Splendor is a board game designed by Marc André, with art by Pascal Quidault. While it is a quite popular game on the new board game scene, it is much more in the traditional vein than most modern board games.
Game play is quite simple. Each turn players are given the choice of collecting gems or buying a card with their gems. Each card bought provides the player with a free gem each turn. Most cards also have a point value. The first player to collect 15 points wins. And that's (mostly) it.
While this is essentially a simple race to the finish line, strategy is involved. Cards are available only from the center row, a total of 12 cards at any one time, although for most of the game only the cheapest row of four cards are affordable. There are five different colored gems that you may buy, and each card costs a combination of 3+ gems; there is strategy involved in choosing what card you will aim to buy, with the risk that other players are also going to be trying to get the good deals before you can, and with the wrinkle that the cheapest cards don't give you any victory points, but do increase your purchasing power.
There are additionally wild-card gems. While most gems are drafted in sets of two of the same color or three of different colors, wild gems must always be taken singularly... but taking one also allows you to reserve a card from the center row. You will still have to pay that card's cost eventually, but in the meantime no one else can buy it.
And there's more! Getting certain collections of gem cards will win you bonus points. There are always five bonus point conditions, and each one can be unlocked only once. This gives the players something to plan for and race towards.
So, all in all, not quite that simple. But it is very easy to pick up, and not too hard to play. I find that it is a good game to hold my concentration, as for each round you are occupied in planning your first choice and backup choice for the upcoming round, plus trying to plan your long-term strategy, and maybe even deduce the other players plans. Given a set of players on approximately the same skill level, this is a fairly fast moving game. The estimated play time is 30 minutes, which seems about right.
In comparison to games like Pandemic and SmallWorld, this is a very easy game to set up and teach to new players. (If you are looking for easy to set up and pick up games, you should also check out Carcassonne, Sushi Go, and Dixit). However, this is not a very social game; it is a concentrate and think game.
Splendor currently has one expansion, Splendor: Cities of Splendor. I have not yet played with it, so I cannot comment other than to say that it looks good, but most people I know have not bothered to purchase it, as the base game is quite satisfying as it is.
The game is also available electronically as an app or on Steam; more information is available here.
If you would like to learn more, you can visit the game's website or read about it on Board Game Geek.
Spendor has won a slew of awards, including the 2015 Nederlandse Spellenprijs - Best Family Game, the 2014 Vuoden Peli - Adult Game of the Year, the 2014 Meeples' Choice, and the 2014 Golden Geek Board Game of the Year Winner, both overall and again in the Family Board Game category.