Splendor was the 2014 Golden Geek game of the year. It is very polished, easy to learn, and fun to play.
The strategy is relatively simple, but the execution is difficult. Summary below.
- Reserve the cards you want early on
- Take 3 chips in early turns
- Reserve cards that cost all of the same color
- Choose two colors that you will own, and buy them up
- Choose two nobles that have overlapping requirements and target them early in the game
- Calculate what it will take to win, and win quickly.
First Turn Reservation
In the first turn, look at the playing field and decide what your longer term strategy is. You don’t want to waste chips on expensive cards early on, but you still want to target cards that fit into your final strategy.
Reserve cards in your first or second turn to give yourself the best chance early on.
The idea here is to optimize each of your turns. Some cards are just easier to get, and you want to remove those from other player’s grasps, and place it into yours.
Maximize Chip Draws
You often want to draw 3 chips. It is ok if it takes an extra turn to get something you need if you can get more chips to help you later. The caveat to this is when you are targeting high-value cards. You may want to take two chips to get you closer to your goal.
Early in the game, everything moves a little slowly. Your whole goal is to prepare yourself for the later parts of the game. Gather as many cards as you can by using them to buy other cards. Points still matter, but getting cheaper cards earlier will help you down the line.
The cards that can be purchased with all the same color are a great bet in getting to 15 points. I like to take the 5 point 7/3 cost cards in the color I’m targeting. Additionally, I may even choose to target those colors on purpose. Reserve these cards early, and almost always draw a chip in those colors. Eventually, you’ll buy them and have a significant advantage.
Initially, look at the lay of the land. Are there a lot of cards that need the green gems? Go for green! Collect cards that will give you the most buying power. The playing field will guide you in the choices.
It is very valuable to own 4 or 5 of the same color. This allows you to snatch up cards that are out of reach for the other players. (One defense against this strategy is to just reserve the cards that you know they are looking at, even if you don’t plan to purchase them. Reserving cards you don’t need works better in a two player game. With more players, you won’t have turns to spare.)
Also be aware of scarce resources. If a lot of cards need green, but there aren’t any green out there, snatch any up quickly that come into play.
An easy way to get the points you need to win is to capture a few nobles. Once again, look at what is available on the field, and look for synergies among nobles. Does one noble need 4 whites and 4 reds and another noble need 3 whites, 3 reds, and 3 browns? Go for the whites and reds, but if it is difficult to get them because of the playing field, consider going for a different noble.
Advanced players walk a line between getting high point cards and capturing nobles. It is ideal if the high cards you are capturing line up with your noble acquisition strategy, but you just have to do whatever it takes to get to 15 points. I have often had to change my strategy late in the game because a color I want is inaccessible. That is OK.
All along the way, keep track of your points and keep an eye on the field. Figure out what cards on the field it will take to win the game. The game moves slowly at first, but then the end will sneak up on you quickly, so make sure you are the one determining the end game.
That’s it! I love Splendor because of the ease of play, but there is an art in knowing when to make your move.
What strategies have worked well for you?