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Today we’re taking a look at Splendor, a nominee for the 2014 Spiel des Jahres award published by Space Cowboys. Splendor is an “engine” building and set collection game where you play as the head of a merchant guild competing to gain the most prestige.

A game of Splendor has a very short setup time and usually lasts less than 30 minutes. Gameplay sees players gathering resources in the form of excellent, heavy plastic chips representing diamond, emerald, onyx, ruby, sapphire and gold. Each gem represents a different color while gold acts as a wild card. You use these resources to buy various development cards that are laid out in the middle of the table or, in some cases, picked up into the player’s hand. Each built development provides a bonus that can be used towards the purchase of future developments and to attract the attention of noble patrons.

Oooooh pretty!

Splendor set up for a four player game.

Each development has a cost, shown in the lower left section of the card. The bonus provided once built is shown in the upper right corner of the card and in some cases a prestige number is shown in the upper left corner of the card. Amassing developments that are worth prestige points is the primary method of reaching the 15 prestige required to win the game.

Hiking through the snow...because...reasons.

The cost of the development card is shown in the colored circles on the bottom left. The point value is shown on the upper left. The picture of a diamond symbolizes that this card will give you a 1 white discount once built.

Once a player purchases a development they will take it from the center of the table and place it face up in front of them. The player can use all bonuses shown on cards that they’ve purchased as a discount toward the purchase of developments on subsequent turns.

If a player manages to have built the number and type of developments shown on the noble patron cards then at the end of that player’s turn that noble “comes to visit” the player and grants them 3 additional prestige points. Once a player reaches 15 points the current round is played to the end and the game ends with the person who managed to accrue the highest prestige point total being declared the winner.

Gold chain + fur trimmed hat=baller!

A noble patron worth 3 points. The number and color of each type of development required is shown on the left.

Player interaction is very limited in Splendor. While the game is a race to 15 prestige points the only real way to interfere with your opponent is to build a card you suspect they might want before they get a chance to build it or to pick up a card up from the table ensuring that you are the only person able to build it, effectively denying it to your opponents.

Splendor is very fun, especially if you are looking for a game that is easy to pick up, plays quickly and has a short overall play time. Because it is so easy to teach and so tightly designed I would recommend Splendor as a great place to start for people new to board gaming or for those looking to bring friends and family into the hobby.

A note on theme: The theme of Splendor is not really reflected in the mechanics and could effectively be anything. The design of Splendor is so tight though that even a thin theme doesn’t detract from the game’s fun.

A note on “chrome”: Splendor has beautiful art and high quality cards but the highlight is definitely the chips that represent the various gems and gold. The chips feel great in your hand and lend the game a wonderful sense of tactile satisfaction. The game insert is well designed and has a spot for everything although you may have difficulty fitting the cards in their designated space if you choose to sleeve them.

The bottom line:

Splendor is an excellent, tightly designed game with wonderful components that is easy to learn and teach and plays quickly. The theme is not reflected in the mechanics but the game is still a ton of fun. This is an excellent game to get if you are new to the hobby or looking to bring new players in to the hobby as it is easy to learn, plays quickly and is very fun.

Get this game if:

You enjoy games with a shorter play time.

You want an excellent “filler” game to play between other more complex games.

You are looking for an easy to learn/teach game to get you started in board gaming or bring new players into the hobby.

Avoid this game if:

You are looking for a game with direct player interaction.

You are looking for a game where the mechanics reflect the theme.

 

The Rulebook as well as a few short videos showing game setup can be found here.

If you wish to purchase Splendor via Amazon please click here.

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8.5
 

Great

Summary

Tight design, ease of play and wonderful components help Splendor shine.


Travis Williams

Tabletop Editor

Tabletop editor.