Gameday First Play – Splendor
Collect Gems to buy things that let you buy more things.
Create a Gem Engine! (A Gemgine?)
Splendor is a fast-paced and addictive game of chip-collecting and card development. Players are merchants of the Renaissance trying to buy gem mines, means of transportation, shops — all in order to acquire the most prestige points. If you’re wealthy enough, you might even receive a visit from a noble at some point, which of course will further increase your prestige.
After reading/watching a few positive reviews and seeing it was pretty cheap I picked this one up.
The goal is to get 15 points worth of Mines, Transport and Shops as well as Nobles. How do you do that? With gems…
There are 5 gems – Black, Green, Blue, Red and White and they are made with these really nice, heavy clay Poker Chips which I LOVE.
On your turn you can do 1 of 4 things.
Take 3 Gems of Different Colours.
Take 2 Gems of the same colour as long as there are 4 of that Gem left.
Reserve one of the Mine, Transport or Shop cards from the board into your personal supply and take a Yellow ‘Wildcard’ Gem. (Max 3 reserved cards)
Or you can buy a card. There are 3 cards from each of the 3 types available and you can buy one by trading in the right number of Gems. Some are worth VP’s but more importantly each card gives you a bonus which is a discount on future purchases.
(Image from Board Game Geek)
As you buy cards these bonuses stack up so eventually you can buy some of the cheaper cards for free or be well on your way to the more valuable cards. If you’re lucky, or planned it well, a noble will visit. Each noble is worth 3 VP’s and will come over to your play area if the bonuses on cards meets their criteria. (3 of 3 different types or 4 of 2 different types)
This continues until someone has 15 points and when they do each player takes an even number of turns, most points wins.
I’ve played this a few times with different groups and it’s a very fun, yet infuriating game. You’re trying to buy all these cards and sometimes the Gems run out and your turn is lost/restricted*, the cheaper cards on the bottom row can run out and people can ‘hate draft’ by ‘reserving’ that valuable card you’ve been saving for just so you can’t buy it.
Having said that I do enjoy it. It’s very easy to teach, very quick to play and just the right difficulty for this kind of game.
*Turns out I’ve been forgetting that at the end of their turn a player discards down to 10 gems so maybe they won’t run out as much from now on.