You’re a rich merchant looking to turn raw gems in to precious stones in order to attract the attention of wealthy nobles all in order to increase your own prestige.
There are 3 different decks of cards, each indicated by a different colour on the back of each card. Shuffle them individually based on their colour and then place them face down in a line with the pile marked with one dot at the bottom and the deck with 3 dots at the top. Once you’ve done that deal 4 four cards from each deck face up on the table in line with each deck of cards. You’ll then need to place your nobles above the cards dealt out. You’ll need to place out a noble for each player plus one additional noble, so if you have 3 players, place 4 nobles on the table. Now you need to sort out your gem tokens and place them in piles on the table. The number of gems being used will also depend on how many players are playing, again based on 3 players, you’ll only use 5 of each gem type, but all of the gold.
That’s it, you’re ready to go! Splendor is very quick to get set up and ready to play.
A player’s turn consists of collecting gems, buying a development card or reserving a development card.
If you want to collect some gems on your turn you can either take 3 gems all of different types/colour, or two gems of the same type/colour. If you’re trying to take 2 of the same type, the gem pile must have at least 4 gems in it, otherwise you’ll have to wait until the pile gets replenished.
To buy a development card, you’ll first need to collect gems. The cost of the card is shown in the bottom left. If you have the right amount, then you’ll return your gems to the value of the card and collect that development card.
Development cards can give you a permanent bonus to your stock of gems – shown in the top right. So if you pick one that has a red gem in the corner, you’ll now permanently have a red gem in your stock. This means that if you later want to buy a development card that, for example cost 2 red gems, then you’d only need 1 gem as the other one is provided by the development card – you don’t have to return the card in order to use the gem value shown.
Some of the development cards can also reward you with prestige points – shown top left (if it has any) and you’ll need to earn 15 points to trigger the final round of the game, after that round, the player with the most points wins!
Finally, you also have the option of reserving a development. If you can’t yet afford to buy one or think another player might want it, then you can reserve it and at the same time take a gold token. You can only hold on to 3 reserved developments. But you can buy anyone of them as your turn when you acquire enough tokens to.
Every time you take a development card you must replace it with one from the deck adjacent to it.
The gold tokens can be used as currency in place of any gem. So if you want to buy a card that requires 1 red and 1 blue gem, but you only have 1 blue gem, you could use your gold in place of the red gem needed.
Splendor is a very simple game to pick up which means it’s very accessible for people as there isn’t a huge amount to learn.
The gem tokens are all made of plastic which makes them nice and robust, plus the cards all feel good quality, so it should last you a long time. Whilst everything fits snuggly in the box, it feels a bit big. I think it could’ve been made smaller and therefore make it easier for travelling around because it would be a good quick game to play if you’re out and about or away for the weekend. But due to the size of it, it makes it a little clunky for travelling with. It’s a minor thing and I’m sure most people probably wouldn’t think of it or be bothered by it, but it was just something I noticed…
With it’s easy rules and simple gameplay Splendor would be a good addition to most people’s collection. But if you’re looking for something a little more in depth and tactical, then this might not scratch that itch.