Achieve ultimate prestige by adding gems, gold, artwork, and tomes to the most prestigious collection in The Great Split! Luxurious collectors from all over the world have already arrived at the most prestigious gala of the year. They are ready to exchange irresistible offers and compete to build the finest collection of the most valuable riches. What are you waiting for? Are you prepared to make a worthy collection that will challenge your rivals?
The Great Split is a set-collection game for two to seven players, best played with three to five. It reaches a broad audience, from eight-year players to senior adults. Matches can take around 45 minutes.
Set Up & How To Play
The game's objective is to build the most prestigious collection of riches; during simultaneous drafting rounds and trading cards with other players. During setup, you must prepare the shared game board; each player receives a character and four level one cards and needs to prepare their personal game board.
During each round, there are five phases. You start getting a Deal by drawing a card from the deck corresponding to the current round. You then discard cards so that your hand has a maximum of cards determined at each round. During the split phase, make two groups of cards from your hand of cards and exchange one of them with the player to your right. You earn riches during the resolution phase by playing the cards in your hand; track Prestige, Tomes, Artwork, Gems, Gold, and Seals on your board. If you play a card faced down, you obtain one gold or one prestige point for that card. The current value of artwork may increase during the market phase. Finally, you end the round preparing for the next round, and one or two middle-play scorings may occur.
The split and resolution phases are the most important ones and will be further detailed. During the Split phase, you split your cards into two groups each round, and choose one group to place into your wallet. Give your wallet to the player on your right, and receive a wallet from the player on your left. While the right player is looking at your Split, the left player makes his offer. So, choose carefully; you must return the wallet with either the cards in your hand or the cards you were offered.
Once players choose, they will return the wallet back to their owner. During the resolution phase, you'll be able to add those riches to your collection by playing cards that depict which riches, seals or prestige points you can gather. Keeping a balanced collection of gems, keeping an eye on the art market values as it evolves, and collecting priceless books will award you prestige points differently.
Players will value different riches differently depending on how they build their collections. Prepare your split offer and show off your savvy negotiation skills, so your opponent will take what you want, leaving you with the best rewards!
Prepare for mid-game scoring. Make your collection successful by making intelligent decisions about your gold reserves. And get ready to compete for the most prestige points with your collection of riches and by gaining prestige for "sealed contracts" at the end of the game. The game ends after six rounds when the end-game scoring is computed, and the player with the most prestigious points wins.
Game setup takes a bit of time, but it is reasonable and encourages you to play this game. Each player has their own board, but most round phases are played simultaneously, resulting in minimal Downtime.
The Great Split uses mechanics such as "Set Collection", "Closed Drafting", and "I Cut, You Choose" to deliver a game of medium complexity but deep tactics. The game is simple once you have learned it, but there is a slightly steep curve when teaching other players the game. Players must play the game at least once to grasp all the gameplay details, different ways to score points, different tactics and how to appropriately use the Split mechanism. It means to be an easy-to-learn but difficult-to-master game, but that will depend on each player's experience with board games. I was able to pick up the basics after just a few minutes, but there are enough strategic choices and different ways to play that I still have plenty to learn.
The Split mechanism that gives the game its name may or may not work depending on how players use it and their understanding of it. My experience is that players find it confusing to use it adequately. Most players' offers were composed of one or a couple of terrible cards nobody wanted. Unfortunately, the mechanism did not work and had no impact on such a game. The mechanism may be most effective once players have played the game a few times. Seeing the split mechanism being blatantly ignored during gameplay was a bit deluding.
Player interaction happens during the Split phase and intends to be engaging and the core element of The Great Split. Unfortunately, it relies on players' understanding of the mechanism to work well. If players learn to do the Split properly, that positively impacts the gameplay and enhances player interaction.
The game Designed Uncertainty lies in the random distribution of cards. Players' cards are generally well-balanced, and the Split mechanism should also add to balancing the game. Players have significant agency in making decisions and choosing their "plan to victory", resulting in a very strategic game despite its Sthocastic Contingency (randomness). Ultimately, players' performance determines the outcomes of the game.
Game boards, cards and components are all top-notch and visually appealing. The boards are carefully made, so the token markers will always stay in place. The first thing I noticed about The Great Split is that it's visually stunning. The artwork on the board and cards is attractive and eye-catching, which helps bring the game to life.
However, even though the game looks outstanding, the cards, boards and overall artwork still need to deliver the Fictional Involvement I expected to find. The theme is loosely represented, and the background story is very light. It does not add much in terms of Narrative Involvement. However, those are not criticisms or issues. I regard The Great Split as an abstract game with lite mechanisms but deep strategy, which is actually one of my favourite types of games.
Replayability is a strength of The Great Split. The game has medium complexity, reasonable setup time, and simultaneous rounds (minimal Downtime); it is fast-paced and has lite mechanisms but a deep strategy. There is a significant variety of ways to gain prestige resulting in different strategies to be adopted depending on your hand cards. Each new game feels fresh and unique.
All in all, I really enjoyed playing The Great Split. It's a beautiful game with easy-to-understand mechanisms, medium complexity, and plenty of room for strategic decision-making. If all the players understand the Split mechanism well, the game excels and shows its uniqueness and full potential. It reminds me of other lite-themed abstract games with deep strategy, which I love playing. It is a must-have in my games collection, and I am sure I will keep bringing it to the table when the "audience" is the right one.
The Great Split is a good game that can be "great" if you play with the right people. The Split mechanism may or may not be adequately understood and adopted. If it is used well, this game is unique and excellent; otherwise, it loses some of its appeal and main value proposal.