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Century: Golem Edition Review

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15 Jul 2018 12:00 #277630 by Matt Thrower

As soon as I see the box, I want it. Even after all these years of gaming, the evocative pull of good box art is still capable of stirring me, deep in my wallet. And when it comes, before I take the shrinkwrap off, I spend a moment admiring it. Looking at the golem's inscrutable face, its vast scale compared to the tiny caravans, wondering what it's doing with that tree.

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16 Jul 2018 02:09 - 16 Jul 2018 02:15 #277631 by WadeMonnig
I was surprised by this review. Especially the part where you said you felt the eventual winner was apparent as the game end approaches. I've never found it that way. A two player game can seem that way but I've seen the tide turn on someone rallying a few low point cards to force a quick end and swing it to themselves. 3 and 4 player really opens it up as others may snatch cards from other players. 5 can be a bit annoying since its a bit of time between turns and planning can be for naught. Spice Road has been one of the most played and enjoyed games at my house since we got it, from adults to teenagers. I've honestly considered buying Golem edition for another, prettier version to play. I will literally be stopping my games after the 3rd card is purchased to have everyone make a prediction who the winner will be.
Last edit: 16 Jul 2018 02:15 by WadeMonnig.

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16 Jul 2018 04:12 - 16 Jul 2018 04:13 #277632 by Matt Thrower

WadeMonnig wrote: I've never found it that way. A two player game can seem that way but I've seen the tide turn on someone rallying a few low point cards to force a quick end and swing it to themselves.


Thanks for sharing. I find it hard to understand how it's possible to do what you're suggesting most of the time since it takes a couple of turns to swing your engine round to generate the necessary crystals. Late game changes seem to just result in lost momentum.

I was really hesitant about posting a negative review: after all, I enjoyed my first couple of games. I thought I'd need more plays, a prospect which didn't fill me joy and that, in itself, tells you something. But a quick poll on Twitter suggested there are a lot of people who feel the same about it, although perhaps less extreme.

But hey, it's 2/5 not 1/5 so it's not that extreme.
Last edit: 16 Jul 2018 04:13 by Matt Thrower.
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16 Jul 2018 05:25 - 16 Jul 2018 05:26 #277633 by WadeMonnig

MattDP wrote: But hey, it's 2/5 not 1/5 so it's not that extreme.


True but Century Spice Road (and, since they are identical in gameplay, Golem Edition) is one of the few games I would whole heartedly recommend to almost any gamer, veteran or newbie. It is also one of the few games I would have rated 5/5 that came out last year. Heck, I even bought the mini-expansion direct from Plan B.

As I said, I'm going to keep a closer eye on the actual scoring midgame my next few plays.

One thing you did absolutely nail is that conversation is virtually non-existent after multiple plays. I always chalked it up to people thinking out their moves but it is one thing that I don't really like about it.

Thank you for the review. I really enjoyed reading it. I always respect your opinion and was kind of disheartened that it didn't click with you.
Last edit: 16 Jul 2018 05:26 by WadeMonnig.
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16 Jul 2018 09:34 - 16 Jul 2018 11:16 #277646 by Jexik
Replied by Jexik on topic Century: Golem Edition Review
The people I play with are usually still in the, "wow this is so cool and beautiful and more fun than Monopoly" mode. It's like Splendor with more granular scoring that reminds me of Stone Age. I'm a fan of this one; I play with in-laws and cousins at family gatherings when they seem a bit bored and want to know what cool things have come out recently. As the uncle with a game store it's kind of my duty.

The one overlooked rule that really made it better for us was when someone told me that with the "trading" cards, you can do them multiple times on one turn. I.e. if you have a GG --> BB, you can do GGGG --> BBBB, 6G --> 6B, etc. makes those cards more interesting and powerful!
Last edit: 16 Jul 2018 11:16 by Jexik.
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16 Jul 2018 12:12 #277670 by Legomancer
This whole crop: Splendor, Century, Azul, Sagrada, all feel to me like games for people who aren't particularly interested in playing games. (Azul maybe less so.) They feel very procedural and mechanical, there's no theme to get interested in, and no rules friction or discussion needed. You see them, you play them, you're done. Another one for the log books. Maybe you play again, because it's short, so you can get in several plays in no time at all. None of those plays will be memorable or distinct, they'll just be there. They're strictly for quantity. You can play virtually on auto-pilot because even if you end up doing poorly, who cares? Just play it again and not care all over again.
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16 Jul 2018 12:54 #277677 by Shapeshifter
I played this game and was a bit baffled why it gets so much love. I understand it is very accessible and appeals to family gamers, but that said...it felt mechanical, repetitive and soulless. All you do is trade in gems for other gems. Ad infinitum. I simply didn't feel anything while playing. Both Sagrada and Azul felt more engaging.

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16 Jul 2018 13:39 - 16 Jul 2018 13:40 #277680 by Jexik
Replied by Jexik on topic Century: Golem Edition Review

Legomancer wrote: They're strictly for quantity. You can play virtually on auto-pilot because even if you end up doing poorly, who cares? Just play it again and not care all over again.


I haven't played Azul or Sagrada yet, but the ones I know work well for kids and family members who are interested in playing games, but I don't see that often. I think there's definitely a place for games that are easy to learn and teach. No one I've been playing with keeps track of their plays. Kingdomino is kind of better than all of them, and has such a nice small square box. (2 player 7x7's are great). BUT GEMS!
Last edit: 16 Jul 2018 13:40 by Jexik.
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16 Jul 2018 14:44 #277685 by Legomancer
You're probably right. I don't have an audience like that.

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16 Jul 2018 15:28 #277688 by Michael Barnes
I haven’t played this game but I think I’d probably like it and I’m sure my kids would like it.

Games like this, Splendor, and Azul actually kind of fit into an awkward category. They aren’t hobby games. They also aren’t familiar, mainstream family games so who they tend to reach are hobbyists.

But in reality, these kinds of designs really belong to a sort of genre that goes back to the old 3M games, the original “designer” games. All of these games make me think of Sid Sackson-style designs. No, they aren’t “dripping with theme” and all that. They are mechanical, but also intensely focused on a core mechanic or systematic concept. These kinds of games are, also, almost inherently casual and simply can’t match up with hobbyist expectations- including with how they hold up over concentrated replay.

However, on that last note, the better designs in this area (like Azul) invite repeat play and offer enough “gray space” where skill can commingle with fixed elements, luck, and player interaction. If Century is failing in that space I can see where the criticism is coming from.
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16 Jul 2018 16:34 #277697 by ubarose
My friend has a game day at her house once or twice a month. It's all mostly Eurogamers. None of these games holds their attention for more than a few months. I figure if it can't hold their attention for more than a half dozen plays, it can't hold mine for even one. Having already suffered through the Splendor and Perfum craze, I took a pass on learning Spice Road.

However, I do understand family games for playing with family. I got Sagrada, because I knew The Spawn would like it. And she does, and we've had fun playing it with her. But you take the game play up a notch, then it's too much for a family game, but not enough for a gamer's game. Spice Road seemed to me, just from looking it over while it was being played on other tables, like it was in that space. It seemed complicated, but not complex, if you know what I mean.

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16 Jul 2018 17:10 #277707 by WadeMonnig
Well, my wife does refer to Century as one of "Our" games and not one of "your" games. Which means it's easy, accessible, and fun to her but doesn't get too complicated. I'll be interested in how Eastern Wonders fares because it looks like it adds complexity that might make it one of "your" games.
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16 Jul 2018 17:16 - 16 Jul 2018 17:16 #277708 by Jexik
Replied by Jexik on topic Century: Golem Edition Review
My 7 year old struggles to sit through it, but my wife's college-age cousins who previously only had played Codenames and ONU Werewolf with us loved it.
Last edit: 16 Jul 2018 17:16 by Jexik.
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19 Jul 2018 13:49 #277909 by Shapeshifter
I would definitly not call Spice road complicated.
It has rediculously easy to learn rules (which is fantastic)
and a very limited set of decissions. For me it feels somehow lighter than both Sagrada (a more taxing puzzle I find) and Azul (far more interesting decissions).
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19 Jul 2018 18:29 #277925 by Matt Thrower

Michael Barnes wrote: Games like this, Splendor, and Azul actually kind of fit into an awkward category. They aren’t hobby games. They also aren’t familiar, mainstream family games so who they tend to reach are hobbyists.

But in reality, these kinds of designs really belong to a sort of genre that goes back to the old 3M games, the original “designer” games. All of these games make me think of Sid Sackson-style designs. No, they aren’t “dripping with theme” and all that. They are mechanical, but also intensely focused on a core mechanic or systematic concept. These kinds of games are, also, almost inherently casual and simply can’t match up with hobbyist expectations- including with how they hold up over concentrated replay.

However, on that last note, the better designs in this area (like Azul) invite repeat play and offer enough “gray space” where skill can commingle with fixed elements, luck, and player interaction. If Century is failing in that space I can see where the criticism is coming from.


The thing is, though, this is actually becoming quite a crowded space. Designers have spotted a gap in the market and are now starting to plug it with some regularity. Arguably this might have started with Codenames. But in fact, when you go back, this is the corner of the market "German" games were edging toward in the mid-nineties.

And as the space has filled, the quality bar has gone up and up. Azul is really a pretty fun game. So is Photosynthesis, which belongs in this niche. Kingdomino is brilliantly accessible. Codenames has that fun party vibe. There are just ... much better games around in the "gray space" than Century.

I've been dissecting it a bit on Twitter in the wake of this review, especially in comparison with Splendor, which I really like. And I think they absolute key issue with Century - which I hope I illustrated here, without spelling it out - is that the game is backwards. It starts out fun and exciting and challenging and becomes less and less so as it progresses. That's the absolute opposite of how a game should be paced. A lot of modern family games have a smidge of this issue because they're designed to take the edge off the competitive feel. But Splendor doesn't, and remains rich with possibility right up until the finish.
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