Glow Review


Latest Posts
23 April 2022
|
Light up the night

I admit to being more excited about game components than the average human, but it takes something for me to exclaim ‘oh my’ out loud as I open a box. Glow looks glorious – from the moment you crack the lid there’s this pop of colour as you encounter a trove of custom acrylic dice in red, orange, green, purple and blue. They even come in two sizes – regular and mini! This explosion in a Skittles factory particularly stands out against the stark black-and-white illustrations of Glow’s fantasy world – a realm where, once a generation, the light retreats and chosen adventurers must set out to beat back the darkness.

They do this by travelling the world – represented by a double-sided board offering two distinct game modes – gathering shards of light and recruiting companions. These translate into points at the end of the game (with a few wrinkles). Whoever has the most points at the end, wins.

Glow is an odd fish. On the one hand, it’s all about atmosphere. Macabre ink drawings of magical stags, foxes made of flame or insects fused with plants contrast beautifully with the bright, translucent dice decorated with symbols for water droplets, crystals and leaves. You could be forgiven, on first glance, for thinking this was a linear journey game in the mould of Tokaido, filtered through the mind of a psychedelic Edward Gorey. It’s astonishing, inviting and deeply, deeply weird.

On the other, it’s a game of hand and resource management. Each companion you acquire from a tableau of cards may give you extra dice you can roll to gain resources. Most have an ability that triggers if you have the right resources on your dice, potentially multiple times a round. The guts of the game, then, is the gradual construction of a big, shards-of-light-and-firefly-spewing fruit machine.

Interaction between players is minimal, except insofar as you’re picking from the same spread of companions each round and someone will inevitably grab the one you needed to complete your engine. Despite the colourful dice, this is very much an engine-builder Euro.

There’s a nice tension each round between getting the dice you need to trigger your companions’ abilities, and moving around the board, which requires certain combinations of those same dice. One side of the board is a straightforward journey with branching paths, where the farther you get and make camp, the bigger your score at the end of the game. The other sees you dispatching multiple boats from a central island, earning bonuses and points depending on which islands you reach. Companion abilities, one-off tokens, and spending victory points allow you to reroll dice – spending three rerolls allows you to simply turn a die to the face you want.

If you enjoy multiplayer solitaire type games dripping in theme, Glow has plenty to offer. There’s not huge depth to the engines you can build, but there are interesting twists – some companions, for example, require you to not have any of a certain symbol on your dice to trigger their ability. Some cost you shards of light at the end of the game, meaning you want to kill them off through an ability or certain spaces on the board.

A significant downside is that you don’t often feel like you have a huge amount of control. Despite the mitigating grace of rerolls, bad luck can leave you far behind with no catchup mechanism. If you end up with the cursed black die by way of someone else taking the bird companion Kaar, it can feel pretty dispiriting (though you can sometimes use it to your advantage).

Tim Clare

PLAY IT? MAYBE

For all its crunchy, Euro-lite levers, Glow is an experience where you need to accept that a lot of your journey is down to fate. For some players, this lack of control means it feels like the game’s playing you. If, on the other hand, you’re cool with that, then this offers a relaxed, medium-length adventure ideal for a rainy evening in.

If you like the sound of this, you can pick up your own copy here. 

Content continues after advertisements

TRY THIS IF YOU LIKED Seasons

Glow brings to mind some of the themes and mechanics of Seasons, and might split groups in the same way – but if you like rich theme, beautiful artwork, card drafting and dice with a bit of tactical thinking, this scratches all those itches. Interested? You can read our full review of Seasons here. 

Designer: Cédrick Chaboussit 

Publisher: Bombyx

Time: 45 minutes

Players: 2-4

Ages: 10+

Price: £32

What's in the box?

What’s in the box?

  • Meeting Track
  • 30 Dice (20 Large, 10 Small)
  • 53 Cards (7 Adventures, 46 Companions)
  • 1 Double-sided journey board
  • 8 Large tokens
  • 88 Small tokens
  • 7 Score tokens
  • 7 Camp tokens
  • 7 Band tokens
  • 20 Boat tokens

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


Looking for more?

The front cover of Tabletop Gaming Magazine

This review came from Tabletop Gaming Magazine, which is home to all of the latest and greatest tabletop goodness. Whether you're a board gamer, card gamer, wargamer, RPG player or all of the above, find your copy here.

Get your magazine here

You may also enjoy: 

Ten of the Best Eurogames

If the euro aspect of this game takes your fancy, check out some of the best Eurogames available in this list from a previous magazine, which includes the ones you'd expect, plus perhaps a few you didn't!

The best Eurogames

 

 

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

Comments

No comments