Here at ihobo, we rather enjoy a quick game of Splendor, and we're always looking for new ways to play. Since we also love co-op games, it did not take us too long to experiment with a co-operative version of the game.
Guilds vs Houses is a variant for the popular boardgame in which 2 players (the Houses) attempt to defeat an automated opponent (the Guild), who plays by a unique set of rules, described below.
Rules of Play
- Set up the game exactly as you would for 3 players (i.e. remove two chips from each stack except the gold). Set up the turn sequence so that both of the Houses (human players) take their turns before the Guild.
- When the Guild takes its turn, it acts according to the rules described below.
- Players combine their victory points and compete against the Guild to be the first to reach 20 victory points.
The following rules govern the Guild's actions:
- Purchase Lowest Numbered Development Card: The Guild purchases the development card in the lowest numbered slot it can afford (counting top left Rank III card as the #1 position and the bottom right Rank I card as #12, i.e.top left, to bottom right)
- Else, One of Each Gem Token: If the Guild cannot purchase any development cards, it takes one gem token of each kind. If any stacks have run out, the Guild takes one gold token for each gem it would otherwise have received.
- Or, All the Gold Tokens: If the Guild already has one of every kind of gem token it takes all the remaining gold tokens instead. Count solely gem tokens for this rule - development cards that contribute gem values do not count. (This will guarantee it can make a powerful acquisition next turn.)
- Flip After Three: Once the Guild has three development cards of the same kind, turn one of the zero victory point cards of that kind face down and place it over the other two - this indicates that the Guild may no longer purchase Rank 1 development cards i.e. slots 9 to 12. (This will mean it picks up tokens more frequently, accelerating its buying power.) In the unlikely event that the Guild has no zero victory point cards when it gets three of a particular kind, the lowest value card is flipped over, and its victory points no longer count towards the Guild's score.
The Guild's buying power massively exceeds that of the Houses, but its automated purchasing help balance its performance against the players' collective intelligence, as it seldom makes the 'best' purchase. If the players manage to co-operate, victory is attainable - but it does not take long for the Guild to build up substantial resources if it is left unchecked... The game is especially difficult if all the Noble tiles have similar requirements, and easiest when the Nobles have more distinct requirements. Good luck!
The variant might work with more than 2 players, but it has not been balanced for this - let us know in the comments if you try any variations!