When comparing Munchkin vs Splendor, the Slant community recommends Splendor for most people. In the question“What are the best board games for beginners?” Splendor is ranked 4th while Munchkin is ranked 13th. The most important reason people chose Splendor is:
The basics of the game are very straightforward and easy. You can start playing in a matter of minutes, which is great for absolutely everyone – young and old, experienced and new. The game begins from the youngest player and continues clockwise. In their turn the players can perform one of three actions: take three different gems, take two gems of the same color, reserve a development card and take a gold gem, or purchase a development card. All development cards give permanent gem bonuses for later buys and some cards give prestige, which is required to win. Prestige is also gained from nobles, which can be attracted if specific conditions are met. The game enters the last round when a player reaches 15 points. The game is won by the player with the most points after this round.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Encourages both cutthroat and cooperative play
On top of casual banter, you’ll be actively talking with the other players throughout the whole game. You'll want to gang up in earlier rounds to defeat monsters, but tensions are bound to rise nearing the end of the game.
At the start players are too weak to take on most monsters so it’s best to band together, but, obviously, not everyone wants to help you for free. You will haggle for the price of assistance – a share of the treasure, an equipment item from the player, or anything else. It’s up to you, you can even, say, make a player complete a dare you just made up.
The end of the game can get loud -- even the game’s box states that it revolves around backstabbing your friends. Some comments are bound to fly around as players announce what cards they’re using to flip the round in the monsters’ favor and take away that sweet victory that was just about to be achieved.
Pro Amazing replay value
The game offers a lot of variety because of the big card count, which ensures that every game will be different. There are 168 cards in total, which include monsters, player classes and races, equipment items, special cards, spells, and much more.
Furthermore, Munchkin has a lot of expansions. Each of these offers even more cards with all kinds of different mechanics.
Pro Hilarious theme
The game is a parody of fantasy role-playing board games in its purest form, and the art on the cards reflects that. The game is filled with all kinds of funny characters and references that parody the board gaming culture. For example, there’s a card called “Whine at the GM” which makes you go up a level. Also, every expansion comes with a brand-new theme filled with more humorous content to bring to the table - the wild west, holiday-themed stuff, and yes, even hipsters. All the cards are illustrated by the popular cartoonist John Kovalic.
Pro Easy to learn
The basics of the game are very straightforward and easy. You can start playing in a matter of minutes, which is great for absolutely everyone – young and old, experienced and new.
The game begins from the youngest player and continues clockwise. In their turn the players can perform one of three actions: take three different gems, take two gems of the same color, reserve a development card and take a gold gem, or purchase a development card. All development cards give permanent gem bonuses for later buys and some cards give prestige, which is required to win. Prestige is also gained from nobles, which can be attracted if specific conditions are met.
The game enters the last round when a player reaches 15 points. The game is won by the player with the most points after this round.
Pro Fine-looking artwork
Splendor’s artwork is follows a Renaissance theme and is quite detailed and beautiful. The cards of the game feature depictions of ships, gem mines, and shops from the era. The coins are colorful and have stickers on them representing the type. There are also portraits of historical figures on the noble cards, for example, Henry VIII, Isabel of Castile, and Elisabeth of Austria.
Pro Good for beginners
The game’s rules are easy to grasp, but Splendor also features quite a bit of depth and strategy, which makes this a great gateway option for people just getting into board games, even children.
Pro Can be played aggressively or peacefully
The game is suited for both playstyles mostly due to the card reserving mechanic. This is great because you can adjust to the company you are playing with, whether they want to be fully competitive and try to deny each other’s plays or laid back and just watch the empires grow without interfering.
You can reserve a card to use it later or, even better, so your opponents can’t use it. You also get a “wild” gold piece, which can substitute any color required in buildings. You can have a maximum of three cards reserved at once.
Pro Scales well
The game plays very well in the designated 2-4 player range. It has some nuances that depend on the number of players, for example, the amount of coins and nobles in play.
It’s possible to go past the 4-player maximum by getting another copy for more coins. Another solution would be to add something like poker chips or other types of coins to the game.
Pro Satisfying to see progression
It’s enjoyable to watch your trading empire grow. The game starts slowly with you gathering gems to create some basic buildings and futureproofing yourself, by the end of the game there’s quite a lot of cards on the playing surface. You can also get points for attracting nobles to your side by getting a specific combination of gem cards, which gives you a building direction and a goal to work towards.
Con Very long play time
Munchkin is not really a game you can quickly play out before doing something else. A normal match takes anywhere between one and two hours, but some people have reported playing for up to 5 hours. This is mostly due to the social factor – almost every action in the game is impacted by whether the other players choose to help you or undermine you. This is especially true for the end-game where each player is looking for the lucky draw to win and everyone else is trying to deny the win by enhancing the monsters.
Con Highly luck-based
Whatever you draw will directly impact the game, as is typical for a card game. Some games will just not go well for you, be it not getting good equipment cards, tackling monsters too strong for you, or other players drawing the right cards either to win or mess up your game.
Con Not very accessible
Munchkin isn’t something that people would call a great gateway game. The basics are not too difficult, and the mechanics of the cards are purposely simple, but there is simply too much to take in for a complete beginner.
If the player happens to be playing with more experienced players, then he’s at a huge disadvantage. There’s quite a lot to explain – levelling up, equipment, combat, and, most importantly, cooperation to defeat monsters. There are many variables to everything. For example, almost every equipment piece has some conditions and exceptions tied to it.
The beginner is probably unsure of the value of the cards in his hand either, which is very crucial in a game where every card matters. There’s a lot of reading to be done to find out what each card does, and this gets worse if you’re playing with expansions.
Con No easy way to keep track of levels in non-deluxe versions
Though the deluxe version comes with a handy gameboard and character figures, the regular game really lacks a universal and convenient way of following progression. The game can get intense at times, which can make some players mistake their level and miscalculate attacks. Most players end up using a piece of paper to mark the levels, others use coins or poker chips.
There’s an official mobile app that resolves this problem and, on top of that, helps track attack values, but it comes for an extra $5.00.
Con Very poor component quality in newer editions
The game used to be widely complimented on the great overall quality of the coins and other pieces, but the materials changed in 2014. All the printings since then have reduced quality – chips are very lightweight and sometimes the color seems off, and all the components have a cheap feel to them.
Con Luck of the draw
The building cards that are drawn from the decks are random, which means that the game can often boil down to top-decking a building that’s either very valuable or completely worthless to you or an opponent. The nobles are random as well, but they won’t impact the game as critically – they are there just to direct you to a goal.