Board Game Review: Splendor
Author: Elyss Koh'inor, January 2017
Splendor is a game for two to four players and is a great game for families or beginner board gamers. Resource management, buying up source material or transportation, and gaining the favor of the nobility can get players points towards the winning goal.
There are three sets of cards, resources, transportation, and markets. Each has an increasing possible point value, but they also cost more the higher you go. Gem tokens are also included, which can help you buy up resources and points. The goal is to reach fifteen points before anyone else.
Rubies, emeralds, sapphires, diamonds, and onyx determine what type of card you can buy. Different cards have different gem requirements. Cards can also act as gems, which you do not turn in when you purchase a card.
The cards are arranged in a three by four grid. As you can see, the point value (white numbers) increases along with the cost of the card. The colorful numbers on the bottom of each card shows what types of gems are required to purchase the card.
On your turn, you can choose three tokens of different gems, two tokens of the same type of gem, purchase a card (with tokens, other cards, or a combination of the two), or reserve a card. A player can reserve up to three cards, and they receive a gold token for each reservation. The gold token can act as any type of gem. Reservations can come into play if you really, really want a particular type of card, if a card has lots of points, or if you can tell that your opponent is saving up their tokens to purchase it.
The length of gameplay varies depending on the strategies each player employs, but on average the game lasts about thirty minutes.
The artwork on the box, cards, and nobility is fantastic, and all good quality materials. I know some people who chose to put plastic card covers on the decks, but unless you plan to play the game daily or take it to a game convention the standard cards will serve you well. Game set up is quick and easy, with the three sets of cards arranged in a grid with four cards from each deck facing up. Nobles are arranged across the top, and tokens across the bottom. The number of nobles and tokens depends on how many people are playing. There’s nothing to distribute among players at the beginning of the game, so you can go ahead and start!
The simplicity of gameplay along with the shorter time commitment makes this game great for families or for board game beginners, but the good quality and element of chance makes it great for players of all skill levels.