Silver is Gold
Every once in a while, a game comes along that I know is going to be a smash hit; a game that will win awards and introduce new players to the hobby. Silver was just such a game ... and yet, it wasn't.
The first time I saw Silver was at Dice Tower Con 2019. Bezier Games was demoing the soon-to-be-released title without a lot of fanfare. I asked the demo-er about the game and he started to explain how cards start face down and you only get to see 2 of them at the start.
Oh boy, a memory game. I'm over 50, I don't do memory games.
I politely declined the invitation (at first) to sit down, but I stayed and watched a much younger group play. The raucous laughter from the table had everyone nearby coming to find out what was going on. I'm so very glad I didn't walk away. I finally did sit down and Silver has become one of my favorite games, hitting the table at almost every game group night.
At its core, Silver is a card game - 48 cards in 14 "suits" numbered 0 to 13. Each suit has a different power. Some cards will let you flip a card over to its face. Some cards will let you see other players’ cards. If you can think of a power, it's probably in there. If it's not, it's probably coming in a future version of the game. Oh yes, I forgot to mention, there are currently 3 versions of Silver - Amulet, Bullet, and Coin. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
The object of Silver is very simple: be the player with the lowest score after 4 rounds of play. To start, deal each player 5 cards, but don't look at them! Place the rest of the deck within easy reach of all players and deal one face up to the discard pile. Once everyone is ready, each player can look at 2 of their own cards. Then play begins.
On a player's turn, they can take the top card from the deck or the discard pile. They can also call a vote, but more about that in a moment. If the drawn card has a "discard power" they may discard it and use the power. The player could also choose to exchange the card with one or more cards from their own tableau (so long as the discarded cards match each other numerically), thus reducing the number of cards in the tableau and probably the player’s score. If the discarded cards don't match, the player keeps all the cards including the one drawn.
Players can also use face-up cards in their tableau that have an in-tableau effect. Some of these effects allow you to look at your own cards or reduce the value of another card (for matching purposes). There are far too many effects to describe in this article.
Once a player has 4 cards or less, they can call a vote instead of taking/playing cards. All other players get one more turn. Then the game ends and end-of-game card effects can be played. If the player that called the vote has the fewest points, then they score zero for that round and receive a token (different in each game version) that gives them a special action in the next round. If they didn’t score the least, they add 10 points to their score for that round.
It is not unusual for a player to call a vote and another player to change their tableau before the end of the game, so paying careful attention to other player’s options is key to winning with a vote.
So what makes Silver SO GOOD?
Variety - every game is different. It’s unlikely that you will start any round with the same cards as a previous one and depending on what other cards you’ve drawn (but don’t yet know about), you’ll have to be flexible in your strategy.
Emotions - truly great games are going to cause an emotional response. The anguish over discarding the wrong card or finding out that the card you didn’t-know-what-it-was is a Zero, is humorously devastating. Conversely, watching it happen to a friend in the game is delightful, especially if you’re the recipient of a great card.
The Art - I’m a sucker for great artwork and this is some of my favorite. Each character is unique and resplendent with Bezier touches. It’s consistent across all the versions so far.
Back to Variety - although you don’t have to own more than one, each version of Silver has its own unique style of play and can be combined with other versions for even more variety. The combination possibilities are huge.
I don’t see Silver ever leaving my game bag. I’ve played it hundreds of times and still look forward to getting it to the table. There’s also an app version - although a bit difficult to understand the interface at first, it is a very good implementation.
Silver hasn't won any awards that I'm aware of - a travesty to be sure. I do hope you try Silver. I bet it becomes one of your favorite games too.