Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
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Despite my preference for cooperative board games, I do sometimes find enjoyment with a little indirect competition. So the fact that I enjoy Splendor so much, even though its competition is more direct than I’m used to, should say a lot. At least I hope it does.
“You should play Splendor” is what I’m trying to say.
Days of Wonder did a great job with Ticket to Ride and Small World, so it’s no surprise that they’ve translated Splendor into a digital format as well as they have. There’s even a special Challenge mode that gives you a bunch of puzzle-like scenarios to complete if you ever get tired of the basic game.
So what is Splendor, anyway? It’s a strategic game of out-maneuvering your opponents by being the most crafty gem dealer you can be. On your turn you may take three different colored gem tokens from the supply, or you can grab two of the same color. On a subsequent turn you can spend those tokens to purchase Development cards, which will provide you with a sort of permanent “free” gem of a given color and sometimes also earn you victory points. Collecting specific color combinations of Developments can also earn the favor of various nobles who don’t really do anything but will give you bonus points at the end of the game. Once a player reaches 15 points everyone else has one final turn, then it’s time to tally everything and determine a winner.
The strategy and allure of Splendor comes from this economic engine building. The more Developments you collect, the fewer tokens you need. And the fewer tokens you need, the easier it is to buy the more expensive Developments. It’s easy to see why so many people have been clamoring for the physical version, really. As an added bonus, playing on iOS means no worrying about setup or cleanup - and I don’t have to lament the excessively sized box anymore!
Splendor does an awful lot right; it even captures the heavy-sounding “clink” of the chips that I’ve come to love from the physical version. However, it does have a couple of minor problems. The pop-up that appears whenever you’ve collected more than the maximum of ten tokens is rather annoying (especially after the second or third time in a single game), but what bothers me more is the lack of a functional mute button. It’s definitely possible to go into the options and turn off the (rather repetitive) music, but the physical mute button does nothing. Call me picky but stuff like this always irks me.
Minor quibbles aside, Splendor is a great port of a great game. If you like board games, mobile or otherwise, you should definitely give it a look.