Based on the board game that released to great acclaim in 2014, the digital version of Splendor arrived in 2015. It’s a really impressive adaptation of the tabletop game with a very clear interface and an excellent tutorial.
Splendor casts players as merchants during the Renaissance, with the ultimate aim of reaching 15 prestige points before their opponents. To do so, players can perform an action on each turn – either collect a gem, buy and build a card or reserve a card in order to build it later. Buying cards permanently adds to the pool of gems you can use to purchase further cards, allowing players to steadily build their wealth, which allows increasing their options in terms of what to buy as the game progresses.
Just like the board game, it’s incredibly satisfying. The AI can be set at different levels and even on the easiest difficulty still puts up a reasonable and fairly intelligent challenge. Like all of the best Euro-style games, it’s one in which you always have lots you want to do, but have to choose which single action you want to do on any given turn. It’s avery accessible game that can be played by players of all ages and skill levels, yet it does still have some depth that sets it apart from the usual mainstream family fare that isn’t anywhere near as satisfying.
Visually, it’s a very close approximation of the real components – which is certainly no bad thing. With its clear iconography and well laid out playing area, it’s always really clear to see what you need to do and what you should be aiming for with things like bonus cards. Rounds can be reasonably short and there’s little down time between turns, if any – it’s a game that you always feel like playing again once you’ve finished.
All in all, the digital version of Splendor is brilliantly done. Solo play (vs AI) and challenges add a further layer that the tabletop original isn’t able to provide, so even if you do own the physical game it’s well worth investing in the digital if you’re a fan. Expansions are also available with the Windows version, which is definitely a plus point for PC players.
Whether or not you’re familiar with the tabletop original, it’s a game I can highly recommend.
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