you look at it, there is a lot more to Glen More as evidenced by Glen More II: Chronicles. – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Herb Levy
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