Full disclosure: A review copy of Silver & Gold was provided by Pandasaurus Games.
Alright, we’re gonna start reviewing some games from Pandasaurus, as well. I haven’t had a chance to dig into Machi Koro Legacy yet (holidays, am I right?), so, that one’s a ways off, but we’ve got Silver & Gold and Wayfinders coming down the pipeline (along with who knows what else)? I’m particularly excited about these titles, so, let’s dig into them and see what’s up!
In Silver & Gold, you either play as Burl Ives or pirates looking for treasure. One’s more timely for when I’m writing this, and the other is pirates. So, pick. Either way, you’ll need to go on Expeditions based on your Treasure Maps to try and claim as much treasure as possible. Along the way, you’ll discover coins, new fancy trees, and even more seals! Will you be able to collect the most loot?
Not too much going on with this one, setup-wise. First, shuffle up the Treasure Map Cards:
Give each player four of those, face-down, and then create a display of four face-up Treasure Map Cards next to the deck. Also, give each player a Score Card:
The game comes with dry-erase markers (they’re wonderful), so give each player one of those, too. Also, set out the Round Card (the other card to the right of the Score Card). Shuffle the Expedition Cards:
Once you’ve done all that, you should be ready to start!
A game of Silver and Gold is four rounds of treasure hunting! As you explore, you’ll fill out maps, discover coins, and … discover palm trees. As you do. After four rounds, calculate your scores and the player with the most points wins!
Each round is made up of seven Expeditions. Start by revealing the top card of the Expedition stack. All players may then do one of two things:
- Cross off that shape on either Treasure Map card. Not both! It has to fit, but it can be rotated or mirrored.
- Cross off one box on either Treasure Map card. If you can’t or don’t want to play the original shape, you may cross off just one box.
Then, discard the Expedition card. Players may not look through the discard pile, though there’s really no solid justification for that since it just makes the game into a memory game. Oh well. And yes, this means you’ll be writing on the cards. It takes some getting used to.
You may cross off certain special boxes, which will cause new things to happen:
- X: If you cross off an X, you may immediately cross off another box on either Treasure Map card (including another X, which would cause this effect to repeat).
- Palm Tree: If you cross off a Palm Tree, check the Treasure Map display. Immediately score points equal to the number of Palm Trees on cards in the display, and then score one additional point. Write that in the leftmost empty space in the Palm Tree section of your score card. If all spaces are full, you do not score any points for crossing off a Palm Tree.
- Coin: When you cross off a coin, cross out the leftmost uncrossed coin on your score card. If you complete a row of coins, announce to all players that this has occurred. After everyone has finished crossing off their cards, the Trophy Phase occurs. If you earned a trophy, cross off the leftmost available trophy on the Round Card and write that many points in the box next to the coin row you just completed. Players will score in “turn order”, meaning if a player earlier in the turn order than you, they score the higher number and you get the lower number. Once all trophies have been crossed out, players earn no points from completing coin rows. So that’s fun.
If you completely fill out a card, set it aside, face-up. If multiple players completely fill out one or more cards, they take from the display in turn order and then refill.
After 7 Expedition Cards have been revealed, the round ends. Cross out the leftmost round number on the Round Card, shuffle the Expedition Cards, and start a new round! The new Starting Player is the player sitting to the left of the previous Starting Player for the round.
Once you’ve completed the fourth round, the game is over! Tally scores:
- 1 point per crossed-out coin.
- Trophy points.
- The 4 Palm Tree points squares.
- Points for completed Treasure Map cards (the number in the top-left corner).
- Treasure Map Seals. Some Treasure Maps have seals on them which earn you points for completing Treasure Maps of the Seal’s color. Add those points in, as well.
The player with the most points wins!
Player Count Differences
This is another one where you’re not going to see a ton of differences at various player counts, since there’s not a ton of influence you can have on other players. The biggest thing is that you should go after coins earlier at higher player counts, since you’re going to see a lot of those trophies go quickly (since, likely, more players will be getting them at various junctures). That changes some of the strategy, but not much. It also is somewhat more likely that players will take more map cards with trees if they come up past a certain threshold (usually 3+ trees in the display, by my counting). I don’t think that any of these things particularly aggressively change the game, so, I’m not too worried about them, but they’re worth noting as you start moving towards higher player counts. Personally, I don’t have a problem with any player count for this one, especially since the turns are simultaneous. It still feels quick and snappy at four, though there’s a bit of forced synchronization around who takes what card when multiple players finish simultaneously. It feels a bit clunkier, but, that’s the challenge of designing a multiplayer game with simultaneous turns; everything can’t always be simultaneous. Anyways, no preference on player count.
- Don’t limit your options. This is essentially the name of the game. When you’re not paying attention, you’re going to end up making some decisions that can only be resolved in your favor if you get an exact sequence of cards (or, worse, the same card revealed for both of your available cards). This is bad, since it’s not guaranteed those cards will come up in the order you want, and if you can’t use a card you must take a single X (which is usually 1 / 3 – 1 / 4 what you might normally get). You want to fill out cards as quickly as possible, so stay flexible in that space or you’re going to get burnt.
- Similarly, know when to cut your losses. Holding out for the perfect card is not always a winning strategy; sometimes you gotta take the Xs and live to fight another day. Keep an eye on where you are in the round and how your opponents are doing. If you’re holding out for too long, then your pride is going to make a loser of you, long-term.
- Remember that one card every round doesn’t get played. Part of the issue I’ve mentioned above is that you’re not even going to see every card during a round, so you can’t necessarily guarantee that the card you need to execute a flawless combo is even going to come up. Sometimes the cards are against you, and you need to improvise a bit more.
- Going after coins early is not a bad idea. Getting that early 6 and early 5 can be huge. Just make sure you’re not failing to complete your 12- or 13-point cards because of it. For those of you keeping score at home, due to recent events, it’s been determined that 12 is more than 5, so, try to go after more points. The ideal version is getting both to further bolster your score. At the very least, try to finish the game with 2 / 3 coin spaces filled out with something. It’s essentially free points, if you’re fast enough.
- If you can get three or more points with a tree, take it. It’s hard to do better than 3, unless you can get the coveted 5. If 5 comes up, though, it’s luck (and some poor play on the part of the other players), since I’d imagine one of them would have tried to take a card when they could have scored 4 on trees (thereby leaving you with only 4, as well). That said, you can’t always take the cards that you want, so, who knows.
- Look for those combo cards (and try and chain them). When I say combo cards, I mean cards that give you points for having cards of a different color. I try to get a cycle going where I have purples that give me points for greens and greens that give me points for purples, or something. That boosts the value of every card I draw, which is strictly better. If you’re pulling 17+ points off a card and still completing them at a good pace, you’re going to be on track for a 100+-point game, which is a solid score.
- I generally recommend going deep rather than wide, for that reason. There’s not really as much of a benefit to having one card of every color. You can go after gray for the tiebreaker benefits (most gray wins ties), but if you’ve been reading long enough you know that I don’t really like tiebreakers, so I’m obviously not going to recommend aiming for one, here. That’s wildly off-brand. And branding is very important.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Writing on the cards is pretty cool, especially because it erases. I mean, this is the primary selling point of the game, right? It’s supposed to be cool (and a bit edgy) to actually write on the physical cards you use to play the game. I’m not saying this to be mean; ClipCut is basically the same premise, albeit a bit more destructive. You gotta innovate in the genre somehow.
- Additionally, the pens that come with the game are extremely nice. I specifically try to avoid using the phrase “worth it” about games, since I think that’s a weird thing for a reviewer to say, since we pay for games with time instead of money, but I would consider purchasing this game just for the markers. They’re extremely good. Very useful if you’re a roll-and-write aficionado.
- Very portable. It’s pretty much just all cards, so it’ll fit in basically any Quiver, is the thing. You can go pretty much anywhere with it, and as long as you can play on a surface that allows you to display cards, you could probably make it work. I’m pretty sure that if I had a copy right now on the plane, I could play it on the various tray tables available to me.
- I love all of these polyomino shape-laying games. This stuff gets my brain excited.
- Plays quickly. It’s a fairly fast game, especially when everyone knows what they’re doing. There’s some possibility for slowdown, just by virtue of players struggling with the spatial elements of how to place things (or the randomness really not working out for some folks).
- The theme is kind of … there. It’s pirates! It’s barely that, but apparently you’re … digging, as pirates, sort of? It’s hard to really get invested in that as a theme when the best you’ve got is vaguely treasure-map-looking cards. And I love pirate games! It’s just very light.
- I think I’m getting sick of racing mechanics in flip-and-fill games as a form of player interaction. I think (as I’ll mention below) they tend to give new players a disadvantage because it’s something you have to be working towards from the beginning, which they may not necessarily be doing. As a result, it can take them out of the game if they’re not aware of it, and a lot of players (myself included) don’t do a sufficiently good job highlighting the importance of that scoring mechanic when we go over the rules. I’d love to see something else, like Cartographers’s monsters.
- The turn ordering stuff feels a bit silly. There should be a simpler mechanic for pulling new cards than having to keep track of first player, and it feels even sillier when you’re trying to get coins. I’m generally not a huge fan of it. I’d rather just give everyone a personal pool of cards to pull from, or something.
- While I find the tree scoring aspects interesting, they’re also pretty frustratingly situational. You can have some really great opportunities for trees, but you can also get clowned by them if the center never really fills up with them. I think the reason I prefer ClipCut is that this randomness can often be frustrating, whereas in ClipCut the randomness forces you to actively figure something out (or occasionally make the best of a really bad set of rolls).
- I think new players may struggle with this compared to experienced players. I think it’s the combination of the racing scoring bonus, the polyomino placements, and the trees thing being a bit random. At the very least, I know I did and I’ve seen players in my groups have similar experiences.
- It’s impossible to not compare this to ClipCut Parks. I’ve been collecting data on this, and I think it’s very much an Armageddon / Deep Impact or The Illusionist / The Prestige situation. A lot of players are very fond of whichever one they played multiple times, first. Naturally, I tried Silver & Gold first, but I really had the opportunity to go in deep with ClipCut, so, that’s my preference. I wonder how that bears out at scale.
Overall: 8.5 / 10
Overall, I like Silver & Gold quite a bit! I think that I would be more into it if I didn’t already really love ClipCut Parks, but, that’s the problem with the roll-and-write (and adjacent) space, in my opinion; it’s getting saturated, and great games are starting to compete with other great games. It’s better for me, since I get to play more great games in the space, but it also means some really solid titles are going to get overlooked, which is less good. But that also happens. I think Silver & Gold succeeds in pushing against a Known Rule of Board Games, which is don’t draw on the cards, and I think that discomfort it creates for players is very interesting! The first time I played I struggled with it quite a bit (and I imagine this is similar for Treasure Island players, where you draw on the board), just like the first cuts in ClipCut Parks or in the EXIT games. I kind of wish the pirate theme came through more in gameplay, though. I can kind of get how you’re digging for various treasures, but I’m not really feeling how the coin races or the trees factor into the various methods of scoring in the game. Either way, though, I think its portability does it a lot of favors, and I think that it’s going to be something that most people keep on them since it can essentially fit in your pocket with its own pens. If that sounds appealing to you or you just, like me, tend to enjoy most every flip-and-fill you play, I’d recommend checking out Silver & Gold! I think it’s got a lot going for it and I quite enjoy it.