Designer – Marc Andre
Publisher – Space Cowboys and Asmodee
Year Published – 2014
Players – 2 – 4
Play Time – 30 mins
Game Break Down
You are gem merchants of the Renaissance trying to become the most prestigious of your trade. You will do this by acquiring gem mines, transportation, jewelers, and shops. If you accumulate enough wealth and renown then you may see a visit from a noble which will help you pave a path to victory.
Components needed for this game didn’t need to be elaborate to be functional. The game itself is simple enough to not need such elaborate components. That being said, what comes in the over-sized box are quite impressive.
The gems, that simply could have been cardboard, are thick clay poker chips. They have a great weight to them that has a visceral appeal to it. They really add to the game experience when you purchasing the chips during game play. They have a good weight which I feel adds to their value. It really gives you a sense of accomplishment. They put quite a bit of attention to detail on the gems to as the chips match the color of the gem. They also put a slight iridescence sheen on all the stickers that are on the chips. Overall, these are a great showing of production quality.
The other components are of good quality but nothing as impressive as the gems. The card and royals have some nice looking artwork on them and hold up well. The instructions are short and sweet that are easy to follow. The box inlay is nice and finished.
Grade 2 / 2
This game I feel is like a bread and butter type game. It should be in everyone’s collection simply for its pick up and play style of gameplay. It’s simple to teach and to learn.
Splendor is set up with three levels of development cards placed on the table with four of each deck turned face up. These make up the market that players will be using their acquired gems to purchase these cards. These cards will have points on them and the first player to 15 points wins. On a Players turn, they can perform one of four actions.
Players can take 3 gem tokens of different colors or they can take 2 gem tokens of the same color if their are at least 4 tokens available of that color. The maximum amount of gem tokens any player can have in stock at one time is 10 tokens. If a player has more than 10 tokens at the end of their turn they must discard tokens of their choice until they have 10 tokens remaining.
Players may also reserve any of the available development cards and one gold token which counts as a wild color. This reserved card will go into your hand which has a maximum hand size of three cards.
Finally, players can purchase development cards from the market or from the cards they have reserved in their hand. Each development card has a cost associated with them that can be found on the bottom left of the card. It shows circled numbers with colors that represent the color of tokens needed for purchase. Once paid to the bank the card is placed in front of the player where they can utilize the benefits. The benefits being that the card will be associated with a gem color and will provide a discount on future purchases that have that gem color in its cost.
The final element of the game that adds the extra level of strategy that this game needs is the Noble Tiles. The nobles do not require an action to acquire but require you to have a certain amount of development cards. Each noble on the table will have its development card cost on its face along with the points you will win. Nobles will automatically be acquired as soon as the player attains the necessary cards on its face.
I like to think of Splendor’s gameplay like a story arc of a good book. It starts very simply and slowly with a few obvious strategies to victory which is a great entry point for new players and old. This dissipates with the purchasing of the development cards which provide that much needed discount on the more expensive cards. The game will speed up till its breaking point when the noble tiles come into play. It is here that the frantic race to the winning 15 points begin and will soon be acquired. Very few games that I have played that has flowed this nicely with a great parabolic like gameplay experience. It’s one of the great entry level games that I recommend future gamers to pick up first.
The gameplay itself hinges on the players ability to find a balance between strategy and tactics. From the onset, its crucial for each player to adopt a general strategy with the given circumstances but to mindful of tactical play. These strategies may need to be altered with the ever changing gem market. I guess this could be said for most games but I think the best players of this game have a good tactical grasp of the game and less of that as far as overall strategy.
Grade 2 / 2
The attempt of theme is definitely here with some great artwork and aesthetics but essentially is lost with gameplay. Everything that is provided is beautiful but it really ends there without the narrative to carry it. I cannot fault the game for this potential hazard because it’s not what it’s trying to accomplish. The shining quality here is the gameplay and not the lightly sprinkled theme that they tried to shoe horn into the game. This is an abstract game at it’s core.
Grade .5 / 2
I love the subtle balance of tactics and strategy. It’s a lot for anyone to dig into and an interesting thing seems to happen during gameplay that never ceases to occur. Once the questions stop for new players, the silence of concentration and thought find the table. Oddly, this is an occurrence that only enhances the tension and inevitably the fun here. I got to go with the book reference again and say that it feels like a good book at times. It may not be the most boisterous affair but it never stops with the entertainment. It offers a lot for players if your willing to forgive the lack of thematic elements.
Grade 2 / 2
The variation of development cards and noble tiles can really affect the game for play to play. Strategies will have to be adjusted for each game depending on the constantly fluctuating market. This will make for unique set of circumstances to adjust to which enhances it’s initial replay value. Unfortunately, this game does fade with extended plays. The overall gameplay can start to feel a little scripted and predicable. This may have occurred over my several dozen game plays so this shouldn’t discourage many but the heavy gamers may find this a bit lackluster with time.
Grade 1 / 2
This is your perfect entry level game for new comers to the hobby or for families. It has something for anyone at any level with some great tactical gameplay.
Final Score 7.5 / 10