Century: Spice Road Review


Century: Spice Road Review 1

Publisher: Plan B Games

Designer: Emerson Matsuuchi

Game Type: Card Game, Economic

Artist: Fernanda Suárez

Artist: David Richards

Initial Year of Release: 2017

Theme and What is It?

Century: Spice Road is the first installment of a three part series from Plan B games. The series gives players the chance to explore the history of trading throughout three different centuries. The first is set in the 15th century and players begin their trip along the eastern spice road to collect the four unique spices to trade for wealth and fortune. Each installment will be a standalone game but can also integrate with each of the others in the series.

Gameplay Mechanics

Players start the game with a different colored caravan leader and the two starting merchant cards. The game area has a row of point cards and merchant cards. The four spices are turmeric (yellow), saffron (red), cardamom (green), and cinnamon (brown) and are valued in this order from low to high. The starting spices are determined by player order.

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The turns are very easy as players choose from one of four actions.

  1. ACQUIRE – Purchase a merchant card by spending the necessary spices or acquire for free if taking from the far left side.
  2. PLAY – Play a starting merchant card or one acquired on a previous turn. These cards allow you to trade spices or upgrade spices.
  3. REST – Place all merchant cards that have been played back into your hand
  4. CLAIM – Trade in spices to claim a point card. If it is a point card underneath gold or silver coins, take a coin.

century spice

Through these four actions, players compete to get the most points. The game ends when a player has taken their fifth or sixth point card (depending on player count), in which the round is finished so all players have the same amount of turns. Players then score points from their point cards, coins and any spice left in their caravan that is not yellow.

Initial Impressions

I follow a lot of gamers on Instagram and when Century first came out, it seemed like every other post was about the game. My initial impression was that this was a re-theme of the game Splendor with some possible added mechanics. It has even been referred to as the “Splendor Killer” by some. Do I still play Splendor? Absolutely! For me, both games are very different and each brings a unique dynamic to gameplay. Although this game has similarities to Splendor, it is more diverse and when the other standalones in the series make their way to the table, it will only add more variety. So, if you are concerned about having two similar games in your library, I wouldn’t be.

Game Build Quality

WOW! There are metal coins! There are small bowls for the spice cubes! And the cards are great quality. The rules are just one sheet of card stock which makes for an easy reference. The insert is great because all of the components fit snugly inside the box. I couldn’t compliment the quality of this game enough. I can be won over with great components any day of the week!

Artistic Direction

The artwork on the cards is realistic and very well done. If this was a movie, you would feel like you were in the Middle East. There are illustrations of men and woman working in their professions as well as beautiful scenery of pyramids and temples. There is another version of the game, Century: Golem edition, that turns the theme into an imaginary world called Caravania. Players are delivering crystals instead of spices. The artwork is more fantasy driven which is nice but I believe the initial theme is appropriate for the future of the series.

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Fun Factor

My regular gaming group enjoys this one a lot. We play it quite often as a filler. In addition, my family loves it, which is always an A+ for me. It has been a request for the past couple of family game nights. I love this game even though I never win. Someone always edges me out in some way but I still enjoy playing it. There are many styles of play. It is not always easy to predict what other players are doing. When you think you are on to them, they switch their focus to something else to throw you off. 

Difficulty and Age Range Suggestion

The rating is eight and above. In my opinion, that may be slightly low. Ultimately, it all comes down to the maturity level of each person but I would rate it for ten and above. The actions are simple to understand but the mechanics of gameplay may be a little more advanced for an eight year old. If the game is played with players of equal age, it would not matter so much but played with a diverse age group could put younger players at a disadvantage. 

Final Thoughts

The game is amazing.  I am excited and intrigued to see what the next two standalones in the series add to Spice Road. The next installment is called Century: Eastern Wonders and should be releasing soon. From what I have seen so far, it is tile based which means it will probably be nothing like its predecessor. If you already have Century: Spice Road, be on the lookout for Century: Eastern Wonders. If you don’t, I definitely recommend picking this one up. You will not be disappointed.

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