The Glass Road is a 150-mile long path through the Bavarian Forest near the border to the Czech Republic. It reminds of the great times of glass production.
When you travel along the Glass Road today, you can still feel the heat of this handcraft that was omnipresent in many arborous areas in the Early Modern Age.
Glass and bricks were used long before the Middle Ages. Over 7000 years ago, the Egyptians already knew of glass. The Sumerian in the Middle East, on the other hand, are said to have invented and used bricks about 6000 years ago.
The Romans brought glass to Germania. Its use increased in the 13th century and became a regular feature of everyday life in the 16th century.
Back then, glass production required wood. In the form of potash, it was used to lower the melting temperature of quartz sand. The ferrous oxides in the quartz sand were responsible for the unmistakable green color of the so- called Forest glass.
Entire tracts of land were deforested for glass - much to the satisfaction of the feudal lords whose lands could thus be improved with infrastructure. Due to the progressing deforestation, Forest glass ceased to exist in the 19th century.
In the Early Modern Age, bricks were usually burned in brickfields that were established near bigger clay deposits. The construction of such brickfields was a long and tedious process: the excavated clay was cut in thin layers so that it would freeze over the winter and the weathering would soften it.
Before the softened clay could be shaped into bricks, it had to be kneaded with bare feet. After the brick was molded, an "edger" would straighten the bricks to obtain a smooth surface.
These were then stacked in piles of 10,000 or more and filled with burning materials. Old bricks, mud, and straw were used to form the outer walls of the kiln which would then burn over several weeks.
In the 19th century, brick making was revolutionized: the invention of the ring oven reduced the amount of fuel needed down to a quarter of what was required before. At that time, at least 50 new brickworks had been built in the Bavarian Forest.
A manifestation of the early brick-making industry is the 282 feet high tower of the Saint Nicholas parish church in Zwiesel.
Today, there are no forest glassworks left in the Bavarian Forest, but the Glass Road still leads to a number of locations of former and current glass production. Today, there aren't any brickfields left in the Black Forest. However, there are some brickworks left open, giving evidence of the long history of brick making.
Glass Road is a game that commemorates the 700-year-old tradition of glass-making in the Bavarian Forest. (Today the Glass Road is a route through the Bavarian Forest that takes visitors to many of the old glass houses and museums of that region).
You must skillfully manage your glass and brick production in order to build the right structures that help you to keep your business flowing. Cut the forest to keep the fires burning in the ovens, and spread and remove ponds, pits and groves to supply yourself with the items you need. Fifteen specialists are there at your side to carry out your orders...
The game consists of four building periods. Each player has an identical set of fifteen specialist cards, and each specialist comes with two abilities. At the beginning of each building period, each player needs to choose a hand of five specialists.
If he then plays a specialist that no other player has remaing in his hand, he may use both abilities of that card; if two or more players play the same specialist, each of them may use only one of the two abilities.
Exploiting the abilities of the specialists lets you collect resources, lay out new landscape tiles (e.g., ponds and pits), and build a variety of buildings. There are three types of buildings:
- Processing buildings
- Immediate buildings with a one-time effect
- Buildings that provide bonus points at the end of the game for various accomplishments
Mastering the balance of knowing the best specialist card to play and being flexible about when you play it - together with assembling a clever combination of buildings - is the key to this game.