Century: Eastern Wonders makes cardboard spice trading fun again

Also included in the box is a set of rules for an advanced “Sand to Sea” mode, which incorporates the cards from . In addition to travelling around the board, establishing your hold on different islands, and trading with their inhabitants, you can buy and play cards which let you upgrade the spices in your hold, representing a mercantile empire that stretches around the globe.

The crucial difference between the two setups is that, to move your ship, you’ll need to discard a card from your hand. Thus, on every turn you’ll need to weigh your options, deciding whether the cards you hold are more valuable for the trading advantages they offer or the ability to sail between islands. This adds little to the game’s mechanical complexity, but it does add an entirely new element to the decision-making. And to intensify things even further, the combined game mode also introduces some blank board spaces representing stretches of open sea. This means that navigating your way around the board becomes simultaneously more important and more difficult, and it ratchets up the sense of pressure as you try to gain the slightest edge over your opponents.

Having played all three currently available iterations of the Century series, I have no hesitation in saying that “Sand to Sea” is my favourite. In fact, I don’t see any real reason to go back to playing either game on its own. And with the final game in the trilogy set for release in 2019, I’m looking forward to seeing the resolution of this rich and elegant series.

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