A Real Gem
Ever wanted to collect precious gems like diamonds, emeralds, and rubies? Ever dreamed of using your new found wealth to buy mines and hire gemologists, and even attract the attention of nobles? And what if you could do all of the above in an hour or less?
Welcome to Splendor. It’s a beautifully simple game, highly accessible yet packed with enough tactical options to keep real gamers satisfied (most of the time). Each game is essentially a race to collect gem cards, which build up over time and unlock more and more lucrative options. Each round counts, so you really need to weigh your options to get the best bang for your gem.
There aren’t many games out there that are as simple as Splendor—even my five year old can play this one. (He even won once!) But somehow it’s also challenging enough for grownups to play over and over again.
- Decisions: 4/5. Each round you have the choice to either collect money, reserve a card, or buy a card. Every so often you end up playing a game where all your options consistently stink, but most of the time you can find a meaningful path forward, even if it means changing your plans on the fly.
- Artwork: 5/5. I love the artwork in Splendor. The designs are clear and easy to understand, and the card illustrations are beautiful. And I love the weight of the gem chips; they feel weighty and substantial, and really add to the overall experience of the game.
- Replayability: 4/5. As with most well-designed games, each one plays out differently, so you can’t count on any one strategy over and over again to win. Granted, each game ends up being a similar experience, but you still have to pay attention, which keeps things interesting.
- Awesomeness: 5/5. This one deserves a five out of five. It’s beautiful, fast, and fun, and appeals to both gamers and non-gamers alike. And that’s an impressive achievement.
TOTAL SCORE: 18/20
Bottom line: Splendor is a classic. It may not satisfy the truly die-hard gamers who crave complexity and long play times, but will almost certainly appeal to everyone else. Happy gem collecting!