If you have ever read a review by me, you know I love a good pun, a bad pun, or any play on words. So, SiliconVania and its longline: “Help the Vampires of Transylvania build the next century’s tech hub” had me inspired. A card drafting, city building, multiplayer solitaire game with a cartoony Vampire theme on top of that had my neck tilted to the side like Sookie Stackhouse begging to be bit. But could WizKids redeem themselves from my last reviewed game, Shapers of Gaia? (Spoiler Alert: They did.)
SiliconVania is a tile-laying and auction game for 2-5 players that takes about 60 minutes to play.
Each player is an applicant for the City Planner position for Transylvania and the player that turns the city into the world’s newest tech haven wins the job (and the game).
The game is played over 8 rounds and there are four steps per round:
- Refresh: Add two new building tiles to each column and one Specialist card to each column on the Council Board.
- Bid Selection: Players use their silent bid cards, numbered 1-7, to determine draft order for building tiles, and a Specialist card which either gives them a higher rank number and lower bonus or lower rank number and higher bonus. The rank number determines the order for selecting a new Specialist card and the bonus can give you everything from extra vampires for your city’s population to moving you on the tech track.
- Building Tile Resolution: Players select the column of building tiles that they want in order determined by their silent bid cards. Players then place the buildings in their city in the 4×4 grid, there are different bonuses on each tile, and tile placement can give you end-game points based on the six city objectives (discussed more below).
- Specialist Card Resolution: Based on the rank of the Specialist card selected above, players receive the “Bid Effect,” a bonus on the card played, and draft a new Specialist Card from the Council board. Starting in Round four, players also play a Specialist card from their hand to one of the six City Objective slots on their city boards. This activates that objective for end game scoring, you can place up to three of each type next to the same objective to double/triple the bonus earned from the objective. An example of a City objective is 3 Victory Points (VP) for each Mausoleum adjacent to 1+ blood bank.
The game ends after round 8 and scoring is based on tile diversity, how many vampires you have housed in coffins throughout your city, ladder scoring for how many types of animals are in your city, the largest cluster of buildings with blood to feed your vampires, special council contracts you acquired, and the score of the City Objectives that you activated.
This game is fun. WizKids redeemed themselves big time. J.B. Howell made a really fun change to normal auction games by having the higher numbers of your silent bids have negative effects and the lower numbers have positive effects. So even if you lose the auction to select the buildings that you want, you may get a bonus that you need.
The City Objectives that each player is going for are unknown until round four, so there is no hate drafting at the beginning which allows for a smooth transition from multiplayer solitaire into a more intense auction later in the game. Plus, the multipliers are based on the color of Specialist that you play, and if two players are building their cities for the same objectives the auction fight for additional Specialists of that color can turn into a blood bath.
But again, if a specific Specialist is not important to your strategy you can purposely bid a Specialist with a low rank and earn a better “Bid Effect.” Managing the Innovation and Survival tracks add to the theme as bonuses for building the most balanced tech-friendly vs Vampire Friendly city gives you the most rewards.
For production values, the art is excellent, the 70 specialist cards are all interesting to look at and unique, all text is legible to this old man’s eyes, and the components are of quality construction. So, kudos to WizKids on the quality of SiliconVania.
Through 4 plays, different City Objectives finishes on the Innovation and Survival track, different populations of Vampires in the city, and different building strategies have all won. This game delivers a great city-building experience, the most fun auction-style game (not my favorite genre), and a great multiplayer solitaire that turns into a fight for the best buildings and Specialists in later turns. If there is a complaint, the tech end of the game is really not that well explored, outside of the generic Innovation track, but that does not hinder the enjoyment of this game.
Final Score: 4 Stars – A bloody good time will be had as you rebuild Transylvania into a tech hub through a unique auction for buildings and Specialists to improve your city.
• The art and components are excellent]
• The game plays fast and fun
• The build from multiplayer solitaire to cutthroat auctions and fights for both building tiles and Specialists is really an enjoyable experience.
• The six city objectives (which you are going to only target 2-3) make for variable strategies to try each gameplay.
• More emphasis was need on what makes this city a new tech hub as the build and gameplay focuses much more on the vampire theme
• If you are looking for direct PVP interaction that only exists in the auction phase.