For Sale and Coloretto so wonderful - rules in under a minute but some definite thought involvement. Splendor is like that - easy to explain and short enough (with the right players) and it seems like it's got some depth. And it does if you look for it. But I would argue one can just as easily play this fun game with nary a plan and still walk away handily with the victory. And therein lies my disappointment although I do think its enjoyable enough filler if its played very quickly.
So you can pick up and hold up to 3 cards for later purchase? This is key because I think this is where the major problem with the game exists. In my experience with Splendor (including a 5-game bender a couple Saturday nights ago), the 4th choice of action - to hold a card for later and take a wild chip - is completely sub-optimal and one can win easily without ever doing it. I honestly wonder why the option is even there if it so useless until perhaps the final turn to clinch the victory. I've now played a few more games since then, refusing to ever pick up a card and only gathering gems when a table purchase is not possible. And I've won them, in one case quite handily. Part of the issue is the cards revealed are always so random that if you keep a spread of colours you're almost always able to buy something. If not, just wait till the next turn and something will probably come up. The luck factor is unfortunately quite large in this one.
It's too bad because this really is an enjoyable and speedy (if somewhat generic) little game which seems at first glance to offer lots of decisions. I will say that I have only played my 10+ games with 4 players so we cycle through the decks very quickly. This probably allows for many cards to be purchased quite easily. I imagine in a 2-player game one would have to plan a little further ahead as the cards wouldn't get cycled half as much.
Clearly if I've played more than 10 games of this, it's a nice enough diversion (especially for lunch hours at work). And I'll probably play it a few more times. But the "holding" option and gold gems are entirely superfluous and one can very easily win this one by just waiting, hoarding chips, and buying the first cards that come up.
Maybe I just like that clicking those coloured chips together makes such a satisfying sound.....