I want to introduce you to Emerson Matsuuchi, because a talented human such as he deserves to be better known. Matsuuchi is a board game designer with games such as Spector Ops and Reef among his credits.
But Matsuuchi is best known for his Century trilogy, and rightly so. If you are unfamiliar, the Century games are a series of games that explores the history of three different centuries through the gameplay theme of spice-trading. In the first of the three–Century: Spice Road–players are caravan leaders who travel the famed silk road to deliver spices to the far reaches of the continent for fame and glory.
In Century: Eastern Wonders, the second game in the trilogy, you take to the high seas as a merchant in the exotic Spice Islands. The third game is yet to be released, yet promises to give the theme another slight twist.
The Century games are both wonderful. In fact, I’d list Century: Spice Road as among my all-time favorite games. Yet, I want to talk about Century: Eastern Wonders for the next few moments and I’ll allow the photos below to give you the basics of gameplay.
One fun thing about the Century games is that Eastern Wonders includes rules that allows you to mash up parts of Spice Road with it in order to to create a new play experience called From Sand to Sea. It’s an extra touch that makes wonderful games even that much better.
I’ll admit that I enjoy Eastern Wonders just a titch less than Spice Road. But given that Spice Road is one of my absolute favorites, even saying that comes off like whining, “Why can’t Usain Bolt run faster?” Eastern Wonders is great. Full stop.
As evidence, I want to tell you about my last two plays of it, which will be helpful for you in deciding if it is a game worth adding to your collection. First, I played a 4 player game with my 10-year-old daughter, 10-year-old nephew, and 9-year-old nephew. Everyone picked it up quickly and stayed engaged the entire time (although I did house rule that building an outpost was a free action in order to speed it up slightly for them).
The very next play was my wife and I with a 60s-something couple that are newer to board games and can get a little more competitive. Upon finishing, they immediately asked to play again and wanted to know where they could get it in order to play it with their grown children.
So, it’s a game with a single page of rules that is tight and plays quickly. It is engaging enough for young players, as well as older players and newer players. It’s well made and comes in at just a $40 price point.
All that to say that Emerson Matsuuchi has a wonderful way of designing games that can appeal to everyone. I’d say that is reason enough that he deserves to be better known. And I highly recommend you take a look at his Century games. You can get Spice Road here and Eastern Wonders here.