- Designer: Ted Alspach
- Publisher: Bezier Games
- Players: 2 – 4
- Ages: 14 and Up
- Time: 45 Minutes
- Times Played: > 10
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. Silver (a.k.a. Silver Amulet) was released at Gen Con 2019, and I reviewed it back in August. The sequel game, Silver Bullet is going to be released at Essen 2019. I received an early review copy, and my family and I have been playing it over and over: we love the Silver series, and Bullet is a fantastic follow-up to Amulet.
Silver Amulet and Silver Bullet are the first two games in a planned series. The games can be combined, so sort of like with Dominion, you can mix different sets to make custom decks.
For the uninitiated, there is a free iOS app available to show you Silver Amulet. For those interested in the game’s development, I highly recommend Ted Alspach’s Designer Diary over on BGG, which he recently updated for Silver Bullet.
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 a bullet 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 bullet. There’s a cardboard board which has a display set for the discard pile and draw pile: that component wasn’t necessary in Silver Amulet, but it is in Silver Bullet, as there’s a card that lets you flip decks.
Finally, there’s a scorepad, a rulebook, and a reference guide for the cards.
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, and the cards in Silver Bullet are slightly more advanced (and interactive) than the cards in Silver Amulet. 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 troublemaker (the 11s), which allows you to exchange 1 card from any player with 1 card from a different player, or the marksman (the 9s), which allow you to use the discard ability of 1 faceup card in any village.
There are a couple of cards that add a cool interactivity to the game via this mechanic, such as the thing (the 8s), which allow you to shuffle all facedown cards in any player’s village. Since players appreciate knowing their cards, this can be a setback. Similarly, the count (the 10s) allows you to move 10 cards from the deck to the discard pile, which speeds up the game since the deck running out triggers game end.
Others activate when they are face up in your village, such as the goth girl (the 3s), which allows you to discard a card to the bottom of the deck instead of the discard. This is cool because it allows you to put the deck away from the reach of your opponents, while also knowing what’s coming.
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 lycan (the 1s) allows you to add 1 to the value of a card when discarded.
The coolest cards in silver bullet are the low- and high-numbered ones. The hunter (the 0s) allows you to discard a card from scoring if it is faceup at the end of the game. The copycat (the 13s) matches the value of the lowest card in your village during scoring.
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, as discussed above, 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 bullet token, which can be placed on a card. That card can’t be moved or viewed by any player until the end of the game, and at that point, the card does NOT count against the player’s score. .
The game ends after four rounds, and the player with the lowest score wins.
My thoughts on the game…
The Silver series is tremendous, fast-paced fun with a high degree of replayability. Silver Amulet and Silver Bullet are both addictive, engaging card games that have been big hits with me and my family. We loved Cabo, but the special powers of Silver give it a bit more depth and zing.
Silver Bullet is the more advanced of the two decks, and while I recommend beginners start with Silver Amulet, I think a new player could jump into either deck effortlessly. The cards here are more interactive, and there’s a bit more of a “take that” feel here than in Amulet. My group and I prefer Silver Bullet, because it has some of our favorite cards. We love the troublemaker (which lets you drop a 12 in another player’s village) and the thing (which lets you shuffle another player’s cards).
But the real joy is in combining the decks. We’ve been playing with my Mom — she really liked Cabo — and she thought it was really cool to pick the cards she liked best from each series. And in the end, while we love each base games deck, our favorite games have been the ones where we matched the preferences of our group.
The Silver games are each 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 tokens and the insert for the game, both of which are nice additions.
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 and familiarity with the cards.
Overall, I’m very impressed. Silver Amulet and Silver Bullet are each in my top 5 games of 2019, and I’m sure this will be a big hit when released at Essen.
Comments from the Opinionated Gamers
Brandon K – I am not nearly as enamored with Silver Amulet or Bullet as our good friend Chris is, but I do think that it’s a fine enough game. It’s silly really, a round of the game is over in the blink of an eye, but there are times when I am so utterly flustered with my choices that I really don’t feel like continuing on. Also there is the fact that one really good round can make or break the game for a player, which sucks, considering the luck of the draw. There are some clever little mechanisms at play here and some of the powers on the cards are cute and chaotic, but for the most part, you will just want to search for those low cards to swap to. I do think the ability to mix and match the games can lead to some more interesting combinations versus just playing straight out of the box, so I am interested in trying some of that in future plays. As it is, I’ll happily play either Silver for now with Chris as I know that he really likes it, and I can see brief glimpses of positive feelings from me, it’s just too bad they are so brief. I definitely prefer the simplicity of Cabo though.
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
- I love it! Chris Wray
- I like it. John P
- Neutral. Brandon
- Not for me…