Just bought Splendor
yesterday - getting new games always makes me happy. Played a couple with my son, and this game is really fun! Glad I went for it blind. The game is short and the rules are simple, but each game is a bit different and the strategy seems fairly deep. My son is five and won the first game simply because I was too focused on one aspect of the game, ignoring that the higher level buildings themselves are worth more points than the nobles. I spent way fewer resources than he did, but he got more points. It's an interesting balance, which shifts a bit depending what your opponents are going for as well.
Anyone play this game before? Want to give me some tips on how to beat a toddler?
I agree, this is an excellent game.
I've talked over basic strategy with my buddies. We haven't played more than 3 games total yet, so take this with a grain of salt. But Splendor is 100% about opportunity costs. In the early game, the "cheapest" items are the bottom row, while in the late game, the "cheapest" items are the top row.
Why? Because in the late game, you are "throttled" by turns. Turns
are the most precious resource in the late game. Getting +5 points in one turn is a lot "cheaper" than getting a free development card.
Even in the early game, the "cost of a turn" can be felt. Reserving a card is the most "expensive" thing you can do from a turn-perspective. It requires two turns to buy a card and only gets you one coin out of it. In contrast, a player who buys a card straight up can spend those two turns buying a card AND grabbing coins. (Ideally, +3 coins and +1 development cardin short-term buying potential... in contrast to +1 joker + Development Card).
Jokers are good from a defensive perspective, but they are horribly inefficient by turn-count. You can royally screw the strategy of your opponents by reserving a card at an inappropriate (for them) time. That's where the majority of the strategy is IMO: holding enough Jokers so that you can't be screwed over by your opponents... while still playing "efficiently" to grab tons of coins. +3 coins gets you +3 purchasing power in the short term, while buying a development card is effectively only +1 "purchasing power" in the short term
To borrow a "Dominion" phrase, do NOT become the village idiot
. True, the development cards feels like acceleration. But the goal of the game is not to develop the most cards... its to end the game first
by reaching 15 points. You only get there by buying "inefficient" cards, like +5 points for 10 coins or something (actually, I find the +5 points to be gloriously efficient and they've been the cornerstone of my victory in two games). Do not "accelerate into nothing", you must have a plan that includes the end of the game
IMO, the most efficient cards are the +1 victory points for 4-coins on the bottom row. That's +1 point for 3-turns in the early game (+2 coin, +2 coin, then buy), or +1 point for 1-turn in the late game (when you have lots of development cards). The top row's +5 points can be extremely efficient in the late game, with 3-turns (+6 coins over two turns, rely on development card for +8 development or so, then 3rd turn to buy a +5 point card). So that's 1.66 points-per-turn + development effectively... easily more efficient than the "free +1 Point" card from the bottom row. In fact, as long as you can feasibly purchase the +5 point card within the next 5
turns (aka +15 coins!!!) then its actually more turn-efficient than getting +1 points off of the bottom row.
The Nobles allow "development-card spam / village idiot" strategy to hold some promise, since they do not have an action to get a Noble. But I've won games without getting a single noble at all. When nobles clearly line up, the opponents will block each other on their path to victory. Say four noble cards require 4x Ruby development cards. The entire game will be "starved" of Ruby cards as the players reserve the card for themselves. On the other hand, if no one else in the game is "stopping" the development player... maybe he'll get the nobles first. So you gotta stay flexible.
I probably shouldn't talk so much about the game when I only played it three times... but that's how the game plays out in my brain.
First Strike +1/+1 and Indestructible.