Episode 3: Century Eastern Wonders

 

Hey everyone, welcome back to another episode of the Board Dame, I’m your host, Jenna.

On this episode, I’ll be talking about Century: Eastern Wonders, the second installment in a 3 part series, designed by Emerson Matsuuchi and published by Plan B Games. It is a 2-4 player game taking roughly 30-45 minutes to play.

In Century: Eastern Wonders, you’ll play the part of a spice merchant travelling from island to island exchanging spices. Much in the same way you would in their first installment Century: Spice Road, however, this has more of a pick up and deliver feel as you must travel to different island and set up trading posts to be able to exchange your spices.

Personally, I get a little excited about being able to sing this when we play!

“Colours of the world! Spice up your life! Every boy and every girl! Spice up your life! People of the World! Spice up your life!”

In Century: Eastern Wonders, you will first move your boat to an adjacent space, if you choose to move more than one space, you must leave a cube of any colour behind as you move to the next space, much like how you would leave cubes on the trade row in Century: Eastern Wonders if you chose to purchase a card further up the trade row. If the market space you are finishing your movement on has another players boat, you must pay that player 1 cube of any colour to dock there.

After you choose to move your boat or not, as movement isn’t mandatory, you will be able to perform one of three actions. The first action is a Market action. This action is really you bread and butter of the game, it’s where you will exchange spices based on the demand of the tile. But first you must have an outpost on that tile. To build an outpost, you must spend 1 cube per outpost on the tile, or two in a two player game. Which means if you are the first to get there, your outpost is free. You may perform the market action as many times as you choose.

You’ll notice that each tile on the board is a specific spice, when building an outpost, you must place the specific outpost of that spice on that market tile. If you’ve cleared a verticle column, you get to choose one of the 5 bonus tiles available. Either an additional movement for free, a VP tile, a free upgrade when building an outpost tile that is also worth 2 VPs, gaining an additional red cube from harvesting that is also worth 1VP, or an incread to your cargo hold which allows you to hold an additional 3 spices. You may collect any of these bonus tiles more than once provided you clear more than one verticle columb of outposts.

Your second action is the harvest action, which simply allows you to take two yellow cubes from the supply. Remember there is a bonus tile that will allow you to collect a red cube as well when you harvest.

The third action you can take is a port action. These are the designated spots on the board where you will turn in your spices for VP tiles. Much like trading in spices to claim VP cards in Century: Spice road, these are how you’ll gain the majority of your VPs. Remember that when someone has collected their 4th VP tile, the end of the game will trigger. If that happens after a port action, finish the current round and count up all VPs! The person with the most victory points, wins! Now you can call yourself a spice girl, or boy!

Here’s what I think about the game.

The aesthetics of this game are much more enticing than the first game was, the theme for me has always been a little lack lustre. As an owner of Century: Golem, a gem version of Century: Spice Road, I find the little cubes to be less than desirable.

However, with the addition of the island tiles, ports and boats, the game is so much more visually appealing. Add the optional play mat to it, and it’s just stunning. It’s not needed to play the game at all, but certainly takes it up a notch.

So if theme and aesthetics play a part for you, this game will certainly check off more marks than Century: Spice Road did.

As for game play, I love the engine building aspect of Century: Spice Road which is still present in this game in the form of islands rather than cards. The addition of movement, outposts and having to pay to dock an island with another player really added another level to this game that feels totally different from the first and gave me that extra level of challenge I like in a gateway game.

Another thing I loved about this game was that it felt like the variability was much better than the first game was. There were cards that were so clearly advantageous early on in Century: Eastern Wonders and it felt like if someone had their engine going it was impossible to stop them.

While yes you do have to pay to build an outpost at a location with another player in Century: Eastern Wonders, you’re never completely blocked off from using a market tile.

Not to mention the Market tiles themselves will change position each game for increased variance and randomization. With the modular board, you can also start making your own board shapes to change how the game  plays. Maybe encouraging players to have to work harder to travel the leghth of the board.

VPs are calculated in a few different ways, they are based on the VP tiles you collected at ports as well as bonus tiles, the amount of outposts you’ve built, as each one beyond level 1 will provide VPs and any spices above yellow will count as 1 VP each. So likely early winner will have gotten there in a slightly different way.

Now, you might be wondering why I’ve mentioned Century: Spice Road a fair amount in this show and that’s because you can incorporate both games together to play a variant called Century: From Sand to Sea, A Mid-Century Adventure.

This will allow you to use the cards from Century: Spice Road to perform new actions. You can aquire and play cards the same way you would in Century: Spice Road, however, they also perform another function, and that’s movement.

In Century: Eastern Wonders, you get a free movement to an adjacent tile, however, in Century: From Sand to Sea, you must discard cards equal to the amount of spaces you wish to move to perform a move action. This means that without having aquired any additional cards beyond the two you start with, you cannot move more than two spaces on the board.

This is limiting in a lot of ways, because you’re spending turns aquiring cards you may not even want just so you can move across the board. You’re also having to take a rest action to get those cards back into you hand, only to discard them again for movement.

My final consensus is this:

I really don’t think adding these two games together to play Century: From Sand to Sea benefit either of the games. It causes you to have to spend time working on your deck, and working on the board but doing both only half as well. It seems to make both games clunky and never really getting to enjoy the potential of either.

I really enjoyed Century: Spice Road, but I have to say that I like Century: Eastern Wonders more. It gave me that bit of extra meat I wanted from a game with added replayability and for the same price as what you’d get the first game for.

Now that’s not to say that the first isn’t worth having as well, I will have both in my collection, but honestly, I won’t play them together, well, mainly because I have the Golem edition and that might look a bit weird.

The reality is that you will likely prefer one over the other. My recomendation is to go with Century: Eastern Wonders, but it’s hard to pass on a set isn’t it.

Now if only they will make a Golem edition of Eastern Wonders!

Thanks again for listening! Next week on The Board Dame, I will be talking about Brass: Birmingham. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter at The Board Dame. Please leave me any comments or feedback and what you’d like me to talk about next time!

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