Skip to main content

Splendor (Acquire-To-Zendo)

 ๐Ÿ’Ž In The Sky With Diamonds...

2014, 2-4 players
Complexity: light

Set in the Italian Renaissance, Splendor is game about collecting gems, acquiring mining and transportation rights, and building a jewelry supply chain. But mostly it's a eurogame about buying cards and building a tableau.

Let's See It In Action

In Splendor, you and up to three friends will take on the role of gem merchants, dealing in gems that are red, black, white, green, or blue. On your turn, you can either take gems from the supply or spend your gems to acquire cards.

The supply of gems is determined by the number of players. If you're taking gems, you have two options: you can take three gems of three different colors, or you can take two of the same color--but only if there are at least four of that color in the supply. If you end up with more than ten, you have to discard down at the end of your turn. In addition to the five gem types, there is gold which acts as a wild, but it can only be taken when you reserve a card--that is, taking a card from the market and setting it to the side where only you can purchase it.

If you want to purchase a card, either from the market or from your reserve, you simply pay the cost in gems, returning them from your personal play area back to the general supply. Every card you purchase is added to your tableau and has a gem printed on the top of it. Some also have victory points.

Cards in your tableau may also be used to purchase cards, but they don't leave your play area, meaning they effectively lower the cost of other cards. For example, in the above picture, the player has cards giving them green, black, and white gems. If that player wanted to purchase a card that costs one white, one red, and three black (as seen in the picture above that), they would only have to spend one red and two black, because they have cards providing them with a white and a black already. As your tableau grows, you are able to buy more and more expensive cards, which have increasing amounts of victory points on them.

The other source of victory points are the nobles, who will come and visit you (bestowing their points) if you have cards in your tableau matching the condition on their token. For example, the noble on the left above will visit if and only if your tableau contains at least four blue and four green cards.

Play continues until one player has amassed fifteen victory points, at which point the round finishes out and whoever has the most points is the winner.

As in real life...

What Makes It So Good?

Splendor is a simple game that plays very quickly. I played it with my six-year-old and he only needed minimal coaching (and he cleaned my clock, for whatever that's worth). The mechanics are straightforward and the very stripped-down. In the tradition of the classic eurogame, you can learn everything you need to know about it in a few minutes, but then spend many playthroughs optimizing your strategy.

Indeed, the real joy of this game is in figuring out how to ramp up your engine, as in a game like Dominion. There's not a ton of player interaction--you're mostly just racing towards the victory condition. Honestly, it reminds me most of Mario Kart, where you can play time trials over and over again searching for the best way to shave a few seconds your time. It can be quite addictive.

What's Not To Like?

There's not a lot of variety or player interaction--whether that's a feature or a bug is going to be at the discretion of the player.

Is It Expansible?

There is a collection of expansion content called Cities Of Splendor that contains four different gameplay variations--and from what I understand they are not intended to be mixed. I have not personally played them, but I hear they're quite good. There's a Marvel reskin of the game that players going after Infinity Gems because of course there is.

There's also a digital edition with a pretty good AI, if you just want to play it over and over again and really hone your ramp.

Final Thoughts

Splendor is a quick, easy-to-learn tableau/engine builder that balances stripped down mechanics against a healthy amount of strategic depth.

Tune in next week when we embrace party-game chaos in space with Star Fluxx...

In Acquire-To-Zendo, Kurt is going through his favorite board games in alphabetical order. Read the explainer or see more posts.


Kathy Schrenk said…
This is pretty much my current favorite game. Unfortunately I found that the expansions added nothing. We played each once and the box has sat unopened ever since.

Popular posts from this blog

Alexandra Rowland And Bad Faith Accusations

This morning, writing twitter was blown up by a post from Alexandra Rowland accusing Scott Lynch and Elizabeth Bear of some nasty manipulative behavior. I have reason to believe that Rowland is acting in bad faith. Seven or eight years ago, Rowland and I were in the same writing group. I didn't know them well, but we became Facebook friends because that's what you do. At some point after we fell out of contact with each other, they made a post about an affair with an influential older male who had lied about being in an open marriage and proceeded to manipulate and gaslight and emotionally abuse them. I didn't know any of the people involved other than Rowland, but I was affected enough by Rowland’s post that I can still recall reading it all these years later. So when I saw Rowland's blog this morning, I assumed it was the same situation... except the dates weren't right. The Bear/Lynch events took place in 2016, but the post I remembered was older than that. So I

100 Album: "Game Of Thrones Season 3 Soundtrack" by Ramin Djawadi

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the  explainer  or view  the master list . Artist:  Ramin Djawadi Title:   Game Of Thrones, Season 3 Soundtrack Released:  2013 Genre:  DAH duh, duh-duh-DAH duh, duh-duh-DAH duh He's not as big a name as Hans Zimmer or John Williams or the various Newmans out there, but Ramin Djawadi is easily the most interesting composer working in television right now (with due respect to Bear McCreary). Soundtracks, especially television soundtracks because they're produced so quickly, have a tendency to serve more as a wall of atmosphere than anything else. But Djawadi's work here and on Westworld  has generated some amazing musical themes. There's a strong undercurrent of leitmotif informing the way the music flows together and the themes those motifs are built around are damned  catchy--which you know if you got the joke in the genre description above. While all of the soundtracks for GoT  are very listenable, this is m

On Getting Laser Eyes

Last week I got Lasik. I was looking forward to not having to deal with glasses getting smudged by my kids or slipping off my face. I figured that not needing them would be pretty convenient. However, the words I heard over and over from other people who'd already done it were: "life-changing." That seemed to be overstating a bit. Convenient, yes, but life-changing? I didn't get it. I get it now. I've had some kind of vision correction, either glasses or contacts, for the last thirty-odd years, which is nearly as far back as I can remember. And what I hadn't realized was the extent to which this had become part of my identity. It's not that I thought glasses were cool because I wore them--although I did and they are. It's that the ability to see was, for me, artificial and temporary. And my vision was pretty bad, so my natural state was one of... not so much "blindness" as "isolation." There was a layer of vagueness that sat bet