Glasgow is a two-player specific game designed by Mandela Farnandez-Grandon and published by Lookout Games. The game revolves around resource management, collecting resources and using this to build buildings that are played into the joint 5x4 or 4x5 tableau in the centre of the table.
The artist is Klemes Franz, who has been involved in some big hitters such as Agricola, Le Harve, Orléans and Oh My Goods!. The artwork in Glasgow has that same cartoony fresh look that you see in much of his work. It looks good on the table and considering it is based in industrial Glasgow, it isn’t completely grey.
The Aim of the Game
The aim of the game in Glasgow is to gain as many victory points as possible by the end of the game. Victory points come from the combination of buildings that you create and where these are placed. The end of the game is triggered when the 20th building is placed into the tableau in the centre of the table.
The components of the game are some wooden resource tokens, a resource board for each player, 4 architect tiles, 14 contract tiles and some building tiles. The components all feel high quality in hand. The tiles are thick and have curved edges that feel nice in hand. The colours are bright and the images well centred. The architect and contract tiles are also made of thick cardboard and have a quality finish to them. The wooden tokens are easy to pick and of a reasonable size. The stone, gold and iron are red, yellow and black respectively and are realistic-ish. The stone is a brick shape, the gold is a coin, and the steel looks like a section of building beam. I don’t know if that is quite what they were going for. But it beats cubes any day! I love the addition of the whisky barrel as a “wild” resource. This ties in with the theme perfectly and the fact it can be stolen means you want to get it used asap.
The contracts and architect tiles are laid out in a circle, this smacks a little of Patchwork in the way it looks. But crucially it has a lot more about it. The contract tiles allow you to collect and trade resources as well as a few other actions like stealing the whisky barrel. Spread around the circle of contracts are architect tiles. These allow you to pay resources to build one of the two available buildings at that tile. You can pay gold to build a second building whilst you’re there if you can afford to.
There are 2 more contract tiles than you play with so there will always be two that are left in the box. On top of that, the order of the tiles in play will change every time. And as a cherry on top, the buildings are drafted from a face-down pile, with only 8 visible at a time. So much replayability!
The Best Bits
Play moves in a Tokaido style where the player furthest back around the circular arrangement of contracts gets to move. They may move multiple times in a row before they end up ahead of the other player. This provides players with the conundrum of whether to jump ahead and get what they want but leave the other player lots of “free” moves.
The central tableau is in my mind one of the best things about Glasgow. Your buildings can benefit you even by your opponent placing buildings. This vastly increases the player interaction and starts interesting conundrums over building placement. Do you place that tenement there because it will score mega points because it is surrounded by other blocks of flats? But if you do place it there, then it will trigger two of your opponent's factories and give them gold and steel… Then they could potentially build that park next turn and that would get them huge mega points. But if I don’t build that tenement then perhaps they will, then they would get loads of points and trigger their factories themselves AND still be able to build that park.
As you can see there is a lot of space for combination moves. I was worried that this would cause AP (action paralysis) in my already AP-prone opponent. However, I was really pleasantly surprised that there was no issue. I think the fact that there is no way to completely prevent your opponent from getting points helped. Perhaps a few times I didn’t get to pick the thing I wanted most. There was always enough choice leftover that I didn’t mind.
To sum it up, I like the look of Glasgow. There is a lot of grey. It is based on one of the greyest cities in one of the greyest eras in time. I like the movement, it stops runaway victories and keeps things tight until the end. The scoring is not too complicated. There is enough complexity that you won’t know who has won until you have totted things up at the end. I think it has a lot more player interaction than I expected. The central tableau makes the game interesting and fun every time. If you play with two players a lot and have been looking for something new, then pick up Glasgow. You’ll not be disappointed.