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Solidify Your Strength

Preview the Strongholds of Cities of Splendor

25 July 2017 | Splendor

 

For decades, the gem trade has transported precious stones from faraway lands to the European guilds. Once they arrive, the stones are cut and fashioned into the most beautiful jewelry the Western world has ever seen—but the staid old ways of business are about to change. Gem traders venture into the Orient, but tension between the guilds is growing, and some are building strongholds to protect their investments. An arms race is beginning—you’re about to enter a new era of the gem trade, where only the strongest, wiliest players can claim victory!

Cities of Splendor is a collection of four distinct expansions for Splendor, each offering you a way to tweak and change the classic experience without losing the hallmark elegance of the original. In the past few weeks, we’ve looked at the Trading Posts and Cities expansions, and today, we turn our attention to The Strongholds of Cities of Splendor!

Build Your Stronghold

More than any other expansion included in Cities of Splendor, The Strongholds enhances the tension between players, forcing you to consider what your opponents are working toward at all times. Your three new strongholds are your key tool for bringing your combo together or stopping your opponent’s plans, and throughout the game, your strongholds will enhance the central part of your strategy.

When playing with The Strongholds expansion, every player begins the game with three plastic strongholds of his color. Then, whenever you purchase a development card, you have the chance to use your strongholds: you can place one of your strongholds on any development card or you can remove another player’s stronghold from a card, returning it to that player!

But just what are your strongholds doing for you? Essentially, with your strongholds, you’re flexing the might of your guild to keep your opponents from encroaching on your interests. In game terms, if a card has a stronghold on it, no other player can place their stronghold on that card. More importantly, so long as your stronghold is firmly established on a development card, no other player can claim or reserve that card!

Because using your strongholds prevents other players from claiming cards, it may seem like a good strategy to spread your strongholds across multiple cards. This can still be perfectly viable—but there’s also a reason to bring your strongholds together, onto the same card. If all three of your strongholds are on the same development card, you may spend the gems to purchase that card after you take your normal action, claiming the card by right of conquest without spending an action! Essentially, you’re shaving an entire turn off of your path to victory every time you claim a development card in this way.

In the example above, Lindsey purchases a development card (1), and she places her third stronghold with her other two strongholds on another development card (2). She chooses to immediately take advantage of the conquest power, spending the additional gems she needs to purchase this second development card (3).

The Strongholds expansion immediately brings the combo aspect of Splendor to the forefront, but it also forces you to think carefully about what your opponents are trying to accomplish. Is it worth your time to remove an opponent’s stronghold from a development card, potentially allowing a third player to claim it? If you place your stronghold on a card, are you telegraphing your desire for this card? And can you use your strongholds to mislead your opponents, suggesting you want one development card when you actually have your eye on another?

By Right of Conquest

With The Strongholds expansion from Cities of Splendor, the already-deep strategy of the original game gains new layers of complexity. Watch the Space Cowboys US Facebook page on Thursday to see us play The Strongholds expansion live, and pick up your copy of Cities of Splendor at Gen Con 50 or at your local United States retailer soon!