Target the Max ROI: Lessons from Splendor

I had a revelation the other day while playing the board game Splendor: go for the investment with the highest ROI everything else being equal. It seems obvious when I type that out, but it took me many games to get there.

For those of you who do not know, Splendor is a game of token-collecting and card development. Chance does not play a huge role in the game which means that strategy is important. Splendor was also a nominee for the 2014 Spiel des Jahres, an award given to board games in Germany.

And I was TERRIBLE at it. I am not even sure I won a single time in my first ten or so plays. As someone who takes pride in my strategic thinking ability, this was unacceptable. Thankfully, my competitive spirit meant that I kept going back in there and trying to figure it out.

Last month, I had an epiphany while playing with my sister and brother-in-law: mercilessly target and acquire the cards with the highest ROI. If a card cost 6 coins and gives you 2 points, that is decent. But if a card gives you 5 points for 8 tokens, MUST HAVE IT. This gave me two consecutive wins by a comfortable margin.

One tactic I tried prior to those two games was building a token engine by purchasing lower cost cards (e.g. 4 tokens for 0 points) that negated the need for as many tokens on future card purchases. Now I ignore all that. I do not even worry if the cost is 8 of the same-colored tokens and there are only 6 available in the whole game. There are ways, so it is my role to make it happen.

And this is how I found a metaphor for making money in life. Target the highest ROI, protect that opportunity, and then go after it with a single-minded focus.

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