[Now Rolling] Century: Spice Road

Recently got this new game and I was very excited to bring it to the table. Surprisingly so were the people who I played it with without me saying anything to them about it. Guess it was just calling out for everyone come on the journey.

Here’s another game without dice but I am rolling with it…

Let’s get spicey after the jump!

Century: Spice Road has you playing as caravan leaders travelling the famous silk road to trade spices to obtain the most fame and glory. What they really mean is victory points victory points victory points! Because who doesn’t like victory point games?

Game play is simple. On your turn, you do one action. Then the next player goes. This continues until someone has acquired 5 or 6 point cards (depending on the number of players). Everyone gets the same number of turns and then you add up all your points. Whoever has the most points is declared the most infamous caravan leader.

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whoever has the fancy dot, goes first

The four actions to pick from are as follows…

  • Acquire a Card
  • Play a Card
  • Acquire a Score Card
  • Rest

Simple, right?

Acquiring a card allows you to pick the left most card up from the card line and place it into your hand. If you don’t want the left most, you can put any one spice cube on the left most card to take the 2nd card. Further down the line you go, the more spice you place. Anybody who takes a card with one or more spice cubes on it, acquires the spice as well as the card so you are potentially giving your enemies free stuff!

Your hand starts with two cards, acquiring cards give you more actions to do on your turn. There are three types of cards you can play. First the generate resource card; you grab the color cubes presented on the card and put it in your caravan. Second type of card is for upgrading. It allows you to upgrade any type of spice to a higher level of spice. And lastly there is trading which allows you to trade the specified spice for other spices. You can do this last one as many times as you have the resource during that turn.

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The last two actions are pretty straight forward. The point cards are how you win. Each one has a cube cost and point value listed. Pay the cube cost and get the point card with its points! The two left most cards start the game with coins on them, they are a finite resource and are points at the end of the game. And the rest action lets you pick up all the cards you have played back into your hand so you can use them again. What, did you think you could keep playing the same card every round?

The game is made really well and everything you see in the pictures minus the mat comes with it. So the production quality is top notch. Cubes are big and chunky, cards are large & clearly display what they do with iconography, pretty artwork, and the gold coins bring an extra level of shine. All this is well and good as long as the game is good.

And I must say it is. It is one of those super easy to teach but very complex in strategies. Three card types, four different actions you can take, the only real confusion would be is placing a cube down to acquire a card further down the line. It is simplicity at its finest and not all games need to be super complicated to be good. This is another game that I don’t have to worry about teaching.

Unlike a lot of other games with the “easy to learn, tough to master” concept, this one actually seems like it has depth with choices. There is a lot to plan out with what cards you want since most of them are trading ones. With teaching, it took four of us just over an hour to play. Once everyone understands, I could see it being much quicker.

Not everything is roses, there are is a problem with the game. This problem isn’t exclusive to Century but with all the nicely done components and the much wasted space c3of the box insert, it drives me bonkers that the cards don’t fit in the box insert. The box will close but the card holder in the middle (as pictured) holds all the cards perfectly… if they are still sealed in their shrink wrap. Once removed, the top couple cards can freely slide out as I tried to demonstrate with the slanted cards in the picture. Do designers not care after the package is shipped? I could understand for most games but this one is a planned trilogy, this isn’t some forgotten game. It is horrendous to not compensate for that. Just imagine if you were the type to sleeve your cards. Might as well toss out the insert as soon as you get if you will be sleeving.

Yes, you heard me right, a trilogy. While it isn’t a negative, they are planning standalone expansions (they said they can be separate together) for the next two years. This is the 15th Century, next is 16th and then the 17th. That is the naming convention and they already have box art. The whole thing kind of seems funny. If I get more than one game, I’ll probably just toss the insert of my favorite box art and keep it all stashed in there. But that is not really about the gameplay so not much reason to focus on that.

While not a deal breaker, a lot of strategies being formed will have to be with the Trade cards. There are few upgrade cards and few generate cards. This could hinder some people if they aren’t paying attention and just waiting for generate cards or upgrade cards. Not really a negative but it should be something conveyed to new players so they plan accordingly and probably have a better time.

It is hard for me to talk about the gameplay in Century: Spice Road since it is pretty simple. Much like I couldn’t go on about Love Letter’s play a card and that’s it, there is more meat to it but that comes with the strategy of choosing what cards and what spices to try to acquire. I may have not been the best caravan leader in my game but I can deal in spice with the best of them!

Publisher: Plan B Games
Genre: Hand Management/Set Collection/Deck Building
Player Count: 2-5
Duration: 40+ minutes

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