Splendor

Reviewed by: Herb Levy

(Space Cowboys/Asmodee, 2 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, 30 minutes; $39.99)

splendor1A beautiful woman and medieval merchant lurk in the background but your eyes remained transfixed on the shimmering stone you hold in your hands. You are hypnotized by the splendor of the stone – and you will have to be – for Splendor, the new game designed by Marc André, is all about precious stones and you need to concentrate on amassing the ones you need to increase your prestige to win.

Splendor’s bookshelf box contains 90 “Development” cards divided into three sets: level 1 (40 cards), level 2 (30) and level 3 (20). There is also a supply of tokens representing jewels and precious stones: 7 each of Emerald (green), Sapphire (blue), Ruby (red), Diamond (white) and Onyx (black) along with 5 Gold (yellow). There are also 10 Noble tiles and rules.

All of the colored tokens become a “bank” available to all players. Each individual card set is shuffled and four cards from each level flipped to create a four by three array. The Nobles tiles get mixed as well and one more Noble than the number of players is placed, face up, at the top of the array. (Remaining Noble tiles are not used.)

On a turn, a player may do ONE of four possible actions: take three tokens of different colors, take two tokens of ONE color (but only if there are at least four tokens of that color in the stack when taking that action), “reserve” one Development card and receive a yellow token (the only way to get a valuable yellow token, valuable because yellow tokens are “wild” and may be used as any color) or purchase one Development card from the array. Buying those Development cards is key.

Each Development card depicts a “development” of sorts (better transportation, artisans etc.) and a price. The price is in tokens, a certain number of certain color(s) required to be exchanged to obtain that specific card. Some cards may also have “prestige points” too. In addition, each Development card displays one particular jewel or precious stone in its upper right corner. Once purchased, that card will ALWAYS generate ONE stone of that color whenever needed. So, for example, if I already have a card with a white diamond on it and I need four white diamonds to buy another card, I only need three additional tokens to make up the difference. The more cards purchased, the more stones are produced WITHOUT needing tokens. And that’s where those Nobles come in.

splendor2Like Development cards, Nobles tokens display a “price” but these cannot be bought. Nobles, instead, must be “enticed” to visit you and, when visiting, bring their prestige value along with them. The “price” of a Noble is displayed as a set of requirements (such as 3 blue, 3 white, 3 black). At the end of each turn, players check to see if they have managed to “entice” a Noble to visit. If a player has accumulated development cards that produce those amounts and colors of jewels, then that Noble visits that player and brings his/her 3 Prestige Points along. Only one Noble may visit on a turn so, if a player can choose between two, better take the one that other players are closes to taking. That way, you can keep a Noble out of opposing hands and claim that second Noble on your next turn. Even better, a visiting Noble cannot be lost. Those Prestige Points stay with you for the entire game.

Play continues until one player has amassed 15 Prestige Points. At that point, the round continues so that everyone has had an equal number of turns. High score wins. Tie? Then the player who has bought the FEWEST Development cards claims victory!

Splendor benefits from an excellent presentation. The colors used are easily recognizable (no orange/red or blue/green blends to challenge you). Add to that that each token carries a picture of the gem or stone itself and mistakes with colors are reduced to a bare minimum. The tokens themselves are hefty, casino quality, chips which adds to the playing pleasure.

Although there is a certain initial reminder of Sid Sackson’s Bazaar in its abstract nature and the use of colored chips to be collected and redistributed to buy valuable cards, Splendor is a much lighter, family style, game Despite that, there is ample room for strategy and decision making. Which development tiles should you claim? And when? Development cards are more difficult to obtain as their levels increase but higher level cards award Prestige Points as well as stone production. And what about those valuable wild tokens? Stashing a development card in your hand is the only way to get those valuable wild tokens AND a good way to slow up the progress of an opponent from building an “engine” to capture a Noble and those additional Prestige Points. (But there are restrictions. There is a hand limit of 3 development cards. Even more significant: no one may hold more than 10 tokens at the end of a turn so hoarding, a tempting strategy to prevent opponents from getting needed colors which would have broken the game, is prohibited.) The artwork by Pascal Quidault is eye-catching and appealing both with the tiles which enhance rather than obscure necessary game information and, particularly, the striking box cover art that practically dares you to take this game down from the shelf.

Splendor is a first rate family game that provides enough challenge to keep kids amused and adults engaged making it a well deserving finalist for this year’s Spiel des Jahres (German Game of the Year) award.


Have feedback? We’d love to hear from you.


Summer 2014 GA Report Articles

 

Reviewed by: Greg J. Schloesser (Z-Man Games/Pearl Games, 2-5 players, ages 13 and up; 90-120 minutes; $64.99) Brussels in the late 19th century was an exciting place, as the city was a hub for an artistic and architectural revolution. The "Art Nouveau" style was born here, and many outstanding buildings were constructed and are still a marvel today. It was apparently quite the scene and ...
Read More
Reviewed by: Herb Levy (R & R Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, 60-75 minutes, $44.95) For admirers of the Euro/German style of gaming, the German city of Essen is the epicenter of the universe for its gaming convention held there annually. But Essen has more to its history than games. It is also the site of coal mines that powered industrialization ...
Read More
Reviewed by: Chris Kovac (Stronghold Games, 2 to 5 players, ages 10 and up, 90 minutes; $44.95) Core Worlds is a two to five player deck building game by Andrew Parks. I played the second edition by Stronghold games. The theme of the game is that players are space barbarians conquering a dying galactic empire from its fringes to its “core” worlds (hence the title) ...
Read More
[Sherlock Holmes is no stranger to readers of literature, film fans and TV viewers nor is he unknown to gamers around the world. For over a hundred years, Holmes has been the cornerstone of gaming adventures. In this issue, we feature I Say, Holmes!, a new card game that has been inspired by an older one, the one published by Gibsons Games in 1991. For ...
Read More
Reviewed by: Herb Levy (Eagle Games/Kayal Games, 3 to 5 players, ages 14 and up, 120 minutes; $79.99) Sailing the Spanish Main, trading for goods but also trolling for treasure while attacking forts, raiding towns and grappling with Spanish Galleons is the stuff that movies and historical novels are made of. And also, it seems games. For, in the new game from Peter Hawes, sea ...
Read More
Reviewed by: Andrea "Liga" Ligabue (Ares Games, 1 to 5 players, ages 14 and up, 120 minutes; $89.99) Welcome soldier! If you are reading this review, it means that your physical or mental capabilities are excellent and our planet needs you! You are joining a secret agency responsible for detecting and stopping alien activity on Earth... keep reading, if you dare, but keep in ...
Read More
Reviewed by: Pevans (Z-Man Games/Hans im Glück, 2 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, 60 minutes; $64.99) Helios, designed by Martin Kallenborn and Matthias Smith, is the latest from Hans im Glück (Z-Man is doing the English language edition) and stood out for me at the Gathering because of its bright cover – with lots of yellow to match its sunny theme. Let’s take ...
Read More
Reviewed by: Herb Levy (Victory Point Games, 3 to 8 players, ages 13 and up, 30 minutes per player; $35) Sherlock Holmes lives! Could there be any doubt? Not only are the Sherlock Holmes stories still in print (have they ever gone out?), the Great Detective can also be found in other media, most notably in the current television series that place the master sleuth ...
Read More
Reviewed by: Herb Levy (Pegasus Spiele, 2 to 5 players, ages 10 and up, 40-60 minutes; $49.99) Buying and selling, wheeling and dealing, have often been the basis for games. Rűdiger Dorn must agree as he takes those basics and transports game players into an exotic locale, the exciting Middle Eastern city that gives the game its name: Istanbul. Although categorized as a board game, ...
Read More
Reviewed by: Joe Huber (Asmodee/Ludonaute, 1 to 5 players, ages 14 and up, 120 minutes; $49.99) I’ve always been interested in history, particularly United States history, but it’s only more recently that I’ve had the opportunity to really explore it. The Lewis and Clark expedition has always been of interest but I’ve only started to learn about it. My first real introduction started in Idaho ...
Read More
Reviewed by: Derek Croxton I like the problem-solving aspect of games but I have to admit that my patience is limited and I sometimes wish other players would not take so long. Perhaps this is because I don't have the patience to take 5 minutes figuring out the best move, or perhaps it's because I don't think it's worth investing that much time in a ...
Read More
Reviewed by: Herb Levy (Space Cowboys/Asmodee, 2 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, 30 minutes; $39.99) A beautiful woman and medieval merchant lurk in the background but your eyes remained transfixed on the shimmering stone you hold in your hands. You are hypnotized by the splendor of the stone - and you will have to be - for Splendor, the new game designed by ...
Read More
Don't Throw Dirt on My Grave Just Yet Although a dyed in the wool city person, I do have a fondness for good country music. Over the last two television seasons, I have also developed a fondness for Nashville, the series that centers on life in the Country Music Capital of the World. Without going into too many details, one of the storylines is about ...
Read More

Facebook Feed

1 day ago

Gamers Alliance
Once again, there are over 200 (!) Gamers Alliance auctions going on on eBay right now, featuring lots of games - new games, vintage games, roleplaying items, rare games - and lots of other odd and interesting items available for your viewing pleasure! Well worth a look!Enjoy your visit!www.ebay.com/sch/gamersalliance/m.html... ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook

5 days ago

Gamers Alliance
Today marks the 100th birthday of legendary cartoonist Charles Schulz, creator of Charlie Brown, the Peanuts gang and, of course, .. ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook

1 week ago

Gamers Alliance
Wishing a happy (85th!) birthday to actress Marlo Thomas who is that woman who is the face of St. Jude's Hospital for Children but started her career as... ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook

2 weeks ago

Gamers Alliance
Sad to hear of the passing of actor Robert Clary (at age 96). Clary was a prisoner in a concentration camp for nearly 3 years during his teens and lost 10 of his 13 siblings, as well as his parents, in the Holocaust. But he was not the only member of the cast of the sitcom that brought him success who suffered from the Nazis. These included Werner Klemperer, who played the pusillanimous camp commandant, Col. Klink, and who was the son of the renowned orchestra conductor Otto Klemperer; his family fled Berlin for Los Angeles when Mr. Klemperer was 13 to escape persecution and John Banner, who played the doltish Sgt. Schultz, who fled his home country, Austria, after Germany annexed it in 1938. The sitcom was, of course... ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook

2 weeks ago

Gamers Alliance
Wishing a happy 82nd birthday to actor Sam Waterston who has been the real (Jack) McCoy in laying down the law for decades in... ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook