Nominal Award: Best Dessert Game
Mechanics: Card Drafting
Players: 2 - 4
Splendor is a stupid little game that will always have a place on my shel.? Why is that? Because whenever I've played a time consuming and mentally exhausting stratigic board game, inevitably I'm not quite ready to go home. I need a little "dessert" to accompany the main course. Something sweet and not too filling. Easy rules, quick play. No game hits the spot like Splendor.
Splendor is a silly little game. Pasted on theme, hugely dependent on luck, one-dimensional mechanics. And, through its simplicity, it accomplishes what no other game can: it fills the void for when you are too tired to too drunk to play another game.
If I had to explain the rules of Splendor in terms of a more popular game, I would say: "Imagine Dominion without any action cards, only treasure and victory cards, including the Prosperity expansion. This is Splendor." Splendor is a card drafting game at the very core: buy cards that give you more buying power to buy more cards that are worth points. Each turn you either pick up currency or buy another card. There is no additional "action" phase. There isn't even flavor text on the cards. The theme of the game is about as strong as a McDonald's happy meal: a means of packaging without any regard for what's inside. Yes. This game scores lower in half of my criteria, but his it out of the park on "learning curve", "fun", and "pacing". It takes about 60 seconds to explain the rules and everyone, absolutely everyone, has fun playing. If you would only stop and think, you would realize that - barring self sabotage - the game awards every kind of strategy and the winner is more often decided by a matter of how the cards are dealt than actual skill, but no one ever does stop to think about it because the pacing is absolutely perfect. Ultimately, its simplicity is its strength and this quaint game of my continues to hit the table, time and time again.