Review - Splendor - So who doesn't like chips?

Splendor

Designer: Marc André
Artist: Abbas Amirabadi, Mahmoud Arasteh Nasab, Pascal Quidault
Publisher: Space Cowboys

BoardHoarders Weight Complexity 2/6

Still a hidden gem?

Every now and then a game shows up that does something so effortlessly that you just can’t fail to be impressed. Splendor is of that elite group. Modern game design doesn’t have to intimidate. This simply set collector is proof of that. Sometimes all you need are some nice cards and minimal rules overhead …..That and some lovely, clackety chips..    

Multi Award winning Splendor has quickly become something of a modern classic.

As merchants of the Renaissance players will quickly develop an eye for the very best gems stones gathered from the four corners of the globe. Collections can quickly gain notoriety. News of famed collections can spread. Prestige is sure to follow and with new found fortunes a player may just draw the attentions of some prominent nobles. Victory is assured only to the one true master jeweller.

Splendor's appeal is largely down to its rules set. 5 minutes would be an 'in-depth' overview.

Gameplay

In Splendor on a players turn they will complete one of 3 possible actions. Collect gems, reserve a card or buy a card.

1. Collect gems. The initial gems a player can gather are printed on the afore-mentioned chips. A player can as an action, choose to collect any 3 different gems or 2 matching gems from the 5 gem stacks. As you gleefully shuffle your new chips you may ponder over a tempting card in front of you. Well put your chips down for a minute, (seriously put them down) and try the 2nd option.. 

Reserving the right card can really give your hopes of gathering ‘prestige’ a real boost..

2. Reserve a card. Splendor has an arrangement of cards tiered in 3 levels. How they differ becomes apparent from a brief look at their anatomy. Each card has a cost in the lower left. They may also have 2 additional features on them that help you determine their worth.

In the top right all cards will provide you with a permanent gem to add to your collection. Checking the top left corner of a card tells you if that card comes with some prestige. It is this ‘prestige’ that players are all racing to achieve the most of. So reserving cards is how a player secures a gem card of interest. As a bonus and perhaps an extra motivating factor in reserving a card, you will also get some gold for your trouble. Or to be more accurate, a ‘wild’ chip. Now with your gem chips and maybe even a gold bar or two you can finally go for a 3rd option.

3. Buying a card. Simply give back to the stacks the gems needed to secure the gem card. Immediately add this card and therefore its gem to your personal tableau.

Developing a varied tableau of gems keeps your fellow dealers from seeing that card you are hopeful of securing next turn.

So you’ve got this already haven’t you?

Buying cards is the key to victory and building a large tableau of gems gives you a real advantage as new cards are drawn. Hopefully card purchases become easier as you gather more and more gem cards. Finally, with enough gem cards in your tableau you can draw a noble tile scoring big prestige points.   

The first player to achieve 15 prestige (victory) points will..win..Splendor.

Tip: Move up the tiers as efficiently as you can. Prestige is rare amongst lowly gem collectors.

Little Gems..

There’s no getting away from it, those weighted chips are a big draw in Splendor. Yes they could have been individual plastic gem bits or even just as easily been represented by an alternative deck of cards, but the decision to go with chips really makes this game pop.

The action of reserving potentially up to 3 cards is also great. It can actually give players perhaps lost in main card array something to aim for. It’s a small feature that’s easy overlooked but highlights some clever design. Reserving cards of course can equally be used as a tactical move to prevent rival jewellers claiming easy cards.

Theme doesn’t really matter to gameplay and it is just vague enough to make sure anyone can approach Splendor. 

Conclusion

Splendor truly is a classic. An absolute shelf-stable game. Cards are clean and simple to understand meaning it plays well across the age groups. It plays in less than 30mins and gets a big recommendation from us here at BoardHoarders.

Buy Splendor