RogerBW's Blog

Cities of Splendor 09 December 2017

Cities of Splendor is an expansion for Splendor, designed by Marc André.

In fact it's four mini-expansions, and they cannot be combined with each other (or at least André recommends that they should not be).

Strongholds

gives each player three stronghold markers (plastic pieces about 36mm tall). When you buy a card, you can also place one of your strongholds (onto a card that has no other player's strongholds on it) or give another player's stronghold back to its owner. One stronghold works like a reservation; having three strongholds down lets you buy that card in addition to a normal action.

Trading Posts

adds a "Route to the Orient" board with five spaces on it. When you satisfy the requirements of one of those spaces (having a certain number of bonuses of a particular colour, and in one case having a noble tile) you put a marker on that space, and get its power for the rest of the game. This doesn't exclude other players from getting it too.

The powers are things like "after you purchase a card, take a gem" or "when you take two identical gems, take another of a different colour". Two of them just give prestige. This seems likely to make the mid-game shorter (that's the sort of level at which these powers will kick in), and since that's the bit of the game I enjoy post that seems like a bit of a shame. Still, I'll try it and see.

Cities

replaces the nobles from the standard game with three city tiles, randomly selected from the seven double-sided tiles supplied. They work like nobles, except that they also have a minimum prestige requirement, and some of them require several bonuses of any single colour rather than of a specified colour. But if only one player takes a city tile, that player wins at the end of the round; otherwise, it's the highest prestige among the players who took tiles.

The Orient

is a new deck of development cards (actually three separate decks, all with the same colour backs but with 1/2/3 dots like the base game cards). These add two more purchasable cards to each row.

They don't give bonuses, though, they have new effects, with two types of effect per card row. One is worth two gold (and is gone when you spend it, but you don't count it against your token total); one has to be paired with an existing bonus card to double the bonus; one lets you reserve a noble; and so on. This will all bring out the nobles a bit faster.

Apart from Strongholds, all of these modifications seem intended to make the game go faster (especially Trading Posts). I already didn't find it excessively long, but perhaps I'm not a typical player.

The simple elegance of the core game will of course be lost, but these all seem like potentially interesting variations.

This comes in another box the size of the original. I haven't yet decided whether I'm going to make a super-inlay to fit in the box and contain everything, or whether I'm going to build a new free-standing box for everything – which is likely still to be smaller than the current box, though rather expensive.

I'm looking forward to getting some plays in.

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