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Subject: ManGo's Gaming — Century: Golem Edition rss

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Alex Bardy
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APRIL 7, 2018 — from ManGo's Gaming

Designer: Emerson Matsuuchi
Publisher: Plan B Games
2-5 players, 45-60mins
Price: £30-35 approx

DISCLAIMER: I loved the original Century: Spice Road, and ever since I saw this version first previewed (at Essen, I think), I fell in love with it and decided it would be the one I buy, just as soon as I could...

You see, when Century: Golem Edition was originally released last year (2017), the plan was to sell it only at conventions and directly via the publisher's own website. Thankfully, Plan B have finally seen the error of their ways and offered this version up for general release, and boy is it a thing of beauty...

If you're not already familiar with Century: Spice Road, it's a basic but clever collection game, in which you use cards to pick up coloured cubes (representing spices and graded from low to high: Yellow > Red > Green > Brown), use cards to upgrade those cubes to different colours, and try and claim as many 'point-scoring cards' as you can -- the point-scoring cards range in value from 6 to 20 and each has a set pattern of coloured cubes required to claim them. And because the way these cards are replaced as and when they're claimed, there's a constantly evolving set of 'target cards' to aim for.  Just to add a bit more... erm... spice to the game, the two leading cards at one end also have gold and silver coins above them worth extra points (3 and 1 respectively), and these are also taken when that card is claimed, while all the rest of the target cards shuffle along. The game ends when five cards have been claimed by a single player, or six in the case of a 2-3 player game, and whoever has the most points is declared the winner...



Your caravan is limited to 10 spice cubes at any one time, and there's always six additional cards available to take into your hand (some at a cost because although the leading card is free, you need to put a cube on each preceding card to claim those further up the line), and these offer additional flexibility with your cube-juggling... In a similar manner to the target cards, these are also replaced as and when, with the remaining cards being shuffled along (making them cheaper to obtain).

In a nutshell, that's pretty much the whole game, and very good it is, too.  There is always a balance to be struck between how many cards to take into your hand, when to 'replenish them' and when to 'go for broke' to claim the target cards: do you wait for them to move up to the additional coin spots (at the risk of other players swooping in), or just grab them while you can but possibly reveal a new target card that is easier for someone else to claim?

Century: Golem Edition is effectively a gorgeous re-skinned version of the original, using crystals instead of cubes, slightly different colours and coins, and special custom artwork tailored to each card... they really are something special, though, I think:



There isn't too much to add — the icons are all self-explanatory, and this is the kind of game that is ridiculously easy to teach and play within minutes.  This edition comes with something extra special, in that the box insert has been designed to make setting up and packing away an absolute breeze, with the trays already filled and a neat plastic cover holding everything in place — this is the sort of thing modern games publishers really should think about more often, and I'd certainly like to give Plan B a huge amount of kudos in this instance for what they've accomplished with this one...



Needless to say, this game comes highly recommended, and is the sort of game you can break out for new and old gamers alike for a pleasant 45-minute diversion.

The special playmat also looks amazing, but it's almost the same price as the actual game... so I've put that at the top of my birthday or Christmas list for this year...

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Joe Rogers
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Looking at the how-to-play videos, this sort of reminded me of "Splendor"... are you familiar with that game, and if so, are they pretty similar?
 
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Alex Bardy
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Hi Joe,

I am familiar with Splendor and it's a common comparison to make, but I think Century Spice Road (or Golem) is much quicker and easier both to teach and to play. There's possibly a bit more luck involved (mainly in what cards are available to buy and what order targets are revealed), but that isn't dissimilar to Splendor's random draw at the start, I guess. And at least in Century you do get some ongoing control over what cards or 'deck' you build and play with...

Century is a firm favourite with our group and has had countless plays already, so I have no hesitation at all in recommending it, and will add that it's especially suitable for teaching newbies and non-gamers alike - a very good gateway choice.

Alex
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Joe Rogers
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Awesome! THANKS
 
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