Century Eastern Wonders Review - Box Feature

Century Eastern Wonders Review & Strategy Tips

Play Time: 30-45 Min / Players: 2-4 / Complexity: Medium / Age: 8+ / Publisher: Plan B Games / Designer: Emerson Matsuuchi   

Century Eastern Wonders Ratings and Summary

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Kids Rating
Teen Rating
Parent Rating

Summary

Kids rating from our daughter (9)
Teen rating from our son (16).

Century Eastern Wonders offers a nice spin on the first game in the series, Century Spice Road. It shares a lot in common but adds some additional layers to make it feel more strategic than the previous game.  While I really enjoy it, it wasn’t as well received in our household as the first game.

3.2

Pros

  • Simple rules but plenty of strategy here
  • Modular board adds some variation each game
  • Turns are quick with little down time
  • Some nice interaction due to competition over market tiles especially at higher player counts
  • Ability to combine this with other games in the series adds some additional replay value.

Cons

  • Set up can be a little fiddly with the modular tiles
  • Slightly more complex than Century Spice Road.

What You Will Find in Our Century Eastern Wonders Review


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If you have read our Century Spice Road review, you will know we were big fans of the first game in the Century Series. My youngest daughter (9) is just mad about it and was eager to try the other games in this trilogy. Century: Eastern Wonders promised to offer a fresh take on the mechanics and themes introduced in Century Spice Road, instead of deck building we now have a pick up and deliver style game where efficiently planning your network of outposts is critical. Now I knew this game was a little more complex than its predecessor, but I wasn’t sure if this level of complexity would be too much for my kids to handle. Would they be able to navigate the more intricate gameplay and still have fun? Let’s dive into our family’s experience with Century: Eastern Wonders and see if it’s a worthy successor to the beloved Century Spice Road.

In Century Eastern Wonders your goal is to travel throughout the famed Spice Islands and make your fortune. Much like Century Spice Road you will be collecting sets of coloured cubes (yellow for ginger, red for chili, green for tea and brown for cloves) and exchanging them for points tokens at one of the four ports in the corners of the modular board. The final round is triggered when one player gains four victory point tiles and the player with the most points wins.

Century Eastern Wonders Review - Game Set Up
Century Eastern Wonders set up and ready to play. The modular board varies each game.

But how does it all work? Well, in Century: Eastern Wonders, players navigate their ship around the modular board, build trading posts, and collect bonus tiles in their quest to collect certain spices, represented by coloured cubes.

The game board is comprised of interlocking hexagonal tiles, with most tiles depicting a trade and two sets of cubes connected by an arrow. The other tiles are ports, where players can collect point tokens by paying the required spice fee.

Each player has a boat, player board, and outposts to manage. On their turn, players can move their boat one space, perform a market action, port action, or harvest action on the tile where their boat ended. Players can move additional spaces by dropping one spice on each additional market tile they travel too. This is similar to how skipping cards in the market works in Century Spice Road. If you happen to end your turn on a space with spice already on it, you can collect that spice too.

To complete a market action on a space you have landed requires you to set up an outpost. An outpost is free unless someone has already set up an outpost on that market tile, in which case you must pay one spice for each outpost already on that tile. You need to think carefully about where you place outposts to enable an efficient and complimentary network that allows you to generate the spice you need.

Century Eastern Wonders Review - Player Board and Tokens
As you place outposts they progressively reveal bonus points. You can also claim a bonus tile for a permanent ability or points when you place a full column of outposts.

If you really don’t want to exchange spice or have no spice to exchange you can simply perform a harvest action that grants you 2 yellow cubes from the supply.

Once you have the spice you need you can travel to one of the relevant ports and exchange your spice for the relevant Victory Point tile as long as you have the matching spice required.

That’s the bulk of the gameplay but there’s one additional twist compared to Century Spice Road which adds a layer of strategy here. Whenever you place an outpost, you take it from a matching coloured row from your player board. If you manage to place a set of four different coloured outposts in the same column you can claim a juicy bonus tile.

These bonus tiles grant special abilities that give you a nice boost. You can gain an extra movement, some additional victory points, more space in your cargo hold for spice, a spice bonus whenever you harvest, or a spice bonus every time you place an outpost. For each outpost you place of the same colour after your first you will also get the points bonus revealed on your player board, so this offers an additional way to score points.

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As I mentioned earlier, Century Spice Road was really well received in our household. It was simple enough for my youngest daughter to enjoy at 7, but still had enough strategy to keep the older members of the family interested. It also played relatively quickly. So, did this twist on the original formula hit the mark? Well, as is often the case we have different opinions on that.

Let me start with my perspective on what I really like about this game. I think there are a few more layers of depth here than Century Spice Road. The strategy seems a lot more involved in this one. In the original game the key was efficient deckbuilding and resource management to gain point cards. In this game you have to think carefully about how you build your network of outposts to maximise synergies and efficient movement. Points don’t just come from the points tokens but also from your board and potentially bonus tiles.

Century Eastern Wonders Review - Bonus Tiles
Bonus tiles can be earned by placing a full column of outposts from your player board. Each one grants either a permanent advantage or points.

Speaking of bonus tiles, this concept didn’t exist in the original game, and I am so pleased it was introduced in this version. As I expand my network of outposts, I get rewarded for claiming a full set of colours by gaining a permanent bonus ability. This really motivates me to be quite deliberate about the market tiles I target. I do wonder if these tiles are as balanced as they could be though, personally I find myself prioritising the additional movement bonus each game.

But while I am considering all these layers and angles to my decisions, I also have to be more aware of what my opponents are planning. In high player count games, the spaces can start to feel very crowded as players rush to claim their favoured market tiles. Claiming a space after someone else isn’t disastrous but it does cost you precious spice, so it slows you down somewhat. At 2 players you can generally work around your opponent a little easier, that’s harder to do with 3 or 4 players.

Century Eastern Wonders Review - Game in Play
Competition for spaces is a little lighter at 2 players but ramps up at higher player counts.

So overall, I think the gameplay here, while familiar is a great evolution on the original ingredients that adds plenty to spice up the experience. But….and there is a but as much as I really enjoy this game my kids aren’t as enthused about it as I am.

My youngest daughter thinks the additional layers add too much to consider and while she enjoys this game, she wouldn’t choose to play it over Century Spice Road. I think it may be because Century Spice Road was such a simple and accessible game, the small step up in complexity made this one less appealing somehow. My son doesn’t feel as enthused about Century Eastern Wonders either, but he is a bigger fan of the combined game Century from Sand to Sea. This is probably a good point to cut to the next section… cue a nice fade to the next segment.

Century Eastern Wonders Review - Player Board
The revers side of player boards is used for the combined Century from Sand to Sea variant. You are able to claim a card for free as a a bonus in this version or a bonus tile.

As I mentioned earlier my son thinks the combined version of Century Spice Road and Eastern Wonders is his preferred way to play, and I happen to agree. The combined version is called Century from Sand to Sea and incorporates most of Century Eastern Wonders and the deck of market cards from Spice Road. A few of the bonus tiles and market tiles are removed though.

This game weaves in elements from both Century titles masterfully in my view. You can still build a network of outposts and convert spice through the market tiles but the cards from Spice Road are also incorporated in this game. They have a cool dual use, you can either use them to gain/convert/upgrade spice or consume them to move your boat. The catch is the last part, there is no longer a free move in this version of the game, you must consume cards to move. It’s just such a clever way to integrate both games in a way that makes it feel like it should have been that way all along.

The trade off for the improvements in gameplay though is more complexity albeit with a reward of plenty of additional depth and satisfying decisions. My daughter is not a fan of this one due to the additional complexity, she just thinks there is too much to consider when making decisions and I think that is probably going to be the case for younger kids. I think this combined game will more likely appeal to experienced board gamers who want some more crunchy decisions and additional layers of the strategy to consider.

Century Eastern Wonders Review - Components
The components overall look great and iconography is well laid out.

The components in Century Eastern Wonders are of a high standard overall and it feels like you get a little more value in this box compared to Spice Road. In Spice Road I got cards, cubes and coins, this time I get modular tiles, points tokens and wooden tokens. The iconography is clear and easy to follow too. My main gripe is that the modular board can be a little fiddly to put together sometimes as you can easily nudge tiles while you’re putting it together meaning you have to realign them.   

I didn’t think Century Spice Road was particularly thematic, but I think Eastern Wonders is a little better on that front. Moving a physical boat around islands, establishing outposts and collecting points at harbours feels a little more aligned to the spice trading theme to me.

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Century Eastern Wonders adds some layers of depth to the original formula that made Century Spice Road so popular. While it’s familiar it feels like a different and deeper experience with more strategic considerations. While I really enjoy this game overall, the family isn’t as enthused about this game as they were about Century Spice Road.

I think Century Spice Road is a better introduction to the series for non-gamers and younger kids, but I think there is room for both in a family’s board game collection. Especially given the combined game – from Sand to Sea is such a clever integration of the two games. But if I had to pick just one, I think Century Spice Road would generally appeal to a broader audience given it is a little simpler.

Is Century Eastern Wonders easy to learn?   Yes, but a little more complex than Century Spice Road.

What will Century Eastern Wonders teach my kids? Spatial planning in relation to optimal outpost placement and efficient movement.   

What age is appropriate for Century Eastern Wonders?  The box says 8+ and I think this depends on whether your child has played many modern board games before. I think if they have played Century Spice Road for example learning this game won’t be as hard.

Does Century Eastern Wonders have good replay value?  Yes, given variable modular board and the ability to combine with Century Spice Road.   

We hope you enjoyed our Century Eastern Wonders review. If you have any more questions or just want to share your thoughts on this game please leave a comment below, or get in touch through our contact page.

About the Authors

We are parents who love board gaming. We have three children and have been enjoying board games as a family ever since we had our first child. We share our real unbiased experiences and opinions on board games so you can decide if they are right for your family. We also write guides and articles to help you get the most out of your family game time. If you enjoy our content and want to support us you can do that through our Ko-fi page by clicking on the button below.

  • Plan your route carefully: The modular board and interlocking hexagonal tiles offer a wide variety of routes to choose from, but not all routes are created equal. Look for routes that offer the most efficient path to generating and converting spice.
  • Remember not to get side tracked: It can be really tempting to establish a bunch of outposts and collect bonus tiles but remember points tiles provide the most points. Try to be as efficient as possible in grabbing points tiles from ports.
  • Some bonus tiles are more effective early in the game: Bonus tiles offer a powerful way to earn extra points and gain advantages over your opponents. But some are a lot more valuable in the early game, like the movement bonus or the ones that provide a spice bonus for actions. Generally, in the late game the points bonus tiles are more advantageous as you have fewer turns until the game ends.
  • Use your player board to your advantage: Placing outposts to complete columns is great for getting bonus tiles but near the end game points matter most and you may be better off trying to remove as many as you can from the same row for higher points bonuses.
  • Watch your opponents: Eastern Wonders is a competitive game, and you’ll need to keep an eye on your opponents to stay ahead. Try to anticipate their moves and plan your own actions accordingly. Be aware of the cubes they’re collecting, and the bonus tiles they’re trying to collect, and adjust your strategy. If they are very close to grabbing a high scoring point tile there is no point in gathering the spice for it if they are likely to beat you to it, you are better off adjusting to target another.
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