Last night Ian, Andrew and I (Sam) sat down around the table reading through the rules of Glass Road, an (allegedly) light game compared to the designers' previous form with the likes of Agricola, Caverna, etc. And in truth it is lighter - or briefer, at least - but whereas in the other games mentioned you get a sense of process - I'm digging a field, to plant my vegetables in - Glass Road felt altogether more overtly an abstract engine-builder with a pasted-on theme. At least, it did to me. But more of that in a moment...
my board. Will probably chop those trees down.
Each player begins with their own player board representing the area they want to develop. We are ostensibly glass-blowers in Bavaria, but we also like to make bricks, eat food, and dig ponds. Or fill them in. It depends.
The game progresses through card play that reminded me slightly of Broom Service - in that game, if anyone else has played the same card you have, you get nothing if you've tried to be brave (play cowardly for a minimal reward either way). Here, you get two actions if no-one else has a matching card in their hand, but only one if they do (opponents who have the same card get one action as well).
pay a water, get two food, or one food per lake. Or both.
The actions generate resources for you, which in turn allow you to buy buildings. Buildings come in three types: process (usable for the rest of the game at any time) instant reward buildings for a one-off injection of something (like a brick, maybe) and end-game buildings for point-scoring.
cost to build on the left, reward in the middle, end-game points top-right
Two things make the game more interesting than it sounds above - one is the cardplay, where you can try and second-guess opponents in order to minimize the impact of their cards - and in turn, generate a bonus action for yourself. The other are the productionwheels that measure your resources: you'll see in the picture a needle (two needles, actually, fixed together in that position) that will turn whenever the two spaces ahead of them are empty. When this happens, you'll lose some of your generic resources (wood, food, charcoal, etc) but generate the precious glass and brick, which are needed to build buildings with.
when I get some charcoal, I'll make a brick
The overall experience for me didn't have anything like the more-ish flavour I get from Caverna, and I was very aware of the mechanics of Glass Road throughout. But the wheel aspect is clever and the card-play I found screwy, but less shitty than Broom Service. It's a very quick game too; even allowing for do-overs (me) and pregnant pauses (Ian) and cats getting in the way of certain players (Andrew) we zipped through the four building rounds pretty fast.
Andrew's generous decision to let me re-choose a card I'd fundamentally misunderstood (doing himself out of a free action in the process) was a game-saver, and not one I'd expect him to repeat. We also let Ian score one of his buildings incorrectly as he hadn't followed the rule when he built it. So despite the scores, the moral victory is Andrews!
Ian 19 and a half
Andrew 15 and a half
I do like a game that scores half-points.
With Glass Road packed away there was a mixture of slight deflation and curiosity piqued. I'd like to try it again, for sure.
Nobody was in the mood for more rules so we finished with an old favourite - Take it Easy. We debated what themes to call and nearly didn't bother at all. But it felt wrong to abandon tradition so casually, so we went for generic calls: I did musical instruments, Andrew 80's video games, and Ian animals. There was mention of a domesticated Narwal at one stage, but on the whole it was remarkably unsilly.
I pulled off what I think *might* be a record as well, scoring 224 in the final round.
my 224 in progress...
And with that, another Thursday night's gaming concluded.