Centuries ago, the spice trade was the most important market in the world. It established and destroyed empires, compelled people to explore the far corners of the world, and led to the discovery of new continents.
It is at this time you find yourself leading your caravan across the eastern lands to the Mediterranean Sea in search of wealth and fortune. As caravan leader, your journey begins on the Spice Road.
Claim trading routes
Taking on the role of spice traders, players spend the game acquiring and upgrading their spices – turmeric, saffron, cardamom, and cinnamon – to claim trading routes (or point cards). Once a player has claimed the fifth (or sixth in a 2-3 player game) point card, the game end is triggered. The player with the highest point total wins.
On your turn, each player can do one of three things: play a card from your hand, pick up a merchant card or claim a trading route. The key to victory is creating an engine with your ever-expanding personal deck of cards to produce the spice combinations needed to claim enough trading routes to earn the most points.
Great for new gamers
Rounds are fast in this 2 to 5-player game, and it moves along at a quick enough pace that you could play a couple of games in one evening. Depending on the total number of players and their experience with the game, a game could run between 30 and 45 minutes. A 3-player game with someone brand new to the game takes about 60 minutes.
This is an excellent game to introduce people who don’t play board games very often. It’s also kid-friendly — I’ve played this with both my kids, the youngest of whom is 9 years old. And this game ranks in my 12-year old daughter’s top 10 games list at the moment.
Different themes available
There is another version of this game featuring a fantasy theme titled Century Golem Edition. The rules and gameplay are identical. The main differences are the art on the cards, which are replaced with cartoon golem creatures, and the wooden spice cubes have been replaced by gorgeous translucent plastic gems. My daughter and I fell in love with the Golem Edition (owned by a friend) before picking up Spice Road. But we’ve played Spice Road a few times now and feel equally enamoured with it. The look of the game is the only difference. So depending on your taste of theme, one version might speak to you more strongly than the other. Both are currently in print. (Century Golem Edition was unavailable for quite a long time.)
One last thing
Century Spice Road is part of a trilogy of Century games. They’ve been designed in such a way that you can mix them together to create a different, larger game. I’ll write about this in a future article. But all you need to know is that Spice Road is the logical starting point for the Century series if you are interested in getting one or both of the other two games. With that said, Spice Road is super fun to play on its own.
Like this article? Check out our Forbidden Desert review.