Posted in Board Games

Game-a-Day Fortnight 2015 – Day 10: Splendor

Splendor was a nominee for the 2014 Spiel des Jahres and 2014 Golden Geek Board Game of the Year Winner (as voted by users of BoardGameGeek.com). It’s one of Suz and my favourite new games.

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Splendor is a very pretty game about gems! You are rich Renaissance merchants “using resources to acquire mines, transportation methods and artisans to turn raw gems into beautiful jewels”.

In practice, that means taking up to 3 gems each round and spending them on said mines, transportation or artisans. The choice to take 3 gems, buy a card, reserve a card and get a gold wildcard token, or take 2 of a particular gem but none of any others is a choice that’s simple to remember but something to weigh up each time, without being overwhelming.

 

But what’s that? There’s not enough gems to buy the card you want? Well, every card you buy counts as a gem for the purposes of buying new cards. What this means is you spend money on cheaper things like mines then use the gems you make there to buy transportation methods (also worth points; your goal is 15) and then use those to buy the most expensive stuff: artisans. But the cards can be spent over and over each turn, never running out.

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It’s a great feeling buying your first card that you don’t have to spend ANY gems on at all. It’s like it’s free, but you’re using your cards you’ve bought to pay for it, which kinda makes you feel like a rich gem merchant, with enough investments that you have gems to throw around like it’s nothing. Great stuff 🙂

I have to comment on the poker chips. They’re fantastic! So heavy and they feel great to stack and play with. Again, it feels like you’re dealing in a currency that has value. We actually considered replacing them with little plastic gems but they just feel too good. All the art is great too and the game is easy to set up.

When playing, you can just piece things together and buy whatever you can afford, but the key is to make your investments build toward something else. Such as expensive cards or attracting nobles who are interested in perusing your collection! Once you have the combination of cards (not gems) listed on a noble tile (up the top there), that noble will swan on over and give you some points. Only for the first player to do it, though, so it’s a bit of a race which adds a lot to the game and some long-term strategy and goals. But they’re not a guaranteed win: I snapped up two nobles today, but Suz had been building a diamond horde which let her grab a 4 point card late in the game for sudden victory!

We love this game – it can be played in 30 minutes with 2-4 players, easy to pick up, but has strategy and replayability (with different cards and nobles each game). Highly recommended 😀

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Posted in Board Games

Game-a-Day Fortnight 2015 – Day 6: Tokaido

Tokaido! A lovely Japanese-themed game so pretty I want to hang the board on my wall.

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You are travellers on Japan’s East Sea Road, trying to have the most culturally enrinching journey possible… while making sure no other travellers have a better trip than you!

Bathe in hot springs with monkeys, paint beautiful panoramas, meet samurai and other helpful folk. Collect souvenirs, donate to the temple, work the farm for coins, but don’t get to the inn last or only expensive meals will be left.

Tokaido is a little different each time thanks to lots of characters that give you different ways to approach the game. Suz was a painter tonight, able to paint extra panorama pieces while eating at the inn. I was a priest, giving me extra money to donate to the temple.

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One note from tonight: in the two-player version you both control a third dummy player which we found is basically used to block the other player. Not as good as actually having three or more players because the dummy doesn’t care what it gets from the spots it lands on, but real people will.

That said, it’s an easy and fun game for anywhere from 2-5 players, great for newcomers or experienced players. And again: so pretty! Just look at that box art!