Thursday, February 11, 2016


Today I thought I would take a break from Standard Pauper content to tell you about a game I got for my birthday last month called Splendor. The theme of the game is that you are a wealthy Renaissance merchant acquiring rare and beautiful gems to achieve prestige and perhaps be visited by one or more renown noblemen. It's a fairly simple game, but one that has a surprising amount of depth and replayability for being so simple.

The game consists of a tableau of cards, arranged in three rows of four cards each. These cards represent not only gems that you permanently acquire, but can also be worth a certain number of prestige points. Each card costs a certain number of gems to purchase, and when a card is purchased (or reserved) it is picked up and replaced by another one of the same rank from the draw pile.

On your turn, you take one of three actions: 1) choose 3 different gems from the supply, or pick 2 of the same gem; 2) purchase a card by paying its cost; or 3) reserve a card by placing it in your hand and drawing a single gold, which acts as a wild-card when purchasing other cards. As I mentioned above, cards that are purchased give you permanent gems, which essentially gives you a discount on all future cards.

Each game you also set out a random assortment of noble cards, which are also worth prestige points. But rather than purchasing them, you automatically receive one of these cards when your "discount" gems are equal to the noble's cost.

The game ends as soon as the first person reaches 15 points. A typical game only takes about 30 minutes, so it's not hard to play a few times in an evening.

The production quality of the game is impressive. First of all, the gems themselves are quite heavy, almost as heavy as a real gem of that size would be, which makes for a neat tactile experience. Second, the cards themselves are nicely illustrated and clearly laid out, with enough variety to keep them visually interesting. The game box is also nicely laid out, with everything fitting snugly inside in a clean, organized fashion.

As I mentioned, the gameplay is also pretty simply, but surprisingly strategic. You want to purchase cards in such a manner as to make it easier to purchase other cards in the tableau, but you also always run the risk of another player taking the card you've been working towards. This is where reserving a card comes in handy, but doing so sets you back at least half a turn, since you're only getting one gem when you do (as opposed to the normal two or three). You also want to figure out fairly early which noblemen you're trying to earn, as their prerequisites can vary significantly.

Overall this was a fun and interesting game, and one that I look forward to playing again.

1 comment:

  1. Nice review of that game by Marc André, a Space Cowboys production edited by Asmodée in February 2014. Some local game stores are setting up monthly tournies gathering 20 players or more here (Paris, France), wich is all fine. There's a table mat available for Splendor too, quite expansive for what it is. Thanks for your boardgame reviews !!!