Jenn BartlettUnited States
Century: Golem Edition
Published by Plan B Games, 2017
Designed by Emerson Matsuuchi
Times I played: 6? 7? I honestly lost track
Kudos to Century: Golem Edition for having the best and easiest to understand rule book (can't even call it a rule book- it's a single, double-sided piece of cardstock). I did not even notice until I started writing this review that on the top right of the rules sheet, there is a short conversation between a child and their father about the crystal golems.
Initially, our plan was to pick up Century: Spice Road at Gen Con, as it has been difficult getting it in our area. I had seen great reviews from people I follow on Instagram, and it seemed like something we would like. When Century: Golem Edition was announced, this was a better choice for us. Why? Theme, artwork, and components, all of which I will get to later.
You are probably asking yourself, "Well Jenn, have you played Splendor before?" And the answer to that is, yes, I have played it twice before. The first time was an *ok* experience and my husband (Matt) and I had kind of given up hope on it until our friend Chris retaught it to us right before Gen Con. Matt liked it better than before, and I thought it was fine enough (Sorry Splendor fans).
Our purchase at Gen Con included Century: Golem Edition as well as the playmat. I am a sucker for playmats, and while it is not essential for play, the mat adds to the experience and I think helps keep track of moving cards along. It also gathers components on one surface, which can be very helpful (especially with cats who like to test gravity). Our copy came in a fancy case and looks pretty nifty on the shelf.
Century: Golem Edition was also the first game that we bought at Gen Con that we played at Gen Con. We picked it up during the rush on Thursday and sat down later in the gaming hall to play it. We missed the paying for the merchant cards rule initially, but in later plays corrected that.
Once you understand the flow of the game and how you are building your engine, this game moves ridiculously fast from player to player. I often find, even with 5 players, as soon as you have finished your turn, it has swung back around to you. I love that there is little to no downtime and that you have to be thinking quickly. This is definitely not a game for someone who suffers from analysis paralysis, as there can be many combinations. Having played this at 2, 4, and 5 players, I would say that playing it at 2 is by far my favorite. The box says 30 to 45 minutes, but with two players you can race through the game in 15 minutes. We taught it to 3 new players and a 5 player game lasted 45 minutes.
One of the reasons we chose this over C:SP were the components. I think Matt and I were underwhelmed with the wood blocks for C:SP and the colorful gems stood out. Perhaps if the wood blocks had been in the shape of the spices, that may have made a difference (I also understand that may have driven up the price, however). The gems also come in individual containers, which is a huge bonus. I cannot comment whether or not C:SP has metal coins, but the metal coins in Century: Golem Edition are very nice. Attention to detail like this has really been something I have been appreciating lately. Games that incorporate not only just good game play and mechanics, but artwork and components, add to my overall experience. Century: Golem Edition knocks it out of the park with the gems and metal coins.
As gamers who are getting tired of trading in the Mediterranean, the Golem theme was more appealing as well. There really is not much theme at all, more mechanics, but through the artwork and components it was a better fit. The artwork, especially on the point cards, is colorful and shows a diverse group of people as well. We have enjoyed looking at what the golem is doing on the various cards.
In terms of strategy, besides this being an engine building game, I would also classify it as a racing game. You are trying to be the first to get 5 (or 6 in a 2 to 3 player game) point cards and beat out opponents for the metal coins, which are also worth victory points at the end of the game. I have personally won the game with just three cards in my hand: the starter two and one other card, but I have also seen other players with a larger hand of merchant cards. Some players go for the higher point cards, but others who are racing for the end pick up lower point cards to drive to the end game. Gems that are not yellow are worth victory points at the end as well.
This has been one of our favorite games we got at Gen Con and has been played so many times I lost track (and forgot to log all my plays). Matt absolutely loves Century: Golem Edition and wants to play it every chance he gets.
I would highly recommend this game for a library setting, either for teens or adults. Century: Golem Edition is very easy to teach, easy to play, and has limited action choices, so it does not overwhelm players. I find it to be one of those games that as soon as you are done playing it, you want to set it up again (and set up is gloriously easy too!). Attendees at a library board game program who have also played Splendor may like this as an upgraded option.
Adventures, musings, reviews, and miscellany from a librarian in Connecticut.
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