The Cardboard Hoard: Initial Thoughts on Silver & Gold
Silver & Gold is a new small-box game designed by Phil Walker-Harding, the designer of Sushi Go, Imhotep, Bärenpark, and many other popular games over the last few years. My friend Brandon Kempf suggested I look into picking it up, as he knows I like lighter games, polyomino puzzles, and designer Phil Walker-Harding. He recommended it to me even though he knows I am not the biggest fan of the roll-and-write craze — although Silver & Gold has no dice, and is technically a flip-a-card-and-write game, along the lines of Welcome To… and Avenue, and not a roll-and-write.
Components and Availability:
Normally, I use this section solely to discuss what’s in the box, but it is worth mentioning that this particular box I had imported from Amazon.de, as the game is currently only published by German publisher NSV, also known as Nürnberger-Spielkarten-Verlag. That said, the cost, including shipping, was just under $14, and it arrived in about two weeks. So it is still inexpensive and easily available, for anyone interested. One final important note is that the rule book in the box was solely in German, but an excellent translation — which I printed out and threw right in the box — is available on BoardGameGeek. The game itself is language independent, so there are no other issues as far as having a German copy of the game.
As for the components, the game comes with 60 dry-erasable cards and four dry erase markers — which are actually of good quality, unlike most markers found in board games. The game is very abstracted, so there is very little artwork to speak of, and hence very little to sell the pirate treasure hunting theme. The graphic design, however, is clean and intuitive. There is very little wasted space in the box, and as such, the game is quite portable.
The goal of the game — which is competitive, and plays two-to-four players — is to score the most points by completing treasure map cards and marking off the different treasures on those islands. The treasure map cards will get marked off by using a deck of eight expedition cards that have different polyomino patterns on them. If you can’t fit the current polyomino pattern on one of your treasure maps, you can instead mark a single square, but beware, that is a very inefficient way to fill the treasure map cards. The game plays over four rounds, with seven of the eight expedition cards being played each round.
Completing each treasure map card is worth between 8 and 14 points, depending on the size of the island, and each island also has special spaces that can earn players additional points. Coins will each earn one victory point, plus there are bonuses for players to collect sets of four coins. Palm Trees earn victory points depending on how many are available in the display. Crosses allow players to mark off an additional square on a treasure map, which can help players finish islands, race to get coin bonuses, or get palm trees while there is a favorable display. Some treasure map cards also have seals, which will give bonuses to completed islands of certain colors at the end of the game.
This is a really fun one. It is rewarding to mark off your treasure map cards with an eye toward optimization, while trying to account for the patterns on the future expedition cards, while also racing for the coin bonuses, marking the palm trees at the right time, using the crosses to create little combos, and trying to complete your cards to grab new treasure map cards from the offer that will best help you -- either by matching seals of cards you’ve already gotten, or by having coins or palm trees that will help you on your next turn.
The beauty of Silver & Gold is that — like all great filler games — it is simple and quick to play, and still has interesting and meaningful decisions — both tactical and strategic, in this case. It can be learned and taught in less than five minutes, and will likely never require you to reference the rule book again. A game takes about 15-20 minutes to play, and doesn’t even take up a ton of table space in the process.
I’ve only played Silver & Gold three times so far, but I have no problem saying I highly recommend checking it out, especially if you like quick-playing spatial polyomino puzzle games, and other flip-and-write games. I suspect we will see it get imported to the U.S. in the near future, but considering it’s low cost to import and the game’s language independence, I don’t think it’s necessary to wait.