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Silk – Devir – Review

Theme and What is it?

You are a silk farmer. You believe in the sanctity of YOUR job, but no one else’s. You sir, are almost as nearly as bad as a lawyer

In silk you are herding silkworms (yes, that is a thing), and as they create their beautiful silk husks to protect their young from the harsh winters, you are snagging it for your own profit.

If you were on the sea, they’d call you a pirate, but no, you’re a herder…

Gameplay Mechanics

Herding silkworms is not unlike herding cats. They just want to be left alone to their own devices. 

Here silkworms are on their own tile, and do not move, unless  something else tries to come on their tile, and they slink away, like a well… silkworm would slink.

There are four types of things that move on the board, you, your dog (mastiff, in case you’re curious), silkworms, and a chupacabra (oops, wrong continent, here it is called an OOkami).

The Shepard can bump (move) the silkworms, the dog and not the OOkami. The OOkami bumps you, eats (for all intensive purposes) the silkworms, and cannot bump the dog. The dog, bumps the OOkami, and the silkworms, but not the shephard. The silkworms, they bump nothing, but are where you score your points.

This is a bumping game, that is cleverly disguised as a worker placement, and the world is a rondel cleverly disguised as a tile game. You are simply trying to score with your silkworms, and get bonus points based on 4 bonus tiles.

The rest of the game is about movement, and it can be mean movement.

Initial Impressions

When speaking with Devir at Essen Spiel, they said this game is mean. It automatically grabbed my attention. I like mean games. There is nothing quite so satisfying as blocking someone from their plan they have been working on for 5 turns. 

For this reason alone, my initial impression was good. I needed a mean game in my life in 2018.

Game Build Quality

Wood. Wood. and more, wood.

I am a fan of wood. It just seems to belong to board games, and board games belong to wood. Heck, even cardboard is a wood derivative. Sorry, not sorry, cardboard for calling you the D word…

The box is a simple affair, good art, small form factor hiding inside a big game. Unlike a lot of people, I do not subscribe to the theory that a big box means a better game.

Here Silk proves itself in spades. The build is great!

Artistic Direction

The OOkami den is a testament to the thought put into the art. It is simple and functional, but gives you a place to score negative points.

The box art, as you can see above is colorful and vibrant, but appealing to me personally. The OOkami meeple is quite nice, and built to be scary.

The game is all built towards one idea, farming silk. It just works, and that is a testament to the art, it doesn’t get in the way of the beauty of the mechanics of the game, but is still very aesthetically pleasing.

Fun Factor

You either like mean games, or you don’t.

I am the former. I believe games should have interaction to some extent. This allows a person to even the playing field with someone who knows all the secrets to min-maxing a game. 

This alone, makes the idea of Silk fun. It also happens to be a very thoughtful and well rounded game, that doesn’t penalize you for being a little mean.

Age Range & Weight

10+. I tend to agree with this. The meanness factor alone will make a younger player not enjoy the game, unless they get to be mean to you, and you cannot be mean to them.

My daughter, 6, when asked, said she didn’t like the idea the OOkami could be sent by the players to “eat” another player’s silkworms. I think this is a fair assessment of many kids.

Conclusions

I was predisposed to liking Silk. Just knowing it was mean, made it get it on most anticipated to play games. 

After having played it, and realizing it was mean, but not overly so, I still very much like it. It is clever without being gimmicky. It is cute, without being childish. It is more than anything a perfectly balanced game. It will make it to my top shelf, with no reservations.