Century: Eastern Wonders
Author: Emerson Matsuuchi
Publisher: Plan B Games
Playtime: 30-45 Minutes
Mechanics: Resource Management, Deck Building
Retail Price: $39.99
I have begun introducing my granddaughter to the rich world of boardgames. We have played a few different games, and Century: Spice Road was a hit. As a result, we have moved on to also playing Century: Eastern Wonders. Century: Eastern Wonders is the second in the Century trilogy and takes gameplay in a familiar yet new direction.
The game has more components than its sibling, Spice Road, but each is aesthetically pleasing: market tiles, wooden outposts, wooden ships, colored cubes in plastic bowls, and more. The plastic bowls and their cubes fit comfortably inside their wells in the insert, and the game’s set up and rules are housed on a single double-sided, full-color stiff card. All of the game’s components fit nicely inside the box. Also included is a setup and rule card for those wishing to combine Spice Road and Eastern Wonders into a single playable game.
Market tiles are sorted by type with a prescribed amount of each removed and then arranged according to the setup graphic or into custom arrangements. Four port tiles are placed strategically around the edge of the play area. The small victory point tiles are shuffled; one is placed on each port, and the remaining are stacked, forming a draw pile. Bonus tiles are arranged off the side, as are the bowls of colored cubes representing spices. (ginger, chili, tea, cloves). Players set up their player boards by placing all 20 of their colored outposts on the spaces provided. They then, in reverse order, take one set of starting cube sets from those available, seeding their ship’s cargo hold. Lastly, they place their boat on a market tile.
Like its sibling, Century: Eastern Wonders has a distinct rhythm to the gameplay due partly to the game’s fast-play design and mechanics. The game’s premise is to collect spice cubes into your ship’s hold and sail to a port to fulfill a contract (VP tile). The first player to collect four victory point tiles triggers the end of the game and final scoring. During the final scoring, the player with the highest score wins.
On a player’s turn, they can Move (or not); the choice is theirs. If moving through one or more merchant tiles while traveling to a destination, the player must place a cube in each tile they pass through. If other players’ ships are present in the destination tile, they must also pay the players present.
In addition to Moving, a player may also take one of three other actions: Market Action, Port Action, or Harvest Action.
- Market – A player may build an outpost or trade when their boat is on a merchant tile. An outpost is required to trade on the market tile. Each outpost built is taken from a row on the player board, matching the spice on the merchant tile. Building outposts is important for two reasons—it reveals victory points, and when a column is emptied, the player gains a bonus tile of their choosing. Bonus tiles grant immediate or long-term benefits. The other option on a market tile is trading. Each tile has a specific trade arrangement printed on it. The player may perform the trade as many times as they wish so long as they have the requisite cubes to do so.
- Port – If on a port tile, a player may claim the victory point tile present if they have the correct combination of cubes. Once claimed, a new tile is placed in the port.
- Harvest – Allows players to take two yellow cubes from the supply and place them into their ship’s hold (the ship limit is 10 cubes).
With limited choices on your turn, there is no shortage of possibilities in forming and executing a strategy. Unlike Spice Road, where you are taking cards to build a deck or hand to work from, you need to strategically get those outposts on merchant tiles that remain in place. Pay particular attention to where your outposts are built so that you can create fast trading combinations to increase the number of cubes you have and their color. Your ability to quickly gain and change cube color must be part of your overall strategy.
In my opinion, the placement of outposts is a game within the game. Not only does it expose victory points that will be counted later, but earning those bonus tiles is paramount to building a strategy. In particular, the tile granting the ability to move one additional space for free is a huge boon; having two of these is even better!
Century: Eastern Wonders has a wonderful and thought-provoking design. The game plays fast, although not as quick or as fast and furious as Spice Road. It is satisfying in its own right. The mechanics are still relatively simple, but the thought processes and strategies needed are a step up from Spice Road. The game is accessible to younger players, as indicated by its recommended minimum age. More seasoned players will appreciate the change in tactics needed to play Eastern Wonders.
Like Century: Spice Road, I give Century: Eastern Wonders two thumbs up!
As a footnote to this review, Easter Wonders and Spice Road can be combined. However, I have not played this variant as I no longer have Century: Spice Road on hand.
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