|Interaction||Components & Design|
Ted’s newest take on the lupine exposure genre is the Silver series, so far containing Silver Amulet and Silver Bullet and soon to be joined by Silver Coin. The furry beasts in these games are much more insidious than usual, though. In the Silver games, people are not simply werewolves or not werewolves. Werewolves exist on a gradient from “not a werewolf” all the way to “holy crap, that is absolutely a werewolf”. Finding the most werewolf group of people will be a challenge under those circumstances.
Casting Silver Bullets – How to play Silver Amulet and Silver Bullet
The Silver games are not hidden identity games. You’re not trying to figure out who is the werewolf. They are card games where you try to have the lowest total value of cards in your village at the end of a round. Higher value cards are more werewolfish. There are no actual werewolves in either game, but I guess the higher value cards might attract them.
Each player starts with five cards in their village, meaning on the table in front of them. Village cards are face down, and even the owner may only look at two of them. Cards have values from zero to thirteen, and each value corresponds to one type of character and their special ability.
The difference between Silver Amulet and Silver Bullet are those cards, each game has its own set with no overlap between the two. Even when you mix the two games, a value will correspond to one type of character, because you’ll use all cards of a value from one game. You’ll either use the nines from Silver Amulet – the Seers – or from Silver Bullet – the Marksmen – but never both in the same game.
Your goal now is to to make your village less werewolfy than everyone else’s. To do that, you do one of three things on your turn. One, you take a card from the draw pile and look at it. You may then immediately discard it and execute its discard effect if it has one, or you may exchange it for a card in your village and discard that card. You place the new card in your village face down, even if the card you remove was face up. Knowing the cards you have in your village is useful here, because you can exchange multiple cards of the same value for that one new card. You’ll have to prove they have the same value though, and if you turn them over and it turns out you were wrong and they are not all the same, you keep them and add the new card to your village, too. Since you want to have a low score, you don’t want this to happen.
Option two for your action, you may take the top card from the discard pile and exchange it for a card from your village – or more than one, as described above. The upside is that you know what you’re getting. The downside: So does everyone else.
Option three, you may call for a vote, meaning you want to end the round and count points. Every other player gets one more turn, then everyone reveals their cards and counts points. Mostly you’ll score the value of your cards for this round. If you called for the vote and you did have the fewest points, you score a total of zero. If you called for the vote and didn’t have the lowest score, then you score your points plus ten. After four rounds like this, the player with the lowest total score wins.
What makes the Silver games fun are the card effects. There are a few different kinds of those. I already mentioned cards with a discard effect a bit further up. Take, for instance, the Apprentice Seer. When you draw her and immediately discard her, you may look at an opponent’s card. Then you have cards with an effect as long as they are face up in your village, like the Bodyguard who protects another card from being viewed or manipulated by other players. There’s also the Hunter, who removes one card from any village if he’s face up when the game ends. And then there are some cards with extra special rules, like the Doppelgänger who’s value is the same as the lowest card in its owners village, the Squire who reveals some cards from the draw pile, or the Villagers who end the round immediately when both of them are visible.
Wolfbane or Squeaky Toy – Our Verdict
There is little doubt about the target audience and situation for Silver Amulet and Silver Bullet. Ultralight rules, very quick turns, games that you finish in half an hour – these are games you play for some quick fun, not to win with an elaborate strategy. This also matches the level of luck involved.
That is not to say the Silver games are brainless games of luck. By no means. Drawing the right or wrong cards is important, but so is using the card abilities. Revealing the right cards at the right time, keeping other cards hidden until the end of the game, there is skill required. You just won’t need to think for a long time each turn. Those short turns are doubly good, because you really should be playing in four players. Two or three players work, but the feeling just isn’t the same. Play in four if you can.
Silver Amulet and Silver Bullet do not quite share the same target audience, though. Both are good for a quick, fun game, but the level and type of interaction is different. Silver Amulet is a more peaceful game where you try to figure out everyone score before you call for a vote. Silver Bullet lets you do things to other players. Bad things. Things that will make them unhappy. Things like the Thing, who shuffles all face down cards in a village, or the Gremlin that you send to another players village to contribute twelve points there. If you want to buy one of these games, make that your guideline which: how much do you enjoy messing with other players?
In many situations, the Silver games are too random for my taste, but both games make good nightcaps, and both games are great to fill that half an hour gap before dinner. They are light and fun, and sometimes that’s what you want.