Splendor

Players:
1-4
Multiplayer:Pass & Play only
AI:Four different computer playing styles - Balanced, Specialized, Opportunistic, Random
Universal App:Yes (there is a single app which works on both iPhone and iPad in HD)
Purchase for iPhone:Use link below to purchase universal app
Purchase for iPad:
Splendor™
Price: $1.99
User rating:
GD Star Rating
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Splendor, 7.7 out of 10 based on 9 ratings

I don’t know about you, but when I think of pulse-pounding action and intrigue, I think of speculative jewel trading during the Renaissance. Is this due to my long history of heat stroke and ingesting sea water? Let’s find out!

Splendor loading screen

Gameplay

Splendor is a set-collecting Euro game in the most Euro-y sense, meaning that the theme is pasted on and Greek players are only allowed to collect sets after agreeing to further austerity measures. The app makes no mention of the theme, but near as I can tell you (the humble player) are a somewhat wealthy jewel merchant who is trying to build-up your jewel-trading empire faster than the other somewhat wealthy players so that you can be noticed by all of the really filthy rich people in town and be invited to their parties because they’re the only people who can afford the really nice hors d’oeuvres, and you’ve got some sort of psyche-crushing addiction to canapés developed from all the fumes you inhaled while berating the unskilled laborers and/or smarter than average chimps in your sapphire mine. But that really has nothing to do with playing the game.

The game is won by reaching 15 prestige points. They could have just called them victory points, but apparently that wasn’t splendorous enough. Prestige points can be earned by buying certain development cards or winning the favor of the aforementioned really filthy rich people (aka nobles), so that’s what you spend the whole game doing.

Splendor game start

The game table is arranged with three rows of four development cards. The cards are divided into three levels, and the higher the level of the card – the rarer, costlier, and more useful it is. Each card has icons in the lower left showing you how much it costs to purchase the card, a jewel icon in the upper right corner showing you the permanent bonus it will grant you, and sometimes a number of prestige points in the top left corner.

Jewel tokens are set in six stacks to the right of the cards. There are always seven types of jewels in the game, but the number in each stack varies based on the number of players.

Next to the jewel tokens are three to five noble tiles (again varying by the number of players). Listed on each tile are the permanent bonuses you must have acquired in order to win the favor of the noble in question, and a number of prestige points.

The game is played in turns by two to four players, and on each turn a player has four actions available to him. On his turn, a player can take three differently colored jewel tokens from the table; take two of the same colored tokens; purchase a card from the table; or, lastly, reserve a card from the table. Reserving a card puts it on your personal sideboard where only you can purchase it, and gains you a gold token that acts as a wild-card for jewel-spending purposes. Each player may only take one action per turn, and you are limited to having ten jewels in your possession at any one time.

Splendor gaining a noble

After purchasing a card you immediately gain any prestige points printed on the card, as well as its permanent bonus (which is always a jewel type). So, by purchasing a card with a ruby bonus, for the rest of the game you are considered to have one additional ruby to spend on other cards. If a newly acquired bonus gives you the combination indicated on a noble tile, you instantly gain that tile as well, which always comes with three more prestige points.

When a card is purchased or reserved, it is immediately replaced on the table with another card of the same level, and the game ends at the end of the round as soon as any player reaches fifteen points.

Splendor can be played by one player against one to three computer opponents with variable playing styles, or as a pass-and-play with two to four humans and/or smarter than average chimps. There are also several single-player solitaire challenges included with the app for further honing your splendiferousness.

Splendor game set-up

Implementation

Splendor is the type of board game that seems like it was designed from the ground-up with the iPad in mind. With a playing area that fits neatly and clearly onto one screen, nifty highlights telling you exactly what you can and can’t purchase at any given moment, automation that makes it impossible to forget your extra points for gaining nobles, and at-glance information on the exact point standings of all of your opponents, what reason would you ever have to bother with the meat-space version? Okay, maybe a basic instinctual need for human and/or smarter than average chimp interaction, but otherwise there’s no reason whatsoever.

And while the rules are simple, there’s quite a bit of strategy to be found in the game. Because all information is public, you are able to deduce which cards your opponents are aiming for which then presents you with the options of veering off for a different target, or reserving the card away from them out of pure malice. With prestige points on both the cards and the nobles, there are always multiple paths to victory, even if your first path is detoured along the way.

The app wisely uses Pascal Quidault’s original artwork from the board game, making for a gorgeous graphic interface. The heavy medieval soundtrack of lutes and harps can eventually induce hallucinations of being trapped in an Elizabethan sewing circle while plague-bearing rats close in on you, but that’s my only real complaint.

Splendor points breakdown

Captain’s Judgement

Splendor is an absolute dream of an app from its fluid controls, to its vivid imagery, all the way down to its lullaby-like soundtrack. Your ability to sleep easy with the $6.99 price tag will lie solely on your predisposition toward Euro games. Fans of the Splendor board game will love the app. Fans of Euro-style games will most likely enjoy it. Those, like myself, who prefer their games infused with theme like cucumbers in tzatziki are probably better off just buying a gyro. Set sail for Greece!

8
Multi-faceted strategy that can leave some players cold as ice.

Good Things

  • Fits perfectly on the iPad screen.
  • One of the best looking games I've seen.

Bad Things

  • Theme seekers need not apply.
  • Less on-screen action than "My Dinner With Andre"

The Breakdown


Gameplay
6
Interface
9
Artwork
9.5
Features
7.5



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