In Century: Spice Road, the first of the Century: trilogy by Emerson Matsuuchi, up to five players race to complete five demand cards, by cashing in a combination of spices. There are always five different public desired demands worth varying amounts, with the first two coming with bonus coins.
Everyone starts with some low-value turmeric, and a starting deck of two basic cards that allows them to trade their spices away. There is an element of deck-building and therefore engine-building, too. Your turn is simple; you either play a card from your hand – allowing you to trade x for y, or perhaps upgrade spices (turmeric > saffron > cardamom > cinnamon); buy another card (which has a specific trade on it), but this might cost you spices to acquire it; complete a demand by cashing in the desired combo of spices, or pick up your spent cards to replenish your hand.
Century: Spice Road is a race, but like a number of modern board games with a ‘game end trigger’, the person that ends the game is no guaranteed to win. The person who has accrued the most points via their completed demands wins, so the real question is: do you rush to end the game and complete more orders? Or risk completing fewer, more valuable ones? There’s also a limit of ten spices that any player can hold in their caravan at any time, so you can’t stockpile – you need to think efficiently.
The spices themselves are simple coloured cubes, but they come in adorable little spice bowls, which is a pleasant inclusion apposed to having the cubes sprawl across your table. It also comes with metallic coins – unusual for a game of this price bracket in the Kickstarter ‘deluxe’ components era. The cards are bigger than a regular playing deck, and the artwork on them (and the caravan player mats) is as bright and warm as the spices you are collecting.
Century: Spice Road is a gateway gamer’s dream. The rules take up two sides of A4, and they are super-simple to teach, and it looks lovely sitting on your table.
Player Count: 3-5
Time: 30-45 Minutes
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