W. Eric Martin
In how many game designs can Ted Alspach place werewolves? The answer, apparently, is all of them.
Alspach's Bézier Games has announced a new line of games that could be dubbed the "Silver line", with Silver debuting at Gen Con 2019 in August (ahead of a September 2019 retail release) and Silver Bullet arriving at SPIEL '19 in October. Each game is for 2-4 players, and the heart of the games is based on Mandy Henning and Melissa Limes' card game CABO, with Bézier not coincidentally having released a revised edition of this game in April 2019.
CABO is based on the public card game Golf, with players trying to have the lowest score at the end of a round. Most cards have only a numerical value, but a few of them have special powers, such as allowing the player who draws it to peek at cards and swap cards with an opponent to eliminate their high-valued cards. Silver and Silver Bullet build on this engine by having fourteen special-powered cards in each game. Oh, and werewolves, as explained below:
Your village has been overrun by savage werewolves, which are represented by the number on each of the cards that make up your village. To get rid of these fanged fiends faster than the neighboring villages, use your residents' special abilities and your powerful secret weapon: a silver artifact awarded to the village's protector.
Call for a vote when you think you have the fewest werewolves, but be careful; everyone else gets one more turn to save their own village first...
Silver is a fast and engaging traditional card game with a werewolf twist! Everyone starts the game with five face-down cards, with everyone being able to see two cards of their choice. Cards are numbered 0-13, with the number showing how many werewolves the character on that card attracts, and each character (number) has a different special power.
On a turn, you draw the top card of the deck or discard pile, then either discard it to use the power of the card (but only if it came from the deck), discard it without using the power (ditto), or replace one or more of your face-down cards with this card; you can replace multiple cards only if they bear the same number, and you must reveal the cards to prove this, being penalized if you're wrong.
Silver can be played as a standalone game or combined with Silver Bullet or other Silver decks. Each version of the game has different card abilities.
I've played Silver three times, once at PAX Unplugged and twice more on an advanced review copy from Bézier. The game is reminiscent of CABO, as you might expect, but thanks to the special powers, the variety of gameplay each round is wider since more things happen beyond people just hoping to snag a 0 quickly.
In more detail, Silver is akin to CABO in that you're trying to have the lowest total on your face-down cards each round. Some choices are easy; if you draw a 1, you're going to keep it and throw away one of your other cards, placing the 1 face down so that only you know what it is. Ideally you discarded a high-value card, but you know only two of them at the start of the game, so sometimes you just gamble on throwing away something unknown.
Once a card is discarded, it stays face up for the rest of the round, even though it might be brought back into play, say by using the power of the witch. Some cards have a power only while they're face up in someone's village, perhaps allowing you to draw multiple cards, keeping the one you want and returning the rest, thereby giving you information about what others take. Another face-up power creates multiple discard piles (sort of), which gives players better choices and accelerates the pace of the game. The bodyguard (3) can be used to protect another card, keeping an opponent from swiping it or forcing you to discard it.
As in CABO, when you place a card into your village, you replace one or more cards already present there as long as they have the same number. The doppelgänger in Silver can match any other card, so you want to use it wisely to get rid of something high-valued, but it's worth 13 points on its own and points are bad, so don't wait too long.
As soon as someone thinks they have the lowest sum, they can call for the end of the round. Each other player gets one more turn, which means they get one final chance to lower their sum or mess with you, then everyone reveals their sum. If you called for the round to end and were correct, you score no points and receive a special token — a silver amulet in one game, a silver bullet in another — that grants you a special power in the next round; if you called and failed to have the lowest sum, then you score the sum of your cards plus ten penalty points. Each other player scores the sum of their cards, and whoever has the lowest total sum after four rounds wins.
To integrate Silver with Silver Bullet — or one of the other Silver games that will inevitably follow — you use all the cards of a number from the same set, and you create a deck with numbers 0-13, with two copies of 0 and 13 and four copies of everything else. Thus, you could simply swap the 6s from Silver with the 6s from Silver Bullet, or you could do something more complex, such as having even numbers from one set and odd numbers from another, or you could have players draft the cards they want to use.