You have recently taken on mayorship in a small village. The job application mentioned quiet streets and friendly people. At no point did it say anything about a werewolf infestation. Yet here you stand, face to face with a 7 foot drooling beast in the shape of a wolf. This is Silver.
“Most mayors just have to deal with potholes” you grumble.
In a game of Silver, you are tasked with controlling the number of werewolves in your village. Trying to ensure that you have less than the other mayors in the surrounding villages. You know that there are five unidentified residents hiding in your village. Each of them are attracting a certain number of werewolves.
In order to ensure the safety of your village, you must identify these hidden residents. You must also remember where they are concealed. Once you know who you have in your village and where they are hiding, it is your choice whether to evict them along with their furry friends or let them reside with you.
If you choose to evict them, however, you are going to have to remember exactly where they are located. If not, you may end up banishing an innocent resident.
The Infestation Begins
To set up a game of Silver, you must first shuffle the deck. Deal five cards face-down to all four players. When playing with less than four players, you remove any extra sets of cards from the game. Each player is then given a reference card that brilliantly lays out the simple gameplay onto a small space. The deck is then placed face-down in the centre of the table. One card is then turned face-up to begin a discard pile.
The first player is then decided at random. I would suggest each cutting the deck before it is shuffled at the start and whoever reveals the highest number goes first. The silver amulet is then placed to the side of the deck nearest them.
The final stage before beginning play is for each player to secretly view two of the five cards in their village. This is your first inkling as to how bad the infestation is in your neighbourhood.
Meeting the Locals
Before going into the gameplay, it is worth understanding the cards that are in the game. In the top left of each card, there will be a big number between 0-13. This is the number of werewolves that this resident will bring to your village. The lower the number, the better the resident as they help achieve the goal of least werewolves in your village. The main artwork on the card depicts what the resident looks like. Their role in the village shown on both the left and right borders.
The final piece of information on each card is their special ability. Cards numbered 0-4 trigger when residing face-up in your village. 5-12 can be activated when drawn from the deck and discarded. Lastly, number 13 is a special case used only when exchanging cards from your village.
The gameplay for Silver is very simple, on your turn you take one of three actions: Take a card from the deck, Take a card from the discard pile or Call for a vote.
Taking a card from the deck lets you look at the resident on the card and learn their intentions. If it is numbered 5-12, then you have the option of activating their special ability, whilst wandering by they will aid you in your werewolf hunt. To enlist their help, you simply discard the card and perform the action on the card.
On the other hand, you can invite the resident into your village. To do this, you simply place your newly drawn card face-down in your village, exchanging it with one or more cards already in your village. In order to exchange multiple cards they must be identical, with the one exception of the Doppelgänger (number 13). This card matches any other resident, as stated on it’s ability.
If you wish to neither enlist the resident’s help or invite them into your village, then you can simply place the card in the discard pile without activating it’s effect. This is unlikely to happen though as the large range of abilities vary from viewing cards in other mayor’s villages or even swapping a card in someone else’s village with one of yours. This is an extremely powerful ability that can be crippling if used at the right time!
A New Face in Town
The second option for your turn is to take the top card from the discard pile. In doing so, you are offering a previously ostracised resident a new home. You exchange the top card following the same rules as exchanging from the deck. The difference here being that the new resident will be placed face-up in your village allowing for it’s ability to be used if numbered 0-4.
If the card is numbered higher then it is still placed face-up but it’s ability can not be used. Examples of these abilities are drawing extra cards from the deck on your turn, being allowed to view one of your face-down cards each round or even revealing the top card of the deck for all to see.
Torches and Pitchforks
The third available option for your turn is to call for a vote. This can only be done when you have four or fewer cards in your village. If you think you have been most successful at driving off your werewolves and you call for a vote then you are ending the game round. You are signalling that you want to see who has the least werewolves in their village.
Calling for a vote prevents you from doing anything else such as face-up abilities or placing the silver amulet.
Every other player then performs one more action and the end of round scoring takes place.
Awarding of the Silver Amulet
During the end of round scoring, everyone adds up the numbers in the top left of their resident cards. Then everyone announces how many werewolves reside in their village. Each player scores the sum of their cards, with the exception of the mayor who called for the vote. If they called and they had the least werewolves then they score zero points. however, if they called and didn’t have the least werewolves then they receive their score plus ten.
If the mayor who called for the vote successfully scored zero points then they also receive the silver amulet, an ancient relic used to protect residents from the evil intentions of the their opposing mayors. The amulet can be placed at any point during the next round to protect one resident from any other abilities, ensuring it is in your village for the next vote to be called.
The Werewolves Return
Subsequent rounds follow the same set up and gameplay as the first round, the player with the silver amulet goes first and play then continues until four rounds have been completed. The player with the lowest score at the end of the game is declared the winner, ties are won by the current holder of the silver amulet.
A Mayor's Judgement
I LOVE Silver!
It is a game that keeps getting better the more I play it, unlocking new tactics and different ways to win. Every round is crucial, making it exciting to the end. You are never out of a game of Silver so it’s always enjoyable to play.
The simple mechanics make it a game for all the family to enjoy, the reference cards are fantastic for clearing up any doubt. The rulebook is well made, giving tips on how best to remember face-down cards. It also highlights that card spots are important and shouldn’t be moved around, as well as advising that it is poor form to repeat number out loud to put opponent off. The tips are a great addition to the rulebook as they have accepted that people will be talking about other things throughout the game and they have tackled the issue of remembering cards head on.
The only negative is that the theme is very disjointed from the game. It is extremely rare that I remember the numbers on the cards represent werewolves. The residents have very little to do with werewolves either. Nevertheless, I don’t find this matters at all. The game is very fun in itself and doesn’t need to lean on a theme to make it accessible.
The artwork is very good! Each resident has a detailed picture that suits the role they have been given. The quality of the components is very good also, sturdy cards and a neat little metal amulet that they could easily have just made cardboard. I appreciate the extra quality they gave to the amulet as it is an important item in the game.
Player interaction varies between games. You have an effect on each other whilst playing but it seems more indirect than purposeful with the exception of the Witch and Robber cards. Otherwise, player interaction is limited to being accidentality gifted cards by opponents who discard a resident that you wanted for example.
There is tons of replayability in Silver. It is a game that doesn’t change much between plays but just seems to become more gripping every time. I often play two or three games a time when it is brought to the table, and it is brought to the table at least once a week!