Century: Spice Road - Board Game Box Shot

Century: Spice Road

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Centuries ago, the spice trade was the most important market in the world. It established and destroyed empires, compelled men to explore the far corners of the earth, and led to the discovery of new worlds. At that time, the value of spices even rivaled that of gold! In the old days, they carried a sense of mystery and allure. Spice merchants would weave fantastic tales of danger to reach these spices in hopes of selling their wares at high prices. In later centuries, the demand on spices became so great, that those who controlled the spices generated immense wealth and renown. It is at this time, you find yourself leading your caravan across the eastern lands to the Mediterranean Sea in search of wealth and fortune. As a caravan leader, your journey begins on the Spice Road.

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“Engine Building Champ? AKA The Splendor Killer”

Dead of Winter. Panamax. Munchkin. These games are dripping with theme….wait. That’s how I started my Splendor review. But many call Century: Spice Road a “Splendor Killer”. So is it the new theme-less engine building champ? Or is just another in a long list of false claims to Splendor’s throne. Lets find out.

Components

CUBES!!! The first giveaway that this is a basic as get out game is the cubes. There’s nothing wrong with cubes, but they are cheaper than custom chits or better yet, custom wood/plastic pieces. So does that mean Plan B put out a poorly produced game? No.

The cards? Good stock with interesting artwork, but over sized. Not so much that a person with small hands will struggle to keep their cards organized, but for us with larger hands, it’s a nice change. One minor gripe about the artwork is they re-use a lot of the same art for multiple cards. Not an issue to game play as the iconography on the cards is very clear.

The extras are the metal coins, and the plastic bowls for the above mentioned cubes. It’s not like these are Etsy quality bits, but they add some table presence to what is a basic card game.

Set-Up

Shuffle the orange point cards and draw 5 cards. Places the rest of the deck to the right of these. Above the point card furthest to the left, place some gold coins (2 times the number of players, ie. 4 for a 2 player game) and place the same amount of silver coins above the point card to the right.

Shuffle the purple action cards and draw 6 cards. Places the rest of the deck to the right of these.

Give each player a player mat, and the two starting cards. Assign a first player, and give out starting resources. You are ready to begin.

Game Play – Basics

On a player’s turn they will perform one of the following four actions:

*Play a card from their hand and take the card’s action
*Purchase a purple card. The Left most card is free. If you want any cards to the right of this, you can buy them, but you will have to place a cube (any colour) on each card to the left of the card you take. If you purchase a purple card with a cube on it, you get the cube.
*Purchase a point card by trading in the cube’s in your supply.
*Take all of your played cards in to your hand.

Players may have no more than 10 resources in their supply, but there is no hand limit.

Play continues until one player has claimed a 5th (or 6th in a 2-3 player game) point card. The game ends immediately. Players will add up their point cards, 3 points for each gold coin, 1 point for each silver coin, and 1 point for any red, green, or brown cubes left in their supply.

The player with the most points wins.

Game Play – Advanced Tactics

When a player claims a point card the remaining cards slide to the left. This lets you know which cards are going to be worth an extra 1-3 points in a round or two. Timing when to buy a card can be crucial, as some times waiting a turn will result in a card being gone, but can also mean an extra three points if it goes from having no coins to a gold coin above it.

Theme

I’ve yet to say the names of the spices, or where in the world you are suppose to be trading these resources. Why? Because the theme does not matter. Plan B highlighted these with Century Gollum Edition, which is the exact same game, but with different art and coloured gems instead of cubes.

If you need theme in your game, this won’t do it for you.

Replay Value

This game plays fast. Often if you ask whose turn it is, the answer is you. Seriously, you will take a turn and before you know it, you go again. Which means the entire game flys by, as you build up an engine of upgrade, trade, and acquire cards to get the right cubes to buy the right point cards. And the thing is, because there are so many purple cards, and so many different orange point cards, each game will require a different engine. Simply building an engine that nabs you the most brown (ie. highest value cubes) may not work for one game, and may be the deal breaker of winning another.

If you like quick puzzles with very little AP, you will find a lot of replay value. The only reason I don’t have more plays logged is because I purpose don’t bring Spice Road to game nights as I have other games that need more plays.

If you are looking for story, or epic turns…you may get tired of this in the same amount of plays you got tired of Splendor in.

Over All Impression.

So does Century Spice Road “kill” Splendor? No. In fact I have both beside each other on my game shelf. I rank both in my top 10 games of all time. I think I like Spice Road just a little bit more. There’s just a little bit more game in Spice Road. And the speed. This game easily plays in under an hour (even under 30 minutes) and gives me a satisfying and constantly changing puzzle.

Yes it is a simple game, but it is a very clean and well executed game as well. If you like Splendor style engine builders, you will probably really enjoy Spice Road.

If you thought Splendor was just OK? You can skip this one.

 

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