Quicksilver Game Review

quicksilver_top

The Basics:

  • For ages 7 and up (publisher suggests 13+)
  • For 2 to 6 players
  • Approximately 60 minutes to complete

Geek Skills:

  • Counting & Math
  • Logical & Critical Decision Making
  • Reading
  • Strategy & Tactics
  • Risk vs. Reward
  • Hand/Resource Management

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Easy
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • Pilot your airship and win the race by speed or superior firepower

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek mixed!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek approved!

Overview

To worldly explorers, ocean liners are a well-known method of travel. To those who keep abreast of current trends, ocean-bound ships are passé. The new craze is airships and they are simply wonderful. So wonderful, in fact, that many of the upper class (and a few undesirables) have purchased airships of their own and now race them for Queen, Country, and bragging rights. You have joined such a race and now look to make a name for yourself.

Quicksilver, designed by Paul Imboden and published by Split Second Games, is comprised of 1 double-sided Race Map game board, 6 Airship token stands, 6 Cloud/Minefield tokens, 3 Turret tokens, 4 Velocity dice, 66 Tactic cards, 6 Turn Order cards, 6 Airship tokens, 6 Pilot Instrument Panels, 3 Checkpoint tokens, and 1 Start/Finish token. The components are mostly thick cardboard and durable card stock resulting in a colorful and high quality game. Great illustrations, too!

Prepping for the Race

To set up the game, first decide which of the two sides of the Race Map game board the game will be played on. Place the Race Map in the middle of the playing area.

Second, each player takes 1 Airship token and 1 Instrument Panel that are of the same color. Players should attach their Airship token to a stand if it one has not already been attached. Players should also set their Instrument Panel so the Velocity is set to “0” and Armor is set to “4”.

Third, shuffle the Tactic cards  and deal 5 to each player, face-down. Players should look at their cards, but keep them hidden from their opponents until played. The undealt cards are placed face-down next to the game board. This is the Tactic draw deck for the duration of the game.

Fourth, players should now decide on the location of the Start/Finish token, as well as the number and location of the Checkpoints in the race. The rule book provides a suggestion for first-time players.

Fifth, each player now selects 1 Cloud, 1 Minefield, or 1 Turret token and places it on the Race Map. These are considered obstacles.

Sixth, shuffle and deal 1 Turn Order card to each player. The player who is dealt the Turn Order card with an image of Queen Victoria is the first player.

Seventh, starting with the person to the first-player’s right and continuing counter-clockwise (this is referred to as “reverse order”, where the last-player of the game goes first and the first-player goes last), each player places their Airship token directly behind the Start token.

That’s it for game set up. Hand the dice to the first-player and begin!

Tactics, Dirty Dealings, and General Shenanigans

Before starting the race, let’s take a look at those cards in your hand. The Tactic cards give the would-be airship pilot a few additional tools to hang on their belts. Each Tactic card provides a player a tactical effect or a point value. Players can use the Tactic card for either, but never both. They are also used to avoid danger and can be taken as a penalty.

Tactical effects are described on the Tactic card and they are resolved when played. A player can play as many Tactic cards as they like during their turn, but can only make 1 successful attack per opponent. For the most part, Tactic cards are only played during the player’s turn (because that’s when it makes sense to use them), but there are a few Tactic cards that have canceling effects. These can be played out-of-turn. As a rule of thumb, a Tactic card can be played for its described tactical effect at anytime during the game IF the effect can be resolved.

Three examples of just some of the Tactics cards in the game

Three examples of just some of the Tactic cards in the game

The point values on the Tactic cards can be used to adjust the total sum value of the dice rolled. When a player moves on their turn, they can use 1 Tactic card to adjust the total value of the dice rolled by ADDING the point value to the total or SUBTRACTING the point value from the total. If engaging in combat, the player can use a Tactic card point value to increase or decrease their Combat roll value. But, so can their target. As a rule of thumb, one Tactic card can be used to adjust the total value rolled whenever dice are involved.

Dirigible Drag Racing

Quicksilver is played in turns and rounds with no set number of turns or rounds per game. A player’s turn is summarized here.

Note: At anytime during a player’s turn, they can play as many Tactic cards for their tactical effect. Of course, the effect must make sense within the context of the step the player is taking. Players can also play a Tactic card for their point value, but only when moving or engaged in combat.

Step 1: Adjust Velocity

At the very start of the race, all of the players have a Velocity value of “0” on their Instrument Panel. Which is to say, they have none. Velocity in Quicksilver is speed, but more to the point, the momentum that a player cannot stop easily. Think of it like running on a frozen lake and then trying to stop. You won’t. If you don’t fall on your back, you’ll slide. Actually, you’ll slide even if you do fall on your back. The point is, Velocity in Quicksilver is very important, so keep track of it. This is the player’s opportunity to adjust their speed, but it can only be adjusted by plus or minus “1”.

There are 4 levels of Velocity in the game. They are as follows:

  • Velocity 0: Dead Stop
  • Velocity 1: Slow (roll 1 Velocity die, minimum movement point of 1)
  • Velocity 2: Fast (roll 2 Velocity dice, minimum movement points of 3)
  • Velocity 3: Danger! (roll 3 Velocity dice, minimum movement points of 6)

While speed is great, it also makes it difficult to react. If a player’s Velocity is ever at “3” (the maximum), the player MUST discard 2 Tactics cards when their airship moves. Thematically speaking, the airship is moving at such a ludicrous speed, the captain only has time to make instinctive choices rather than tactical ones.

Step 2:Roll for Movement

The player now takes the number of dice provided by their Velocity and rolls them. The total sum of the dice is the player’s total movement points for the turn. If the player’s total sum is LESS than the Velocity minimum, they use the minimum movement points assigned to the Velocity value (as noted in step 1). In this way, if a player who is going super fast rolls a super low number, they still MUST move fast on the Race Map. Remember what I said about running across a frozen lake?

HOWEVER!

The player can, if they so choose, discard 1 Tactic card to add or subtract movement points from their total sum equal to the Tactic card’s point value. Additionally, if the player’s Airship token is currently located in a white-bordered area on the Race Map (which are clouds), they MUST  reduce the total movement points by half, rounded-up. Clouds are to airships as mud is to race cars, apparently.

Step 3: Pivot as Required

Dirigibles, even the really fast race variety, do not turn on a dime. The player has this one opportunity to slightly course correct their airship before it runs into something that can damage it. For 1 movement point, the player can rotate their Airship token 60 degrees (i.e. one turn of the hexagon space) left or right of the airship’s current bearing.

HOWEVER!

A player could rotate their airship 120 degrees (two turns of the hexagon space), but doing so puts a lot of strain on the airship’s structure resulting in losing 1 point of Armor. A player can also use a Tactic card on their turn to pivot their airship if the Tactic card allows it.

Step 4: Punch it, Chewie!

Regardless of how the player feels about it, their Airship token now moves 1 space per movement point in the direction it’s pointing. Movement is in a straight line and the airship doesn’t stop until it hits something solid or movement points are reduced to “0”. Now is a great time to quickly summarize all the things that a pilot could fly into.

  • Clouds: Clouds don’t stop movement, but they do slow down movement if the player is starting their turn in them.
  • Mountains: Mountains stop airships so violently that the airship’s Armor is reduced by “1” and the Velocity is reduced to “0”.
  • Checkpoints: Colliding into a checkpoint results in the same effect as running into a mountain.
  • Minefield: Run into a minefield and every airship in it and up to 2 spaces away in all directions reduces their Armor by “1”. Oddly enough, Velocity is not altered.
  • Turrets: Players can pass through a Turret without hitting anything, but if they stop their airship within 3 spaces of the turret in any direction, they will be shot at, resulting in their Armor being reduced by “1”.
  • Map Boundary: Flying an airship past the boundary of the race penalizes the player. The player will lose 1 turn as their airship slowly turns around and makes its way back to the race in disgrace. On the player’s next turn after their penalized lost turn, they return to the map without any reduction in Armor or Velocity.
  • Other Pilots: Colliding with another player’s airship is considered an attack, but a player can avoid the collision by discarding a Tactic card, which avoids combat altogether. However, the player cannot end their turn in the same space as their opponent.

Step 5: Draw and Discard

After movement, combat, and damage has been resolved, the player draws 1 Tactic card and then discards down to 5 cards if they have more than 5 Tactic cards in their hand. If the Tactic deck is exhausted, take the discarded Tactic cards and reshuffle them to make a new Tactic card deck.

This completes the player’s turn. The next player in turn order sequence now goes. When all the players have completed a turn, a round ends. Keeping track of the rounds is only important at the beginning of the race.

Balloon Fight

Quicksilver is more than just a Race game. It’s also a dirigible Thunderdome of sorts. While the end goal is to win the race by being the first Airship token to cross the finish line, causing opponents to figuratively drop out of the race due to their airship plummeting down to the ground is a wonderful perk.

But since this is a race being run by gentlemen and ladies who have social responsibilities and know a thing or two about “good form”, there are a two rules that need to be observed.

First, combat is strictly forbidden during the first two rounds. This means that airship pilots only need to worry about getting their floating dirigibles moving for their first two turns. After that, weapons can be loaded and triggers pulled with wild abandon. This includes colliding with other racers (never mind if it’s an “accidental ramming” or not).

Second, a player may only successfully attack an opponent once per turn. The key here is “successful”. If the player keeps missing the same opponent, they can keep firing upon them until they hit. Once they do, they cannot attack that opponent any further until their next turn. Additionally, the same rule applies for all the other racers. Therefore, if the player is racing against 5 other opponents they can make no more than 5 successful attacks on their turn.

There are two methods of attack: ramming and ranged attacks.

Ramming (Collisions)

If a player chooses not to discard a Tactic card to pass through a space occupied by an opponent, the two Airship tokens crash into one another. Both players now roll 2 dice. The player with the higher value doesn’t take any damage. The player who rolled lower reduces their Armor by 1. Ties on dice rolls go to the player who initiated the attack.

Regardless of the outcome, the player’s Airship token now passes through the space that they targeted with a collision. A player cannot end their movement within the same space as an opponent’s Airship.

Ranged Attacks (Tactic Cards)

Some Tactic cards provide ranged attacks the player can make use of. However, a player must use these Tactic cards before or after they move their Airship token. Like a collision attack, both players roll 2 dice. Damage is only dealt if the player who initiated the attack rolls higher. If the defender rolls higher, no damage is taken.

Losing Air

If a player’s airship armor is reduced to “0”, they are not out of the race. Emergency crews are dispatched and the airship is quickly inflated. The player does lose time and speed, however. Specifically, the lose 1 turn and their Velocity is dropped to zero. During their down turn, they do not draw a Tactic card, either. When a turn has passed, the player can begin the race again, facing any direction they want, with 1 Armor point.

Checkpoints and Winning the Race

Scattered throughout the race course are several Checkpoint token. Players must maneuver their Airship tokens around these Checkpoint tokens in a specific direction and order. The direction is indicated on the Checkpoint token. A player can be as close or as far as they like, but must begin and end their rotation around a Checkpoint token using an invisible marker line that goes through the middle of the Checkpoint token. Before a player can finish the race, they must correctly rotate around each Checkpoint in sequential order.

quicksilver_checkpoint

After each of the Checkpoints have been passed, the player can make their way to the Finish Line. Crossing the Finish Line prior to completing the Checkpoints does nothing, but if the player is the first to cross the Finish Line after completing all the Checkpoints, they win the race!

Game Variants

The Quicksilver Race Map board has two sides and there are a number of game pieces players can put on the board to customize their race. In addition to providing the players the ability to create a new and unique race each time they sit down to play, several game variants are also provided.

Elimination

When an airship’s armor is reduced to “0”, it’s out of the race. Feel free to make a crashing sound.

Freewheeling Attack

Normally a player may make an attack using a Tactic card before or after their movement. This game variant says “heck with that” and allows the player to attack while moving. Can you say “strafing fire”?

Open Targeting

This game variant allows players to take shots at other opponents when they are in range, regardless if it’s the player’s turn or not. Be careful who you fly next to…

Strategic Card Draw

When setting up the game, turn over the top 2 cards on the Tactic card draw deck and place them, face-up, next to it. Players can now take either of the top 2 face-up cards when they draw their Tactic card at the end of their turn or draw the top-most face-down card from the draw deck. If a face-up card is selected, a new card is drawn to replace it.

Blind Attack

Instead of adding Tactic cards to an attack after the dice are rolled, players select a Tactic card and place it face-down in front of them BEFORE the dice are rolled. After the dice roll result is calculated, flip over the Tactic cards and add the Tactic card point values to the dice roll results.

To learn more about Quicksilver, visit the game’s web page.

Prediction

Race games tend to be easy to teach (because the goal is always easily understood) and easy to pitch. Who doesn’t like the idea of a good race? Dead people, I suppose, but I don’t play with many of those.

I predict that the Child Geeks are going to enjoy this game, as will the Parent Geeks. Depending on the amount of randomness and luck, the Gamer Geeks are either going to tolerate or dislike Quicksilver. Speed of the game is also going to play a key factor. If the game is too fast, it will leave players feeling like they didn’t have enough time to get into the race. If the game takes too long, the players are going to wonder why the race feels slow.

Teaching Quicksilver is best done by first setting up the game board and then teaching the players by starting the race. Since every player’s turn is essentially the same for the first 2 rounds, this is a great time to get them used to how the airship flies. When it’s time to introduce combat at the start of the 3rd round, do so by using a new Airship token that is NOT in the race. That way no player feels singled out or picked on. Note that this card does require reading and simple math in order to play. Players who cannot do either are going to need to sit this one out and watch the race from the grandstands.

And so, after teaching my 2 oldest Child Geeks how to play the game, I asked them their thoughts on Quicksilver so far.

“Really neat looking game. I like how our airships have guns.” ~ Liam (age 10)

“I like how we get to make the race track different each time we play it.” ~ Nyhus (age 7)

Both of my little geeks are ready to pilot their airships and are awaiting takeoff. Let’s start this race and see if it’s a winner or it never crosses the finish line.

Final Word

The Child Geeks really had a great time with Quicksilver and had no problems learning the rules or playing the game. They were very excited about the idea of flying big airships with big guns. They often lost track of the race and focused on the combat aspect of the game. Which is fine and the game play didn’t suffer as a result. Games did last longer than expected, however. According to one Child Geek, “This is so much fun! I really like that I can jump into a cloud to hide and then get behind another balloon and attack them!” Another Child Geek said, “I like how I can switch from flying really fast to going slow to fire at my dad.” When all the games were over, the Child Geeks all voted to approve Quicksilver.

text

My oldest throws his hands in the air as he realizes his younger brother is going to attack him

The Parent Geeks also had a great time and were very happy that the game could hold so many players. Although, there was some discussion after a 6-player game that Quicksilver lagged due to the number of airships on the board. Regardless, the Parent Geeks enjoyed Quicksilver with both their families and with their peers in equal measure. According to one Parent Geek, “Really easy to learn and a lot of choices to make on your turn without ever feeling like I was being overwhelmed. This is a great Race game.” Another Parent Geek agreed adding, “What I like most about this game is that you have to think ahead about how fast you are going to go so you don’t overshoot your target or miss your Checkpoint.” All the Parent Geeks voted to approve Quicksilver.

On a relevant side note, one Parent Geek hilariously and tragically kept missing the Checkpoint because they messed up their Velocity and didn’t have any Tactic cards to assist. Don’t worry – they got the hang of it after the 2nd Checkpoint.

The Gamer Geeks had mixed views when it came to Quicksilver. According to one Gamer Geek, “This is a solid game, easy to follow rules, and an enjoyable combat element that allows for player interaction. Two thumbs-up from me.” Another Gamer Geek said, “Ugh. Roll dice, move, random card draws, and always at the mercy of Lady Luck. There are better Race games.” And still another Gamer Geek said, “This game would be perfect with the right people, like my kids or family members.” The deciding factor for the Gamer Geeks was the role of dice in the game. If the Gamer Geek saw the dice as a simple means to an end, they had no issue with the game whatsoever. If the Gamer Geek saw the dice as a fickle randomizer that determine the player’s fate through chance alone, Quicksilver quickly failed. All the Gamer Geeks enjoyed the game’s theme and components, but were undecided if Quicksilver was a great “Beer and Pretzels” game or just another game not worth playing.

Quicksilver is what I would call a “good first-time Racing game for families and non-gamers”. Or, if you like, a “gateway Racing game”. The game is easy to learn and gives a lot of control to the player without roughly shoving them in the driver seat and shouting “go”. The game is heavily influenced by luck and randomness, which reduces the necessary level of tactical and strategic play, as well as leveling the playing field. As such, this is not a game I would expect an elitist game player to purposely seek out. Quicksilver has just enough to keep the Gamer Geeks engaged, but not enough to keep them interested over a long period of time. In contrast, Quicksilver does an outstanding job of introducing non-gamers and new players to Racing games, complete with logical thinking, critical decision making, hand management, and balancing risk versus reward. Throw in some combat and everyone is happy.

Well, not everyone. I wasn’t happy, for example. I found the game to be a bit too long, too random at times, and it felt like the dice were controlling the race outcome rather than the players’ choices. That got old for a Gamer Geek like me who likes to tactically maneuver and strategically advance through the race. All my efforts were completely at the mercy of a roll of the dice, no matter how hard I worked to get in just the right position.

Frustrating.

In all Racing games, there is an element of luck. Quicksilver is no different and does exactly what the game designer intended: entertain and challenge. The end result is a game that is fun to play, easy to teach, looks great on your gaming table, and is sure to please everyone but the gaming elitists. Do sit down and play a game or two of Quicksilver when the opportunity presents itself. Especially if you like the Victorian Steampunk theme and have a family who likes to take to the skies.

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children and wife the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
Tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Quicksilver Game Review

  1. Pingback: In Review: Father Geek’s Monthly Newsletter (August 2014) - Father Geek

  2. Pingback: In Review: Father Geek’s Monthly Newsletter (September 2014) - Father Geek

Leave a Reply