We’ve done small games, we’ve done story games, I feel like the logical next step is going to be suggesting some strategy games. Who would you give a strategy game too? With the stocking stuffers and story games, a lot of them could be played […]
Tag: strategy games
March was a crazy, crazy month for this nerd — I had a very large, in-depth, time-sensitive project to finish by the end of the month that, while extremely enjoyable, ate up most of my free time. As a good-job-on-the-hard-work present, Peder bought me Splendor, a great board game that I got a chance to play at a friend’s place a few weeks ago and have had my eye on ever since. It’s a gemstone trading-themed game, and I’m pretty sure I was more excited about it than if Peder had bought me actual jewelry. You may be a nerd when…
Splendor is one of those wonderful games that falls in the sweet spot of having just enough strategy involved to keep it engaging, but not so much that it’s overwhelming. It’s for a small group of players (2-4); if you’re looking for something in-depth and challenging, this isn’t the game for you, but it’s a great one for a little friendly competition on a laid-back evening.
Players of Splendor play as Renaissance-era jewel merchants who are trying to purchase the most possible jewels, in order to gain the most recognition — and even attract some noble patrons. To set up the game, three rows of four cards are laid out. Each subsequent row features gems of higher value and more potential victory points (or prestige points, as they’re called in this game). During each turn, a player may collect gem chips (either three different ones or two of the same kind), spend chips to purchase a gem card, or reserve a card that they plan to save up for and purchase later.
The goal, of course, is to buy as many gem cards as possible — once bought, cards give you permanent purchasing power, meaning that you’ll need to collect fewer and fewer chips as you go in order to purchase more cards. Many cards also have prestige points, which are crucial to collect — the first player to reach 15 prestige points is the winner.
The strategy comes into play in each of these stages. For example, there are only so many chips to collect, so you’ll need to collect a good amount before others do — but on the other hand, cards give you permanent buying power, so sometimes it’s better to purchase a lot of low-value cards at first, which will enable you to purchase higher-value ones later. And then there’s the matter of prestige points; the cards that have them typically cost more, so you’ll need to purchase lower-level ones to be able to afford them, or choose cards to reserve for later — but take too long saving up, and other players might get to the 15-point goal faster than you do. Finally, there’s the noble patrons to consider — to get them to pay you a visit (and thereby receive prestige points from them), you’ll need to accumulate certain amounts and combinations of the different gems. But again, focus too much on them, and other players might use a quicker strategy to rack up prestige points. See what I mean? While it’s not a complex game, there’s still a lot to consider as you play, and it’s fast-paced enough that you have to decide on your strategy quickly, and may have to be prepared to switch gears partway through.
And beyond the enjoyment factor of the game, the sheer aesthetics of it are fantastic. The card illustrations are gorgeous, the setup of the game is visually appealing, and the jewel chips have a wonderful weight and sheen to them. This ain’t no Pretty, Pretty Princess — this is a game about jewels that not only manages to not be cheesy but is a success in beautiful, elegant game design.
While not necessarily a great choice for the hardcore gamer, Splendor is easy to pick up, fast to play, and just plain delightful.
Overall Grade: A+
Casual Grade: A
Gamer Grade: B