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Have You Played... Splendor?

Pleasant brain tickling

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Aha, a loophole! Some of the board games in the embarrassingly large tower behind me have been digitised, so I’m free to write about them without muddying the PC-focused waters of Have You Played. Let’s see … ooh, Splendor is rather pleasant.

I do enjoy how board games and video games are often interested in thrusting you into very different roles. In (most) video games we’re heroes, powerful champions that hold the fate of the world in our hands. In Splendor, we’re renaissance era merchants who want to corner the jewel market.

I won’t try to make it sound exciting, because it isn’t. It’s less ‘edge of your seat’ and more ‘nicely settled in a comfy armchair with a glass of brandy’.

You spend your turn either picking up chips (the physical versions are gloriously weighty and a contender for the best component in all board games) or buying a card. That card may or may not earn you a couple of the 15 victory points you need to win, but it will definitely count as a permanent resource you can put towards buying more cards. That means games start off slowly as everyone scrimps and saves for their first few cards, then accelerate as people start to eschew chips almost entirely.

The complexity follows a similar curve, as you start folding plans into other plans and chart a course towards the end-game cards at the top of the board. It’s worth keeping an eye on what other players are up to, though interactions are mostly limited to murmuring “oh, bother you” when your neighbour snaps up those elephants you were saving up for.

When I want my brain stimulated, I play Overwatch. When I want my brain tickled, I play Splendor.

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Who am I?

Matt Cox


Matt is the founding member of RPS's youth contingent. He's played more games of Dota than you've had hot dinners.

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