Splendor Review

Gain riches and power before anyone else by collecting and trading jewels!

Simple, interesting, beautiful: Splendor is a board game where players are jewel traders from the age of Renaissance who try to be the richest and most powerful in their domain. In other words, the goal is to get 15 points before other players by buying beautifully designed development cards displaying historical settings. These cards are bought with five different jewel tokens and joker tokens. There are three levels of development cards; the first level cards require less jewel tokens but few of them have any points at all. The upper level cards are harder to buy, but they give more points to the players. Development cards also work as bonus cards; all the cards have one of the jewels marked on them. If a player has three cards that have white diamonds on them, the player does not have to spend three white diamond tokens in order to buy cards which require them.

Gameplay of Splendor
A Game of Three People

Players can do three things during their turn: pick up three different or two same jewel tokens, buy one development card from the twelve cards that are turned right-side up or reserve one card either from the twelve exposed cards or from one of the three decks of development cards that are not shown to the players. If player decides to do a reservation, a golden joker token must be picked too if they are available. Reservation is also the only way to gain a joker token that can replace any jewel token while buying development cards.

Players can also gain points by having a visit from a nobleman or noblewoman (some of which portray true historical persons, like Henry VIII!). The visit is possible when player has enough certain types of development cards, for example four sapphire cards and four white diamond cards. The nobles bring three extra points to the player and when a noble visits one player once, he or she cannot visit anyone else anymore during the game.

The game is simple, visually spot-on and easy to learn, although sometimes some of the rules can be easily forgotten. For example, there is a limit of ten tokens per player in the game and if someone notices that one player has too many tokens, the player has to return the tokens until there is ten left. That means the game requires attentiveness and also some deduction. However, many games can often be won just with sheer luck, so no matter how well one player plans the moves, other can win almost accidentally. Speaking of planning, this game can also make people to overthink their moves, which can cause overtimed game sessions and confusions about players’ turns. With all these things said, Splendor might belong to one of those categories where the game can cause players to show a bit too much of negative emotions towards others. It is not the ultimate destroyer of friendships though and if every player is in the right mood, this is a fun and possibly quick board game to enjoy at social evening.

Score: 4/5


· Designer: Marc André

· Publisher: Space Cowboys

· Age Limit: 10+

· Playing Time: 30 minutes

· Player Limit: 2-4 players

· Categories: Historical Board Game, Card Game