Splendor is a game of chip-collecting and card development. Players are merchants of the Renaissance trying to buy gem mines, means of transportation, shops—all in order to acquire the most prestige points. If you're wealthy enough, you might even receive a visit from a noble at some point, which of course will further increase your prestige.
On your turn, you may (1) collect chips (gems), or (2) buy and build a card, or (3) reserve one card. If you collect chips, you take either three different kinds of chips or two chips of the same kind. If you buy a card, you pay its price in chips and add it to your playing area. To reserve a card—in order to make sure you get it, or, why not, your opponents don't get it—you place it in front of you face down for later building; this costs you a round, but you also get gold in the form of a joker chip, which you can use as any gem.
All of the cards you buy increase your wealth as they give you a permanent gem bonus for later buys; some of the cards also give you prestige points. In order to win the game, you must reach 15 prestige points before your opponents do.
"The socioeconomic interactions between the occidental and oriental worlds during the 16th to 18th centuries remains one of my favorite historic subjects to explore; the intricate cultural systems in place alongside myriad philosophies vying for intellectual dominance, coupled with the romance of the Age of Sail and the Age of Enlightenment provide for a fascinating and multi-faceted reflection of the human condition in its never-ending pursuit of profit.
Splendor is a game of economic wealth management and cutthroat property acquisition that allows players a brief glance into a world birthed by the likes of Machiavelli and Mun; it invites you to partake in the proto-industrial mercantilist race for economic dominance, through the forging (and reneging) of social contracts regarding a very finite pool of resources.
The objective of Splendor is relatively straightforward; the player with the most prestige points at the end of the game wins. Similarly, gameplay is also fairly uncomplicated: on each player’s turn, that player is offered a choice of either collecting a small number of gems from a limited bank (that is shared by the entire group) to add to their stockpiles and build upon their wealth, or spending some of that wealth to purchase an available gemstone mine to add to their list of property titles, garnering them a discount on further purchases, and hopefully, a small bump to their prestige. The property titles, in turn, will serve to attract noble patrons, providing an additional boost to prestige.
However, do not be fooled by the surface simplicity; players will soon discover that the game offers a multitude of options to outsmart your rivals and interfere with your opponents’ plans. The games that I play often result in a player (typically yours truly) cornering the market on a specific gemstone, such as diamonds (eat your heart out, De Beers), by hoarding them in true mercantilist fashion in order to exert control over which properties the others are able to purchase at any given time. At other times, with careful and diligent observation, it is also possible to figure out which mining property an opponent is planning to purchase based on the distribution of their wealth, and to use the opportunity to buy it out from under them, potentially fatally derailing their plans. The potential for mind games is certainly aided by the game’s use of satisfyingly-weighted poker chips to represent the gemstones in a player’s stockpile, allowing you to gently drop them on top of each other as you look your unwitting prey straight in the eye. All in all, Splendor is a great game for those interested in economics, history, or just proving to others that you are the smartest person in the room."