The Tyranny of Choice
Brought to the boardgame world’s attention by 7 Wonders drafting in games has long been a part of the game designer’s tool bag. If you are not familiar drafting involves you choosing a card or tile from some options given to you, then passing the remainder to the next player. The game catches you between making the correct choice for you, blocking your opponent, and trying to do both at the same time. Splito takes this concept and ask you to work with, and against, the other players. Romaric Galonnier and Luc Remond designed Splito, and it features art from Maud Chalmel. Blam! publish the game.
Splito starts you off with only two objectives and the aim of getting the most points. Those objectives are to have a strict majority of a certain number and a strict majority of a certain colour. By playing numbered cards in different suits into areas to your left and right, you can achieve those objectives.
You’ll get these cards by drafting. On your turn you’ll draft a card from the hand you currently have and play it face down in one of the play areas to your left or right.
Splito asks you to get the biggest total you can by multiplying the score on the left with the one your right. The objectives in the middle might apply to you at the end of the game. Thankfully we have new objectives that can appear, changing how those areas score. Objectives like ‘only have 2 cards with value 3’ or ‘have at least 15 cards here’ will pop up. This constantly alters the relationship the cards, and you, have with that play area. The trickier the objective is, the more points it is worth at the end. Unfortunately Objectives are not absolutely guaranteed once in play. Many refer to strict majority of cards and colours. This allows other players to claim that title, even if they can’t score the points for it.
The shifting nature of the play areas creates a ratcheting up of tension as you approach the finale. At the beginning you are just trying to ensure that you have at least some points in both. Zero on either side would be a disaster for you and your frenemy. Down goes an objective. Here is a 3. There goes a 2. It feels sedate. As the hands dwindle in size, the choices get tighter. The decisions more fraught. Jennifer on your left has a big pile of points to her left, how can you deny them? Should you sabotage your own points to bring them down?
Although objectives change constantly in Splito the draft mitigates the luck. The nature of the mechanism means you can plan a bit, hoping to see cards come round again. I’ve played it at 4 players max, and that felt like a sweet spot in terms of strategy and luck. You can play it at up to 8 and it feels like things we could fairly chaotic and unpredictable at that number.
The makeup of the deck can cause some issues as well. We found that even at lower player counts the number of objectives that can appear can be overwhelming. It can become hard to keep track of what each area needs to score, removing an element of strategy from play.
At the lower player counts Splito is a fast drafting game where you can affect other players. Like the game it is closest to, Between Two Cities, it is fun to colloborate, deny, and manipulate in equal measure. I found that Splito didn’t have quite the same level of strategy as Between Two Cities, but its faster to play with less rules overhead.
While Splito wont be making its way into my collection, I’ve had fun with it. It is quick to teach, easy to play, and has just the right amount of bite to it with a lovely ratcheting tension to the play. It is a fun, budget card game, that will give you a good taste of what drafting can bring to a game.
A copy of Splito was provided by Hachette Boardgames UK for a fair and honest review. We were not paid for this work beyond the review copy.