18 June 2021
The world’s greatest city (in this reviewer’s unbiased opinion) finally gets a game
Glasgow was once known as the second city of the British Empire. A thriving hub of trade and industry, its shipyards sent vessels to the furthest corners of the globe. Its importers grew rich on a flood of textiles and tobacco. And migrant labourers crowded its tenement houses, lured by the prospect of work.
This two-player game casts you and an opponent as some of the merchants and magnates who left such a profound mark on the city, and it’s a tight little contest with rapid-fire turns and shifting tactics.
Before you play, you’ll randomly arrange its set of action tiles in a circle in the centre of the table. On your turn you’ll move your wooden marker clockwise around it, stopping at one of the available tiles and taking the action marked on it – usually gaining resources like bricks, steel and gold.
Some tiles, though, let you claim buildings and add them to an expanding square grid in the centre of the table. Each building costs different resources to construct, and it means you’ll constantly look for the most efficient ways to grab materials. But in a touch that will be familiar to anyone who’s played Uwe Rosenberg’s Patchwork, you’ll keep taking turns until your pawn advances beyond your opponent’s. The result is that taking a big, bold move to grab the resources you want could gift your opponent two or chances turns to respond.
Once you’ve grabbed a building, you’ll need to think carefully about how to place it. Structures score points in different ways, some by being on corners of the city grid, others by being adjacent to matching buildings. Parks reward you for collecting them in sets, and factories come with special abilities which trigger whenever someone builds in their row or column.
It feels a bit like a distilled and shrunk-down version of the brilliant Quadropolis, and it generates some surprisingly varied gameplay considering its simple setup. But what will bring a smile to the face of anyone familiar with the city are the little nods to its history and culture. There’s the square-grid setup, reflecting Glasgow’s grid iron street pattern. There are the buildings depicted on its tiles, including the Gallery of Modern Art with its iconic statue of the Duke of Wellington with a traffic cone permanently affixed to his head. The player pawns even come in green – the colour of the city’s famous Celtic Football Club, and blue – the colour of the city’s famous Blue Lagoon chain of fish and chip shops.
It also boasts diverse artwork, with a pleasing mix of genders and ethnicities. But it fails to address one crucial historical fact. Much of Glasgow’s wealth was built on the trade in tobacco and sugar, industries reliant entirely on slave labour. There’s an ongoing debate in the city today as to whether the streets named after its influential ‘tobacco lairds’ should be renamed. So enjoy Glasgow the game, but perhaps also take a moment to explore the real history behind Glasgow the place.
A strong builder game that has a good swing at doing Glasgow justice.
TRY THIS IF YOU LIKED QUADROPOLIS...
Glasgow plays with some similar ideas around claiming and placing buildings, but it does it in a slick and streamlined two-player form.
Designer: Mandela Fernandez-Grandon
Publisher: Lookout Games
Time: 30 minutes
What’s in the box?
- 14 contract tiles
- 36 building tiles
- 4 depot tiles
- 2 player tokens
- 2 player boards
- 10 brick tokens
- 8 steel tokens
- 6 gold tokens
- 1 whisky barrel
- Score sheet
- Rule book
This article originally appeared in issue 48 of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
Sometimes we may include links to online retailers, from which we might receive a commission if you make a purchase. Affiliate links do not influence editorial coverage and will only be used when covering relevant products