Board Games - Now It's Your Turn

N.I.Y.T. #1 – Splendor

Hello and welcome to our very first installment of Now It’s Your Turn, or N.I.Y.T. as we’ll be calling it. Today we’ll be talking about our very first board game, and as we go, I’ll also be explaining how this series will work. Consider this the ‘how to’ guide to this project.

So you’re ready for you first Game Night, or maybe you just want to try playing a board game with friends, or perhaps you and your roommates or family have heard great things about board games and want to give it a go but don’t really know where to start. Today’s game is perfect for you. We’ll start every article off with some basic stats.

Splendor
Designer: Marc Andre
Players: 2-4
Average Play Time: 30 Minutes

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What’s it about?

In board games, you’ll hear me use the word “Theme” a lot. Most games have a theme and theme can be extremely important to the enjoyment of the game. If you were playing a game about space ships invading planets, you could say that the theme was ‘space.’

Theme-wise, Splendor has you playing a merchant during the renaissance period. You use your riches to acquire mines, means of transportation and other resources in order to turn your gems into fine resources. That comes directly from the rulebook. We call this sort of story or theme building “Flavor Text.” Flavor text gives us an idea of who we are in the game and what we are doing.

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These mines, mountains and elephants are represented by brightly colored cards.

How is it played?

Fortunately, Splendor in play is much less complicated than its story would have you believe. Splendor is, at its core, a game about managing resources and building something of an economy. You start by taking jewels, which are represented by pictures of jewels on poker chips. There are multiple colors and you can take three different colors or two from one color. You’re taking these jewels in hopes of buying up one of the cards on the table.

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Ohhh, multi-colored fancy poker chips. I must have them all for my empire. (Insert Evil Laugh here.)

The cards are easy to read, which is what makes this game so accessible. No words to read, just symbols. On a card, you’ll see how much it costs, meaning how many jewels must be paid to obtain it, as well as what jewel it adds to your stock, and then a number in the upper left corner if it is worth any points. Most of the cards you’ll start off buying aren’t worth any points, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important.

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This card costs 7 green jewels and 3 red jewels to buy. It adds a red jewel to your supply in the upper right corner and is worth 5 points.

Each card has a jewel color on it and as soon as you’ve purchased the card, you place it in front of you and you can then use the jewel color on it as one of your stock to buy more things. By building up your stock of cards, you’ll start being able to take higher and higher tier cards which are more expensive.

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SO even though I have two blue chips and one brown, I actually have 2 brown, 2 white, 5 blue and 2 green to buy things with. The jewels on cards stay with me forever and can be used every turn. The jewels on poker chips go away after I spend them.

On the table, there are three tiers of cards. The lower ones are easy to buy but often yield no points, but as you buy the more expensive cards, you’ll start earning points, and all the while, you’re adding to your resources because remember, every card is giving you one gem color that can be used on every turn. This means that if you play it right, you’ll eventually be picking up cards off the table without having to spend those poker chips because all the resources you need will be on the cards in front of you.

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The cards in the green row are easy to buy but the cards in the blue row are fanciful fanciness and require a merchant with lots of fancy jewels to afford their fanciness.

Some other fun nuances to the game include nobles who must be impressed. If you ever have the total combination of resources they are looking for in cards in front of you, you can pick up that noble at the end of your turn. They may not give you jewels but they are worth points and points are what count.

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This pensive looking woman is worth 3 points, but you’ll need 3 green cards, 3 blue cards and 3 white cards to impress her. I’m told once you get all those cards she might even crack a smile…or not.

Afraid you’re saving up for something that your friend is going to steel off the table? You can pick it up and place it in your hand until you are ready to pay for it, thus reserving it. By doing this, you also get to take a piece of gold. Gold acts as the game’s “Wild” and can be used as one of any color gem.

The first person to 15 points is the winner!

What is so great about Splendor?

Splendor is an easy game to pick up and play. The rules are simple and the cards are intuitive enough that you can figure it out without much hassle. That doesn’t mean that the game is easy though. It’s certainly a challenge to master. My gaming group loves this game despite the fact that it is lite thanks to the fact that there are several ways to win. Different strategies yield different results and everyone has a fair chance, from the most seasoned players to the first timers. This makes it perfect to start gamers out with, especially if you happen to be the only person in your group who knows anything about board games.

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Family members who seem so peaceful will suddenly being gnawing at the table in anticipation of getting that last gem they need. Excuse me, Grandma. Yes, you. Please stop gnawing the table. Thank you.

What could make Splendor better?

In future games, I’m sure I’ll talk more about things I’d prefer to change about games and have more criticisms but as for Splendor, the only thing I wish is that it accommodated more players. Four players is a pretty solid amount for most games but making it up to six would mean even more fun for more people. Other than that, Splendor is top notch.

Final Thoughts

Splendor is an award winning game for a reason. It’s fast to learn, easy to teach, but ultimately challenging to master. It’s a game that will have you finishing a round, only to want to play one more time to try a new strategy. It’s the perfect game to start folks out with. It has great artwork and the poker chips make for one of my favorite game teaching tricks. Set one stack in front of each person playing and let them play with them while you teach. They’ll pay more attention and also have more investment in the game.

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Is it just me or does that brown stone look a lot like chocolate. Damn this game and my perpetual sweet tooth.

The game is competitive but rarely cutthroat, meaning it will get your group in the mindset of wanting to win, but with less of the need to hurt others in order to achieve victory. We’ll talk plenty about games that are more cutthroat but I like to start gamers out with something a little less intense and mean. The game is also short enough that you can play multiple games in a row and not feel bored.

Whether you are completely new to tabletop gaming or a seasoned veteran, I strongly recommend Splendor. Now get out there and wheel and deal those jewels. It’s the only way to buy that mine you’ve been saving up for.  My friends and I love Splendor.  Now It’s Your Turn.

To Learn More about the N.I.Y.T. project, CLICK HERE!

 

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4 replies »

      • Splendor’s a great game, too — I haven’t played it with anyone who hasn’t enjoyed it, and the recent Amazon sale managed to knock it to the right price to get it for a friend’s birthday. Would love to see how they’d do an expansion.

  1. I didn’t actually like this game because the first two times I tried it my friend tried for the same gems as me every turn and she was before me in the round. So annoying. I will try it again though, many of my friends love it and you make it sound so fun!

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