Splendor – Review

Theme

Splendor is an economic card game where players vie for the most prestige. Splendor plays 2 – 4, where players attempt to acquire gem mines, merchant booths and transportation. If you are successful on this journey, you may garner the attention of nobles who increase your prestige even more.

Mechanics

This game uses both cards and poker chip-like gems. There are 3 rows of cards which I will refer to as tiers. Each higher tier of cards are more expensive than the last but provides more prestige than the last.

Each card has a few symbols to look out for. First, in the bottom left of the card is the cost to purchase. Second, the top left of the card represents the points you get from owning the card – the first player to reach 15 is the winner. Third, the top right of the card is the colour gem that card produces every turn.

Now on your turn, there are several actions available, but only one can be performed each turn. First, you can take gems, either 3 different coloured gems or 2 of the same gem. Second, you can purchase a card, spending the gems you own as well as the continuous supply of gems on the cards you own. Lastly, you can reserve cards. You can either reserve any visible card or take a card off the top of any deck blindly. When you do this you get a gold gem which acts as a wild gem of any colour on subsequent turns.

Reserving cards serves several functions. It allows you to reserve a card that you want to eventually build up to, preventing others from claiming them. Next, reserving cards can be used to prevent another player from getting a card they need – this is commonly used as a last-ditch effort to block a win. Lastly, when there are not enough gems to justify taking 3 random colours that serve you no purpose. Reserving and getting a wild gem is a viable option, especially when you are one gem away from winning.

Components

The components for this game are basic, 90 cards (standard card game sized) as well as 40 poker-chip like gems. In my copy of the game, out of shrink wrap, there was quite a lot of noticeable damage to my gems. For the cost of the game – $39.95 Canadian – I would expect better quality components from Asmodee. The box for the game is a little overboard, the size is massive for what is included which is a deck of cards and a handful of gems. I’d rather Asmodee reduce the size of the box making it more compact and easier to travel with – along with a cheaper price tag.

Final Thoughts

I’ll get started with the bad. This is a game with no theme, don’t let the heading ‘Theme’ in this review distract you. This is an economic game at its bone and provides no added flavour for players. If theme is a big draw for you, this game will not be for you. I mentioned the price point for such a simple game with few components in the previous section, but it’s worth mentioning again. The box does not need to be that big for what this game does. Jaipur is very similar in components but can be produced at a fraction of the size at a significant price cut.

Now for the good. This game scales well. You reduce the number of chips based on the number of people playing. So you can get the same cut-throat supply of gems with 2, 3 or 4 players. You don’t get a shell of what the game should be. The simplicity of the game makes it really easy to teach and is a hit with casual gamers. The game play is quick, making it great as a filler game.

What are your thoughts on this game? Does the lack of theme make this a game you would pass on or is the simplicity and strategy something that makes this a must play? Let me know in the comments!

Written by: Michael Gaa

My love of board games and wasting time on social media is the reason I’m here. Said love of games began at the tender age of 18 when I was introduced to Lords of Waterdeep. Since then, I’ve been an avid board gamer and take every opportunity to bring social deduction games to the table with friends. I also enjoy playing Magic: The Gathering, and cube regularly.

50 Comments Added

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  1. Barinthus June 16, 2017 | Reply

    I only played the iOS version but I really liked it. I enjoyed experimenting with different strategies and figure out what’s best way of winning.

    • Michael Gaa July 5, 2017 | Reply

      The iOS is very good for stepping up your Splendor game!

  2. Kharn June 25, 2017 | Reply

    I really like this game. The lack of theme doesn’t matter like in other boardgames with great or fun mechanics.

    • Michael Gaa July 5, 2017 | Reply

      Good to hear you enjoy this game! Lack of theme is a deal breaker for a lot as I’ve learned working in a boardgame retail environment.

  3. Chris June 28, 2017 | Reply

    Really want to play this game

    • Michael Gaa July 5, 2017 | Reply

      Very common game, should have no trouble playing this!

  4. Jared Heifetz July 1, 2017 | Reply

    This a great game and my wife loves it. Lookin forward to the the expansion!

    • Michael Gaa July 5, 2017 | Reply

      The expansion an auto-buy for you and your wife?

  5. Eric Schwartz July 1, 2017 | Reply

    Great review. I just got this on iOS because it was on sale. I haven’t played it yet, but after reading this I’m looking forward to it.

    • Michael Gaa July 5, 2017 | Reply

      Eric, I’ve only heard good things about the iOS, happy gaming!

    • Michael Gaa July 5, 2017 | Reply

      The simplicity and lack of theme of this game is a deal breaker for some. What don’t you enjoy about this game?

  6. Ronnay July 2, 2017 | Reply

    Great family game. And for the spare room in the box without the insert: there will be a great 4 module expansion available this year!

    • Michael Gaa July 5, 2017 | Reply

      Ronnay, great point! I did not touch on that in my review.

  7. Boucher July 2, 2017 | Reply

    I played this first on iOS and now the game is on my wishlist!

  8. KHamilton July 2, 2017 | Reply

    Although the game does scale well, I do not like it at all with two players.

  9. Toni j July 3, 2017 | Reply

    I agree on box size. It’s just ridiculously to over-sized.

    • Michael Gaa July 5, 2017 | Reply

      Would rather have a smaller box with cheaper components for a smaller price tag.

  10. Adam July 4, 2017 | Reply

    I’ve been thinking of getting this game, but theme is high on my priorities for games, so I guess I’d be disappointed. Thanks for the review.

  11. Umut C July 11, 2017 | Reply

    I don’t know what I like about it, but game is gripping for sure. We played 4 games in a row when we last played it. Component quality is high, that’s one thing I appreciate.

  12. Brandon July 12, 2017 | Reply

    Splendor is such a great game. I used to play a Splendor clone called Prestige on my Android tablet back when I used to travel a lot for work. I recently found a copy in a clearance bin. Brand new copy for $14.

  13. Hillari G July 12, 2017 | Reply

    Never knew this game existed until a friend mentioned it’s name. This review is through and encompasses the game. It could possibly improve with an underlying theme but is strong all on it’s own. Thanks

  14. KHamilton July 13, 2017 | Reply

    I do enjoy the game with 4 players, I have played with 2 a few times and have found it lacking. There is just too much luck involved with which cards get turned up.

  15. JMcGrew85 July 14, 2017 | Reply

    I’ve played both the table top game and the iOS versions of this game! Both are great, but I’m really looking forward to the expansion to add some new replayability.

  16. Michael Bane July 19, 2017 | Reply

    I thought this was a good game but agree on your point about theme. The lack of theme is what’s kept me from returning to it.

  17. Gunder July 19, 2017 | Reply

    I am enjoying your strong criticism of aesthetic choice

  18. Skorpz July 20, 2017 | Reply

    My friends and I never get tired of playing. Think it works best with 3 players.

  19. Bilal July 22, 2017 | Reply

    This is my favourite euro games! It has smooth and simple mechanic, yet it’s hard to master it. It’s true that it’s lack of themes, but I don’t really care about it.

  20. David July 22, 2017 | Reply

    Splendour is a fun little game that gets quite a bit of play in gaming group

  21. Carlos Moreno Valencia July 23, 2017 | Reply

    I agree that Splendor has no theme. However, it is a great game. We overplayed it to hell when we got it, but now it is an occasional game, and we always enjoy it. Easy to explain and to get the grip of the game for new players. Good review, thanks

  22. DJHaak July 30, 2017 | Reply

    Still haven’t bit the bullet I this one. Maybe I should

  23. Legends of Tabletop July 30, 2017 | Reply

    I agree the theme is barely pasted on but the game play is solid. It scales well and is a great gateway game for your non gamer friends. I was lucky enough to pick up an original printing with the heavier chips.

  24. Ed August 2, 2017 | Reply

    I’m not very good at it, but I still enjoy playing it.

  25. Matthew P Munger August 4, 2017 | Reply

    The Splendor iOS app is one of my favorite. Would like to add the physical BG and upcoming expansion to my collection.

  26. maltebrigge August 18, 2017 | Reply

    This game surprised me at how addicting it is. Don’t have it yet, but plan to add it eventually to the shelf.

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