FTW Staff Picks - Splendor

For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new. 


Genre: Resource Management

Designer: Marc André

Player Size: 2 to 4 Players

Game Length: 30 minutes

For fans of: Jaipur, Ticket to Ride

If you've ever dropped by the cafe and asked for a game recommendation for anywhere between 2 to 4 players, you've probably had us direct you straight to Splendor. It's definitely a big favourite of ours, and has the highest success rate when it comes to recommendations. There's good reason behind that, because Splendor is easy to learn, and yet you always feel compelled to play again, knowing you can improve your performance. Few games are as competent with 2 players, as they are with more. Splendor manages to accomplish that effect much like Carcassonne.


Fundamentally, Splendor is a numbers game. There's very little theme. But you will quickly forget about that when you're on turn three, mulling already impactful and important decisions. The chips are fun to handle, and you'll often find yourself playing around with them like you were on the World Series of Poker. It's a very small thing, but its actually a big reason why the game feels enjoyable. 

The poker analogies don't just end with the chips. Playing the game often draws out the personalities of the players at the table. The most common Splendor player is the quiet one, constantly analyzing the board and the gems of others. Then you have the "expert" who points out all the "obvious" moves and dominates the table talk - sometimes to distract the other players from seeing their next move. The "timekeeper" is always trying to rush people along, so that their opponents move too quickly to see their optimal play.

In today's market, every light-strategy, resource management game has attempted to market itself as "the new Splendor". Perhaps a few years from now we'll look back at Splendor and think about how it spawned a new style of games, and how dated its become compared to its offspring. Or perhaps a few years from now we'll still be playing Splendor. My money's on the latter. 

Earl OliverosComment