Dale Yu: Review of Century: Eastern Wonders AND Century: From Sand to Sea

 

Century: Eastern Wonders

  • Designer: Emerson Matsuuchi
  • Publisher: Plan B Games
  • Players: 2-4
  • Ages: 8+
  • Time: 30-45 minutes
  • Times played: 7, with preview copy at Gathering of Friends as well as with review copy provided by Plan B Games

 

Century: Eastern Wonders is the highly anticipated follow-up to Century: Spice Road.  When the first game was released, it was made clear that the game was part of a trilogy of games, each of which could be played on their own or in combination with the other parts.  Like many other gamers, I greatly enjoyed Spice Road, and I have been looking forward to seeing how the different games would work together. I had a chance to play the game a bit at the Gathering of Friends, and I have had more time to play it now this summer – and it has been fun exploring the game system.

Eastern Wonders uses the same four resources (yellow Ginger, Red Chili, Green Tea and Brown Cloves).   A board is created from hex-shaped Market tiles; each of these shows a single market with a sign showing the particular transaction that happens there.  There are also four port tiles which are placed in the corners of the board – each of these has a randomly chosen VP tile placed on it. Each player gets a player board – each empty space on this board is filled with an outpost of the player’s color.   There is a small draft for starting cubes, and then the game begins.

On a player’s turn, you first move your ship (or choose not to move it at all). The first move to an adjacent space is free.  You can choose to continue to move your ship, but for each tile past the first, you must leave a cube of your choice from your cargo hold onto the tile that you leave.   As with your camel caravan in the first game, you are limited to ten cubes at any time.

If you end your movement on a market tile that is occupied, you must pay one cube of your choice to each player that was already on that tile.  If you cannot pay this fee to all players there, you may not end your movement there. Then, once your movement is ended, you collect any cubes which are present on the tile where you ended movement.  You then may take one of possible actions on the tile: Harvest (on any tile), Port (on a port tile), Market (on a market tile).

You can choose to Harvest anywhere – you simply take 2 yellow cubes from the supply.

If you end on a Market tile, you first can choose to build an Outpost on the tile.  The cost is 1 cube of your choice for each outpost tile there (thus, the first Outpost on a tile is free!).   Each tile has a trade symbol printed on it, and you place the left most available Outpost from the matching row on your player board.  Then, quickly check to see if you have emptied out a column from your board – if so, you can take a bonus tile from the supply – more on these tiles later. Once you have decided on the Outpost bit, then you can make trades at the Market.  Each tile has a single transaction that happens there, and you can do the trade as many times as you have enough cubes to trade.

The possible bonus tiles are:

  •         During movement, take an additional move for free
  •         When building Outposts, also upgrade one cube by one level. Worth +2VP at end of game
  •         When Harvesting, also gain a red cube.  Worth 1VP at end of game.
  •         +VPs (starting at 6VP and descending)
  •         Extra cargo hold to hold three more cubes.

If you end on a Port tile, you can choose to claim a VP tile – turn in the cubes shown on the tile and take the tile and place it face down in your area.  Place a new VP tile on the port space. If you draw the Closed Port tile, there will be no VP tile here for now.  When the next VP tile is claimed, move the Closed Port tile to that space and then place the newly drawn VP tile in the space just vacated.

The game end is triggered when a player collects his fourth VP tile.  The current round is finished so that all players have the same number of turns.  Players then tabulate their score – VPs from tiles, VPs from certain bonus tiles, and 1 VP per non-yellow cube in their cargo hold.  Ties go to the player later in turn order.

My thoughts on the game

The second game in the series here feels a lot like the first… You get cubes, you trade them in for other cubes, and eventually you have the right combination of cubes so that you can trade them in for a VP marker…  In the first game, players are building their own decks of action cards so that each player has a slightly different ability set by the end of the game. Eastern Wonders gives the gamer a slightly different challenge.  In this game, everyone has the same access to the same actions – but now, it’s all about timing and location – you need to be in the right place at the right time to take the actions and then score the order tiles.

Century: Eastern Wonders doesn’t play quite as fast as Spice Road, though I’m not sure how much of that was just due to us being new to the game.  Having to wait for other players to move on the board did slow things down a bit because you could not fully plan out your turn until you saw the board state.  Oftentimes, not being able to pay the fee to end in a space with someone else caused me to have to revamp my entire turn!

I think that the physical constraints of the board as well as the actions from the bonus tiles end up adding a bit more meatiness to the strategy as you have a few more things to consider.  It is easy to throw down Outposts early in the game when they are free or only cost 1 cube. Players usually end up with slightly different engines as some will differently amongst the ongoing bonuses from the different tiles.  I myself prefer to have the extra free move, but I have seen people use each of the other three action bonuses to good effect – so I don’t think that there is any one choice that is better (or worse) than the others.

For me, I prefer the quicker, more streamlined game in Spice Road.  I can play that game in around 10 minutes for what is such a similar game.  That being said, I also probably wouldn’t ever say no to this one either…

Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers

 

Alan How: I’d agree with Dale. The biggest issue is speed. I remember playing 5 games of Century Spice Road in 50 minutes with four players. Turns were so fast. Part 2 is certainly based on part 1, but replaces speed with more decisions. It’s not worse just an evolution of an idea. I think I prefer the speed version, but quite happy to play the newer version. Most people in my groups are the reverse – part 2 appeals more because of the heavier decisions. I’m waiting to see if part 3 is even meatier than 1 and 2. We shall see.

 

Dan Blum (2 plays): Speed is definitely an issue. There are a few more decisions to make – primarily which bonus tiles to take – but I am not sure they make up for the extra play time. In addition, while there’s less luck in the actions available (since they’re all there at the start) there is more luck in the scoring tiles; in both games a tile/card can be turned up that happens to match what a player is carrying or can get in one turn, but in Spice Road that card can’t come with bonus points, which balances things a bit.

 

Another issue I have is that for such a simple game the rules are not that clear. I appreciate that Plan B was trying to get the rules down to two pages, but brevity at the expense of clarity isn’t a great idea. A lot of people have been confused about whether you can take a market action the same turn you build an outpost, which is implied but not clearly stated, and the rules don’t explain at all what happens if you don’t move. We assumed it was a zero-space move and so paid other players/collected goods on the tile, but the designer recently stated that neither of these happens. So I haven’t actually played the game correctly, but fortunately this doesn’t have a huge effect on the game.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it!
  • I like it. Dale Y.. Alan H
  • Neutral. Dan Blum
  • Not for me…

Dale Yu: Review of Century: From Sand to Sea (Spice Road + Eastern Wonders)

  • Designer: Emerson Matsuuchi
  • Publisher: Plan B Games
  • Players: 2-4
  • Ages: 8+
  • Time: 30-45 minutes
  • Times played: 3, with preview copy at Gathering of Friends as well as with review copy provided by Plan B Games

Century: From Sand to Sea is the first combination game in the series – this game uses components from both Spice Road and Eastern Wonders.  This review assumes that you are familiar with the concepts from the two individual games.

 

A board of market tiles is made, though there are four sea tiles which are placed in the array in place of four of the Market tiles.  Four port tiles are still found in the corners of the board. Each player gets a player board from the Eastern Wonders box, but make sure to use the side for From Sand to Sea (with fewer Outpost spaces).

 Each player also gets a starting hand of action cards from Spice Road. The rest of the Merchant cards from Spice Road are shuffled, and a display of four cards is placed next to the face down deck. There is small draft for starting cubes in reverse player order, and then the game begins.

In this version, you still can only take a single action on each turn, but you now have four possible options:

1] Acquire a Card – draw a card from the display (and collect any cubes on that card).  The card furthest from the deck (leftmost) is free. If you choose a card closer to the deck, you must place a cube on each card to the left of the card you choose.  Slide all cards to the left and then place the new card directly next to the deck.

2] Play a Card – play a card from your hand to the LEFT of your player board. Then take the action on the card – gain resources, upgrade resources or trade resources.

3] Move your ship – Move your ship on the board. You must pay for EVERY tile moved.  For each tile moved, you must place one card to the RIGHT of your player board. These cards can come from either your hand OR from the LEFT side of your player board (i.e. cards previously played for their action).   If you end your movement on a tile with other ships, you must be able to pay a cube to each of the players there. Then, you can take a Market or Port action.

If you are on a Market space, you first decide to play an Outpost – the cube cost is again equal to the number of Outposts previously on that space.  If you have cleared the leftmost column, you choose a card of your choice from the Market without paying any cubes. If you have finished any other column, you can choose one of the available bonus tiles:

  • Worth VP (starting at 6VP and decreasing)
  • When moving, take an additional movement for free
  • Extra Cargo hold for three resources

Then, you can take the depicted market transaction on the tile; again as many times as you have the cubes to do it.

If you are on a port space, you can trade in cubes for a VP tile.  The Closed Port tile works in the same way here as in Eastern Wonders.

4] Rest – you can choose to Rest and pick up all the cards on the table (regardless of which side of the player board they are on) and put them back in your hand.

The game end is triggered when a player collects his fourth VP tile.  The current round is finished so that all players have the same number of turns.  Players then tabulate their score – VPs from tiles, VPs from certain bonus tiles, and 1 VP per non-yellow cube in their cargo hold.  Ties go to the player later in turn order.

My thoughts on the game

Of the three possible way to play the Century games – this one is my favorite.  Surprisingly, it is the one with the longest play time, but the combination of the cards and the market tiles gives you a lot of interesting decisions to make as you try to convert your cubes into points.  The added puzzle of maximizing the card play (trying to play your cards first to get actions from them prior to using them for movement) is another big plus for me. This added level of complexity makes this feel more like a full strategy game instead of just a filler.  Sure, there are still times that I’d want to just play a ten minute game of Spice Road – but this one is a fuller experience. It definitely makes me look forward to the third installment in the series as I’d like to see what the Century game is all about now!

Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers

Dan Blum (1 play): I agree with Dale in liking this more than Eastern Wonders by itself. However, this has the potential for massive AP – all the AP of Eastern Wonders (which already has plenty) plus more added by the cards. I’d be happy to play it if it’s going to take 30-45 minutes but in many groups it will take longer.

 

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it! Dale Y
  • I like it. Dan Blum
  • Neutral.
  • Not for me…

 

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About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
This entry was posted in Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Dale Yu: Review of Century: Eastern Wonders AND Century: From Sand to Sea

  1. Pingback: Patrick Brennan: Game Snapshots – October 2018 (Part 1) | The Opinionated Gamers

  2. Pingback: Patrick Brennan: Game Snapshots – October 2018 (Part 1) | The Opinionated Gamers

  3. @mangozoid says:

    Interesting to read your thoughts on From Sand to Sea… I totally agreed with your comments about Eastern Wonders dragging out a version of the original game, but was genuinely surprised to read that you liked Sand to Sea — we felt it added nothing to Eastern Wonders, using the cards to move just seemed like an extra hoop to jump through over and above how Eastern Wonders works and we found ourselves using the cards to get the cubes we wanted and then ‘racing’ to the relevant port most of the time. Am confident we’re playing it right, but both games seem an unnecessary extension (in time and space) of the original…?

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