How to Play – Century Eastern Wonders
Century Eastern Wonders, is the second game in the Century series, by Emerson Matsuuchi. This game follows on from Century Spice Road and has a similar trading theme.
In Century Eastern Wonders you are a merchant travelling the high seas between the Spice Islands during the Age of Discovery. You are attempting to trade for spices and ultimately fulfil orders. There are elements of both pick-up and deliver and set collections within Century Eastern Wonders.
So how do you play?
Firstly, sort all the market tiles dependent on the symbol on their back. The four sea tiles can be placed back in the box. Then take one tile from each of the goods piles (those with yellow ginger, red chili, green tea and brown cloves on their back) and set them to one side. They will not be used in this game. You will then need to set up the game board. Shuffle all the goods tiles together and then lay them out in an elongated hexagon shape, with the four port tiles being placed at the top and bottom of the left and right side.
Empty each of the colour cubes into one of the pots provided with the game. For the first few games it may help if you arrange the cubes in the order yellow, red, green, brown. This is the order of the level of the goods in the game.
Take the victory point or order tiles and remove the closed port tile with a red x on it. Shuffle the rest of the tiles and place one on each of the ports. Then take the top five tiles from the pile and shuffle these with the closed port tile, before placing them back on top of the face down stack. Make sure these are placed near the board as they will be drawn throughout the game.
Next, sort out the various victory point tiles by type. Place them in stacks near the board. Some victory point tiles have numbers on and these should be sorted from smallest on the bottom to biggest at the top.
Each player then receives a player board. The player with the board with the leaf icon on is the first player. All players then take a boat and the 20 outposts of the same color. Place an outpost on each space of your player board.
Players will select their starting cubes. There are four options – four yellow, two yellow and a red, two red, or a yellow and a green. Players take turns to select these cubes in reverse play order. The cubes are placed in the cargo hold with any remaining cubes returned to the supply. Finally, each player places their boat on any market tile on the board and you are ready to begin playing.
Each player’s turn consists of two phases – the move phase and the action phase.
In the move phase a player may move their boat to any adjacent tile for free. If they want to move to a tile which is further away, they must place a cube from their cargo hold on each tile they pass through. There is no limit to how many tiles you can move as long as you have the cubes to pay.
If you end your turn on a market tile where one or more other boats are present you must pay the owner of the boat/s one cube from your cargo hold. If you do not have enough cubes to pay you cannot end your turn on that space.
If you end your turn on a tile with a cube on it, you may pick up that cube. However, if there are other boats and a cube on the same tile, you must pay the owners of the boat/s first before picking up the cube.
Once you have completed your move, you can then perform one of three actions:
- A market action on a market tile;
- A port action on a port tile;
- A harvest action on any tile.
If your boat ends on a market tile, you have the option to place one of your outposts on that tile, as long as you do not already have an outpost there. When you place an outpost it must come from the row on your player board which matches the symbol on the tile (i.e. an outpost on a red chili tile must come from the red chili row of your player board). The outpost should be taken from the leftmost available column of that row.
When another player already has an outpost on the tile, whilst you can still place an outpost on the tile there is a fee to do so. In a two player game you must pay two cubes from your cargo hold. In a three or four player game you must pay one cube for each other player with an outpost on the tile. The cubes are paid into the supply.
After placing an outpost, if there are no more outposts left in the column, you may take a bonus tile. These are discussed in more detail below.
Once you have an outpost on a tile you can then perform the market action on that tile. To do so you simply trade the cubes at the top of the white box, for those listed at the bottom. You may use the market action on a tile as many times as you want on your turn, as long as you have the cubes to do so.
If you have more cubes than spaces in your cargo hold at the end of your turn, you must discard cubes until you reach your cargo hold limit. You can choose which cubes you discard.
If your boat is on a port tile, and you have the required cubes in your hold, you can claim the victory point tile displayed there. Return the cubes from your cargo hold to the supply and take the tile, placing it face down next to your player board.
Draw the top victory point tile from the stack and place it at the port. If it is the closed port tile the port is closed so no victory point tile will be placed there. Once the closed port tile is in play it will move around the ports. When the next player takes a victory point tile from another port, move the closed port tile to that port. Then turn over a new victory point tile and place that on the previously closed port.
In a harvest action you simply take two yellow cubes from the supply and add them to your cargo hold. As above, you cannot exceed the limit of your cargo hold.
Once you have cleared a column of all outposts, by placing them on the board during a market action, you can take a bonus tile. There are five different types of bonus tile:
- Victory point tile – is worth the victory points printed on it at the end of the game;
- Movement tile – gives the player an extral free movement each turn (so they can move two tiles before having to pay cubes);
- Cargo hold tile – increases the capacity of the cargo hold by three cubes;
- Harvest tile – when you take the harvest action you can also take a red cube. This tile is worth one victory point at the end of the game;
- Upgrade tile – when you build an outpost you may immediately upgrade one cube one level (from yellow to red, red to green or green to brown). This tile is also worth two victory points at the end of the game.
Game End and Scoring
The game ends once a player scores their fourth victory point tile. Any players with a turn left that round will be able to complete their turn before the end of the game.
Players then add the points from their victory point tiles, the points from any bonus tiles and the points from uncovered spaces on their player boards. Players also receive one point for each non-yellow cube in their cargo hold at the end of the game.
The points are all added together and the player with the most victory points wins. If there is a tie the player in the tie who had their turn last wins.
Hints and Tips
- Try to empty a column of your player board quickly and pick up an early bonus tile. This also means that each additional outpost you put out in any colour will be worth victory points at the end of the game.
- Be picky – choose a victory point tile and go for that one. It is very easy to want to go for all of the tiles at once, but the chances are, you won’t be able to get them all. It is easier to be focused on one specific tile and work towards getting the cubes for that one.
- Be efficient. This is linked to the above point. When you know which victory point tile you are going for, look at how to get the cubes you need using as few turns as possible. Sometimes it’s worth going further afield, spending cubes to move additional tiles, to get to the market tile which will get you the cubes you ultimately need.
- Have an idea which bonus point tiles you want. You are unlikely to empty all of the rows on your player board so prioritise getting which bonus tiles suit your play style. I don’t often find the cargo hold limit to be an issue so I will pick other bonus tiles above that one.
- Try to spend or pay yellow cubes. Yellow cubes are easy to get through the harvest action, whereas other cubes have to be traded for. Therefore, if you are going to pay someone, it is better to pay them in yellow cubes, rather than other cubes you have worked so hard to get.
Most importantly, have fun playing Century Eastern Wonders!