why I love The Mind and how The Game got me thinking about mortality, so it's no surprise that I'm a fan of Silencio, a co-operative card game by César Gómez Bernardino and Zoch Verlag in which players discard cards in ascending order in silence.
Silencio began life as Eureka!, which was released by Bernardino's company 2D10 Juegos in late 2017, just a couple of months ahead of The Mind, and your goal is simple: All players play all the cards in their hand. If you can't legally play, you must pass, and if all players pass while not everyone's hand is empty, you lose.
Each player starts with a hand of 5-6 cards, and your first silent challenge is to determine a starting player. If no one takes the starting player card in the middle of the table, then you lose. Thankfully we've managed to avoid that so far. Players take turns passing one card to their neighbor, ideally sharing info and massaging their hand into ideal condition at the same time, then play begins.Not great options on hand...
On a turn, you play a card to the shared tableau, with the card needing to be higher than the current highest card of that color. (If all your cards are lower than the top cards, then you must pass.) If the card is exactly one larger than the current highest card — i.e., playing a 2 on a 1, or a 5 on a 4 — then you suffer that color's penalty; if not, then you receive that color's reward. You want to avoid penalties, of course, but doing so gives players less "room" in which to play on future turns and of course if you have that 2 and don't play it, then you need to use a reward to ditch it on a future turn or else you'll lose.
Gameplay is simple, yet things get tricky fast because someone will undoubtedly play the "wrong" card, then you'll have to scramble to recover, using the blue reward to pick up the most recently player green, yellow, or red card, for example, or using the green reward to swap a card in hand with one of the face-up reserve cards.
Silencio, unlike Eureka!, has you start with five shrines in play — the 1 in each color and an übershrine — and on a turn in which you play a card, you can use one of the shrines before or after your play, with the shrine giving you the reward of the matching color or (in the case of the übershrine) the reward of your choice.Four shrines used, but victory for our group of four
I've played Silencio fifteen times on a review copy from Zoch, and the game provides the same type of thrill as The Mind and The Game — building anticipation as you near the end of the game, even though this is exactly the moment when things go wrong — with a bit more baggage in the rules overhead that pays off through your ability to (sometimes) dig yourself out of trouble.
The two-player game has proved easier to win than the game with three and four players, and I think that's partly due to a ratio issue of cards in hand vs. cards in the deck and partly due to fewer people being able to cut you off when you need to play something. Thankfully you can customize the game to make it harder (or easier), and I go into more detail about such things, along with more detail about the rewards and penalties, in this overview video:
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