Splendor Review

Screenshot from Splendor
A typical game of Splendor versus the AI

  • Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
  • Developer: Days of Wonder
  • Publisher: Days of Wonder, Asmodee Digital
  • Release Date: 18 Sep 2015
  • Time played: 4.7 hours

What is it

Days of Wonder is a company that was formed in 2002 and it mainly specialises in publishing board games. Some of its more famous offerings include 2004's "Ticket to Ride", 2006's "Shadows Over Camelot" and 2009's "Smallworld", although they have ventured into the world of digital board games as well, such as 2012's adaptation of Ticket to Ride on Steam (and I just happen to have a review of it). The company was acquired by Asmodee (a French board games company and the second-largest in the world after Hasbro) in 2014.

Days of Wonder continued to develop digital adaptations of their board games after Ticket to Ride and released Small World 2 in 2013 and Splendor in 2015. Splendor is based off the 2014 multiplayer card-based engine-building/resource management board game of the same name. The default goal of the game is to score 15 prestige points and you do so by owning cards with prestige points on their faces. However, in order to purchase these cards, you need to collect the prerequisite gems and you're limited to how many of these you can take each turn; there's also a limited number of gems in play in any given game so if the "bank" runs out of gems, that's it. Purchasing cards requires you to return gems to the "bank" and owning a card will give you a permanent discount on purchasing future cards (e.g. if you purchase a card with a ruby on its face, this will count as one ruby in your hand for the next time you make a purchase). Having a certain number of these permanent discount gems will attract visits from nobles which is another way of earning prestige points.

The original board game won several awards and was even nominated for Spiel des Jahres in 2014 and the digital adaptation hasn't rated badly either with a Steam rating of "Mostly Positive" based on 70% of the 110 reviews being positive.

How I got it

I managed to get this game as part of the Humble Board Games Bundle (November 2018) which came with a lot of digital adaptations of rather famous board games such as Pandemic, Twilight Struggle, Agricola and Colt Express. It also came with a copy of Splendor and since digital board game adaptations tend to not take much time to complete according to HowLongToBeat.com, I thought I'd give it a try.

Screenshot from Splendor
Unlike Harald, people actually play this game online

What I like:

Appealing graphics

The game's graphics appear to mimic the real-life board game perfectly, so no complaints in this department.


No, I'm not talking about the menu music (which is pretty damn basic and repetitive); instead, I'm talking about the music that you hear while playing the game which is soothing medieval harp music by Xavier Thiry:

Relatively easy to pick up

I'm by no means an expert but I found it easier to pick up the basics as opposed to a game like Harald: A Game of Influence.

Online multiplayer

Also, another way Splendor trumps Harald is that there are actually people playing the game online! Usually when I login there are still around 100-200 people playing. Games are really easy to setup and there's no chat in-game meaning no chance of nasty trolling or abuse (although you're able to chat to people in the lobby after the game).

For the more competitive amongst you, the game also assigns you a rank after you've played a certain number of games and then you can compete with others in order to increase your rank and push yourself higher up the ladder.

Single-player challenges

If you're not into multiplayer though, the game not only offers standard games against the A.I. but also challenges that require you to collect a certain number of gems within a time limit or within a set number of turns. Despite not thinking much of them at first, I found them quite addictive and was very satisfied after I managed to complete them.

Hotseat multiplayer

If single-player and online multiplayer weren't enough, the game also has hotseat multiplayer so you can play with friends or family on the same computer! Oldschool!

Steam Achievements

The game comes with 31 Steam Achievements you can aim for. There are no Steam Trading Cards.

Screenshot from Splendor
Each challenge usually has some background story, but sometimes text is missing or misspelt

What I dislike:

Still don't quite understand it all

While the tutorial does cover all you need to know to play the game, I still don't quite understand the reserving card mechanic as well as some of the game's other intricacies. It would've been nice if there were an in-game manual or one available through Steam (I do believe there is a compendium on the official website but it's not really a manual). In the end, I had to look up a YouTube video on how to play (check out Rules Girl's video on this, it's pretty good!).

Obvious mobile port

Navigating the menus isn't terribly intuitive at least for a PC gamer since you have to click left and right arrows in order to move to another screen. Obviously, these screens would normally be accessed by swiping left and right on the phone or tablet for the mobile version, so it looks like little effort was taken in porting it to PC (although admittedly it could have been worse, they could've required you to hold the mouse button down and drag in order to navigate screens)

Sloppy text

Sometimes the text that describes some of the single player challenges have spelling errors or are just missing chunks of text.

Score – 8/10 (Recommended)

Having never played the board game version of Splendor before playing this digital adaptation, I can't say how it compares with the original. What I can say though is that Splendor is heaps of fun for a humble card-based board game; it has appealing graphics and music, a plethora of game modes to explore, an active online community and it's relatively easy to pick up the basics. Yes, it's an obvious mobile port and it could use a bit more polish, but in the most critical areas (e.g. gameplay) it truly shines.

Is the game worth $14.50 AUD?: Yes, but only just. Normally I probably wouldn't pay more than $10 AUD for a game that is pretty much a mobile port although this game has high replay value thanks to the many challenges as well as multiplayer mode.

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[ LINK: Official Splendor Website ]