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Owen Duffy


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In 2017, recently established tabletop studio Fallback Games launched Century: Spice Roadway A tight, brain-teasing card video game, Spice Roadway cast gamers as merchants trading spices on the overland path in between Europe and Asia, and it integrated the mechanical minimalism of hit gem-trading video game Elegance with simply a tip of Rule– design deckbuilding.

Fallback Games

What was appealing to numerous fans, however, was that Spice Roadway was simply the very first installation in a prepared trilogy. Gamers would have the ability to integrate it with the future video games in the series, blending them to produce a range of gameplay experiences. Now the 2nd release in the lineup has actually gotten here in the type of Century: Eastern Marvels However is it a satisfying video game in its own right? An interesting add-on to a recognized hit? Or, is it simply a trick that sounds fantastic in theory– however does not hold up when it strikes the table?

Eastern Marvels‘ action unfolds in the Indonesian Spice Islands, a spread island chain abundant with valuable cloves, tea, chilis, and ginger. Gamers take command of freight ships, cruising in between islands, developing trading posts, and completing to export the most profitable collections of spices.

This is a comparable facility to Spice Roadway You start the video game with a modest collection of spices, here represented by color-coded wood cubes. Some abound and simple to get, others are more difficult to get your hands on, and as you play you attempt to build up collections of cubes revealed on a set of “unbiased tiles” in order to claim triumph points.

However there are likewise distinctions to find. The most obvious is that where Spice Roadway revolved simply around cards in gamers’ hands, Eastern Marvels presents a board– a modular hex grid of island tiles that you arbitrarily put together whenever you play. You make your method from one island to the next, trading spices as you go. Each island uses a various offer for resourceful captains: 5 ginger for 2 tea, 2 tea for 2 chilis, or more cloves for half a considerable amount of less important products.

The video game ends up being a creative puzzle of effectiveness and optimization, and you’ll search the board searching for the quickest method to gather point-scoring sets of spices prior to moneying in your cubes at one of 4 port tiles. Thoughtful as this procedure is, it’s likewise a stealthily competitive race. You’ll require to keep a close eye on your challengers, attempting to exercise which goals they are going for– and choosing whether you can take them initially.

This includes an intriguing spatial measurement to the formula set by Spice Roadway, and the mix of trading and browsing your method throughout the board takes some mindful preparation. However what truly makes Eastern Marvels shine is the collection of additional systems it bolts to its slick mechanical core. To move extra areas on your turn, you can play additional cubes, laying them in your wake throughout the board. Nevertheless, other gamers can get your disposed of spices. This produces some difficult choices about the products you can manage to discard and the ones you wish to prevent handing to your challengers.

The Eastern Wonders player board.
/ The Eastern Marvels gamer board.

Owen Duffy

Then there’s the video game’s trading system. Prior to you can exchange spices on an island, you need to develop a trading post there. The very first gamer to construct a trading post on any tile does so free of charge, however any subsequent gamers need to turn over a few of their freight for the advantage. This leads to an early-game land grab as gamers hurry to develop an existence on as much of the board as possible; later on, it tosses up predicaments about whether it deserves paying the cost to open much-needed trading chances.

Lastly, a choice of upgrades offers brand-new capabilities throughout the video game. You’ll pick in between making your ship quicker, increasing the capability of your hold, or gathering spices more effectively. And while your brand-new powers are subtle, they can be important to triumph when utilized to their complete benefit.

Everything comes together to produce a series of multi-layered choices, and exercising your finest strategy is hardly ever basic. However mechanically, Eastern Marvels stays simple. Its guidelines are simply 2 pages long, and after you have actually played a couple of turns they end up being force of habit, leaving you to focus on your techniques. The video game likewise tends to produce nail-bitingly close video games with just a number of points separating winners and losers.

However as remarkable as the video game is on its own, this isn’t the very best method to play.

Likewise consisted of in package is a set of guidelines for an innovative “Sand to Sea” mode, which includes the cards from Century: Spice Roadway In addition to circumnavigating the board, developing your hang on various islands, and trading with their occupants, you can purchase and play cards which let you update the spices in your hold, representing a mercantile empire that extends around the world.

The vital distinction in between the 2 setups is that, to move your ship, you’ll require to dispose of a card from your hand. Hence, on every turn you’ll require to weigh your choices, choosing whether the cards you hold are better for the trading benefits they provide or the capability to cruise in between islands. This includes little to the video game’s mechanical intricacy, however it does include a totally brand-new aspect to the decision-making. And to heighten things even further, the combined video game mode likewise presents some blank board areas representing stretches of ocean blue. This implies that browsing your method around the board ends up being concurrently more crucial and harder, and it ratchets up the sense of pressure as you attempt to acquire the tiniest edge over your challengers.

Having actually played all 3 presently offered models of the Century series, I have no doubt in stating that “Sand to Sea” is my preferred. In reality, I do not see any genuine factor to return to playing either video game by itself. And with the last video game in the trilogy set for release in 2019, I’m eagerly anticipating seeing the resolution of this abundant and classy series.