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How To Play Splendor Duel

splendor duel (1)

You know that tingly feeling when you play a game for the first time, and you want to play it again? Like right now. That was Splendor Duel for us! And I’m hoping this little guide will help you get that feeling too!

Setting Up

If you’ve played Splendor before, there’s a few similarities in terms of components. But the set up (which is super speedy) will be new.

Open up the modest sized box and grab the 3 Jewel card decks. Shuffle each and form a pyramid of face up cards; 5 x level 1 cards, 4 x level 2, and 3 x level 3. Pop the decks alongside their respective rows.

Now take all the jewel tokens and throw them in the bag. Give them a jiggle, and draw 25 out one by one, placing them on the central board following the arrow spiral. The bag can go to the side of the board.

3 privilege scrolls go next to the board, 4 Royals go face up under the board, and then choose first player in the way you do. Whoever goes 2nd gets a privilege scroll to start the game. There’s also a victory tile that reminds you of the 3 ways in which you can claim victory, so best keep that in eyeline.

That’s it! You are ready to get your royal rumble on!

Turn Time

On your turn, you must do some things and you can do others. But whatever you do must be done in the right order.

The can dos come first:

  • You CAN spend a privilege scroll (if you have one) to gain any non-gold gem from the board; and/or
  • You CAN refill the game board (if there are tokens in the bag) – if you do though, your opponent gets a privilege token. And if there are none left, they can take on of yours!

NB: you may need to do this if you need to take gem tokens/want to reserve a card and get a gold as your mandatory action – see below

Now the must dos:

On your turn you must do one of three things:

  • You MUST take up to 3 tokens in a line from the board (excluding gold – if there’s a gold, it interrupts the line so you can only take the token(s) up to the gold one). You must keep the tokens you have and the Jewel cards you have visible to your opponent (except reserved cards – see below).

If you take 3 tokens of the same colour or 2 pearl tokens, also gain 1 privilege scroll (from the reserve or your opponent if there is none left in reserve!)

NB: at the end of your turn in Splendor Duel, you can only have a maximum of 10 Jewel tokens (excluding the permanent ones showing on your purchased Jewel cards); or

  • You MUST take one gold token from the board and a Jewel card from any of the 3 lines or draw blind from any of the decks (“reserve”) – don’t forget to keep your reserve card secret, and replace any space with a new card from the deck!

NB: you can only reserve 3 cards at a time; or

  • You MUST use your tokens to purchase a Jewel card from one of the rows, or a card you have previously reserved (using tokens you have collected and/or the permanent gem bonuses shown on Jewel cards you have already purchased). Once a reserved card is purchased, it gets added to your Jewel cards on display.

Gold tokens are wild so can replace any other gem when purchasing. And any physical tokens used to purchase a Jewel card are returned to the bag.

Bonus Bag

Buying Jewel cards is great because they grant permanent gems (did I hear someone say engine builder?! Aha!), and some have extra bonus actions on them too:

  • Two arrows = take another turn immediately
  • Multiple stones = this card will act as a permanent gem of any type (but cannot be changed once set) NB: you must have a card with this bonus action on it on display in order to take a card of this type in a later turn!
  • 1 Jewel = you get to take any one gem token from the board matching the colour of the card (or steal one from your opponent if they have all gone!)
  • Privilege scroll = take a scroll (or steal one from your opponent if they have all gone!)
  • Hand = steal a gem token or pearl from your opponent!

Ooh lots of direct interaction with your opponent that isn’t present in Splendor! We likey!

Crowning Glory

The only other symbol you will need to consider when playing Splendor Duel are the crowns which appear on some cards. If you purchase Jewel cards and your total number of crowns is 3, you get to pick a Royal card from the 3 on display. These award VPs and/or another bonus action. And this doesn’t count as an action itself – you can do this in addition to the optional and mandatory elements of your turn.

NB: your first Royal card needs 3 crowns but your second will need 6! So get collecting!

Winning The Game

The game ends when one player achieves any one of the 3 winning conditions:-

  • 20 VPs; or
  • 10 crowns; or
  • 10 VPs collected on Jewel cards of the same colour

At that point, the winner is crowned the most Splendiferous player and then it’s a countdown to who suggests playing again! Haha

I hope this little guide helps you work out if this is a game for you, as well as holds your hand through your first game. The rule book has lots of handy visuals and reminders if you get stuck too, so you’ll be duelling before the day is done!

That concludes our guide on how to play Splendor Duel. Did this help you? Let us know your thoughts and tag us on social media @zatugames.