Shane's Go-To Gateway Game: Century: Golem Edition
My Go-To Gateway Game:
Century: Golem Edition
By: Shane Barnick
Edited by: Andrew Davidson
It is hard to attract new people to the modern-day board game hobby. The reason behind this, I believe, is that board games can look very complicated and intimidating to people who are not familiar with common mechanisms of games implemented in the last decade or two. Plus, some of these rulebooks can be twenty to thirty pages long and may as well be in a foreign language. One way we can get our friends into the hobby is by introducing new gamers to what gamers often refer to as "Gateway Games"—games that are usually quite easy to learn and teach while tending to concentrate more on fun rather than any strategic gameplay.
Every gamer has their favorite gateway games they like to introduce to their friends of the "non-gamer persuasion" to convert another follower to the hobby. Some people go old school and show off games such as Catan, Ticket to Ride, Pandemic, Carcassonne, or Dominion. In comparison, others try showing off more modern titles like Kingdomino, Welcome To Your Perfect Home, Azul, Codenames, or Point Salad. All of these are great choices to introduce to newcomers.
Let's take a moment, if I may, and talk about my favorite gateway game: Century: Golem Edition. Century is a complete reskin of a previous edition entitled Century: Spice Road, which means they are the exact same game but with new theme and art. I enjoy the Golem Edition more simply because of the artwork, but both editions work fine.
Century: Golem Edition is a 2-5 player engine-building game designed by Emerson Matsuuchi and published by Plan B Games and takes 30-45 minutes to play. In Century, you play as traders trying to collect four different types of crystals so you may build giant, exotic golems that are worth varying points. Once a player builds a set amount of golems—depending on the player count—the last round is triggered, and the player with the most points wins.
For the setup, there are two rows of cards laid out on the table: one row for market cards and the other has Golem point cards; beside the two rows of cards are four different colors of crystals going in ascending order of rarity. Each player has a caravan card that can hold a limit of up to ten crystals. On a turn, a player will do only one of four possible actions. Play moves quickly from one player to another in clockwise order. Let's take a look at these four actions.
Play- A player plays a Merchant card, laying that card on the table from their hand and taking the corresponding action; there are three types of Merchant cards; Crystal Cards, Upgrade Cards, and Trade Cards. Crystal Cards let the player take crystals from the general supply and place on their caravan card. Upgrade Cards allow a player to upgrade their current crystals to rarer more valuable crystals. Trade Cards let players trade certain crystals from their caravan to the general supply of crystals to acquire different specific crystals.
Acquire- A player acquires a Merchant card. The Merchant card on the far left is free to receive, while all other cards require a player to place one crystal, starting from the left, on each card they wish to skip until reaching their desired card. A card is then flipped from the merchant deck and placed at the far right of the row, sliding all merchant cards to the left as
Rest- Take all previously played cards on the table back into the players' hand.
Claim- Players pay for a Golem's Point card with crystals and claim that Golem for end game scoring using the crystals they have on their caravan. The farthest left Golem has a bronze coin worth three points above it, while the Golem to the right of that has a silver coin worth one point above it. When purchasing Golems with coins above them, the player collects those coins as well and added on to final scores. After a golem is purchased, a golem card is flipped from the golem deck and put into play in the same way as merchant cards.
Once a player has purchased five or six golem cards, depending on player count, the round is finished out, and the game is over. All points are added up from golem cards as well as coins collected. The player with the most points is declared the victor and most excellent crystal trader!
So why do I think Century: Golem Edition is one of the greatest gateway games available on the market? First off, the gameplay and mechanics are simple to understand in just a few minutes. Century is a family-friendly game I have played many times with my son and nephew that are of the pre-teen age. The artwork is adorable and inviting. It has enough depth and decision that your avid gamer friends will enjoy it also and not become quickly bored with it. The turns are snappy and quick, so you aren't waiting around long for your turn. To me, it is a game new AND veteran players alike can enjoy together!
All in all, I do think the best gateway games are usually just going to be a game with a theme that the individual person finds interesting and will want to invest time in that world. With thousands of board games coming out each year, there is a perfect gateway game out there for each and every person. With that being said, I'll leave you with my top five gateway games that I would recommend for you and yours.
5. Lords of Waterdeep
4. Clank! A Deck-Building Adventure
2. King of Tokyo
1. Century: Golem Edition