So the third instalment of Plan B Games‘ Century trilogy is here; and this time, the stand-alone game very much has a worker placement mechanic in order to gain the resources needed to complete the points objectives. As with Century: Eastern Wonders, there are additional rule sets so that you can combine both (or just one) of the previous two titles.
For the stand-alone game, the players place the specified number of settlers (workers) on a location in order to gain the available action; alternatively, they can oust another player’s settlers at a cost of +1 settler to the number of settlers being ousted. Punishing other players for wanting to do an action you have already done is always a mechanic I enjoy; especially as you can then re-use the ousted settlers on your next turn.
Your settlers being ousted is not the only way to get them back though, you can take a turn to ‘rest’ and return all your active workers to your player board. If you have a different strategy that the other players and therefore are not utilising the same locations, you will find you have to ‘rest’ more than you would like.
The points cards have also changed. Now, not only do they have a lower points value, but they also have gameplay bonuses and actions which give you things like a reduction of required settlers, extra settlers and the opportunity to ‘explore’ the new world, opening up more locations.
Finally, when claiming points cards, you have the option to claim a bonus tile, limited to 3, which may give additional “end of game” points via set collection.
Overall this is a great addition to the trilogy, once again providing a different mechanic for the gameplay and utilising the previous games to make a larger and deeper game. Once the rules are understood, this should play as quite a fast-paced game, with little downtime between turns; however part of this is due to the players, quite often, being able to decide on their next turn with very little obstruction from the other players.
The only major downside I have found with the base game, so far, is that there is little incentive to take the lower pointed scoring cards. Yes the cards are slid to the left when refilled and the left-hand scoring location only requires 1 settler, rather than 3 at the other end of the board; unless a card has a specific icon you need for your bonus tilesets, these cards are rarely taken, especially towards the end of the game. I do appreciate that the lower ‘settler requirement’ is the incentive, but once you have a couple of points cards that reduce this requirement, the incentive rapidly diminishes.
Century: From East to West
From East to West is the tagline title Plan B Games have given to the rules set of Spice Road, Eastern Wonders and A New World combined into one game.
The game layout comprises of all the game boards from A New World, a random selection of the bonus tiles and exploration tiles along with some points card replacements. Added to this are all the market cards from Spice Road plus a random selection of island tiles (3 from each commodity type) and the boat token and 12 trading posts for each player.
With the addition of the components from the other games, there are also now locations that allow you to move your boat around the islands to build trading posts and perform trade actions; a trading post is not required to perform a trade action, however building them does provide you with additional points in the final scoring as well as allowing you to take some of the bonus tiles. On top of this, two of the game boards are dedicated to the market cards from Spice Road, with locations giving you access to these cards for a single use and discard action; and again bonuses to give you an incentive to use them.
This ruleset, for me, is far superior to the base game for A New World, plays faster than the base game and actually feels like a fully formed worker placement game. I did wonder, at one point, whether this was actually the starting point for the set Century games, that was then split into three games by the sales and marketing teams, but maybe that’s just a little too cynical.
There are some small issues with the rules, it’s not a perfect game, but these are pretty minor in my view. The two biggest issues seem to be:
- A couple of the bonuses on the points cards seem a little overpowered, i.e. you get to take a red cube when you use a marketplace location (handshake symbol), which means you get to take a red cube when you take a points card. Because these bonuses are taken before you use the location’s action, this means you can take a red cube to use for the point card you want to take.
- The lack of ability to ‘explore’ additional locations. New locations can only be explored when taking specific points cards; this means that there is the potential that very few of the additions locations may be unlocked (in one of our games, only 3 of a potential 9 locations). This is certainly the lesser of these two issues, as there are so many other ways to trade and gain cubes via the Eastern Wonders and Spice Road locations, but could still do with improvement.
Overall, as I have said, this is definitely the better ruleset and the best version of the Century games. With this in mind, it does mean that you will need all three in order to get the best gaming experience from these games; but let be fair, none of them are actually bad games on their own. Although, personally, I doubt that will play anything other than this ruleset (unless using Spice Road as a gateway game)
For those that don’t own any of these games, hopefully Plan B Games will release a ‘Big Box’ version at a reasonable price so that you don’t need to buy each one individually.