The perfect board game is basically pick-up-and-play. You want to be able to have a quick read of the manual, learn the basic rules and get started as soon as possible. Marvel Splendor is just such a game. In a cluttered board game landscape, it’s a breath of fresh air.
It’s easy to learn, easy to teach and excellent fun for Marvel and board game fans alike. You don’t need to be particularly experienced in the board game world to have a great time, so it’s perfect for players of any level. It also lets you live out your wildest dreams by claiming Thanos’ iconic Infinity Gauntlet in high stakes battles.
If you’re looking for chaos, you’ll find it here.
How do you play?
The primary goal of Marvel Splendor is to recruit heroes and villains (or locations) on your turn to reach the goal of having 16 ‘hero points’. This lets you nab the mythical infinity gauntlet and win the game. But getting there isn’t easy. You’ll need to have one hero or villain of every colour type in your crew, as well as a green time stone — earned by recruiting a level three character.
On your turn, you can either take three tokens of three different colours from the ‘infinity stone’ pile, take two tokens of the same colour, reserve a character card using a shield token or recruit a faceup character when you have the required stones (pictured bottom left of the card.) Like Splendor the game operates using very simple mechanics, and it’s extremely easy to get the hang of it.
Gameplay ends once a player has 16 points and nabs the Infinity Gauntlet.
What’s good about it?
Marvel Splendor is great for casual board game fans, or fans of the superhero genre. It’s very easy to pick up the rules, and equally easy to teach your mates.
If you’re planning on bringing it around for a small get together, it’s got a quick set-up and you’ll be all be claiming heroes and villains lickety-split. It also doesn’t take up much room — which is a massive benefit in the realm of board games.
It’s one of the easiest games to whip out and play, and relatively low effort. If you’re feeling competitive you can flex your strategy muscles to find better ways to claim victory, but sitting back and relaxing is a perfectly valid choice too.
The gameplay style is very adjustable, so games will differ depending on your opponent and how competitive you are.
If you’re a collector, you’ll appreciate the level of quality and care in the game’s design. It features hardy art cards with key character art for some of Marvel’s biggest and brightest heroes (and villains). The art style takes inspiration from both the comics and film adaptations, with every card sporting a neat hybrid design. They’re bright, colourful and they won’t fox easily so you should be able to keep them in relatively good condition for a long time.
The infinity stone tokens are also made of harder plastic so they don’t feel cheap or flimsy.
What’s not so good about it?
Marvel Splendor isn’t a particularly deep game. Essentially, it’s a new version of Splendor skinned with Marvel-based art so the mechanics aren’t quite as involving or clever as they could be.
The heroes and villains are great fun to recruit, but beyond being sorted into power levels there isn’t much to differentiate them. There’s no special abilities or moves they can perform and in the end they just add up to your final score.
The end of a game is also a bit of an anticlimax because of this. Players add up their points, grab the Infinity Gauntlet and gameplay ends. It leaves you wanting a little bit more on the narrative front.
Simple gameplay can be fun, but if you’re looking for a more involved adventure you’re better off forking out for a more robust game like Marvel Champions.
Overall, it’s a great little board game.
While it lacks the depth of larger adventures, it’s great for pick-up-and-play gaming and can be easily taught to larger groups. At 30 minutes it’s on the shorter side of board games, but there’s plenty of strategic options once you get into the swing of things. It also becomes a more competitive game (if you want it to be) because there’s such a tight time frame to claim victory.
If you’re familiar with Wingspan, Azul or 7 Wonders, you’ll pick up gameplay incredibly easily. These games all share similar card-based recruitment mechanics to Splendor. It also great for players who enjoy the turn-based competitiveness of Disney Villainous.
Marvel Splendor is a great, simple game for any board game player. It’s very replayable and there’s a lot of fun to be had in finding and recruiting your favourite heroes. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon if you’re looking for a quick break or something to get the wheels turning in your brain.
The power is in your hands.