Game Night:  Splendor:  Marvel

We take any excuse to play games in this house and Birthdays usually mean lots of games.

For a recent family birthday, we played games all day! Splendor comes off the shelf easily, since it is so quick to set up, and the games take only about a half hour.

It is an easy one to choose when we are not sure what to play, don’t want something too complicated, but also want a little bit of thinking and planning.

Splendor - Marvel joins Root and Betrayal on Game Day!

Why did we choose Splendor - Marvel for a Birthday Game?

The day was nearly over and before it trickled into midnight, Cally requested one more game.  We already spent hours teaching ourselves Root and playing Betrayal with the family.  For the last game, we looked at the shelf and the time and settled on Splendor for ease of setup and speed of play.  

We have played it enough to be able to construct strategies quickly upon seeing what community cards and locations are on the table.  We usually run through the first five rounds quickly, needing only seconds each, and planning our next move while we are watching each other gathering resources, or grabbing the card we want!

How did the match end up?

We normally play games an odd number of times, since we both hate ties, but on this night I easily took the first win, then Cally rallied her mind to crush me twice, but as Cally tried to keep her eyes open for the fourth game of Splendor, I saw my opportunity and managed to claw my way to 50% of the victories!

I admit to watching her eyes on her turn to see which cards she was planning to buy, and comparing that to the resources she took.  Then I had to analyze whether I needed to continue with my strategy, or play the spoiler and prevent her from getting a card she wanted, and in some cases needed, to complete a set for the location points, or to steal the Avengers from me.  In one game, I had to do this three times in a row. 

In the end, I lost that one, although I prolonged my defeat, by ruining her plan A.  Her Plan B finished me off though, and in the end, I wasn’t close on points.

What other strategies were in play besides spoiling?

Cally tends to focus early on one of four strategies:

  1. Get lots of cheap cards to be able to get free cards as soon as possible.
  2. Buy up 1 and 2 victory point cards to gradually build a lead that is later hard to catch.
  3. Snatch up Avengers and keep the 3 points for assembling Avengers.
  4. Blockading a color, especially one that is needed for one or more locations.

I admit that the fourth strategy is a favorite of mine.  If I see that red is required for two locations, then I buy every red I can, even on the second level, then try not to turn over first row cards, so that Cally is forced to reveal them for my turn.  Then when I see them, I have to have the resources to buy them outright, or reserve the card to make sure I have all the reds!  It also helps to keep as many resource tokens as possible of the scarce color.

Playing this strategy is tricky, relies somewhat on luck, and doesn’t make you any friends!  It is also totally unreliable when there are more than two players.  

In fact, many of our game strategies are different when we add the 3rd player, but 95% of the time, we are in 2-player mode, so we can focus our efforts.

Final thoughts on our game day

We had a great time all day and enjoyed the three games we tried.  I will describe Root in a separate game review, but it was fun to learn and we tried each of the starting factions, made mistakes and broke the rules a few times, but had fun learning new strategies.  It was definitely a thinking-intensive game, but surprisingly quick once we learned the mechanics.  It only slowed down for disagreements about the rules.

Betrayal with the family was fun, but as the experts on the game, we had to help the other two with their options and actions, so it still required some engagement, although there was a lot more luck involved in Betrayal than in Root.

Ending the day with Marvel Splendor was easy and fun.  We got to feed our competitive natures and use up any remaining brain power before collapsing after a long day of cake, presents, and games.

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

  1. What is the simplest game you play as a go-to?
  2. If you play Splendor, do you use the same four strategies?
  3. Do you have your own twists on the strategies I listed?
  4. If you are tired, are there games that put you to sleep or perk you up?

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