Really good games are often very simple games. They take a good idea and implement it perfectly. Splendor is most certainly one of those games. Because Splendor is so well executed, there is no room for an expansion. The risk is, in fact, that everything you add quickly becomes unnecessary ballast so that the speed of the original game is removed. So how did Cities of Splendor do?
Cities of Splendor, a game by Space Cowboys, is actually not even one expansion, it consists of four. In the box there are four different modules that you can add to the game. If you want, you can add just one, several or all modules to the game at the same time. All modules add something small to the, without affecting the core of the game. The rules of each module are clearly portrayed. You do not have to search in a thick rule book for the rules of a specific module.
The first module is called Cities. In this module, the tiles with noblemen from the normal game are replaced by three city tiles. These city tiles indicate (as with the noblemen) which combination of cards you have to collect in order to claim them. New is that there also is a number of points that you must have to claim the card. The game ends as soon as the round has been completed in which at least one city card has been claimed. If there is only one player with a city card, this player is the winner. If several players have a city card, the player who has the most points of wins the game.
The second module is called trading posts. These trading posts are depicted on a separate cardboard sign that is placed on the table with the game material. Five different combinations of maps are shown on these cards. When you have collected such a combination, you mark the combination with a weapon token (each player has his or here own weapon). From that moment on you may use the advantage associated with the combination (for example, a piece of gold is worth two identical gems, or you also get a gem if you claim a card).
The third module is called forts. All players receive three plastic forts in their own player color. The moment you buy a card you can either put a fortress of yourself on a card on the board or you can remove a fort from another player from the board. You may never place your fort on a fortress of another player. Cards that contain a fort may then only be purchased by the player whose fort is on it. If you manage to get all three your forts on the same card, you can buy this card starting from the next turn, without it costing you a turn.
The last module is called the Far East. This module consists of an extra set of cards. Next to each row are two extra cards that you can claim in the regular way. These cards provide new advantages. There are cards that you can use once as two jokers and cards where not one but even two gems are depicted.
Conclusion: Cities of Splendor good but not better!
I hoped that the expansion would refresh Splendor for me. Unfortunately, that did not work out all that well. All modules work on their own, which is nice. They make sure that you no longer play on autopilot and that you have to think about what you are doing. But I do not think they really make Cities of Splendor more fun than its original. The additions provide some variation which are pretty fun, but actually the game is much more fun without them.