If you are looking for a board game that is easy to learn, quick to play, and a depth of strategy that is easily over looked due to the simplicity of the rules, Splendor is a game for you.
In Splendor, the players take on the roles of members of a renaissance merchants guild. The objective is to become the most powerful merchant through the use of beautiful gems and the lands that produce them.
Game play is straight forward. On each players turn, they can do one of four actions. A player can take three gems of a separate type, take two gems of one type, provided that there are four or more gems of that type available, buy a development with any combination of gems and developments, or reserve a development card and take a gem that is a wild card.
The winner of the game is determined by victory points. There are two ways to acquire victory points. The first is through developments cards. These cards have a cost listed on them and provide both a gem and amount of victory points from none up to five points. There are also Nobles in the game. These are royals that will join the first merchant that has the number of development cards that would entice them. This threshold is listed at the the side of the Noble’s card and each noble is worth between several victory points.
The end of the game is triggered when a player reaches fifteen victory points. After that player finishes their turn, the rest of the player who have not had a turn in the round get to go. This is ensure that everyone has the same amount of turns. After everyone is finished, the player with the most victory points is the winner. In the case of a tie, the player with the fewest development cards is declared the winner.
Splendor retails for $49.99 and should be easily found at your friendly local gaming store. I was very impressed with the production values of this game. The illustrations on the cards are beautiful. It was fun to just flip through and look at all of the different art that can be found on the cards. The gem tokens are heavy and tough with makes for a long lasting game piece. The box itself is sturdy and comes with a great tray to organize all the playing pieces and keep them from getting mixed up if you drop the box on it’s side or top.
On top of being easy to learn and quick to play, the replay-ability factor is high as well. The different sets of development cards are randomized each game which ensures that any gem can become a choke point in the next game. The Nobles are also randomized so that what is need to garner their victory points will shift from game to game as well. On top of this, each player crafts a strategy throughout the game that can either be fluid or static. This directly impacts what type of strategy the other players are going to use. If one player begins to hoard gems of a certain color or all of them, it pushes the other players to adapt and change course which then impacts the hoarders plans.
Splendor is an excellent game for two to four players that takes no time at all to learn and play. It is fast and fun and well worth $50. An excellent addition to any board gamer’s library!