Released in 2014, Splendor is a board game consisting of chip collecting, card development and point systems. It was designed by Marc Andre and published by the French game creation studio, Space Cowboys, who have introduced other games such as Elysium, Black Fleet and T.I.M.E Stories. Splendor is designed for ages 10 and up and can be played between 2-4 players. These players are merchants in the Renaissance period trying to buy gem mines, transportation and shops. Each buy increases an individual’s prestige points and whoever collects the first 15 points wins. The game has an estimated time period of 30 minutes.
Splendor can be purchased online where prices vary from site to site. The cheapest price found was for $39 AUD (including free shipping) on Amazon.com, while the most expensive cost was $92 AUD (plus a $7.95 shipping fee) on TopToy.com.au. At the moment major Australian retail brands such as Kmart, Big W and Target do not stock Splendor in their stores.
- 5 different coloured gem tokens (7 of each)
- 5 gold token chips
- 90 development cards (representing 3 different levels- gem mines, transportation and shops)
- 10 Noble titles
- The chips are separated according to their gem.
- The three levels of development cards are to be placed on the table separately. Four cards from each pile are to be laid out face up.
- Five noble titles are selected at random and placed on the table and the rest are put back into the box.
- At the start of the game each player takes turns collecting chips with the option of taking either 3 different kinds of gem tokens or 2 of the same.
- With each turn a player has the option of performing one of three acts: collect more chips, buy a card or reserve a card.
- To buy a card a player must have the correct amount of gem tokens to trade (as shown on the card). Once bought the card then represents the gem shown in the top right-hand corner. The card is equivalent to one gem token and can be used to buy more cards without having to be traded in.
- To reserve a card a player can take their selected card and place a gold token on top of it until they have enough gems to buy it. A gold token can also be used as an equivalent to whatever gem token they are without.
- Once enough cards are collected players may also have the opportunity to take a noble title gaining them even more prestige points.
- In the top left-hand corner of each card or noble title is the number of prestige points earned. Once a player has reached 15, the game is over and the player has won.
- Once a card is taken from the table it must be replaced with another one from the deck.
- A player cannot have more than 10 gem tokens at a time.
- A player cannot take 2 of the same gem token if there is not 4 or more in a stack.
My first impression of the board game Splendor was just simply appreciating the aesthetics and the beauty that comes with it. Each component captures the Renaissance theme through the extremely detailed images printed on the cards and tokens. It was very obvious how much thought and time the board game’s artist, Pascal Quidault, had put into designing Splendor.
My second impression was that the game’s rules were difficult to understand. The rule book was complicated so we resorted to researching them online and found a series of blogs and videos helping us understand. A few games in, we found even more rules that we hadn’t even applied. This included learning how to reserve a card, the purpose of the gold tokens and the way to acquire noble titles.
What I like most about Splendor is the competitive aspect. The more I played the more strategic I became and the more I wanted to win. I noticed this even more so when I played the game, Lanterns, a board game that doesn’t have any confrontation to it. What emphasised this competitive nature even more was the game’s materiality. Watching your personal pile of cards and tokens pile up and making sure you had more than the other players was a similar feeling you get when playing Monopoly and you watch your stack of money grow. It was something that definitely added to the experience.
Overall, Splendor is a game that I would really recommend to others. It is a fun, light-hearted board game that once understood can be played for hours.
Mastrangeli, T, 2014, Splendor Review, Board game quest, weblog post, 11th November, viewed 18th March 2016
Board game geek, 2014, Splendor, Board game geek, weblog post, viewed 18th March 2016
Space Cowboys, 2013, Who are we, The space cowboy games, website, viewed 18th March
Wizard, 2014, Splendor- not your normal board game review, Armada games, weblog post, 14th December, viewed 18th March 2016