Cities of Splendor

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RRP £28.99
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Cities of Splendor, from Space Cowboys, adds four expansion modules to the 2014 Golden Geek Board Game of the Year winner and Spiel des Jahres nominee. Splendor is a majestic family game by Marc André involving card drafting and tableau building and Cities of Splendor gives you even more variety in the way you can play. The four expansions must be played singly and offer very diffe…
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Category Tags , , , SKU ZBG-ASMSCSPL02US Availability 3+ in stock
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Four expansions in one box.
  • Minutes to learn each expansion.
  • Retains feel of core game.

Might Not Like

  • Cannot combine expansions.
  • Questions over the depth of each expansio
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Description

Cities of Splendor, from Space Cowboys, adds four expansion modules to the 2014 Golden Geek Board Game of the Year winner and Spiel des Jahres nominee. Splendor is a majestic family game by Marc André involving card drafting and tableau building and Cities of Splendor gives you even more variety in the way you can play. The four expansions must be played singly and offer very different variants on a successful theme while not bogging the game down with any unnecessary complexity. The “Cities” expansion changes the game’s victory condition and does away with the base game’s noble tiles. Instead you will reveal three of the seven double-sided city tiles and race to be the first to achieve the printed victory condition on one of the tiles, which will include a score and a number of specific coloured cards you must have in your tableau. With “Strongholds”, each player will take three of the plastic strongholds in a specific colour and during the game when you purchase a card you will place (or move) one of your strongholds on a card that doesn’t already contain an opponent’s stronghold or remove an opponent’s stronghold. Strongholds effectively reserve cards for you and give you an extra purchase action if you manage to have all three of your strongholds on a single card. “Trading Posts” adds a new board that displays special abilities for the players to gain if they have achieved certain objectives. When you unlock an objective you place one of your coloured coat of arms markers to show you have achieved it. Watch out because these bonuses are powerful! “The Orient” expands the number of available cards, adding another deck to the side of the main deck with three levels of Orient cards that give weird and wonderful benefits such as double bonuses, the ability to reserve a noble and other cards that interact with the cards already collected in your tableau. Each of the expansion modules give a very different feel to the way Splendor is played and will keep the game fresh for years to come. Player Count: 2-4 Time: 30 Minutes Age: 10+

 

Most people know of, or are aware of Splendor a 2014 game from Space Cowboys. For those who have been living under a rock, go buy it today!!  Seriously, it is a great game which is easy to learn and play, but with plenty to think about.

In Splendor you are a gem dealer collecting various Gems to buy permanent Gem cards. Collect enough of the right kind of Gem cards and you might attract a visit from a local Noble. Once you exceed 15 prestige (victory points) the game ends and the player with the most points wins. Fast forward to the end of 2017 and Space Cowboys announced an expansion set for the base game.

Enter Cities of Splendor, a set of four mini-expansions for the base game.

Gems

Inside the box for Cities of Splendor are all the components that you need for all four expansions. These consist of,

  • First Player tile.
  • City tiles.
  • Trading post board.
  • Coats of Arms.
  • Orient cards.
  • Strongholds.
  • Rules sheets for all four games.

The Cities

This first expansion in the Cities of Splendor is suggested as the first addition to the base game. It allows for light changes to be made. In the Cities expansion you will not use Nobles cards. Instead you will use three random city tiles. There is quite an amount of variety in these cards. This is due to there being seven double-sided tiles.

The change is quite distinctive though, in the same way that Nobles are achieved by having a certain number of permanent gems. So City tiles are achieved in the same way. Except to receive a City tile you will also need a certain minimum amount of prestige.

Where it changes however is as soon as the first city tile is claimed that triggers the last round. At the end of the round you win if you are the only one with a City tile. If there are more than one claimed then you use prestige to break ties. So even if you are trailing in the score a judicious buying of Gem cards can sneak a victory for you.

  • Component Quality – 5
  • Engagement – 4
  • Replay-ability – 4
  • Player interaction – 2

Trading Posts

In the Trading Post expansion each player will have a set of coats of arms. You will use the Trading post board and be able to buy a bonus that will apply until the end of the game. These bonus’ vary in strength and ability from, Gaining a free Gem token when buying a card, being able to still take three Gems when taking two of the same colour, Gold is worth two Gems instead of one or additional Prestige.

  • Component Quality – 3
  • Engagement – 3
  • Replay-ability – 3
  • Player interaction – 1

The Orient

With The Orient expansion you have an extra set of 30 cards. These are divided up as three sets of 10, one for each level of the core game. You will play the game as normal. But with the Orient cards you get additional bonus’ when you buy them. This for me is the strongest of the four expansions in this game.

Level one cards might give you a single use two gold (wild) option or a bonus Gem to one you already have. Level two cards will give you cards which are worth two Gems or even reserve a Noble. Level three cards will you go for a free level two card or maybe discard one from the game to gain three prestige.

  • Component Quality – 4
  • Engagement – 4
  • Replay-ability – 4
  • Player interaction – 1

The Strongholds

The final expansion in Cities of Splendor is the Strongholds expansion. With this expansion, each player will have three plastic Stronghold miniatures. The way these work is similar to a reserve action. You will place them onto cards in the tableau. This stops others from buying them. They can however place their stronghold onto the card to remove yours.

If you manage to get all three Strongholds onto one card you can use a second purchase action in one turn to buy that card.

  • Component Quality – 4
  • Engagement – 4
  • Replay-ability – 3
  • Player interaction – 4

Cities of Splendor – The Collection

So how do these all come together? Well they don’t. That is they are each to be played separately but not together. This feels very strange and does make you question why they were boxed together and not sold individually? While I cannot definitively say why that is, I do postulate it is a cost issue of the components in the separate expansions.

That grumble aside, each of the expansions work, and work well. The Cities can tend to shorten the game or help someone who is behind to sneak a win. The Orient can also shorten the game but adds some nice little wrinkles to the mechanics. Trading Post allows you to gain some nice game changing bonus’ as well.

All three of these add some nice elements to the core game. In my opinion (it is just my opinion), Stronghold is the weakest but it can bring a bit of take that into play as you can block a card you clearly see an opponent going for.

Overall value to you will depend on how much you play Splendor and how much you want to change-up the game. At its current price point of sub £25, which works out at approx £6.50 per expansion, I do think it does add enough “new” to the game to be worthwhile. I purchased Cities of Splendor for my own use and do not regret that decision at all.

I purchased my own copy of “Cities of Splendor” for my own use. This does not affect my review or my final thoughts on the game.

Since its debut in 2014 the gem collecting game Splendor has become a staple of many board game collections. Through careful resource management, players attempt to build an efficient gem engine that allows them to purchase increasingly valuable cards and gain prestige points, until sufficient points are earned to crown a victor. A combination of straightforward mechanics, beautiful components and ever changing gameplay makes it a perennial bestseller. Fast forward to 2017 and the expansion “Cities of Splendor” was released, offering four expansions for the price of one. Each expansion can be paired with the base game to add a little something extra, some modify the gameplay while others change the victory criteria. Splendor already had a high level of replayability, the ability to add expansions only improves the situation. Maybe you already own it, or are considering purchasing it, in either case you might be wondering, what does expansion offer and which one is right for you?

Cities

The titular Cities expansion replaces the usual noble tiles, used to earn victory points, with 3 city tiles (randomly chosen at the start of the game from a stack of 14). The city tiles work in a similar way to noble tiles, once certain requirements are fulfilled a player earns them and their associated points. In contrast to the nobles however, the Cities also give players additional abilities, this can range from extra gem tokens to discounted purchases. The Cities expansion is the easiest to add to the base game, only asking players to replace the noble tiles with city tiles. Despite the simplicity this expansion adds a fresh feeling to Splendor, and does a brilliant job encouraging players to explore new avenues for success, occasionally forcing them to change their strategy.

You’ll Enjoy This If:

  • The base game has become dull and you want a slight change to the gameplay
  • You want a straightforward and simple addition without any complex additionals or rule changes

Orient

From Cities of Splendor, the Orient expansion adds three decks of cards to the board (one deck for each level of development cards). These cards are added to the right of the regular cards and can be bought like other cards, however instead of being worth gems these cards have unique abilities. The Orient cards could be worth two of a certain gem or could provide players with the option to reserve a noble card. With this expansion the victory criteria remains the same, with players striving to achieve 15 prestige points. However, the Orient changes how quickly players earn those points. On its surface the Orient expansion doesn’t seem to add much, just a few extra options when purchasing cards, but it has a significant impact on the gameplay. By adopting an efficient strategy and buying the right cards at the right time players can speed up their ability to purchase higher value cards and rapidly out maneuver their opponents. This adds an element of speed to the game, the landscape can change very quickly and forces players to make tactical decisions.

You’ll Enjoy This If:

  • You want to speed up gameplay, the ability to purchase higher value cards can speed up gameplay
  • You don’t mind learning a few additional rules, this is mainly because you will have to learn the benefits that each of the new cards offer
  • You have always wanted more options to choose from when purchasing cards

Trading Posts

In the Trading Posts expansions a new “Route of the Orient” board is added and players are given the opportunity to earn additional bonuses. As with noble tiles players can earn these bonuses by collecting certain development cards, such as 3 blue and 1 red development card. Once they have earned the necessary cards players can place a “Coat of Arms” on the Route board, permanently earning them a bonus. The bonuses that players can take advantage of vary, from collecting additional gems to earning prestige points. Through careful planning players can use trading posts to maximise their earning potential, using them to acquire higher value cards and expanding their own gem collecting ability. When adding this expansion the goal of the game remains the same but, as with the Orient expansion, how you get there will change. Trading Posts significantly speed up gameplay, allowing a strategic player to build a gem collecting engine in a relatively short space of time. This also comes with a more competitive type of gameplay, it can be easy for one player to progress rapidly leaving other players desperate to catch up. Trading Posts offers a noticeable change to the gameplay mechanics, adding another layer of competition while opening the field to new, often more ruthless, strategies.

You’ll Enjoy This If:

  • You want to speed up gameplay
  • You want to reinforce the competitive elements of the base game, some players may get left behind if they don’t have a strong enough strategy

Strongholds

The Strongholds expansion in Cities of Splendor gives each player three towers (strongholds) which can be placed around the board each time they purchase a new card. When they place a stronghold they become the only player able to purchase/reserve that card. On their turn players can also move one of their strongholds from one card to another one or remove another player’s stronghold. Once three strongholds are on the same card that player can buy that card after their regular action, allowing them to make two acquisitions in the same turn or buying that card after taking tokens. Strongholds introduce a territorial element to the game, where players compete for control over key locations. This approach significantly enhances player interaction and encourages players to think carefully about their long-term decision-making. The mechanics of Strongholds are fairly easy to grasp, the difficulty lies in learning how to make the most of them. At first the Stronghold expansion can seem like a needless addition, early in the game it doesn’t offer much benefit. But as you learn to back opponents into a corner and fight for high value cards, the competitive element of this expansion really begins to shine through.

You’ll Enjoy This If

  • You want to significantly enhance the competitive nature of the base game
  • You don’t mind adding an extra layer of gameplay mechanics, the rules aren’t overly complicated but they do add in extra actions that can be taken on your turn

Each expansion in Cities of Splendor adds its own layer of complexity and strategic depth. If you want to engage in territorial battles then go for The Strongholds expansion, if you want more purchasing options that unlock different strategies then try The Orient. Regardless of your favorite type of gameplay, Cities of Splendor has something to offer for every player, the question you have to ask is – which one works for you?

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Four expansions in one box.
  • Minutes to learn each expansion.
  • Retains feel of core game.

Might not like

  • Cannot combine expansions.
  • Questions over the depth of each expansio