iOS Review: Splendor

When it was announced that Space Cowboys was teaming up with Days of Wonder to release a digital version of Splendor, I knew it would be an instant purchase for me. The game, while having the most pasted on theme of any that I’ve played in years, is an excellent engine builder and I was very excited to see how it translated to a digital form.

SplendorSo let’s talk about the gorilla in the room right away – Splendor, as of now, does not feature online multiplayer. It has pass-and-play multiplayer, but that’s it. But, you know, it’s Days of Wonder. They aren’t going to let that one just slide by the wayside. The Ticket to Ride multiplayer is great, and I’m sure the Splendor one will be just as good.

Now that we’ve gotten the multiplayer bit out of the way, let’s chat about this app.

Splendor offers you three different styles of play: the aforementioned pass-and-play, a regular mode against up to three other AI opponents, and a solo campaign which will offer challenges which make each game a little different.

The app is well done, and the user interface is quite intuitive. You tap on the gem chips to select them, and can change your mind mid-draw if you’d like. The cards are selected the same way. One tap and you’ve got it in front of you, to reserve or purchase. And if you’re looking to reserve a card from the draw pile, the stacks are contained within slots in the tabletop.

Splendor

Your gem count is easy to read as well. There will be a number on top of a stack of chips to represent how many chips you have, and a card shaped indicator with a number in it to represent your tableau of cards. Any cards that you reserve go to the right of your gem count. It’s well thought out and very easy to get the hang of.

The pass-and-play and the regular game play…well…they play like a game of Splendor would if you were sitting with the actual game in front of you. That’s a pretty major compliment. With four different levels of AI to choose from, you can expect a different experience from game to game. The only downside I’ve seen is that you can’t seem to reserve a card if you have the gems available to purchase said card. I’m sure they’ll fix that, and it’s a minor issue.

SplendorBut where Splendor is really quite awesome is in the single-player challenges. There are currently three different regions that you can go to, each with six different challenges. Each challenge will change the basic rules of Splendor, turning the levels into a puzzle of sorts. Sometimes you’ll have no chip taking limits, and other times there are no chips at all but you start with a tableau of cards. The goals are different for each one and you’ll find that a few of them are quite difficult, requiring multiple tries before you can complete them.

All in all, Splendor is a marvelous app. This is a game that was really quite easy to take to a digital platform, and Days of Wonder knocked it out of the park. Yeah, yeah…there’s no online multiplayer yet. But it will come. And when it does this will be looked at as one of the best board game apps out there.

Splendor

 

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Splendor is available for $6.99 in the App Store. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/splendor/id971215921?mt=8

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Game News – Splendor Goes Digital, Talisman Updates, and More Middle-earth

Well, Origins has come and gone and still the game news comes rolling at us like a hippo in a mudslide.

First up, Ares Games has announced a second expansion for War of the Ring with their new title Warriors of Middle-earth:

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wotrThis new expansion will include Ents, Dead Men of Dunharrow, Great Eagles of the Misty Mountains, Corsairs of Umbar, Wild Hilmen from Dunland, and Giant Spiders.

With the new expansion, these warriors and creatures of Middle-earth – previously featured only as special Event Cards – will become an essential part of the game, with unique figures and specific abilities.

Warriors of Middle-earth will also present new mechanics to enhance the game: Faction Dice and Faction Events, used together with the new figures, will open up new and exciting strategies and make the War of the Ring Second Edition even more challenging and fun. The expansion is fully illustrated by John Howe, one of the world’s foremost Tolkien illustrators, and the main artist of the War of the Ring line.

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War of the Ring: Warriors of Middle-earth is expected to release in November of 2015.


In digital news, Days of Wonder has announced that they are teaming up with Space Cowboys to release a digital port of Splendor. According to the press release:

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SplendorDays of Wonder, an Asmodee studio and a leading developer and publisher of board games, is proud to announce the upcoming digital release of the flagship game SPLENDOR on iOS, Android and Steam in partnership with Space Cowboys. This new version is a faithful adaptation of the original board game, which sold over 200,000 copies worldwide. With the digital adaptation of SPLENDOR, Days of Wonder confirms its talent and skillfulness with a quality title, gracefully crafted in 3D, delivering an impressive realistic renaissance atmosphere.

“We are delighted that Space Cowboys confides editing the digital version of Splendor. This is a real opportunity for us to help a huge audience discover or rediscover the game!” says Yann Corno, CTO of Days of Wonder. He added: “Splendor really deserves a digital adaptation! It is a fascinating and rich game, and players can now play anywhere, anytime, regardless of their mobile platform. ”

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Look for this one coming to iOS, Android, and Steam this summer.


Finally, one of my favorite iOS apps saw an update this past week. Talisman players can now tackle The Sacred Pool! Along with the new expansion come some new features for the app:

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The Sacred Pool is here!

The fifth expansion release for Talisman: Digital Edition includes 4 characters, 72 Adventure Cards, 16 Spell Cards, 3 Alternative Endings and two new decks – the Stables deck and the Quest Rewards deck.

Save slots –
You can now keep up to 10 offline saved games.

Sudden Death mode –
The Sudden Death house rule allows the host to choose how many rounds the game will last for. At the end, players receive one point for every Strength and Craft point gained (not from objects or followers), plus one point for each gold, Spell, Follower, Object, Magic Object and Quest Reward they have.

Replacing Quests –
This new house rule gives players the chance to replace their current Warlock Quest, when they are offered a new one.

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This is an app that is well worth owning, as I’ve said in the past. So run your updates or pick this up today!

 

 

 

Review: Splendor

While my taste in board games tends to go towards the heavier end of the spectrum, sometimes you need a light game to open the evening up, or maybe close it out. The board game market tends to be a bit over-saturated with this type of game, so it’s important to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff. Thankfully, the nature of these games is such that if you try one out and don’t like it you’re only out a half-hour of your life, if that. It’s not like you sat down to watch Contact or something like that. ::shudder::

[well]Editors note: As I was about to post this I see that Splendor has just been announced as the winner of BoardGameGeek’s Golden Geek award for Game of the Year. Not that this is important, but I’ve always wanted to leave an editor’s note. – Ed.[/well]

SplendorSplendor, a 2014 release by designer Marc Andre, puts you in the shoes of a wealthy Renaissance merchant trying to woo the nobility by creating fantastic jewelry. You will acquire mines and purchase elephants, and………

Okay, look. I tried. Normally I can transport myself into the world the designer is trying to conjure up. Hell, I’m as imaginative as the next person, but the theme on this one is truly paper thin.

The real question is: does it matter?

Splendor is quite simple. On your turn you choose one of three actions: take gem chips, purchase a card from the tableau or a facedown stack, or reserve a card to be purchased later. There are also a couple of ancillary rules that supplement these actions. When you reserve a card (you are only allowed to have three reserved at any given time) you also receive a gold chip, which is a wild card. Taking chips can be done in two ways – you can take three chips of different colors, or two of the same color as long as there are four or more in the general supply.

And that’s the gameplay. Cards in the general supply will provide you with at least one of the two benefits. You will always receive a gem “discount” for future rounds, and some of the cards also give you points. Another way to get points is to impress the nobles by offering them the gems they are looking for. The first one to 15 points wins.

Which brings us back to the theme. Does it matter that this game has a theme that wouldn’t hold up to a stiff breeze? Not one bit.

SplendorLet’s be clear: Splendor is an engine building game. You purchase cards that will provide you with permanent gem discounts, and then you use these to get the more expensive cards as the rounds progress. As your engine develops you find that taking gem chips as an action becomes less and less necessary, thereby giving you more chances to buy more cards, which improves your engine, and so on.

But as you’re building your engine, it’s imperative that you pay attention to the other players. The ability to reserve cards is so vital here. The joker helps, of course, but grabbing and reserving a card that might be one your opponent is gunning for? That could win you the game.

So what do we have here? It’s a game that you can play in 30 minutes that offers some good decisions and solid gameplay. It’s not going to leave you staring at the wall as your brain liquifies and slides out your ear. It’s not going to intimidate new gamers. But it IS going to be fun. If that’s what you’re looking for in an opener, this is a game for you.