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Subject: Splendor as a 2 player game rss

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Sharon Khan
United Kingdom
Shefford
Bedfordshire
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This is part of my series of reviews of how multiplayer games work with just 2 players. For the full list see: My 2 player game reviews.

Rules - how are they different in a 2 player game?

The games scales from 2-4 players, as as you move from 2 to the full 4 you use different numbers of gems and VP tiles. With 2 players you only use 4 of each gem, and at all player counts you have one more VP tile than the number of players. These set-up changes are the only changes in the game with fewer players.

How is the game different with 2?

The thing that makes this game great with just 2 is that the experience is very similar at all player counts - the rules changes are just to add tightness at different player counts, and don't affect the game itself. However, despite that the game does feel subtly different with just 2.

Firstly this game take about half as long to play with 2 players as it does with 4. It's not a long game anyway, but it's definitely one that lengthens with more players.

Secondly, the taking of 2 of one colour is much less likely to happen in a 2 player game. You can only do this if there are at least 4 in the stack, and in the 2 player game there are only 4 in the stack if your opponent has none of that colour. It does happen on occasion, but not nearly as frequently as in a 4 player game.

The game itself feels different with just 2 because of the zero-sum nature of the game. There is likely to be more blocking by taking cards your opponent is playing for - in a 4 player game taking a card because one particular player is going for it often just helps the other two players - in a 2 player game it can often be a very key move.

Blocking players from getting the VP tiles is also more key in 2 player games than multiplayer ones. With more players you can't block all the players as effectively as you can if you have just one opponent, as you have less control about when cards are drawn from the deck, and also there are more gems so it's hard to block a player from having access to a particular colour of gem. There is heavy competition for these tiles at all player counts, but at 2 player it can turn into more of a blockade than a race! Also getting that extra VP tile is very key in the 2 player game.

The other, and probably most dramatic, difference with player counts is the deck sizes. In a 2 player game you will never run the first deck out of cards, moving on to the second tier before it does, and it's quite possible to end the game without ever buying a card from the third tier at all (usually by getting all three VP tiles, but it's possible even if you just get two of them). In a 4 player game, at the other extreme, the bottom deck runs out quite early, and you move into the second tier much earlier, and at higher cost, and to get the points needed to win you almost have to buy one card from the top tier. This is probably the thing that gives the greatest difference in feel of the game between player counts - instead of you choosing at which point to switch from income to VPs it's almost forced on your with 4 players, and the competition is just as much for the best cards on the top tier as it is for the VP tiles.

Verdict

I think Splendor is an excellent game at all player counts. I play it with 2 more than multiplayer because I play more 2 player games, and because it does offer almost exactly the same game experience at all player counts. When I do play with 4 the slight differences do mean it is still fresh, as you do have to change strategies subtly to cope with the extra players.
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Kathy Sheets
United States
Stuart
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I love Splendor best as a 2p game. I think people who gripe about the 'luck factor' would benefit from playing it 2p several times because then they would see more easily how much control you actually do have. It's great fun to outplay your opponent.
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Justin R
United States
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My copy should be delivered by the time I get home from work. With luck I will play my first game tonight (a 2 player game). Just have to convince my wife. Very much looking forward to it.
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