13 November 2020
Where X marks all the spots.
Seven years ago, Phil Walker-Harding designed one of the modern tabletop era’s most accessible, yet also deeply satisfying, quick-play single-deck games: Sushi Go! His latest card-based offering Silver & Gold is calibrated to fill the same spot in your game night: a nice little warm-up, perhaps, or a swift filler between meatier board-game servings. However, that’s where the similarity between the two ends.
Where Sushi Go! has drafting at its heart, Silver & Gold takes its cue more from roll-and-write, although there is no rolling involved. The theme, such as it is, casts players as treasure hunters, exploring different tropical islands in search of hidden shiny things… And, um, palm trees. Coconuts are valuable too, we guess…
Anyway, instead of a shovel you get a dry-wipe pen. This is used to mark off squares in a variety of island-representing grids on Treasure cards, of which you have two, face up, at a time. Some squares contain coins, which yield points for each set of four, with the score decreasing every time a player completes a set (tracked on their individual score card). Some contain red crosses, which allow you to mark off another single square anywhere on either of your islands. And others contain palm trees, which provide a score depending on how many other palm trees are currently visible in the four islands shown in the display at the centre of the play area. Completed islands are worth points at the end of the game, and some offer bonus points for islands of another specific colour (of which there are four). You’ll be able to either choose a fresh one either from the display, or from the top of the face-down stack, every time you’ve completely dug up an island.
But you can’t just go digging up any old square. At the start of each turn, an Expedition card is flipped to reveal a tetromino arrangement of squares which dictates the configuration of the X-marks you'll have to make on your chosen island. Every player uses the same expedition pattern, marking their squares off simultaneously. You can rotate the shape it how you like, or mark it out in mirror-image form, but you have to use the complete pattern, otherwise you have no option other than to mark off a single, lonely square. When seven Expeditions have been played (leaving one unused), the round ends. After four rounds, the game ends and you tot up.
And that’s pretty much it. As with all those roll-and-writes, there is something undeniably pleasing about scribbling on the cards (which wipe clean perfectly), meaning it’s rare you’ll put this away after a single game. But there isn’t a huge amount of variety between plays and the number of decisions you can possibly make are inherently limited. It is fun, but it fundamentally lacks the long-term replayability – and also, let’s be honest, the visual appeal – of Walker-Harding’s sushi-making classic.
A neat little card game with a roll-free roll-and-write flavour, which is probably best appreciated in small doses.
TRY THIS IF YOU LIKED: ROAM...
With its exploratory theme and use of tetromino-based search patterns, Silver & Gold is reminiscent of Ryan Laukat’s recent small-box game, though it’s not nearly as challenging.
Words by Dan Jolin
Designer: Phil Walker-Harding
Time: 20 minutes
This review originally appeared in Issue 44 of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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