Is this little card game a real winner? Will it be gold for silver or bronze? (Just to be a little confusing!)
Silver is a card game where you are trying to get the lowest possible score before your opponent declares they think they have the lowest scoring hand. You start the game with 5 face down cards which are then allowed to look at 2 of. The cards range from 0 to 13 and each card also contains a special action. From that point on you take it in turns to draw one card from a shared deck of cards and decide whether to swap it with one of the 5 cards in your hand; hoping to lower your overall score, or to discard it to use it’s special ability.
The special abilities offer you the chance to turn cards face up so you can utilise the special powers of the cards in your hand, view face down cards, protect cards in your hand from being swapped by your opponent etc. In Silver knowledge is power and trying to find out what cards are in your hand will help you to know whether you should exchange them with the card you have drawn. An added wrinkle is that you are able to exchange sets of the same card for the card you have drawn; meaning that you may be able to trade a pair of 11 cards for a 2 card, which is a net reduction in your hand score of 20 points. Be careful though because if you think you have a pair and it turns out you don’t then you have to add the card from the deck to your hand without exchanging one of your cards.
This attempting to shed the points from your hand while potentially collecting a set of numbers to make a huge play while juggling the abilities of the cards you’re discarding means that Silver has a wonderful amount of tactics at play for a game that lasts 5 minutes. The master stroke of this game is the blind nature of your hand, attempting to remember which card is which as both you and your opponent are swapping cards every turn can mean you soon lose track which can be devastating as you trade a 12 for a 0 card by mistake.
The Silver app was made in conjunction with the card game of the same name and was to be used as a preview for the physical game itself and as such is not as feature rich as some other games. It shares the wonderful art style of the card game with wonderful characters for each of the 14 villagers. Text can be a bit small at times on some of the cards with more complex special abilities however all in all the app looks good and is very simple to use and understand.
The app features only one on one play against 1 level of AI with no other multiplayer options. While it’s disappointing not to have local multiplayer or a variety of AI skill levels it’s understandable when you consider the app as a tool for familiarising people with the physical game. While there is only 1 AI level it is thankfully a challenging one which at least means I want to keep coming back to the game knowing that I’m not going to win every time.
When it comes to board game apps they fall squarely into 2 categories for me; “toilet apps” and “sofa apps”. I appreciate that toilet apps sounds like a negative but it really isn’t so let me tell you what I mean by these. Sofa apps are games where I will settle down on the sofa, usually with my board game tablet, and a cup of tea, and expect to be there for 30 minutes to an hour. They’re games which I get comfortable before I begin and are usually some of the heavier games (although not always). Some examples of these are The Castles of Burgundy (which just takes time), Small World 2 (because I can’t just play one game) and Catan (another time suck).
Conversely toilet games is the term I use to refer to games which I would potentially play while on an extended toilet break instead of reading a toilet book or browsing social media. They are usually games that can be played in under 5 minutes, which are fun enough that I want to come back to them time and time again, work best on a mobile phone rather than a tablet and usually have some kind of leaderboard to compete against. Think Onirim, Ganz Schön Clever and 7 Wonders Duel to name just a few. They are not any better or any worse than sofa games but they are looking to achieve something different. Toilet games reward repeated multiple plays over and over compared to a sofa game where you will play once and feel happy that you have enjoyed a large board game.
For me Silver fits squarely in this toilet game category, I find myself rushing through games regularly when I have a minute or two and enjoying trying to compete against the challenging AI. The game is simple enough where it’s not too taxing when I’m waiting at a bus stop or for the kettle to boil but challenging enough that I’m not bored just going through the motions. While Silver isn’t as replayable for me compared other toilet games such as Ganz Schön Clever it is still on my phone ready for play whenever the mood takes me; which is more than could be said for some other apps we have reviewed.