Wealth and Prestige Reign Supreme in Splendor

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.

Prestige Points

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!

 

How to Play Splendor

Hop On Board for The Ride of Your Life With Ticket To Ride

One of the most annoying parts about playing a new board game is the time it takes to learn the rules.  Some games are so complicated that it feels like you need to sit through an entire course just to understand the basic rules of the game.  With Ticket To Ride, you’ll be off on your adventure in less than 15 minutes.  This game is the perfect mix of simplicity and fun, forcing you to weave and wind as you build your railway routes across North America.

Connecting The Endpoints

When the game starts, each player begins with four train car cards and three Destination Ticket cards.  The game board shows a vast map of the United States and southern Canada, and your Destination Ticket cards show you which two cities on the map you have to connect.  Keep it to yourself, however, as it’s your job to secretly build your route without alerting the other players to your goal.

Every turn you get three options: either you draw two railway car cards, draw three Destination Ticket cards, or play one of your cards to claim a route and earn points.  Claiming routes is a super fun part of the game as you get to victoriously place your colorful little train cars along the route.  As you claim more and more routes, the game board begins to fill up with a bright web of red, yellow, and blue train cards that weave their way across North America.

Winning The Game

In order to win the game, you have to earn the most points by successfully connecting your secret Destination Ticket cities.  You can also earn a magnificent ten-point bonus if you succeed in building the longest continuously connected set of routes.  By building longer routes and connecting cities from across the country, you can earn enough points to blow the competition out of the water.

The fun of the game comes from navigating risk and fear.  Do you add more cards to your hand to give yourself a better shot at winning?  Or do you nab the route you need in order to keep it from falling into the hands of your rival?  Whether you win or lose, you have to marvel at the intricacy of the custom-molded train cars and beautifully illustrated cards.

Ticket To Ride Spinoffs

Ticket to Ride was released in 2004, followed shortly after by six spinoff board games as well as a few card and electronic games.  If North America isn’t your jam, you can play Ticket to Ride across a sprawling map of Europe, Germany, Poland, or even the Nordic countries.  Certain expansions even allow you to play with new map collections including The Heart of Africa or the Old West.

While Ticket to Ride comes with a pretty large game board, Ticket To Ride: Rails and Sails ups the ante by including a giant double-sided board that features both land and water routes.  If you’re interested in playing Ticket to Ride with younger players, the First Journey version of the game features a smaller board and shorter game time that’s suitable for ages 6 and up.

Get Your Ticket To Ride And Start The Fun

Ticket to Ride is the perfect game for new players who are looking for something simple and entertaining.  Gameplay is suitable for 2-5 players ages 8 and up, so it’s an excellent board game for family game night or a lazy Sunday morning.  And although its simplicity is one of its greatest features, you’ll find that this board game is plenty interesting enough to keep you engaged throughout the entire 30-60 minutes of game time.

If you’re a locomotive junkie or you’re simply looking for a new board game to add to the mix, you’ll love the imaginative world of Ticket to Ride.  With circuitous routes traversing a beautifully illustrated game board, Ticket to Ride is just as much an adventure for your eyes as it is for your mind.  Hop on board and enjoy the ride with this entertaining and creative board game that will be sure to make “conductor” your newest dream job!

 

How to Play Ticket to Ride

Carcassonne: A Blast From the Medieval Past

You may have heard about Carcassonne, the medieval fortified town in southern France famous for its impressive outer walls.  Every year countless people flock to this historical city to learn about its rich history and explore its many towers.  But you don’t have to fly all the way to France for a blast to the medieval past!  The city of Carcassonne inspired a tile-based board game of the same name that lets you experience the world of knighthood through building landscapes and fortifying your city.

Build Your City with Carcassonne

Carcassonne uses a game board with a medieval landscape that the players will build piece by piece throughout the games.  Turn by turn, each player will draw a new terrain tile as the outer city begins to materialize.  Skill and cunning are required if you’re going to complete your cities, cloisters, and roads that earn you those valuable points.

Tiles can only connect to other like tiles—grass to grass, city to city, road to road.  Certain tiles are a combination of multiple types of areas, which means that no two completed games are going to look identical.  This variety makes Carcassonne feel fresh and new every time you break out the box for a new game.

Score Points From Your Followers

Just because you built a new road or city doesn’t mean it’s yours to keep!  You’ll have to claim your land by placing your little followers on a tile once it’s been placed.  These little followers are also called “meeples”, and add a cute visual element to the game with little bright red or yellow wooden figures.  

Your meeple will differ based on where you place it: knights defend cities, robbers defend the roads, and farmers defend the grass.  Once you’ve placed your meeple on a completed area, they’ll score you points and get you one step closer to winning the game.

Scoring points isn’t always so straightforward, however.  Just as you have to be quick to place followers before someone else steals your land out from under you, you also have an opportunity to steal from your fellow players.  A major part of the fun of Carcassonne is claiming your opponent’s land before they have a chance to.

Carcassonne Expansions and Spinoffs

While Carcassonne was inspired by the medieval French city, the game itself has also inspired a series of expansions and spinoffs.  The first expansion adds inns and cathedrals to the mix, making the game more complex for people who are looking for something a little more challenging.  With The Princess & The Dragon expansion, Carcassonne transforms into a mythical and mystical game that pits benevolent fairies against fire-breathing dragons in a fight to rescue the princess.

If medieval times don’t go back far enough for you, Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers is a spinoff that will take you back to the time when cavemen painted on walls and wooly mammoths roamed the earth.  Or, if you’re looking for something a little out of this world, the Carcassonne: Star Wars spinoff takes you to a land far far away where the evil Empire fights the virtuous Rebel Alliance.  If you’ve grown up playing the basic game of Carcassonne, you’ll love the combined sense of nostalgia and fun that comes from one of these countless spinoffs.

Go Back In Time with Carcassonne

Carcassonne is a board game that’s simple enough for ages 7 and up, so it’s definitely something that the entire family can enjoy.  Gameplay also usually lasts between 30 to 45 minutes, so it isn’t something that’s going to take up the entire night, either.  While the basic game isn’t incredibly complex, the spinoffs offer additional elements that will make the game advanced enough for adults to enjoy playing without the kids.

If you’ve ever felt drawn to the era of knights and chivalry, then Carcassonne is the game for you.  The randomness of the tile drawing provides endless possibilities that can take the game in any number of directions.  You’ll love the fast paced turns and heartless double crosses of this high stakes tile-based board game.  Step into the past and build your medieval French city with Carcassonne!

Pandemic: The Perfect Board Game For 2020

With the current COVID-19 pandemic on everyone’s minds, what better time is there to step into the shoes of our front line heroes and battle your very own fictional pandemic?  The board game Pandemic has been a favorite of countless players since it was first released in 2008.  A delightful mix of strategy, cunning, and luck, Pandemic offers countless hours of fun for both families and friend groups.

The World Of Pandemic

In the world of Pandemic, you’re not just dealing with one crisis.  Multiple virulent diseases are breaking out at the same time all across the globe, causing a worldwide pandemic that’s up to your little group to solve.  You and the other players are specialists from the CDC who are tasked with treating hotspots of disease while at the same time racing to find a cure for these four viruses.

Pandemic uses a game board that portrays 48 major population centers on the globe.  Players begin the game at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, with each person being assigned a random role and several Player cards.  Each turn you take you get to choose up to four actions, some of which will require cards that you pull from the deck.  

Depending on the card you select, you can build a research station, discover a cure for one of the viruses, travel from one city to another, or treat the infected.  Be careful, however, as the deck also contains special “Epidemic!” cards that will only worsen the spread of the diseases. 

Roles In Pandemic

One of the most fun aspects of the game is the different role that each player gets assigned at the beginning of the game.  This is where luck meets strategy, as your strategy depends on the strength of your specialist.  Roles such as the Containment Specialist or Operations Expert contain powerful abilities to treat infection, while the Contingency Planner and Pilot are much weaker roles.

Whether you succeed in treating the infections and averting a worldwide meltdown depends on how well you play the role you’re given.  This is part of what makes Pandemic such an excellent game for repeat playing, as you may find yourself handicapped with a weaker role that makes gameplay much more challenging.

Unlike most board games, Pandemic requires players to work together in order for everyone to win.  Your biggest competitor is the disease itself, rather than the person sitting across from you.  Work together to keep the diseases from spreading too far by sharing cards and preventing Outbreaks.  This isn’t the kind of game where you shut people out and clinch the victory for yourself.

Pandemic Expansions And Spinoffs

Pandemic comes with several expansions that expand gameplay to include new threats and additional roles.  The first official expansion “On the Brink” was released in 2009, which came with additional roles and Special Event cards.  Since then, there have been two more expansions that allow you to do things like research cures in a laboratory.  One even adds a fifth disease, an incurable Superbug that makes the game much more difficult.

Spinoffs of Pandemic add new features such as dice to the game, which introduces an additional element of chance.  One unique spinoff called Pandemic: Contagion flips the script entirely, putting players in the role of the diseases and forcing you to work towards the eradication of the entire human race!  And if you’re into mythical monsters and H.P. Lovecraft, you’ll love Pandemic: Reign Of Cthulu, which pits you against occultists who are trying to summon the legendary monster.

Save The World From Pandemic

Pandemic is a perfect game for families, as it accommodates 2-4 players from ages 8 and up.  It’s not too difficult to get the hang of, but it’s also challenging enough that you won’t get bored of it after a few plays.  The additional expansion packs are a creative way to extend gameplay and get a few additional years out of this classic.  But above all, Pandemic stands apart from other games because of its focus on cooperation.  If you can get kids to work together to rid the world of disease, there’s nothing you can’t do!

 

How to Play Pandemic

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