Your Price: $57.00
(Worth 5,700 Funagain Points!)
from 6 customer reviews
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Deep in the heart of the mountains, down in the mines, valuable gems can be found. Each player has a team of eight digging dwarves and two head dwarves. Head dwarves may act as Silver Dwarf or Shadow Dwarf. The Silver Dwarf can buy at the stock market, fill orders or sell gems. The Shadow Dwarf can initiate unrest, devalue orders of other players, steal gems or exchange at the stock market. Each round the team is redistributed and the price of gems is adjusted according to the number of dwarves digging for each color. Player with most money wins.
I finally decided to get this game after reading everything I could about it on the net. We played with the full four players, all gamers in the group. Everyone in the group was engrossed and trying to make the right placements of their elves. This game has continuous participation for all the players. The components are excellent. I read the rules prior to getting together and taught the others within 3 minutes. I have read the other reviews and the distribution of contracts makes the randomness interesting. The player who had the high contract always got hit by the others. It balanced out to be a very close game. I was in second place on the last turn of the game and decided to sell gems. This gave me the 84-dollar boost to blow past the leader of the entire game. All players wanted to play again and were impressed with the experience. This is not a light gaming experience. This one will probably be our group favorite. Up there with Tim/Jims Outpost.
My review is based on a game which we didn't quite finish (we got kicked out of the store). Anyways, For me this game has just the right amount of player interaction. It was hard to tell who was winning, though one player looked like he was ahead. Little tips I think I can pass on after one play: smack those 120 contracts with a shadow dwarf. One player got two of them, and completed both. He was the one ahead at the end of the game... though I was a close second. I think the balance issues the previous review talked about will not be a problem with players who have played before. I assume if someone is ahead, the other three can reduce that player's job three times (once for each player). That would be a significant slowdown factor. Also I noticed playing the commidities market isn't all that unprofitable. the price of the various stones can range from 1 to 10 and vary significantly from turn to turn (the price is determined by the amount of that type of stone mined). In one turn I spent 6 points on 6 yellow stones, to go with the four I mined. The next turn I recieved 100 points by selling those stones. I am looking forward to playing this one again really soon.
Again, here we have an economics-based game dealing primarily with maximizing your limited resources. So, what sets this one apart from the other multitudes? First, the theme of dwarves mining for gems is carried throughout beautifully. A dark and stark mineshaft-like game board sprinkled with glistening glass gem stones provides plenty of atmosphere. But, the major attraction is the decisions and player interaction that takes place in each turn. Do you invest in your private mine or compete for a public one? (I cannot disagree more where some reviewers have stated that the public mines are not worthy of investment. Here is where you can help yourself and hurt others simultaneously.) Do you invest your dwarves toward your gain, or an opponent's demise? And, man, can you totally screw up a player's turn (hee, hee)! Also, not readily apparent are the major gains you can make by the indirect manipulation of the gem market prices. This process can change your stash of "worthless" gems into great gains. The endgame can be fairly intense when all mines become public, and final scores are usually tight.
The only reason I cannot give Silberzwerg highest marks is that there could have been even more headaches for players to ponder. Each turn your choices are somewhat dictated by your existing collection of gems, and the composition of your single private mine and the two public mines. Having more private mines or public mines would diversify the decision making and intensify the game. (It would be interesting to try playing with two boards!)
Regardless, a very fine effort, and highly recommended.
Snow White had her seven dwarfs, but you must make do with six. Everyone gets a contract card, which specifies a color combination of jewels to be gathered and the points to be earned for them. The more rounds it takes to fill a contract, the less it's worth. On each turn, players secretly plan their dwarfs' actions. They can mine, buy, or sell jewels, exchange two jewels, or get one free. They may hinder their opponents' dwarfs or steal two gems outright. Plans are simultaneously revealed, after which the prices of the four colors of jewels are calculated based on demand, and the dwarfs' actions resolved. Additional contract cards are distributed when necessary. What's mine is mined and what's yours is mined, too.
Silberzwerg is won by scoring points, which you earn by mining gems and handing in combinations that match the components on a job card. Each card shows 8 coloured gems: some will have all 8 in one colour, while the more common ones have two or three colours. Each job card also states the points scored for satisfying this demand and the penalty if you fail to do so.
The job cards are laid out in 6 areas of the board--one in each corner and two in the middle. The ones in the corner are only available to be satisfied by one player, while any player can fulfil the central ones. In addition, each job card has four numbers for the points received when a card is completed. These start at the highest levels and fall by one level each round. The next reduction results in the card being withdrawn from the board and a penalty is received for the job cards that are associated with a player.
The maximum number of points to be earned from one card is 120 and all cards show a 25% reduction when they are reduced each round. The distribution is slightly unusual--4 cards with 120 top score, 12 cards with 80, only 6 with 60 points and 12 worth 40 points as the top score. It's always useful to know this so you know the relative importance of each card.
Players earn gems by mining for them, and at the beginning of each round the players secretly (behind screens) select which of the four coloured mines the miners will be sent to. Each miner collects one gem from that mine and they are stored out of view in a bag. This can contain no more than 12 at the end of a turn. In addition, the players place two leader tokens in one of six areas. When placed with the Shadow Dwarf face-up the leader tokens can play more against the other players; when placed with the Silver Dwarf face-up the player can play more beneficially for himself. All of these actions take place quickly and then the screens are removed. The total proposed mining of each colour indicates the value of purchases or sales of those colours. Low mining causes prices to rise; high levels of mining cause prices to fall. This will help buying or selling depending on the prices set.
Having determined the market prices for this round, the Shadow Dwarves are played in game order. If they were placed on a tunnel where mining takes place, such as the yellow tunnel, then a player can either remove miners (and dwarves) from another player who is mining yellow. All other colours are safe from this dwarf. Alternatively, they could take a gem of that colour, so they are not wasted on a poor guess. Perhaps a more interesting role of the Shadow Dwarf is to increase or decrease the value of a job card. This can be useful if you have one of the more valuable cards and are about to satisfy its requirements. Or you could decrease someone else's card of course, which might result in that person getting a loss of points for failing to meet the demand.
Finally, the Shadow Dwarf can trade 2 gems from his own collection for two of his choice or take 2 from bags of his opponents. That latter can be particularly annoying if a player loses some of the gems that were key to making a job card.
The Silver Dwarf's most important role is to allow a job card to be scored. This has to be used and is not intuitive. Regular games players might think that once demand is met, it can be automatically scored, but this is not so in Silberzwerg--you have to place a Silver Dwarf in the right place to allow you to score. In one of the other columns the Silver Dwarf may sell or buy additional gems, but because the actions of the Shadow Dwarf are first, it is possible that the purchasing may be cancelled by a hostile Shadow Dwarf.
There are additional bonuses for collecting sets of job cards that feature the same symbol. By and large these are marginal gains, except for the set that allows that cancellation of the action of a Shadow Dwarf. This acts as a deterrent to a player who may play a Shadow Dwarf and allows that player the knowledge that their plans are more likely to succeed.
The game plays well and there is a clear sense of direction. The components are good and the objectives are clear. There is some degree of interaction, but not much, so you do tend to feel you are following a solitaire strategy with occasional checks to see how the other players are doing. This is the weakest point and the game can feel monotonous as players go through the motions. For players who are not dedicated to business-type games, there will inevitably be some comments about "have we got to put up with this?" and "what's the number of points we are aiming for?". While I do not fall into that camp, I can see how such feelings arise. The game misses the mark: it has a good theme and a reasonable set of rules, but it is not very inspiring. It needs some sort of twist to improve it. I would play it again (so that shows how discerning my taste must be), but I would like to introduce more excitement into the game, possibly by allowing the players to compete for all the job cards.