In another of our regular board game spotlights, Zatu Games snaps open its baby blues and takes a juicy gander at Splendor, the 2014 release from designer Marc André and publisher Space Cowboys.
Splendor - The Game
Splendor’s box art shows us everything we need: a well-hatted man staring at a gem with the burning intensity of someone who’s struggling to remember what, deep down, their onlooking girlfriend knows to be true: they left the oven on. It’s a deft and oddly poignant way to introduce players to its theme of Renaissance trade.
It’s a simple, strategic game for up to four players. Each turn, one of said players may take one of three actions. They can collect gems of any colour, which act as currency just like they don’t in real life; they can purchase a card, which may represent anything from a building to a ship to a shop to a mine; or they may reserve a card, keeping it safe for when they have the necessary funds and netting them a chip which may be used as any type of gem, but using up their turn.
The aim is to build your wealth over time. Cards offer bonuses to later purchases, and some grant prestige points. First to 15 prestige points wins the game.
Strategy comes from card selection: do you purchase cheap cards early to ensure your wealth builds off the bat? Or do you save up for the more expensive ones and hope the risk pays off? Wealthier players may attract ‘nobles’, renowned visitors that further increase their prestige.
If you’ve always wanted to dominate the lofty heights of 16th century business, Splendor lets you financially ruin your children in a fictional setting.
Space Cowboys is a bit of a baby, founded in 2013 by the three founders of Asmodee. Their entire team comprises just five members, marking a return to their roots for Asmodee’s Nunes, Mouret and Croc.
Marc André has his roots in economics and stock trading, and applied a similar, albeit simpler, mathematical framework to Splendor.
If you fancy yourself a Shylock, only without the attempted flesh cutting and horrific property loss, buy this game here at Zatu Games!