Nobles and merchants abound in Splendor, a chip-collecting card game that requires you to earn wealth and prestige in order to be crowned the victor. If you’ve ever had a longing for the days of nobility and art, you’ll love the Renaissance theme that brings back memories of a time filled with wealth and luxury. Splendor is an intriguing wealth-building game that’s simple to learn but full of complex strategy and opportunity.
Tokens, Cards, and Tiles
The goal of Splendor is to buy as many gems and build as many shops as possible to earn prestige points and win the game. Gems are represented by different poker-style chips called gem tokens, which come in seven colors from shining emerald to captivating onyx. The combination of cards and chips may make Splendor seem like a game of poker, but there’s a lot more to this imaginative game.
Players will purchase and reserve 90 development cards, which each have their own price tag of a certain number of gems. These development cards can be purchased to earn prestige points alongside certain special bonuses that may invite a visit from a Noble. The game comes with 10 noble tiles that get triggered once a player reaches a certain amount of bonuses, gracing them with their presence (and extra prestige points, of course).
Buying and Reserving
Each turn, players are given one of three choices: they can collect gems, buy and build a card, or reserve a card for later. When collecting gems, players can choose three different kinds or two of the same kind of gem depending on their needs and their long-term strategy. If players buy and build a card, they have to pay its price in gems before they can add it to their playing area.
Reserving a card for later is one of the sneakiest elements of the game, as this move can either be used to ensure that you get a certain card or be used to prevent another player from getting it. It pays to be devious, however, as reserving a card also earns you a golden joker chip, which you can use in place of any type of gem.
Whether you choose to collect gems, buy cards, or reserve cards, you’ll have to come up with your own unique strategy for collecting the most prestige points and winning the game. The winner of Splendor is whichever player manages to collect 15 prestige points first—if there’s a tie, then the winning spot goes to the person who purchased the fewest development cards. This can upset your winning strategy at the last second, so it pays to keep in mind alternative routes to earning prestige points.
Splendor Spinoffs and Expansions
Splendor was first published in 2014, with an expansion titled Cities of Splendor released three years later. This expansion is really four separate expansions that can each revolutionize gameplay in their very own way. The Cities will replace the noble tiles with city tiles, forcing you to fulfill certain objectives in order to win the game. The Orient is a particularly fun expansion that adds three decks of cards, giving you special powers that you can tap into to dominate the competition.
Splendor also came out with a Marvel spinoff version that brings together your favorite super heroes in a quest to stop the evil Thanos. Players will gain Infinity Points instead of prestige points, and they’ll also enjoy a different endgame trigger and victory conditions. The Splendor spinoff is any Marvel fan’s dream come true!
Splendor: A Renaissance Card Game
Splendor can be played by 2-4 players ages 10 and up, so it’s best suited for small families or groups of friends. Playing time lasts about 30 minutes, which is enough to allow players to enjoy a quick game or two in a night.
Splendor is definitely a family-friendly game that’s simple enough for the kids to enjoy, but it also allows for more advanced players to experiment with riskier strategies. Splendor will have you brimming with anticipation as you pick your cards and amass your wealth. Who knows, you may even attract the attention of the nobility!