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from 5 customer reviews
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The Rocky Mountains were a beautiful sight, full of majesty and opportunity, but at the same time a massive obstacle to those heading west. An effective means of transport was needed. The age of the "Iron Horse" was upon us!
Silverton is a game were you relive those early days of exploration, building the rail network so greatly needed to assist in transporting people and raw materials. Several market places will be greatly affected by your every decision.
But for whom should you build? Which markets have the most need for people and raw materials? Just how much should you trust the land and its potential wealth? Or is passenger travel the means to the end?
The region's history is about to be rewritten. Are you the next author to take a shot at it?
- A Full-Color Game Board (including the previously issued New Mexico expansion)
- 254 Colorful Wooden Markers
- Selling Price Change Chart
- 24-card Passenger Deck
- 108-card Claims Deck
- 6-card Player Turn Deck
- 36-card Train Deck
- 6-card Turn Sequence Summary
- Money Pack
Average Rating: 4.6 in 5 reviews
A friend's wife recommended Silverton awhile back, but I didn't get a copy until recently. My wife and I played the game this week and were very pleased. Silverton is a challenging yet not-too-difficult (and not-too-long, when compared to 18xx titles) railroad game which has left us still discussing what we're going to try differently next time we play. We only played the basic Short Game; eventually we hope to play longer games and then the advanced game.
A friend's wife told me not too long ago that Silverton was a great game, but only recently I decided to obtain a copy. I must say that I was very apprehensive about introducing it to my wife, who has mixed opinions about railroad games, with most being negative (I eventually traded away Empire Builder after an disastrous attempt at playing it with her), especially when the game is complex. I'm happy to say that Silverton has been enjoyable to the both of us!
I think the game is deep but not insanely complex, flavorful but not too detailed, and one that can keep a player interested long enough to sit at the gaming table for a few hours. Silverton is a game as good as all the reviews have said.
My wife surprised me last Friday with an early Birthday present of Silverton, the legendary game that I've been ranting about getting for the two years or so that Mayfair has been promising to republish it. My friends and family were just about sick of hearing me say that it was coming soon, over and over. Even I was at the point of giving up.
Well, they finally did, with a wonderful dedication to Paul Smith (the designer, who left this world all too soon ) from Dori Smith on the front of the rules, and a nod/apology to the fans who pestered for so long on the back.
It is in a beautiful box, and the components are top-notch. My only real complaint, realized last night during the first playing was, why didn't they put in a plastic tray for chips and money, ala Empire Builder. Oh well, I may borrow EB's tray for the next playing.
The board is a lovely 4-piece puzzle ala EB. The tracks tokens are wooden cubes in six colors ala El Grande or Ursuppe. The prospectors and surveyors are wooden disks with stickers, and the freight are colored plastic chips (small poker style) with stickers. Of course, I had to put all the stickers on myself. I do love new games!
The money is that reduced-size actual-engravings early American money that Mayfair does. And it is quite beautiful. Then the pile of Claim cards, train cards, passenger route cards, turn-order cards, and turn summary cards.
Each turn, a new turn order is chosen by taking a random Turn-Order card. Then, in that order, each player places their surveyors on track that they propose to build, and prospectors on the choicest, for them at least, of 8+ claims that are available that turn, or, they can 'prospect' the deck for an unknown claim, or they can choose to put their prospector on an unclaimed passenger route, provided they already have the track connecting the two cities. If two players both are vying for the same track, claim, or route at the end, they dispute, and it is resolved by a dice roll and a small modifier depending on the skill of your prospectors and surveyors.
Then, each player in turn runs their operation, paying for new claims, paying for new passenger routes, operating the claims, and paying for the operation of each one, collecting the appropriate resource on the claim, if it produces, or putting a depleted marker on it to show it has paid-out, and cannot be further operated. You also then collect the rate of your passenger routes, and also deliver loads to market, if you have track from your claim to one of the markets (the main cities of the game -- Denver, El Paso, Pueblo, Santa Fe, Salt Lake City), and collect the going rate for that resource. Gold, Silver, and Copper pay the same wherever you go, but Coal and Lumber have individual demands in each city, and all of these prices fluctuate throughout the game, depending on random elements (per dice roll), quantity sold, which decreases demand, and IDN (Increase Demand Number), which starts at zero and rises slowly throughout the game. Isolated markets can see their demand prices hit the ceiling, while frequented markets can hit lows. These changes are rolled and recorded on a price chart each turn.
You then move the turn marker to a new month, and start a new turn. Every four months is winter, and that means that some track lines can't be built, nor can trains run over them. You have to guage whether it is better to make a long run around the mountains, avoiding the winter snow, or push through the very expensive mountain track, to get to that claim more quickly.
In the regular game, you can deliver two claims worth of resources per turn. In the advanced game, you buy trains, and then are limited to the number of resources you can deliver by the number and sizes of your trains. In the advanced game, you can also buy snow plows, and attempt to clear winter track and make a valuable delievery.
We played a three player game, so, two players started in Denver, and I started in El Paso. Since I was the most experienced gamer in the group, it may be just a coincidence that I hit $6000 first (a short game), but it did seem that the two Denver folks were clashing and competing a bit, sometimes to both their detriements, while I was able to expand unmolested for most of the game, and only came close to contact with them as I stretched up north towards Pueblo. I made big bucks in the silver & copper markets, and finally raked in a load of money on a lumber load to El Paso, whose demand value had risen thru the game and pegged the max.
I would have to say, that tho' this is more of a gamers game, and has some fiddly bits, I already love it. One other player, a female friend of myself and my wife, and one who had previously said that she did not ever want to play any train games, was also enthusiastic early on. Steady money coming in, the sense of accomplishment and progress over time, the acquisition of those lucrative claims, and those Denver-Leadville (which she kept call 'lud-vill') passenger runs, and the goals of reaching for those claims with loads of freight just waiting for a track to take them to market. My nephew was the third, and he probably spent too much effort trying to reach far away claims, and not enough just trying to get cash now. But we all loved it.
Still, there are a couple of Critical/Constructive comments.
The market changes at the end of each turn seemed a pain. A minute or three of dice rolling and math (e.g. 2d6 + #sold/2 - IDN) as you trudge through the gold, silver, copper markets, then the coal markets in Denver, Pueblo, Santa Fe, Salt Lake City, El Paso, and then, the lumber markets for each above city. We adjusted to this by having one person call out the freight numbers and remove the chips from the board, one person to roll the dice and call out the changes, and another to move the market tokens. But still, if I ever get a laptop, this will be one of the first spreadsheet programs I write.
The above mention about the starting cities for three players -- the El Paso player has no competition. While there were less claims available to the Southern player (about 2 out of 8 were reasonably reachable for me), they were still lucrative, and I did not have to fight over them. I think the two Denver players need to make a temporary pact with each other to non-agress, and stake out separate territories first. I'm sure with 6 players, starting in all five main cities, this problem would disappear.
Money, going out, coming in, going out. It was dizzying, but those big payouts were lovely. However, the banking functions during the payment/receipt section of the game was considerable. I finally got out my Packard-Bell calculator, and did each player's finances during their turn, and then performed one single bank function at the end. Which was sometimes sobering, when you delivered mubuku freight, and only collected about $80. The cost of business.
I worry that the down time for a 6 player game might be prohibitive. But I still long to play a six player game.
We played the basic game--no trains, just 2 claims per turn. Adding trains will add time, but I think it will be a great addition. My other two players also thought the snow-plows were a neat idea. And up around Leadville, they sure would be.
The stickers: I ran out of chips before I ran out of stickers--or maybe not. I still have stickers that Have 'Gold', 'Silver', 'Lumber', etc. on them, but no numbers. I have no idea what their purpose is, but I don't have enough extra chips of appropriate colors for them. And, I was quite stumped by the 'Denver-Leadville Depletion 1' and 'Denver-Leadville Depletion 2' stickers, which I finally put on White chips. I searched the rules in vain for a reference to them. It may yet be there, but I never found them. Finally, I figured out that they probably referred to claim depletions in Leadville, and that that one passenger route would disappear when four of the six possible Leadville claims had depleted. Put on chip '1', chip '2', then chips '1' & '2', then remove. This seems to make sense.
Lastly, with a six player game, the board will become a very delicate array of 'track' cubes. One misplaced die roll, and the game could be wiped out. I thought about maybe putting a sheet of plexi over the board, and using crayon-rail markers. But, this might obscure winter track. And I do like the little cubes, which also serve as counters for the max track you can build.
Well, that's not too many complaints, and most of 'em are not even complaints. The game is what it is, and in order to achieve what it does, it does what it has to do. If there are improvements, I'd love to hear about them. But, for my money, this is a great and unique train game, and I am very grateful to Mayfair for getting it to market. Of course, it even helps a bit that the geography of the game is my home. It was fun shouting out to my dear wife as the game progressed, 'Honey, I'm almost home!', as my track stretched up from El Paso to Albuquerque, to Lamy, and Santa Fe, and on.
I've only played solitaire, so my rating is for Silverton as a solitaire game. It's a good business/railroad sim, relatively simple but somewhat slowed by accounting (I'm sure the spreadsheet here at BGG would help). Still, the accounting isn't really too much and doesn't interfere significantly enough to ruin the game experience. I *love* the theme (I live in New Mexico, USA and have visited many of the places on the map) and truly enjoy the challenges this game creates. Tension is high as I gamble with my assets, hoping to prospect the right claim at the right time and not find my gamble blown by an early depletion. It's fun! There are always tough decisions: do I build in this direction? Should I purchase passenger routes to offset my speculations on mining claims? Should I chance going into the heart of the mountains for gold and silver? The market model is very cool... there's nothing quite like watching a market you've invested heavily into drop down in one season leaving you wondering how you might recover before time runs out. Similarly, the excitement of seeing the market remain relatively stable even though you might have dumped a commodity while you are still heavily invested in that commodity can make you jump for joy. It's a fun, simple business game with lots of period and geographic color. Definitely worth buying... I look forward to trying it multi-player!
Wow! Rob did a really good review of this game. I'd just like to comment that this is really not a game for 6, or even 5 players. My wife and I play fairly regularly (before now, the old Two Wolf version which is virtually the same--although Mayfair greatly improved the aesthetics) and enjoy the game, but things start to deteriorate with each added player. The amount of time you spend just sitting around waiting starts to get out of hand and the luck of the draw and conflict resolution dice start to become the deciding factor.
With the new board area to the south (the original game only went down to Santa Fe), the game should comfortably accomodate 3 or even 4 players as long as you don't mind treating the game as maybe 75% 4-player solitaire, doing a lot of stuff 'in parallel' like purchases and dealing with mine production (and, by implication, trust the other player's mathematical abilities). Still, the nice thing about the two-player game is that both players start with bases in Denver and Salt Lake City. With more players, the setups become unbalanced, and some players are going to have better opportunities than others; and with claims coming out randomly, players who get more claims coming out in their areas have a decided advantage.
Anyway, despite all this it's definitely a good game and worth the money. Many other putative rail games feel very abstract (1830, Union Pacific, Dampfross, the various Crayon Rails games) while Silverton feels much more authentic, much closer to running an actual railway. Just keep the number of players down.
One final comment: the best game by far is the full campaign game. Shorter versions of the game will tend to be dominated by gold and silver production. Everything (mainly, passengers and coal) really doesn't come in to play until you play the whole game. Given that gold and silver revenues can be very luck-dependent, this is the way to go.