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Splendor, a game suitable for 2-4 players, is a fast paced, gem drafting, card development game that see players take on the role of gem merchants, battling through the renaissance to mine raw materials, transform them into precious stones and then sell them on to the rich and affluent. In Splendor, published by Space Cowboys, you must build your might and worth and attempt to domin…
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Golden Geek
Pick-Up & Play
Fun for Kids
Dice Tower
Golden Pear
Value For Money


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

You Might Like

  • Tactile components are fun to handle
  • Simple gameplay makes this a decent gateway game

Might Not Like

  • Simple gameplay may not challenge experienced gamers
  • Cards purchased offer limited benefits, reducing replayability
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Splendor, a game for 2-4 players, is a fast-paced, gem drafting, card development game that sees players take on the role of gem merchants, battling through the renaissance to mine raw materials, transform them into precious stones and then sell them on to the rich and affluent.

In Splendor, published by Space Cowboys, you must build your might and worth and attempt to dominate the market. You'll use your resources to purchase stronger and more expensive cards with the gems you already have. If you're lucky, your work may even catch the eye of one of the nobles, and they may just pay you a visit, adding to your prestige points pool.

Each turn, a player may choose to either take three different coloured gems, two of the same colour (as long as there are two gems left in the stack), purchase a card or reserve a card. Using these four moves, you must construct a strategy that will give you an advantage and make increase your wealth, allowing you to access those stronger cards while also increasing your prestige.

The first player to 15 prestige points will bring the game to a close, but be warned. As soon as 15 or more prestige points are obtained by a player, the game continues for one more round, so you may just find yourself losing to a player who had planned a big move before you declared your 15 prestige points.

Splendor encourages the use of cunning strategies and devious moves and this creates a game that plays wonderfully well. The colourful and detailed artwork makes this a must-have for any board game collection and will have players wanting to play again and again.

Splendor Rulebook

Player Count: 2-4
Time: 30 Minutes
Age: 10+

In his latest guest blog entry, Martyn gives his views and opinions on Splendor - the chip-collection and card development game by the guys over at Space Cowboys.

Let's take a look at what he had to say about this top-selling game in his Splendor Review:

How I Came To Play

The first time I played this game I knew nothing about it and it was brought out to fill a gap in the gaming night, as a previous game had finished early. It was described to me as a engine builder with hand management thrown in.

I didn't even know what that meant but the art style and the quality components left me intrigued. I now understand that you have to build a hand of cards in order to use the iconography on the cards to help you achieve the goal of the game.

What Splendor Is

Splendor is a resource management game in which players, between two and four, compete to collect the most points. The story of the game is that players take on the roles of merchants during the Renaissance and must try their best to my gem mines, transportation and shops in order to win.

The more wealthy you are within the world of Splendor, the more likely it is for a honourable noble to come visit you.

Set Up And How To Play

At the start of the game tiles are dealt in the centre, making up the pool of cards you can 'purchase' and add to your hand. These are purchased with the different coloured plastic chits and each card costs a different amount. These gem chits are left in a pile or stack and make up the currency of the game.

When its your turn you must make a single action, which must be one of the following:

  1. Grab three gems of different colours from the gem area explained above.
  2. Grab two gems of the same colour (only if there are at least four gems of that colour).

There are emerald, sapphire, ruby, diamond, onyx, and gold gems, with the gold gems acting as a wildcard piece.

Alternatively you can buy a card by spending the required gems for that card (returning them to the gem area), before laying that card face up in front of the player. The gem on that development card may be used on future purchases. For instance if you buy a card with a red gem icon then this will count in the next round as one red gem towards any future purchase.

There are small tiles that give victory points which require a larger amount of gems of different colours so forward thinking is a must to win the game. The first player to get to 15 VP's will trigger the end of the game.

This adds a level of strategic thinking and you must keep an eye on what the other players are doing so they don't beat you to the tiles or cards you are working on getting.

Final Thoughts

Splendor a very, very easy game to learn and play. By your third game you should be able to understand how the game works and be able to use forward-thinking to get the upper hand against your opponents. That being said its not overly easy and has a good level of backwards and forwards and any one person can be one move away from winning.

The game pieces, although basic, are very fitting within the theme and this board game is one of the regulars to our table and has shown no signs of wear at all - which is great considering the cost.

Splendor is a fairly cheap game with great quality. Its easy to pick up yet hard to master. Its a great gateway game for those who are new to the hobby and its one of the best quick to the table games around. In fact, I think that it's a must for every gamer.

This blog was originally published on Feb 27th, 2017. Updated on March 30th, 2022 to improve the information available.

Splendor certainly lives up to its name, with fantastic artwork and great quality components, plus a box insert that actually works - all in all it looks splendid on the table! Read on to find out how to play, and learn some gameplay tips.

Splendor Overview

In Splendor, published by Space Cowboys, players are rich merchants of the Renaissance, vying to build the most prestigious jewelry making business. They do this by acquiring gem mines, and the services of camel trains and shipping routes, to transport gems to artisans. There they are transformed into jewels, and sold in the finest shops, where they may attract the attention of wealthy nobles.

All of this is achieved through a simple and tight little engine building mechanic, turning gem tokens into development cards, which in turn provide permanent gem bonuses, used to buy more and better development cards worth game winning prestige points.

Gem Tokens

The core currency of the game are the wonderfully weighty gem tokens, which come in six gem types (colours) - red rubies, blue sapphires, green emeralds, black onyx and white diamonds. The sixth set of tokens are yellow gold, and these act as ‘wild’ currency.

Gem tokens are used to buy development cards.

Development Cards

The development cards represent the different elements involved in the process of turning raw gems into jewellery. There are three levels of cards, with the first showing the gem mines, the second level depicting transport routes and the artisans crafting jewels, and the third level showing the shops in beautiful Renaissance cities where the final product is sold.

Each card can be bought by discarding a certain number of gem tokens of different types, with the cost of cards increasing with each level. Every card gives a permanent gem bonus shown on the card, so for instance, buy a ruby mine and you will always have one ruby to buy more cards with.

Most of the cards also give those game winning prestige points.

Prestige Points

Prestige points are the victory points in Splendor, and players can amass prestige in two ways:

  • Development cards - Whilst most of the level one development cards are not worth any prestige, there are a small number in there worth a single point, and all level two and three cards are worth an increasing amount of prestige.
  • Noble tiles - Each noble is worth three prestige points if a player can attract one to pay them a visit.

The Nobles

At the top of the play area are the nobles, drawn at random at the start of the game. The nobles watch players’ progress, and will visit them if a player has built up an impressive and specific set of development cards, giving an additional three prestige per noble.


The set-up for Splendor is simple and more or less the same for any player count:

  • Shuffle the level one development cards and deal four face up side by side, and place the remaining cards face down beside them.
  • Then do the same for the level two and three development cards, placing these above level one, to make a grid of 12 cards.
  • Shuffle and place face up noble tiles above this grid equal to the number of players plus one.
  • Place all the yellow gold tokens down, and place the other gem tokens down in piles, removing three of each for two player games, and two of each for three player games.

The youngest player goes first (it is important to remember who goes first as it affects the end of the game).

Game Turn

On each player’s turn, they must do one of these actions:

  • Take gem tokens (not gold), either:
    • Three different tokens or…
    • Two of the same tokens (eg. two blue sapphires) as long as there are at least four of these tokens in the pile to start with.
  • Reserve any one development card (they can have up to three in reserve) and take one gold token (if one is available). Reserved cards are kept in hand until that player chooses to buy them.
  • Purchase a development card from the table or from their reserved cards, returning any gem or gold tokens used to the table.

Any time a card is reserved or purchased, it is immediately replaced with a card of the same level (whilst there are some available).

At the end of a player’s turn they can have a maximum of 10 tokens (gems and gold) so must return any excess to the table. Also, at the end of their turn, players check to see if their development cards match the requirements of any of the nobles. If so, they take that noble and gain the three prestige shown (if they meet the needs of more than one, they choose which one noble to take).

Purchased Cards

All purchased cards (and tokens) are kept face up in sets in front of players, so that all information (number of bonuses and prestige points) are available for all players to see. Unlike in some games, it is quite easy to tot up other player's prestige between turns to help you keep track of progress.

The core of the game is building a card purchasing engine, albeit a light one. Each card gives a permanent single bonus gem, meaning that buying subsequent cards gets cheaper, up to the point where you will not need to discard any gem tokens at all, just using the bonuses from your cards to complete the purchase.

Game End

The end round is triggered when a player has reached 15 or more prestige. At this point, the round continues so that all players get an equal number of turns, and a chance to pull in some final prestige points. At the end of the round, the player with the most prestige wins, and in the event of a tie, the player who has purchased the fewest development cards wins.

Hints and Tips for Splendor

  • Before you start the game, take time to evaluate the state of play.
    • Start with the noble tiles - look at the requirements for attracting them, and you will normally notice that several of them have a common card type needed (for example, three of four nobles may require sapphire development cards), so it might be worth concentrating on buying up those cards before other players get the chance.
    • Then look at the development cards - are there some easy to grab level one cards that fit with the nobles’ requirements? If so, think about aiming for those first.
  • Factor the nobles into your strategy - if you can build up your engine in such a way that it gives you prestige and also maximises your chance of attracting nobles, it means those extra points will come your way with little effort.
  • Always try to purchase the level one cards that are worth one prestige point (there are five out of 40, one for each gem type), as they are a cheap way to grab a point.
  • Don't be afraid to reserve cards - it can sometimes feel like a wasted turn, but by reserving a card that is crucial to your plan, you not only guarantee that no one else can buy it, you also get to grab a ‘wild’ gold token (as long as one is available), which can come in very handy.
  • Be aware of what other players are doing. It is often easy to guess which cards players are going for by studying the gem tokens they take, or which nobles they hope to attract by which development cards they collect. So try to get in before them and disrupt their plans by grabbing that card first!
  • If you are the last player in a round, then triggering the game end immediately finishes the game, and you win! But if you are not the last player, the round continues so that all players have played an equal number of turns, giving them a chance to scrape ahead. So it is always best to try to get close to 15 prestige (ie. 14), then aim to buy the highest value development card you can (especially if it also attracts a noble), rather than triggering the end of the game on exactly 15 prestige.
  • Above all, remain flexible, and be prepared to change your strategy!

Considering Splendor? Read our reviews of the base game and the expansion today.

Zatu Score


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

You might like

  • Tactile components are fun to handle
  • Simple gameplay makes this a decent gateway game

Might not like

  • Simple gameplay may not challenge experienced gamers
  • Cards purchased offer limited benefits, reducing replayability