Splendor* has been a big hit with everyone in our family. We all love it. You lead a merchant guild and you’re trying to gain prestige by building the best network of mines, transport, craft people and jewellery stores.
I knew this classic game by name, but had not seen or played it before we were sent a copy* to review. I’m always excited to try well-known games that are missing from my playing history, and I was not disappointed by this one.
Splendor involves jewels, buying and making more money. And there are royal people in it.
- Game typeIt is a card drafting and set collection game and involves engine building (buying cards that help you buy more cards in future rounds)
- AimThe aim is to be the person with the most points at the end of the game.
- Number of players2-4 players
- AgeThe suggested age is 10+, but my 7 year old son enjoys playing, he develops his own strategy and does well at scoring points
- Time to playThe suggested time is 30 minutes, which feels right, although it can take longer with children particularly if they struggle to focus
Depending on how you store your games this could be a great box or very disappointing. We tend to keep our games on their side, either on the shelves or when we’re taking them to play with friends, and there is a lot of movement inside the box. But if you keep the box flat then you may be pleased with the segregation of the components, particularly the cards which are easy to locate in the box. One thing you’ll notice when you open the box is it bigger than necessary.
There are five types of gems; rubies, sapphires, emeralds, onyx, and diamond. There is also gold which acts as a wild card. My son was disappointed that the game didn’t include actual gems, or even fake gems. However, the gem tokens are great to play with. These tokens could easily have been made from cardboard disks, but instead they are similar to poker chips and have a presence when you play them. The gems are used a lot in the game so making them from plastic means they will have good longevity.
How to play
The aim of the game is to get the most prestige points. You get prestige points in two ways; buying development cards (not all have points) and being visited by a noble.
On your turn you can do one of three actions:
- Collect gems
- Buy a card
- Reserve a card and get a piece of gold (wild card)
When you buy a card it adds a permanent gem to your wealth, which means you need fewer gem tokens future rounds. There are three levels of cards, with the highest needing more gems to buy them, but having more prestige points on them. As there are a limited number of each type of gem it can be useful to buy the lower level cards, even though they rarely have prestige points, as they help you get the higher cards. You build an engine where you collect gems, and exchange them for bonus cards that help you get more bonus cards. Although my son likes to play a different game and often successfully goes for the highest level cards first.
You may also get prestige from nobles visiting. The nobles are randomly selected in each game and will visit the first person to get the specified combination of bonus gems (the ones shown on cards). Each noble that visits gives you three points.
Ending the game and winning
The end of the game is triggered when somebody gets 15 points. Assuming that person is not the last player, the round continues until everyone has had the same number of turns. The person with the most prestige points wins, this may not be the person who got 15 points first.
Why I’ve played it on ten different days
This is the third game I’ve played ten times this year, as part of my 10×10 game challenge. At under two months it is the quickest to get to ten plays; which shows how much we love this game. A big reason is it is a good game for both children and adults, or any combination. And a small reason is my son loves gems and making money (or in this game getting more gems).
Splendor makes you think logically about what’s going to happen, and you have to think about what gems you’re going to need in the future.
Do I recommend it?
Absolutely. We have loved playing Splendor*; it’s going to be a game that we continue playing. I think it will stay in our collection for a very long time, and we may investigate the expansion sets.
- Simple to learn
- Quick turns — just one action each turn
- Different strategies to getting to 15 points
- Gem tokens feel great
- Introduces engine building concepts
- Box insert is not great at holding components in places
- I’d prefer an extra line on the score pad
- Some of the resources don’t look like what they symbolise
Other games with same mechanism
Other set collection games*
Other card drafting games*
? Disclaimer – I received this game through the Asmodee Blogger Board Game Club. This was a free game in exchange for an honest review. All comments are my own. This post contains affiliate links which means if you buy something I may earn a percentage of the value. However it does not cost you any more.