Century: Eastern Wonders Review

Theme and What is it?

Century: Eastern Wonders is the second installment of the three part series from Plan B games. The series gives players the chance to explore the history of trading throughout three different centuries. Century: Spice Road is the predecessor to Century: Eastern Wonders. It was set in the 15th century and players collected four unique spices along the spice road to trade for wealth and fortune. Each installment is a standalone game but can also integrate with each of the others in the series.

Century: Eastern Wonders is set in the 16th century and players have found themselves sailing the seas to search for new exotic lands where the most valuable spices in the world are found. Once found, players attempt to control these islands for more glory and profit.

Gameplay Mechanics

Each player takes a player board, a boat, and 20 outposts in their color. The outposts are placed on each location on their player board. The game area consists of many hexagon-ish tiles with four ports in corners. After playing the game a few times, players can make their own board setup. The four spices are ginger (yellow), Chili (red), tea (green) and cloves (brown). And just like in Spice Road, they are valued this way from low to high. The starting spices are four different specific sets chosen by each player starting with the last player and going in reverse order. Once a player chooses their starting spices, they place their boat on a tile of their choice. On their turn, players can move their boat. They can move one space for free and spend spices if they desire to move farther (similar to the mechanic in Spice Road when purchasing cards). Then they perform one of the following actions:

  1. MARKET – Performed on a market tile. A player can first build an outpost and then take the market tile action. To build an outpost, a player must pay a spice for each other outpost already present. The first outpost built is free. The player takes the leftmost outpost from the row that matches the market’s icon. When a player depletes a column on their player board, they may obtain a bonus tile. Bonus tiles can give players extra VP, upgrade actions, etc. An outpost is required to use the market action. The market actions are similar to the cards in Spice Road. The player can trade certain spices for other spices.
  2. PORT – These ports contain VP tiles. If a player is on a port tile, they can turn in the required cubes to gain a VP tile. Then the port tile is replaced with a new one.
  3. HARVEST – Can be performed on any tile. The player takes two ginger (yellow) spices.

Through these three actions, players compete to get the most VP. The game ends when a player has claimed their fourth VP tile and the current round completes. Players collect points from VP tiles, bonus tiles, empty spots on their player boards that reveal VP and any spices left on their player board that is not ginger (yellow).

Initial Impressions

I am going to be honest here. I didn’t really have to have a first impression. I was going to get this game no matter what because Century: Spice Road was so good. So, I guess you could say that Spice Road was my first impression. When Spice Road came out, it was all over Instagram. I have seen Eastern Wonders being played on Instagram but not as much as with Spice Road. This could be because it just recently came out and has not hit everyone’s table yet.

Game Build Quality

The market and port tiles are the main components in Eastern Wonders. The market, port, bonus and VP tiles are nice and thick. Just like in Spice Road, the insert is very well done. Everything has a place inside the insert but it is a little cumbersome because all of the pieces of a certain type are not in once place. However, you have to take all the pieces out to play so it is not as big of a deal. I just do not think it is as good as the one from Spice Road. I feel like setup could be better for Eastern Wonders if all the pieces of each type were in the same place.

Artistic Direction

The artwork is similar to that of Century: Spice Road. There are no illustrations because there are no cards, but the art of the islands and ports have the same feel. There was also another version of the first standalone, Century: Golem Edition. This one turned the theme into an imaginary world called Caravania. The artwork is more fantasy driven which is nice but I believe the initial theme is appropriate for continuing the series. The last I heard, the designers were not creating the last two installments in the Caravania universe, so if you have not already purchased the first game and plan to, I would purchase the Spice Road Edition.

Fun Factor

My regular gaming group enjoyed Century: Spice Road a lot. We play it all the time as a filler. My family also loves it. I love to own games that are choices for game nights across the board no matter who is playing. As soon as Eastern Wonders was released, my friend tempted me to get it every time we were placing orders. When it was finally added to the collection, we played it immediately. Everyone enjoyed it and thought it was fun. It is tough for me to say which standalone I prefer.  They each bring something unique to the table. This one is definitely more involved and is not a quick game like Spice Road can be. Eastern Wonders takes the simple mechanics from Spice Road and uses them but adds more depth through other actions.

As I have mentioned before, both games can be combined. Easter Wonders provides an additional set of rules for “From Sand to Sea”. I have tried this once so far and it does make the game even longer but not terribly long. I think that I would prefer this version to the original Eastern Wonders. It adds the cards from Spice Road to Eastern Wonders. Certain bonus tiles are not included. Players do not start with as many outposts. I believe it is a good balance and a great way to play if you have players that prefer one version over the other.

Age Range & Weight

The box suggests eight and above. I stand by my opinion from Spice Road. This is very low. It does come down to the maturity level of the player but I would rate at least ten and above. The actions are more involved than Spice Road which makes the mechanics of gameplay even more advanced in Eastern Wonders. Younger players would still be at a disadvantage.

Conclusions

The game is beautiful and the gameplay is remarkable. My only complaint with Eastern Wonders is that it only supports up to four players unlike Spice Road which supports up to five. This is minor but is a drawback if Spice Road was frequently played with five players. However, I was very excited to get this one to the table and I am even more excited to find out what the next standalone will be like. I am anxious to see how they will all integrate. Would you be able to mix just the last game with the first and leave out the middle? Or will it only integrate with the standalone before it? I am sure there will be a way to mix all three at least! The next installment is Century: A New World. It should be released sometime next year. I cannot wait!

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