Splendor board game review

A splendid board game for new & experienced gamers, families & friends.

Splendor board game 2014 cover
Release date
2014
Gender
Strategy, Family, Economic
Players
2-4
Playtime
30 min.
Difficulty
Easy
Age
10+
Designer
Marc André
Publisher
Space Cowboys
Our Score
7.7
Your rating1 Vote
8
7.7
Brainy entertainment

Lots of pretty gems, emeralds, diamonds & gold. The game itself is a little gem. A must-try for everyone. No joke. Super easy to get into, quick to play, and surprisingly interesting!

Splendor board game – 2-4 player experience of pure awesomeness. And a little brain work. And poker chips collection, and those beautiful cards. I play it with my family members, pretty much weekly. It is hand down my grandmother’s favorite board game. She is 87 years old, and we play it every time we meet.

Splendor game overview

Splendor could be classified as a strategy engine-building game. In Splendor board game, players collect raw gem tokens, as well as gold tokens. There are 7 tokens on a tabletop for each gem type, as well as 5 gold tokens. Players take turns to collect these tokens, in order to purchase development cards.

Development cards require a certain combination of gem tokens in order to be acquired. These cards provide numerous benefits, including Prestige points (Victory Points) as well as single permanent jewel resource (one of 6 jewel types), which increase your purchasing power to acquire further development cards.

Plan to build the most effective engine that would acquire more development cards, and ultimately collect you more Prestige Points. The game ends when any player reaches 15 Prestige Points, then the last round mark is set, and the rest players obtain one last turn.

After the last turn, each player counts his Prestige Points to find out the winner.

Review details

The review will be covered in the following structure:

  1. Fun
  2. Replay value
  3. Art & parts
  4. Game price

Feel free to read the review details, or just scroll down to the review summary.

Fun

The main argument that stands for great fun in Splendor is strategic depth. There are three main action alternatives that players can select during their turn: Collect tokens/chips (a), reserving a development card (b), and purchasing a development card (c).
A) Collecting tokens/chips. The player is allowed to collect 3 differently-colored jewel tokens during its turn. Alternatively, if there are at least 2 tokens, if there are at least 4 tokens remaining prior to your tokens’ collection.
B) Reserving a development card. Players are allowed to take 1 face-up or face-down development card, in addition to collecting 1 Gold token. The development card is placed face-down or is kept in hand away from other players, meaning that only the person who reserved the card can acquire it. The gold token can be used for future purchases of development cards. It can substitute for any other token color (1 Gold token equals to 1 any other jewel token), for example, if you need to play 3 green tokens, you can pay 2 green plus 1 gold token.

C) Purchasing the development card. The player is also allowed to return the required amount of tokens collected to the “bank” to purchase a face-up development card. By doing this, the person places a card face-up in a free space onto a tabletop in front of him. All player purchases made are visible to other players during any step of the game. Furthermore, the development card acquired also represents a single jewel resource that functions as a “permanent” token that is counted in your future purchases. So the more development cards you acquire, the cheaper it gets to purchase the upcoming cards.

Finally, each game includes Noble tiles, that also provide Victory Points. These tiles also have their acquisition requirements indicated, except that they can only be collected by counting the development cards’ provisions (jewel resources collected). For example, if you collect a certain combination of development cards (i.e. 4 Diamond cards and 4 Onyx cards), you get the right to collect the appropriate Noble tile. For each game session, noble tiles are randomized and generally provide players’ a direction which development cards to collect & compete for.

All in all, the strategic, mechanical elements of the game make the game super interesting. Each gameplay is filled with time pressure, eagerness, and constant weighing of alternatives, to find out the most optimal turn. I did not really like that the first turn player has a noticeable advantage, and a chance to acquire the cheapest development cards providing a larger snowball. On the other hand, I really value that the game rules & strategic elements are quite easy to understand, making it even more attractive. Finally, I would say that the quality of the game is pretty good for all players’ count options. For two players, it is more about denying the most valuable resources, while with 4 players, it is about finding & utilizing the strategy that is not implemented by other players. It actually feels balanced, thanks to precise noble tiles & jewel token count variability based on the number of players in the game.

Replay value

I will not elaborate too much on this, as I think my discussion on game mechanics & strategic depth has also revealed a great replay value of the game. There are no expansions, only the base game, yet people keep getting back to this game because it is actually worth replaying. You never know how the game will turn. There are lots of development cards, lots of noble tiles to choose from to include in the game to offer you strategic & tactical options to pursue.

For example, often players aim to collect development cards in accordance to the noble tiles that have entered the game and race to collect them the first. But it is actually possible to completely ignore the noble tiles, and go for a few development card types, let us say collecting cards with blue and green jewels for most of the part. This will allow you to collect some specific development cards that are more valuable in terms of points, but also are less accessible to other players, assuming that you did your job good and other players have limited amount of same jewel type cards.

Art & parts

The tokens & cards are just gorgeous. Splendor looks definitely splendid. The chips are thick & heavy, that have quality stickers onto them. The development cards are all beautiful, thick & strong, as well as a little thematic.

Splendor (2014) – development cards. There are 3 types of development cards. From green deck – the cheapest ones to blue deck – the most expensive development cards that also provide more Prestige Points.

The thematic impact in the game is minimal. Each player is a rich merchant during the Renaissance. The development cards represent mines, transportation methods & artisans. You also need to attract noble people to boost your precious materials’ & jewels’ extraction capabilities. Besides that, there is little thematic feeling, it feels more abstract, which is honestly not bad at all.

My only concern about the quality of parts is the game box itself. It is way too large. You would expect to have a lot more components for a box of this size. I understand that a standard game box is a lot cheaper in terms of production costs, but this is also unfortunately reflected in the game price. It also is not really convenient to carry, as the tokens & noble tiles spill out of their insert trays. If a box in your bag opens up, then this is especially irritating.

Splendor (2014) – game box & insert tray.

Splendor colorblindness review

Let us take a look how components look for players having different color deficiency types.

Splendor (2014) colorblind views based on 50% color deficiency values. The top left image shows a casual view. Top right – Protanope, low left – Deuteranope and low right – Tritanope.
Splendor (2014) colorblind views based on 100% (max) color deficiency values. The top left image shows a casual view. Top right – Protanope, low left – Deuteranope and low right – Tritanope.

Based on the images above I would assume that partial colorblindness in relation to red-green color deficiency is not a big deal, it is playable still without any discomfort. But for those with severe cases, green and red cards & tokens are certainly hard to distinguish. Also, the forms of jewels are pretty similar, and there is unfortunately no other way to distinguish the types of jewels.

So if you are not among individuals with severe red-green color deficiency, you should be just fine. If not, feel free to take a closer look at these photos, or read this Reddit discussion to make a proper judgment in case you are planning to purchase the game.

Splendor colorblindness rating: B (Playable)

Price

The price of Splendore is a two-sided topic. From the components’ point of view, the game is overpriced. From the game value perspective, it is OK. Feel free to check out the current game price at the end of the page.

Splendor board game review
Final remark
Friendly to new players, loved by experienced players, rich in a strategy board game that plays in about 30 minutes and allows you to include up to 4 players. Also, playable with more players, but it will require another game box and/or adjusted game rules.
Fun
8.1
Replay Value
8.8
Art & Parts
7.5
Price
6.5
Your rating1 Vote
8
Positives
Rich in strategy & tactics
Easy to introduce to new players
Comparing to other strategy board games, this one is quicker to play
Negatives
Lacks player interaction
Pricey comparing to the amount of components
7.7
Brainy entertainment

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