Splendor – a little gem of a game!
I’m a great fan of gemstones, even better when they are jewels! I also like games which are based on searching or mining for resources. So I thought would be a good game to explore! Splendor is a quick thirty minute game that is great for two to four players. Although some people think of it as Splendor board game, it is a card game where players play to win the most points. Players take on the roles of merchants working to turn raw gems into precious jewels. This earns the attention of wealthy nobles. The object of the game is to pick up tokens that help you buy development cards. These development cards then help attract nobles who bring prestige points. Also you can buy better development cards that give you prestige points. You need to have fifteen points or more to win the game.
Setting Up Splendor Card Game
Setting up the game is quick and easy. There are three different types of development cards, on the back side they have one, two or three dots. You will have a pile of each kind. Turn four development cards face up and lay them across from the piles to the left. This makes up the pool of cards you can 'buy' and add to your hand. These are bought with the different coloured gems and each card costs a different amount. The amount of gems needed is written on the card.
Leave the rest of the three packs face down in their piles to the right of the face up cards. You also have noble cards. Turn the noble cards face up. The number will depend on the number of players. You want to have one more than the number of players. You also have piles of gemstone tokens sorted by colour. The size of the pile depends on the number of players. There are emerald, sapphire, ruby, diamond, onyx gems. These are the currency of the game. There is also a pile of gold, the whole pile of gold gets laid down regardless of the number of players. These gold tokens act as wild cards in place of a gem, more about them later.
Taking your turn
Each player takes a turn to play the game. On each turn you get to pick one of four actions. You can buy a card, pick up one of any three gems, pick up two of any one gem or reserve a card in your hand. You can only pick up two of any one gem when there are at least four in the pile. You cannot have any more than ten gems at any one time. That includes any gold you have collected. Each player decides what is best to buy more cards and get more points. All your gem tokens and cards are visible to all the other players. Fifteen or more points wins. This is a game you can explain the rules while you are setting up the table, which I love.
The cool thing about buying a development card is that the gem on that card can be used on future purchases. So it is like a gem you don’t have to return! For example if you buy a card with a red gem icon then this will count in the next round as one red gem. This is great especially when stocks of gemstones are low.
Some of the cards have points on them and some don’t. The ones with the points cost more so you need to spend a larger amount of gems of different colours to buy them. Forward thinking is a must to win the game. If there is a card face up which you want but you don’t have enough gems to buy it you can reserve it. When you reserve a development you get a gold token and these can be used again as a wild card. So if you wanted to buy a development card which was worth three emeralds but you only had two you could use the gold token as an emerald. The first player to get to fifteen points will trigger the end of the game. Everyone gets one more turn and the person with the highest points at this stage will win.
Once you have a number of development cards giving you bonus gems you can start choosing from cards on the higher levels. This will earn you more points. If you build up your development cards strategically, you will attract a noble who brings even more points. Their few points could be the difference between winning and losing. Especially on the last round.
There is a good level of strategic thinking needed to play the game. You need to keep an eye on what the other players are doing so they don't beat you to the gems or the cards you are working on getting.
This game is fast, it takes around 30 minutes to play and people want to replay it. As there are only a few options to do on a turn there isn’t much down time between turns. Splendor card game is a very easy game to learn and play. After a couple of turns you will know how the game works. It is very straight-forward so it is a fun game for people starting out playing it for the first time. Even if you have played it lots you all have the same likelihood of winning, depending on your strategy.
You get to make lots of choices along the way. You may have your eye on a certain gemstone or card and it gets taken by another player. So you need to change your tactics as you go.
That’s one of the things that keeps Splendor the game interesting as players race to get the cards they want. You and all the other players have their cards, points, and gems out in the open. Therefore its easy to figure which gems and cards they might be wanting as everyone races to the finish.
The suggested player age on the box is 10+, but my nephew is six and he loves the Splendor Marvel edition of this game. (Albeit with slightly relaxed rules)
So Splendor is fast, easy to play and learn, a family card game with some strategy thrown in. All in all, a little gem of a game!
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