The final chapter of the Century games is due! This winter, the sixth and final game in the Century series, called An Endless World, will arrive. Fans of these light strategy games can finally complete their collection. But why are there so many of them? Find out about this popular series now!
Century Golem: An Endless World is a wonderful light strategy game in its own right. But the thing that makes this game interesting is the context it belongs to. The first thing to know is that An Endless World integrates with its two older sister games, Century: Golem Edition and Century: Golem Edition - Eastern Mountains. But there’s more - there’s a parallel line of Century games, without the Golem Edition subtitle. These Century games are also a trilogy where each game can integrate with the others. But why?
A Stormy Start
To find out why there are two parallel Century series, let’s take a look at the game’s genesis. The Century series has seen some twists and turns during its lifespan. From the outset, there have been name changes, corporate acquisitions, and publisher splits.
Designer Emerson Matsuuchi has had some of his designs published, such as Specter Ops published by Plaid Hat Games. Matsuuchi had designs for a trilogy of games that each could be played individually, but also combined in many ways to produce new games. Matsuuchi brought this design to Plaid Hat Games to publish.
While this series of games was in development, a larger publisher called Asmodee entered the story. Innervated by a large dose of venture capital, Asmodee had been roaming around the industry, buying smaller publishers, becoming a board game Death Star. Asmodee had acquired one of the first American companies to publish European board games in English, Z-Man games, among others. In their acquisition spree, Asmodee merged with Plaid Hat Games, along with Mastuuchi’s primordial Century designs.
Asmodee wanted to continue developing Century, but not under their new Plaid Hat Games brand; instead Asmodee moved Century to their Z-Man brand. This put Century under the purview of one Sophie Gravel. While developing Matsuuchi’s game, Gravel commissioned artwork that couched the game in a Spice Trade historical theme. At this point, Century was instead called Caravan. However, Gravel was looking to break off of Asmodee and start a new studio.
So when Gravel started her new Plan B Games, Century technically didn’t change hands again; but the name of the publisher changed. Plan B had the rights to publish Matsuuchi’s game, but wasn’t sure yet if Plan B had rights to the Middle Ages artwork developed at Asmodee. But Century: Spice Road was an excellent game, and Plan B wanted it to be their first release. So Plan B commissioned new fantasy-themed artwork for Matsuuchi’s game, primarily featuring immense stone golems with a Big Friendly Giant vibe.
But before Plan B produced the fantasy themed Century games, they obtained the rights to the original artwork and finally published the first game, Century: Spice Road. To everyone’s delight, Century: Spice Road was deemed a hit. Some fans called Century: Spice Road a “Splendor killer,” referencing a recently published superstar amongst family-friendly light strategy games. Plan B began producing the next two Century games, using the Spice Trade themed artwork.
After the second game, Century: Eastern Wonders, was released, Plan B decided to get some value out of the fantasy artwork they purchased, and made a limited edition version of the first game, now called Century: Golem Edition. So, now there were two versions of the same game, one with a Spice Trade-themed artwork and one with fantasy golem-themed artwork. And the new edition proved to be immensely popular.
So while the metaphorical wheels of industry were already turning for the Spice Trade-themed trilogy, demand was growing for the Golem-themed version of the same trilogy. The friendly, non-violent but imaginative artwork of Century: Golem Edition was charming, and the draw was so great that Plan B promised to do Golem Editions of all three games in the trilogy.
Finally, this six-game saga is coming to a close. Each version of the trilogy is mechanically the same - they use the exact same rules. The only difference is the presentation. And since each game in the trilogy is supposed to mix-and-match, players can hypothetically mix the Spice Trade version of one game with a Golem version of another game. It’ll work, but the clashing themes are a little jarring. But players can enjoy Matsuuchi’s design in whatever theme they like.
A Triangle Comes Full Circle
So with that chapter in hobby history covered, it’ll make sense to say that this winter’s Century: Golem Edition - An Endless World plays the same way as Century: A New World. They’re both lighter versions of worker placement games. They bring that style of game, typically reserved for heavy games, to players who don’t want to read a 25-page rulebook. And of course, they can integrate with their predecessors, like a board game Voltron.
And the sense of symmetry is amazingly satisfying. It’s rare to see this kind of OCD-like completion in modern industries, especially from small companies with limited resources. However the Golem Editions of these games proved popular enough to follow through on. An Endless World will be an excellent game on its own, but it’s place in the hobby tapestry makes it extra fulfilling.