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FTW Staff Picks - Century: Spice Road November 14 2017

For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new.

 

Century: Spice Road

Genre: Economy

Designer: Emerson Matsuuchi

Player Size: 2 to 5 Players

Game Length: 45 minutes

For fans of: Splendor

It's been 3 years since Splendor was released, and the popular title has finally seen not one but four separate expansion modules. And while these expansions are not this week's Staff Pick, it's almost impossible to talk about Century: Spice Road without bringing up the Splendor comparison. When the Century was still early in its development stages it was a game called Caravan which was set to have two different versions, only distinct in their themes. It was during that time that popular YouTube personality Tom Vasel of Dice Tower declared that Caravan was the "Splendor-killer". Fast forward a year and the now titled Century:Spice Road has finally been released to the masses. Talk of Splendor's demise was greatly exaggerated, but Century introduces some really interesting mechanics to a familiar formula. 

In Century: Spice Road, players compete to collect the a variety of different spices of staggered values, in hopes to fulfill the demands of the silk road. In order to fulfill these demands, the player must deliver a specific collection of spices which allows them to collect a card of a set victory point value. To diversify their spices, players may establish trade routes represented by the Market Cards. These cards allow the players to produce spices or trade a specific arrangement for another. On a player's turn they may perform one of four actions: play a market card from their hand, establish a trade route, fulfill a demand or rest (pick up all their played Market Cards). When a player collects their fifth Victory Point card, the game ends and players tally their totals. The player with the most victory points is declared the winner. 

Century: Spice Road uses a lineup mechanic where players must pay one spice for each Market Card they choose to bypass from the front of the line. And when a card is taken, the rest are shifted to the front. It's something that players of Small World will be familiar with and incentivizes picking up lesser cards. Similarly the Victory Points cards award gold and silver coins for picking up the front two cards in line. Gold and silver coins are worth 3VP and 1VP respectively. How to value your spices is important, but more important is timing. You constantly have to be aware of what other players are doing, or you could find yourself a few steps behind. Enough to set you back several turns. 

Let's get it out of the way, Splendor and Century can both coexist on any gamer's shelf. What they share in common is actually not enough for one to over shadow the other. Splendor is a wonderful entry level game that just about any gamer can pick up over the course of one game. It's not the deepest strategic option, but it's not trying to be. On the other side, Century offers a diverse option of strategies where players will likely require a few tries to pick up the nuances of the game. The expansions for Splendor are a bit of a disappointment and with a price tag as high as the base game, it's an unattractive value proposition. My suggestion for those who have been waiting for more Splendor would actually be to just pick up Century instead. Promising to be a trilogy, there are two more titles coming over the next two years. And if Spice Road is any indication the sequels should be very good games.  





Earl


Most Anticipated Games - November 2017 Edition November 03 2017 1 Comment

Each month at For The Win Board Game Cafe, we take a look at a few future releases that we're really excited about. From new games, to expansions, to Kickstarters we'll be covering it all monthly.

 

Dragonsgate College

Players work their way training in the arts of dungeon-crawling mastery, in this upcoming Euro title, Dragonsgate College. Each player represents their own unique house, which has to develop apprentices, hire professors in arcane arts, and use imps to manipulate their "luck". Dragonsgate College is a dice-drafting game that allows players to perform actions based on the result of their rolls. 

The parallels to the Harry Potter universe are very apparent. We always get requests about Harry Potter board games, and while Hogwarts Battle is a fine game from a casual standpoint, there isn't really anything for serious gamers. Here's hoping Dragonsgate College can fill that void.

Dragonsgate College has been on sale at various conventions this year, and will hopefully be widely available in 2018.

 

Dinosaur Island

And so we move from one game loosely-based on a widely popular movie franchise, to another. Dinosaur Island essentially pits players against one another to build the most successful Jurassic Park. Players collect DNA and combine them in the correct order to bring dinosaurs back to life for their respective parks. Deciding which dinosaurs to bring back, and at what time can mean the difference between creating a thrilling experience for your visitors or a VERY dangerous one. 

Dinosaur Island is Jonathan Gilmour's latest project. It's a departure from the Dead of Winter universe, but you can still see his style in unfolding, varied narratives. Dead of Winter definitely borrowed thematically from The Walking Dead universe, so Gilmour is not shy to have his influences seep into his projects. 

Dinosaur Island will be available by December 2017.

 

Fog of Love

We kept a close eye on Fog of Love during its Kickstarter campaign, but ultimately decided not to back it. It looks to capitalize on the indie success of ...and then we held hands. It's a largely unexplored theme, looking at the phases of human relationships. It's a delicate balance to create a game that can seem mature and still be a mechanically sound game. But from initial impressions, Fog of Love seems to have done it.

Fog of Love is demoing at gaming conventions and should be available in 2018.

 

Meeple Circus

Stacking things on top of other things is something that will always have a place in tabletop gaming. Whether it's something as intricate and detailed as Riff-Raff or something as plain as Jenga, these are the kinds of games that just about anyone can play. It puts pretty much every age group on an even playing field. Meeple Circus is yet another addition to the genre that looks like one to watch.

 

There are different objectives for players to complete that are vissible to everyone. This isn't just "stack as high as you can" or "stack until you drop". There appears to be more game-y elements in Meeple Circus. It's a an underused theme, that really makes a lot of sense here. Can't wait to give this one a go.

Meeple Circus is scheduled for the end of November 2017.

 

Stumped

I won't lie, it was the awesome-looking, tree-building part that caught my eye. Add a deck-building engine on top of that and I was pretty much instantly sold. I'm always looking for deck-builders that look to introduce new things to the genre. Yes, the trees are primarily a cosmetic thing that could easily be replaced by tokens or other things, but I'm giving them kudos for going all the way with it anyways. 

 

The art leaves a bit of a sour taste in my mouth, but I'm willing to forgive it if it plays well. And I mean just look at those trees! That's worth the price of admission on its own.

Click here to visit the Kickstarter page. Stumped ships to backers in December 2017.

 

Earl


Japan: A Tale of Gaming from the Other Side of the World September 20 2017

Japan is well-known for its collectible hobby culture. From card games, such as Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh!, to the hundreds of gachapon machines you'll find spread out across the country. It's hard not to get enraptured in it all. The arcades, the idol culture, the anime and the epicenter of it all, Akihabara. Recently, two of our staff members set out to venture across Japan. And we're happy to say we've added a sizeable amount of imported games to our ever-growing library here at FTW Cafe.

Jenga continues to be one of the most played games in our library. But we managed to find a game that puts the plain, boring game of blocks to shame. Say hello to Oh! Sushi Game. Instead of brown wooden blocks, you have a wide variety of different types of sushi. It's a bright and playful take on the classic, and even offers 10 different modes of play. You can play the classic stacking tower mode. Or if you dare, you can bring wasabi into the fold. The sushi pieces are hollow and you can place wasabi tokens inside, which contain penalties such as "Do a robot dance" or "Have the person on the left blow into your ear". There's a mahjong mode, an ordering memory game, a puzzle game and much more. It's the type of game that won't fail to wow your friends. Oh, and it even comes with chopsticks. 

Many of the games we picked up were Oink Games publications. They come in these minimalist, tiny boxes that are really well-designed. Even the games we got that weren't from Oink were small-sized. Square-footage is a bit of a luxury in Japan and unlike game shelves in North America, they need smaller sized boxes to accomodate their living spaces. 

Hanamikoji is a head-to-head card game where players vie over the favour of seven geisha-masters. It feels like a mixture of Battle Line and Lost Cities. It's got a gorgeous aesthetic with these oversized geisha illustrations. The back-and-forth gameplay is tight and keeps every move feeling critical. It's easy to jump into for gamers of any level.

One of the more well-known Japanese games we've finally got a hold of (which was long overdue, I'll admit) is A Fake Artist goes to New York. First of all, I love the names of their games and this one definitely takes the cake for my favourite. In this party game, one player is assigned to be the Question Master and the other players will take on the role of the Artists. The Question Master chooses a category and word to give to the Artists. However, among the Artists is a fake! The Fake Artist is not given the word, and therefore has to fake knowing what the drawing is supposed to be. The Artists take turns adding a stroke to the drawing, as little or as big as they desire. If the Fake Artist is not caught, the Question Master and the Fake Artist are awarded points. If the Fake Artist is caught and cannot guess what the word is, the Artists are awarded points. 

It's a really neat implementation of a few popular party games in Telestrations and Spyfall. It's got unlimited replayability as the Question Master can freely decide to choose any word, and is not just restricted to a deck of pre-written cards. Oink Games have published a lot of amazing, small-packaged games, and A Fake Artist Goes to New York is definitely the coolest.

Image Factory is a funny cooperative party game; a bit of a rarity in its own genre. One player acts as the "answerer" and the rest are the robots working in a factory to complete orders. One day the orders are mixed up and the "answerer" has to sort out the correct orders. Robots receive 2 Order Cards and have 30 seconds to read and draw something that best resembles the combination of those two cards. All Order Cards are shuffled together and the "answerer" then must guess which Order Cards were originally paired together to their drawing. 

These are just a few of our favourites among the big batch of games we've added. If you're ever curious to try them out, just ask one of our staff members! Many of them have English instructions (English of the broken variety), but some don't. We've done our best to translate them and learn how to play them, so we can help guide you along the way. 

  

 

Earl