Last year while I (Jeremiah) was at Origins Game Fair I had a chance to catch up with the fine folks at Split Second Games and they slid me a copy of Quicksilver: The Great Airship Race. It's a game about, well, racing airships for 2-6 players and the game takes about 15 minutes per player to play. So does Quicksilver soar to great heights, or does it fall flat? Let's take a look!
The first thing you'll notice is that the board is double sided! The easier side is Paradise Falls, while the more difficult side has you racing through the city of New Covington. You'll also notice the board is HUGE!
There's also a deck of Tactics Cards, 6 player instrument panels that track your velocity and shields, 4 custom dice, airship, and obstacle (cloud, turret, and mine) tokens as well as checkpoints and the start finish line. And also a mustache...
The most intricate and flexible of the components are the cards, they offer a good deal of special bonuses, abilities and manuevering. They also each have a printed value on them that can be used as either an attack bonus, or as a modifier to your movement for the turn in order to avoid colliding into an obstacle or another pilot.
The checkpoint tokens are double sided, featuring arrows that direct pilots to go either clockwise or counter-clockwise around them, which has a strategic effect on how you navigate your approach to them.
The components are really well made and sturdy and the game is wrapped up nicely in a steampunk/fantasy theme that's super immersive and enjoyable. The artwork and titles on the cards also add some really nice flavor to the game!
The setup is pretty basic: You choose the side of the board you want to play, each player snags an airship and instrument panel (setting the Velocity to 0 and Armor to 4), and each player also gets to choose and place an obstacle token. Players also cooperatively choose where the start/finish line is placed, and then each player is dealt 5 Tactics cards and a Turn Order card. The player who gets the Turn Order card with Queen Victoria on the back gets to go first.
First the active player chooses if they want to adjust their velocity by + or - 1, and then they roll a number of dice according to their velocity. The dice are custom d6--there are no 5's and no 6's on them so the movement is more consistent, and there is less power in the randomness of the dice. The player then chooses whether to pivot 60 degrees on their current hex, which counts as one toward their movement total for the turn. Players can turn another 60 degrees, but this will damage their ship one hit point. Finally you're ready to move your ship, and you MUST move your ship all of the remaining movement value for the turn. You can, however, discard a card from your hand to increase or decrease your movement total by the printed value on that card. Once your turn is done you draw a card--your hand limit is 5.
There are a few other things to be aware of:
You can attack another player by passing through their airspace or by activating a card that allows you to attack from a distance. Battles are decided by each player rolling two dice, and then adding as many cards to their total. The highest total wins and the loser loses a hit point on their Armor. Ties go to the attacking player.
Obstacles all react and affect the game differently. Clouds are pretty indifferent, but if you begin your turn inside one, your movement is cut in half. Minefields explode when a player collides with it, damaging every airship within 2 spaces of it, and then it's removed. Turrets attack a player who ends a movement within 3 spaces of it; it's handled like a regular attack and has a value of 5.
The ultimate goal is to be the first player to cross the finish line.
I really enjoyed the tactical decision-making of the game. Trying to line up your path to the next checkpoint while also avoiding collisions with obstacles and other pilots proves to be a little more tricky than you would think at first. But it's fun to navigate in, out, and around all that's in your way. And when you can't go around, it's time to start ramming the opponent!
Unlike some racing games, speed isn't king. Planning is. Pushing your velocity to the max causes you to discard 2 cards each time you move, but it might be necessary for a turn to make it clear of a turret or obstacle, but then you'll have to dial it back a notch the next turn. Knowing when to make those types of decisions really keep the game interesting, instead of just getting up to full speed as quick as you can, and then riding it out as long as you can.
It's safe to say that the Steampunk thing is here to stay in the gaming world (and I'm still okay with that!). In some games it seems forced, or a way to cash in on the craze, Quicksilver, however, does not. The mechanics, cards, and flavor all blend seamlessly and make for a really fun gaming experience. I'm a fan.
Quicksilver is a nicely designed racing game. The rules are easy to learn, the concept is straightforward, and the aesthetics are quality. All this adds up to Quicksilver being a very approachable and fun game for casual gamers. But there's also great control, and decisions, that will keep even the most seasoned gaming vets tuned in. I say big thumbs up on this one!
We'd like to thank Split Second Games for providing the review copy of Quicksilver for Jeremiah. This in no way shaped his opinion of the game.
Thanks so much for reading! You can find out more about Quicksilver and Split Second Games right here.