Theme and What is it?
If you are a fan of any of the Century games series (Century: Spice Road, Century: Eastern Wonders, Century: A New World, Century: Golem Edition) then you probably already know what you are getting in for with the Golem edition of Eastern Mountains.
This is a DIRECT re-skin of the Eastern Wonders game into a mountain caravan theme. The original Golem edition re-skinned Century Spice road and in my experience has been the more popular version because it visually pops out at players.
In Eastern Mountains, players will navigate their caravan through mountain passes to meet with locals, establish trading outposts, and exchange their crystals for other crystals. Occasionally players will stop off in market villages to offload their merchandise for point tokens.
Whoever can most efficiently manage their resources, routes, and manipulate the market villages will earn the most points and be declared the winner.
The first player to stop in a location will be able to build a trading outpost for free. Other players will need to bribe the townsfolk with as many trade goods as there are existing outposts to place their own in that same location from then on. Without an outpost or the right goods, no trading happens and instead you would simply mine basic crystals.
When making a trade, players can exchange multiple sets of goods at once to be more efficient. This can be tricky given there is a 10 capacity limit on your caravan. Unless you upgrade it!
In Eastern Mountains, players remove trading outposts of the type of location they have stopped on. Clearing a set of each type of trading outpost (a complete column) will earn a bonus. Bonuses can be points at the end of the game, extra movement without payment penalties, enhanced mining, upgrades when installing new outposts, or extra caravan space!
This is the same great game we have played before. But it looks awesome! I cannot find any formulaic differences in the tile sets, point tokens, and upgrades. Eastern Mountains will mostly appeal to those who prefer the shiny aquarium rocks to the cubes used in eastern wonders.
It can be integrated with the original Golem Edition to make a hybrid game with its own set of rules for play. This has been a hugely anticipated game for fans of the original golem that also wanted to play the integrated games without buying every “Spice” game in the set.
Game Build Quality
Where do I start? This is an extremely high quality production value. Let’s start with the insert. I had to almost immediately trash the insert for Eastern Wonders to make things fit in the box while keeping them in any semblance of organization. Eastern Mountains has an insert that fits everything perfectly and naturally holds down the tiles with the crystal trays and bagged trading outposts.
The crystals are one of the primary selling points. They bring a vibrance to the table that cannot be understated. The crystal trays unpack into individual quadrants and go back into the box with a single plastic cover easily.
My one tiny complaint is that I really liked the trading outposts in Eastern Wonders with little arched structures. The Eastern Mountain outposts are simple wooden structure meeples common in other games. I would have expected these components to be identical between the games.
In the original Century Spice Road and Golem edition, the fun is in solving the puzzle of available trading cards to make an engine. The best parts for me are always in the player interaction of “when do I overpay to jump to a particularly tasty early card” or “how long can I wait to grab that gold bonus objective to hurt everyone else”.
In Golem: Eastern Mountains, there is a whole new puzzle to solve during gameplay. You need to find a valid way to maneuver through the mountains while continuously making good crystal trades. It isn’t enough to just find a great combination and run it over and over.
To obtain upgraded caravan bonuses, you need to try to visit most of the map. It is a great deal of fun to make carefully timed market visits to close the one your opponents most need. Giving them a long route to their next sale can make all the difference.
Age Range & Weight
10+ is a fair rating. The crystal mining/trading theme has absolutely no problems with any age group. The way mechanics fit together make a really tactical gameplay experience. The century games keep the difficulty weight quite low while delivering a game where skill is highly rewarded. Making the best plan and carefully considering timing is what determines success. I think they have accurately nailed the rating and I would recommend this to all age groups 10+.
Do you need to pick up Eastern Mountains? If you have the original Golem edition, YES! The ability to integrate the two games offers some huge replay value to the ways games can play out. If you are in the vast majority of players who find the crystal trading to be more exciting and visually appealing, the golem edition will make it much more likely to hit the table than the original Eastern Wonders. This makes my recommendation an overwhelming positive to almost all readers.
But what if you have to have all the new games as they come out? Well, if you are okay with buying all 6 century games then you should go for it! Otherwise, you might have to wait a while to be able to get A New World in Golem form.
I have no idea how long it will take to come out but it will be hard to pass on having every version despite there only being 3 games mechanically. We were worried for a while there wouldn’t be an Eastern Golem edition but it is here now and that gives hope for those patient enough to wait for the third Golem edition.