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A solid rendition of the physical game with enough features to keep any jewel-encrusted merchant satisfied.

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Got too many friends? Want to lose a few of them? There’s a variety of options out there for games that will rapidly breed animosity between even the closest group of friends. Today we’re going to talk about the latest on the block: Splendor, a digital conversion of the card game from Days of Wonder.

Splendor is a bit reminiscent of Euro-style boardgames like Settlers of Catan. You’re a Renaissance-era merchant and your job is to get dem gems. You’ve got stacks of five different types of precious stones and a board comprised of development cards and nobles. The game’s goal is to collect prestige points, enough of which will win you the game. Collecting these is done in two ways; the most obvious is through impressing one of the four nobles on the side of the board using your collection of precious stones, while the other is to purchase certain development cards using those same stones.

Each turn you can take several stones (three of different types or two of the same), purchase a development card or impress a noble. You can also reserve a development card, which earns you a wildcard Gold token as well as keeping it on the board and preventing others from getting to it. A possible key to victory lies in the development cards you purchase, since even if a card doesn’t give you prestige points, it can offer you a discount on future purchases using a particular stone. Building up a stable of stone discounts will allow you to easily snap up more valuable cards later in the game. Naturally, messing over your friends/rivals is a great way to both improve your position and make them hate you, so do your best to ruin their strategies!

That’s pretty much all you need to know! Splendor is a fairly simple game once you’ve got a handle on how development cards and the associated discounts work. There’s a quick tutorial available to help with just that – it’s so quick, in fact, that I was concerned that it wasn’t telling me something, but the game really is that easy to learn. The mobile version of Splendor offers both AI and human opponents for your card-grabbing enjoyment. You can play both locally and online; online, of course, means you can’t punch your opponents in the face when they take the last diamond, but c’est la vie.

I’d launch into a deep, in-depth discussion of graphics and sound, but it’s a mobile version of a chip-collection game. It looks like the real game, much as you’d expect. There’s also some nice, low-key music to accompany the jewel-grubbing madness. What more could you want, really? As for the controls, the UI is easy to use and I didn’t run into any issues doing what I wanted to do during my turns, so no complaints there.

Splendor is a solid rendition of the physical game with enough features to keep any jewel-encrusted merchant satisfied. It’s not the height of complexity, but as a game that’s easy to teach your friends and quick to play, it works well. Just don’t be surprised when you get jumped after stealing the best development card on the board.

About the Author: Cory Galliher