So, what makes Century: Spice Road such a tempting l'il hors d'oeuvre for your game night? Well, here's a sousant of info courtesy of the fine folks at Plan B Games:
"Discover the beauties of the spice trading road and its colorful markets with the amazing artwork by international renowned artist Fernanda Suárez.
"Wrap your mind around simple and pure game mechanics combined with a touch of deck-building system that lead to endless strategies and decisions. Century Spice Road is truly an outstanding game. One you will play over and over and... over again!"
If that whet your appetite for a full meal, feel free to click on the following link to digest the entire rules!
Like Splendor, Century: Spice Road is compulsively-playable because you can only do one of four possible things on your turn. They are:
- Play one of your Trader Cards face-up on the table and execute its effect. Everyone starts the game with the same two options: a card that lets you take two yellow Tumeric Cubes out of the supply and put them in your Caravan and a Conversion Card that lets you perform a two-step Spice upgrade. For the record, the game's Spice hierarchy goes from lowly Turmeric (yellow), to Saffron (red), to Cardamon (green) and finally up to the Cadillac of spices: Cinnamon (brown). So, for example, I could use my Conversion Card to swap two Turmerics for two Saffrons or one Turmeric into a Cardamon.
- Pick up a new Trading Card. The card in the left-most slot is free but if you want something that's deeper in the ranks, you have to place one Spice Cube on every card you want to skip over. Later, if you pick up a Trading Card with Cubes on it, you get to add them to your Caravan as well. By carefully selecting certain Trading Cards, players start to create deck-builder-style efficiencies to help them win the game!
- Rest! After you've played all of your Trading Cards face-up on the table, a Rest action lets you take all of 'em back into your hot l'il mitts! Now you've got all of your options back...yay!
- Pay for a Scoring Card! If you have all the Spices you need to snatch up a Scoring Card in your Caravan, then chuck 'em all back into the Bowls to get that card! If a Scoring Card came from one of the first two slots, help yo'self to an accompanying Gold or Silver Coin as well!
Players take turns, choosing to do one of these things at a time until one player nabs their fifth Scoring Card. Then you count up your total Points which come from your Scoring Cards, Coins (three points for a Gold, one point for a Silver) and one Point for every Cube on your Caravan other than Turmeric.
So, now that we've got all that established...
"YET ANOTHER FRIGGIN' GAMING BLOG" THEATER PRESENTS...
IN ASSOCIATION WITH PLAN B GAMES...
A FEW SAMPLE TURNS OF...
CENTURY: SPICE ROAD
Emmy plays a Trading Card, collecting two Turmeric from supply. Matt executes his Conversion Card, upgrading two Turmeric for two Saffron. Suki grabs the first option in the Trading Card row, a Card that will let her swap one Saffron for three Turmeric.
Emmy tables her Conversion Card, swapping two Turmeric for two Saffron. Matt wants the Trading Card in the third position so he places one Turmeric Cube on each of the two prior Cards to pick it up. Suki plays her Conversion Card, transmuting two Turmerics into two Saffrons.
Emmy drops one Turmeric on each of the first three Cards on the track to pick up a powerful triple Conversion Card and put it into her hand. Matt plays his new Trading Card, exchanging two Saffron for one Cinnamon and two Turmerics ("Twomerics"?). Suki plays her "acquire two Turmeric" Card.
Emmy plays that triple Conversion Card, upgrading a Saffron one step to a Cardamon and another Saffron two steps to a Cinnamon. Matt plays his "collect two Turmeric" Card. Suki places one Turmeric on each on the first three cards to snatch up a new Trading Card which will let her transform two Turmeric into one Cardamon.
Emmy Rests, taking all of her played Cards back into her hand. Matt follows suit. Suki plays her Trading Card which turns one Saffron into three Turmeric.
Emmy pays for a Trading Card that's three spaces deep, placing one Turmeric Cube per Card...aaaaand immediately gets it all back 'cuz there's already three Turmerics docked on the card! Matt plays a Trading Card, returning two Turmeric and getting two Saffron in exchange. Suki plays a Trading Card, swapping two Turmeric for one Cardamon.
Emmy plays a Trading Card to get two Turmeric. Matt plays his Trading Card which turns two Saffron into one Cinnamon and two Turmeric. Suki finally takes a Rest action, adding all of her played cards back into her hand.
Emmy plays her Conversion Card, promoting one Turmeric two steps up into a Cardamon. Matt plays a Trading Card to get two Turmeric. Suki grabs the Trading Card in the first slot, picking up three free Turmeric in the process!
Emmy pays two Turmeric and two Cardamon to capture an 8-point Scoring Card. Matt plays his Conversion Card, upgrading two Turmeric for two Saffron. Suki plays her Conversion Card, transferring one Saffron into one Cinnamon.
Emmy drops her triple Conversion Card, turning one Turmeric into one Cinnamon. Matt returns two Turmeric, two Saffron, and two Cinnamon back to the supply to acquire a 15-point Scoring Card. Suki spends a whopping five Turmeric to pick up a Trading Card that allow her to take two Saffrons from supply everytime she plays it.
Emmy picks up the Trading Card in the first slot, gaining four free Turmeric in the process! Matt spends two Turmeric to pick up a Trading Card in the third slot, gaining one Turmeric back. Suki plays a Trading Card for two Turmeric.
Emmy drops a Trading Card that lets her return a Cinnamon for three Cardamon, one Saffron and one Turmeric. Matt picks up a Trading Card in the second slot by paying one Turmeric but immediately gets two free yellow Cubes back! Suki plays her newly-acquired Trading Card and gets two Saffron from supply.
Emmy drops a Trading Card, turning one Cardamon into two Saffron. Matt plays a Trading Card which transfers two Turmeric into two Saffron. Suki grabs the first option in the Trading Card slot, gaining three Turmeric in the process.
Emmy reveals her triple Conversion Card, upgrading one Turmeric three steps to a Cinnamon. Matt plays a Trading Card which lets him transform two Saffron into two Turmeric and one Cinnamon. Suki plays a Trading Card, exchanging two Turmeric for one Cardamon.
Emmy pays three Saffron, one Turmeric, one Cardamon and one Cinnamon for a 16-value Point Card and a one-Point Silver Coin. Matt rests. Suki picks up the Trading Card in the first slot, getting one Turmeric Cube.
And so on!
- It's pretty! The card art, coins, component Cubes and Spice Bowls are all fantastic.
- It's easy! If you read the four possible actions that I listed above, you've already got 95% of the game's rules locked down cold!
- It's fast-paced! The play examples illustrate just how quickly turns go. Like Splendor and Ticket To Ride, the fact that you can only do one thing on your turn keeps the game moving at a brisk clip. This also cuts down on analysis paralysis and results in a sleek thirty-to-forty-minute play time.
- It's interesting! Selecting the right Trading and Conversion Cards will help you snag those all-important Scoring Cards before your opponents. Even when you're armed with a giant mitt-full of cards, playing them in the proper order is key. And since I really enjoy creating in-game efficiencies, the deck-builder-esque qualities of Century: Spice Road are very appealing to me.
- It's not exactly the deepest game on the planet. I'm legit curious as to how it'll hold up after a metric crap-ton of plays.
- The play-mat featured in the pics above really adds a lot to the game's appeal. Unfortunately, it isn't included with the game and has to be purchased separately. For comparison's sake, another card-based game like Splendor feels slightly more substantial mainly because of the inclusion of those top-shelf gemstone chips.
Century: Spice Road might not be the most multi-faceted or ground-breaking game I've ever played but it's components are appealing, it's easy to table, it's well-paced and, most importantly, it offers some genuinely-interesting choices to getcher brain percolatin'.
So, if your game group is sick to death of l'il plastic trains or weary of the same ol', same ol' gemstone chips and development cards, this one might just be the tasty palate cleanser that you've all been looking for.
As such, Century: Spice Road earns four pips out of six with a tilt up...but only if you're playing with the play-mat! 😂
***Hey, folks! If you enjoyed this review, please humor the possibility of buying me a Coffee! Full disclosure: I probably won't use your donation to buy an actual hot beverage; most likely I'll put it towards the first of thirty easy installments in my play-mat payment program!