Scent of a Gamer

From the computer to the tabletop, this is all about games. Updated each week-end.

Silence of the chips: a review of Splendor

Splendor is a relatively new game that is often touted as a great ‘gateway’ game useful for bringing new players into the board game hobby.

The game comes as three decks of cards, a quantity of plastic chips similar to poker chips, and a seleciton of lord cards.


To play the game set up each deck of cards in a horizontal row of four with the rest of the cards in a pile to the left. Then randomly select four lords to be used in the game, and separate the chips into piles of the same colour.

The objective of Splendor is to be the first player to reach 15 points. You use the chips to buy jewel cards from the various decks. Level 1 cards are simple enough to buy, level 2 cards a harder, and you may play several games without ever buying a level 3 card.

Once you buy a card, it counts as an additional chip for you. For example buying a card with a sapphire on the top counts as a blue chip for the rest of the game. Cards are never spent while buying more cards, while chips are always spent.

In you turn you may either buy a card, choose three chips (up to 1 of three different colours) or else reserve a card. Reserving a card involves using one of the yellow ‘wild’ chips, placing it on a card in play, and returning both to your area. Once you have reserved a card, only you may buy it, although you do not have to do so. The wild chip may be used to buy any card, not just the one you have reserved.

At no time may you have more than 10 chips, so as the game moves on you must acquire more cards or you will be unable to buy the higher level cards, which typically require 10 or more chips or their card equivalent.

Cards of each level which are difficult to buy will grant points. The best way of getting points is to attract the patronage of one of the lords in your game. Each lord has a different combination of cards (not chips) they want you to collect. For example a lord may want three diamonds, three sapphires, and three rubies. The first player to get that combination of cards will attract the lord’s patronage.

Silent running

On thing that struck me about this game is how it is played: silently, and with minimal interaction between players. When choosing your chips you will ultimately wish to attract the patronage of one or more of the Lords in the game, but each player will likely select a different path even if they select the same lord.

The only interaction is in giving up your turn to reserve a card another player of obviously building towards. Doing this will generally prompt a sigh from that player. Other than this the game is played in silence until someone announces they have reached 15 points.

Splendor is certainly quick to play and easy to learn, however the lack if player interaction and the lack of any social interaction make it unsuitable for an entry-level game in my opinion. If you wish to attract friends into board gaming, choose a game with more talking and laughing involved.

One comment on “Silence of the chips: a review of Splendor

  1. Ann Wycoff
    August 15, 2015

    Yes, this is a fun game. Easy to learn the basic rules, but rich in tactics. A friend of mine bought it at a game convention we were at and we play a few games of it then, and we both had fun with it.

    I agree with your statement that you can pretty much play the game silently if you want once everyone knows the rules, which makes it good for a library or study hall or someplace where they want you to be quiet. When we played though we both kept up a running commentary and I sort of talked in the spirit of being a corrupt Italian merchant prince trying to elevate my own house and crush my rivals … economically or by any means necessary! 🙂


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This entry was posted on August 9, 2015 by in Board Games, Review and tagged , , .
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