Silver (a.k.a. Silver Amulet) (Game Review by Chris Wray)

  • Designer: Ted Alspach
  • Publisher: Bezier Games
  • Players: 2 – 4
  • Ages: 14 and Up
  • Time: 45 Minutes
  • Times Played: > 10 (And More on the App)

Silver is a fast-playing card game designed by Ted Alspach. Based on the system from Cabo, Silver is a hand management and set collection card game with a werewolf-themed twist.

The game made its debut at Gen Con today, and it appeared to be selling well, and it has earned early praise from game reviewers. I had an early copy, and it is one of my favorite games of 2019.

If you’d like to try the game, there is a free iOS app available. If you’d like more information on the development of the game, I highly recommend Ted Alspach’s Designer Diary over on BGG.

The game is the first in a planned series of the games, with Silver Bullet planned for release at Essen. The games can be combined, so sort of like with Dominion, you can mix different sets to make custom decks.

The Components

The game is a card game at its core, with a deck of cards forming the core of what you need for gameplay. Four of the cards are player aids.

There’s also an amulet token, which, in an especially nice touch, is metal.

There’s a well-designed box insert from Game Trayz, with slots for each card, plus a little slot that holds the amulet.

Finally, there’s a scorepad, a rulebook, and a reference guide for the cards.

The game box and insert. Photo courtsey of Bezier Games.

The Gameplay

Note: The complete rulebook can be found here.

At the start of the game, the deck is shuffled, with five cards given facedown to each player.  The deck is put in the middle of the table, and one card is flipped face up to form the discard pile.  Players may then look at — and probably should memorize — two of their cards.

On a player’s turn, he or she has three choices: (a) take a card from the deck, (b) take the top card of the discard pile, or (c) call for a vote.

Most turns involve taking the top card from the deck.  The player looks at it, and then can (1) discard it, and if applicable, use the card’s special power, (2) just discard the card, or (3) exchange it for one or more of his cards, discarding them instead and keeping the drawn card.

Unlike Cabo, which had only three special powers, every card in Silver has a special power. A complete overview of the cards in the game can be found in the reference guide, but many of the cards have a cool werewolf twist that lines up with their character.

Many of those powers — especially on the higher cards — activate when discarding the card, such as the exposer (the 5s), which allows you turn one of your cards face up, or the beholder (the 7s), which allow you to view two of your cards.

Others activate when they are face up in your village, such as the empath (the 2s), which allows you view a facedown card on your turn.

The game box and insert. Photo courtsey of Bezier Games.

If exchanging, you nominate one or more of you cards, and you can discard several as long as they match.  If they don’t match, you have to keep all of the cards (including the one you drew) and take a penalty card. The doppelgänger (the 13s) always matches the other number during the exchange.

Returning to what you can do during the turn, if a player takes the top card of the discard pile, he or she can do the exchange action. When exchanging cards, there are rules about which card spots (i.e. the order of cards in your village) that you can place them.

Finally, a player may call for a vote.  This triggers the end of the round: every other player gets one more turn.  Alternatively, the end of the round is triggered if the deck runs out. 

For scoring, players get points equal to the face value of the cards, unless they called for a vote and have the lowest score, in which case they get 0 points.  (If they don’t have the lowest score, they also get a 10 point penalty.) The player who correctly calls for a vote and has the lowest score earns the silver amulet token, which can be used to protect a card in their village from the effects of other cards.

The game ends after four rounds, and the player with the lowest score wins.

My thoughts on the game…

Silver is tremendous fun. It is a fast-paced, engaging, and addictive card game that has been a big hit with me and my family. We loved Cabo, but the special powers of Silver give it a bit more depth and zing. I suspect going forward we’ll play a lot of Silver and save Cabo for the non-gamers in our life.

For a card game, Silver is especially well produced: the art is attractive, and the cards are of decent quality.  I like the inclusion of a player aid: you probably won’t need it after you’ve played a game or two, but it is helpful for teaching the game. But the best additions are the metal amulet token and the insert for the game, both of which are nice additions.

Like its predecessor, Silver features interesting decisions on each turn.  First you have to determine whether you want the face-up card in the discard pile, though rarely you do, since the other players tend to discard their high cards.  

If you’re not going to take from the discard, then draw a card. And this is where Silver shines: the powers on each card add a new layer, making each turn intriguing.  Ted Alspach has always been remarkable at his ability to work special roles into games, and that shows here, with a well designed set of village powers that both bring out the theme and make the game more intuitive.

The most challenging in-game decision, at least for me, is when to call for a vote.  Experience helps in this regard, and I still haven’t managed to master it.  I call for a vote far more than my family, but I have a miss rate that keeps costing me the games. But with the allure of the Amulet (or the Bullet in the sequel game), I just can’t resist.

The game plays well at 2, 3, or 4 players, and I don’t know that any particular player count is better than others.  We’ve been playing this slightly less than the advertised time — 20 minutes on average, I’d say — but groups will vary, since a lot of it comes down to the group dynamic of when somebody is going to call for a vote.  

Overall, Silver is one of my favorite games of 2019. I love it in person, and I love the app. I’m eagerly awaiting Silver Bullet, as I’m excited to mix and match the decks to form my own custom version of Silver.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it! Chris Wray
  • I like it. 
  • Neutral. 
  • Not for me…

The Silver iOS app. Photo courtesy Bezier Games.

 

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6 Responses to Silver (a.k.a. Silver Amulet) (Game Review by Chris Wray)

  1. Pingback: Gen Con 2019, Day 1: What’s Hot, and What I Played (Chris Wray) | The Opinionated Gamers

  2. Pingback: Silver (a.k.a. Silver Amulet) (Game Review by Chris Wray) – Herman Watts

  3. gschloesser says:

    I agree with your review. I am a HUGE fan of Cabo, and was a bit leery when Ted told me they would be tinkering with the game system. Even after playing the game during the development process, I still remained skeptical. However, now that I have played the finished product, it is outstanding. Like you, I think Silver is better suited for gamers, while Cabo remains the choice for family and non-gaming friends. I hope Silver gets careful consideration for next years’ awards.

  4. jeffinberlin says:

    I’m a bit confused about the insert for separating the cards? After all, the cards have to be shuffled well for each game. It’s not like Dominion, where you need to separate the cards after each game into their respective stacks.

    • Chris Wray says:

      I think it will become like Dominion, since you’ll be able to interchange the cards from the decks. So you might take certain numbers from Silver Amulet, certain numbers from Silver Bullet, etc.

      Not strictly necessary though!

  5. Pingback: Gen Con 2019 Days Three and Four: What’s Hot, and What I Played (Chris Wray) | The Opinionated Gamers

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