If you have listened to Episode 332 then you will have heard Conrad wax lyrical about Splendour and I, as is my impulsive want, went and picked up a copy on Amazon. That arrived late last week it arrived and over the weekend I managed to persuade the family to give it a go.
At its heart, this is a game of chip-collecting and card development, you are a merchant during the Renaissance trying to gain enough prestige to be pre-eminant amongst your peers. To do this you buy mines, transport routes, shops and try and entice nobles to give you their blessing. These are all represented by various cards that cost a certain amount of chips, where the chips represent gems
.In your turn you may carry out one (and only one) action. These are
- Collect 3 different gems (you may only end a turn with 10 gems in hand)
- Take 2 of the same gem
- Buy a Card
- Reserve a Card (put it in your hand ready for purchase when you can afford it)
To buy a card you just need to pay the cost listed in the bottom left and then you get to add it to you collection. The cards are divided into 3 levels of cost and prestige – Lvl 1 cards often have no prestige value whereas the Lvl 3 cards can have up to 5 prestige per card. Cards also have a gem in the top right. This is effectively a free gem chip that never gets used up – you need these to make the higher level cards affordable. Its all about starting small and building up.
Finally you can attract nobles
Again these have a gem cost but you can’t spend chips on them. If you build up enough prestige cards to match the printed requirement then that noble will automatically come to you, increasing your prestige and your chance to win.
First player to 15 prestige gets all the bragging rights – in our case it was Mrs Marshall and she is exploiting those bragging rights as much as she can.
So thats the mechanics of the game, but how did it feel?
Physically the game is good, cards etc. are nice with decent artwork. The chips are a bit substandard and plasticky. We would have liked actual plastic gems to give it that little bit of an extra feel as if you were handling treasure. This post on BoardGameGeek gives some good suggestions for upgrading which I might invest in.
Gameplay wise it felt pretty good. Halfway though I realised the strategy I was using wasn’t actually going to work so had to change gears quite rapidly and my eldest became disheartened halfway though as it looked like it was all going pear shaped for her but then a couple of cards flipped and her game turned around – she would have won if we went another turn.
We all felt that it had a lot of elements of Ticket to Ride in it (single action, need to play ahead, inadvertent blocking by taking the card that you desperately needed!!!) and as that is a family favourite that was always going to be a plus.
Game took about 45 minutes but now we know the rules I think it will get closer to 30 minutes a game which is pretty much spot on for us.
You can find Splendour at Amazon and I’m sure at other retailers. Highly recomended.