In a time where the classic board games of our past have turned digital, taking away from the fun and education of simple math, you might be searching for an new alternative to games like "Monopoly" or "Life" for your family. If you're a fan of Renaissance era artwork and nobility, then search no further. There is "Splendor".
Published by Space Cowboys and designed by Marc Andre, "Splendor" is a resource management game where the players are gem merchants competing to buy gems, mines, and shops for prestige. The first player to reach 15 prestige points by the end of a round wins the game. During their turns players can collect gems, buy cards (which represent various mines, transportation, and shops), or claim a hold on cards to prevent other players from claiming them. Players must choose wisely what gems they do collect, as the game's supply is limited to 40 chips which sets the competitive tone between the players for achieving their win. As the players gain properties eventually they can earn visits from notable nobles of the game, who also add prestige points to the players. The gameplay quickly gains speed and momentum as the gem chips start to dwindle on the board as well as the property cards. This brings a real sense of excitement to the game as the predictable winner can suddenly find himself losing as strategies play themselves out in the final rounds of the game.
The artwork, by artist Pascal Quidault, is superb and gives the game a painted elegancy that a Renaissance styled board game demands. For a price varying from $20 to $30 depending on the retailer, the game's pieces of 40 gem chips, 90 cards, and 10 noble tiles are of a sturdy quality. "Splendor" brings an edge of speedy gameplay and competitive spite to a game genre that can sometimes be simplistic and boring. But much like the Renaissance period it represents, "Splendor" excites the senses with both it's bright nobility and it's dark greed.