Splendor – Board Game, Gameplay Review

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My friends and I mostly prefer more complex games with deep strategies and many different things to choose from while playing. Although, every now and then, there are some exceptions that we love to bring to the table and we never get bored of them. Today’s exception is Splendor.

Splendor is a competitive 2-4 players, award-winning, card development game, with a race feeling and a lot of “drafting” and “set collection” elements into it. Each player is a merchant trying to buy gem mines, shops and other things, all in order to increase your wealth and prestige! In general, you collect chips (gems), use them to buy cards then use these cards to buy the more expensive ones, which also give you prestige (victory) points; but let me be a little more specific.

A game round runs pretty fast, as your turn is very simple. You may: A) collect chips, B) buy and build a card or C) reserve one card for later building and get a gold “joker” gem. Now, if you buy a card, you have to pay its price in chips and add it to your playing area. This will increase your wealth, as each card will give you a permanent gem bonus for later buys (some of them also give you prestige points). Reserving a card for later use is also a good option for making sure that no one else gets it while grabbing a gold chip at the same time, for your future buys. After you make one of these actions the next player takes his turn and it goes like this until someone reaches 15+ prestige points first. And that’s pretty much it!

The game idea is simple, solid and elegant. The rules are very easy to learn and it can be played by everyone; from a ten years old child to a casual gamer or even the more challenging ones. Its setup is fast and it plays within an hour. Despite its simplicity, the strategy it provides is very satisfying and much deeper than it may seem at first sight. Each time, you will have to choose wisely what has to be done first, in order to beat this 15-point race against your opponents. Well, you won’t have to overthink your every move, but trust me; no “lucky rolls” will bring you victory. On the other hand, the theme is actually missing. It feels more of an abstract game after a while, but considering everything else, that’s actually a minor flaw. It also comes with these great quality gem tokens, which feel like real poker chips!

Final thoughts:
A great family type game that plays fast and good in all number of players. There’s no actual theme in it, but the game mechanisms are working great and it balances very well strategy & luck. The rules are simple enough for new players and it has good replayability, considering every game is a new “puzzle” to solve faster than the others. It is a guaranteed fun experience, highly recommended!

Have you ever played Splendor or anything similar to it? Do you know of any board game that you actually believe could replace Splendor and why?

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