Which one of you is the best trader? Century : La Route des Épices challenges you to find this out in a battle of trading spices and completing contracts to score the most points. We bought this game a few weeks ago and played it extensively, these are our thoughts on this game.
In Century : La Route des Épices every player becomes a trader of spices that are depicted by cubes in four colors. By using trade cards, a player can trade the spices in his or her caravan for better spices on the market. In the game, you can also acquire new and better trade cards to get to the more expensive spices even faster. These spices are needed to complete contracts and contracts are worth points at the end of the game.
When the first player completes five of these contracts (or six in a 2-3 player game), the last round is played. The player that has scored the most points in contracts is the winner of the game!
Century : La Route des Épices contains a stack of four different sorts of cards that are made in a very large format so they can be easily seen by everyone at the table. The four categories of cards can be distinguished by the different colors of backs and they are caravan cards, contracts and two sorts of trade cards.
The game is equipped by default with nice bowls to put the spice cubes into. Also, there are metal coins with a silver and golden finish to represent bonus points that can be acquired by completing specific contracts. If we compare the price of this game with the components included, we are amazed, most of these great components would be discarded in other games or added as paid extras because of the costs. A big compliment to Plan B Games for producing the game like this!
At the start of the game, every player gets the same two trade cards in their hands. Five contract cards are placed open on the table and the market is filled with six trade cards. The players now receive their starting spice according to the player order. The first round can now start.
Player turns in Century : La Route des Épices go very quickly, but sometimes players will have to think hard to find out what the best action will be. Every turn a player can execute one of the four types of actions, and these possible actions are the following:
Play a trade card from your hand
Buy a new trade card
Complete a contract
This goes on until one of the players completes his fifth contract, the round is now finished until the round is back to the player who started the game. Now it's time to count points, players get points depicted on the contract cards, three points for each gold coin and one point for every silver coin. The player with the most points is the winner of this game.
Because the actions are so simple, turns go very fast and it is simple to plan your actions in the future. However, keep in mind that it is perfectly possible that another player snatches the card you wanted in front of your eyes.
Our opinion & conclusion
Century : La Route des Épices is a game that is very easy to teach to new players because there are only four possible actions that are needed to play the game. However, sometimes there can be a bit of analysis paralysis because you have to keep in mind what actions are important and how to get to a certain contract in as few steps as possible. And this can slow the game down.
It is very entertaining to snatch away a contract card when you know another player is aiming towards this card. You can see the cubes of everyone's caravan, so you can try to predict what contract card they are playing towards and respond to this. Also, when good trade cards appear on the market there is always a race to get this card, but pay as few cubes as possible for it. The balance of trading cards is also very well done, there are always cards you want over others, but there are no overpowered cards.
While the game is very fun and it does not take too long (about 30 minutes), I do not feel the need to play the game again after a first game. The game does come to the table allot, but never twice in a row.
All in all, this is an amazing and fun game which I am glad to have in my collection, it's a happy medium between a long strategy game and a simple short game. This is a game that I would most certainly recommend: Century : La Route des Épices!