A to Z Gaming: Splendor

We traded gems in Splendor, the next game in our A-Z game shelf play-through.

Players: 2-4
Time: 30 Minutes
Designers: Marc André
Artists: Pascal Quidault, Abbas Amirabadi, Mahmoud Arasteh Nasab
Publisher: Space Cowboys

In Splendor, players take on the role of Renaissance merchants trading gems to secure property and please the nobles. Whoever can amass the most prestige points fastest will win.

Game play

Splendor is set up by shuffling each deck of cards and laying out four of each. A number of gem chips based on the player count is placed within reach of all players. Finally a number of noble tiles is chosen based on player count. Then play is ready to begin.

The game is played in turns. Each turn, the player can choose to take gems, purchase a development card, or reserve a development card. If they take gems, they can either take three tokens of different colors or two of one color, as long as there are two left of that color afterwards. If they reserve a development card, they take it from the display of cards and place it face down in their play area. They also take a gold chip when they reserve a card — the gold chips are wild. Players can’t have more than 10 chips total, including the gold ones. Also, a player can never have more than three cards in reserve at a time.

If the player choses to purchase a card, it can either be directly from the display or one that they have previously reserved. They’ll pay the number and color of gems shown in the bottom left of the card; however, the price will be reduced if they’ve previously purchased cards with gems of the colors that are part of the card’s cost. It’s possible for a card to effectively be free if the player has enough “permanent” cards with the right colors of gems.

On their turn, a player can claim a noble if they have the number of gem cards shown on the noble. This is a free action, but they can only take one noble on each turn, even if they qualify for more than one.

The nobles will be worth points, and some of the development cards have points on them. Play continues until someone reaches 15 points. At that point, the round is finished so each player has an equal number of turns. Whoever has the most points, wins.

My Thoughts

I don’t remember when we picked this one up, but I think it was after we tried a friend’s copy. It’s been in our collection for a long time. This has become a modern classic, and there’s a reason for that. It’s a clean, simple game with straightforward rules but a lot of strategy. These days I often go for the longer-playing, more-thematic games, but it’s nice sometimes to go back to a solid classic like Splendor.

Three Quick Questions

How is it as a 2-player game? Splendor plays well at two. The available gems scale with player count, so it can be hard to get as many as you for the higher-level cards, just like games with higher player counts.

How about the art and component quality? The gems are poker chips that are very satisfying to stack up and clink together. The noble tiles are a chunky chip board, and the cards are decent quality. The theme is completely pasted on, but the art is nice.

Will this stay in my collection? Yes, that’s an easy yes. This is a solid, quick game with straightforward rules. Its a great one to pull out and play a couple of games.

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