“Everything changed when the fire nation attacked!”
Designer: Mike Richie
Publisher: Rather Dashing Games
Number of Players: 2 – 4
Playing Time: 30 – 60 mins
Age Limit: 14+
It’s always nice to find hidden little gems that usually go unnoticed and try to bring them into the spotlight, and boy Element is one of them. Not sure if this little game got much publicity but I’m so glad the cover artwork intrigued me enough to take a closer look, cause it’s wonderful.
Element is a beautiful little abstract game for 2 to 4 players that I wish more people were aware of. I have not yet looked to see if the publisher Rather Dashing Games has other games that are just as fun. From this one alone…. I’m interested in looking. In Element you take on the role of an elemental sage who can control the elements themselves (sounds like RAW POWER to me), but unfortunately there is 1-3 other players who can do the same thing. Thus, you all must fight using the four different elements! Winner is being the first one to trap their target (another elemental sage), making them unable to move. I’ll be going over the three areas of this game I feel make it what it is, which includes theme/overall goal, game play, and components.
Let’s start with theme/goal as some of you still may not understand what I mean when I say trap your target. Like I said above you are a powerful elemental sage that can control the elements. You and the rival sages must display their power and trap their opponent’s sage. Players accomplish this by surrounding the targeted player that is sitting to the right side of them at the board using elemental tokens. With goal of rendering them unable to move their figure on the board. This sounds simple enough but you have to watch your own back because another player is attempting to do this to you. Just when you think you are closing the net around your target you may have fallen into the trap laid out by an another hunter. This is also an abstract game which means that there is no grandiose story or campaign, its short and simple.
The game play will be the meat of this short review, as that’s why we play any game, It is a fun short game. Each character picks a sage figure and places them on one of the starting circles on the game board (2 player game setup is slightly different). Figuring out which player acts first is up to you and your friends. When we played we just picked a player at random. Players then proceed to summon elements tokens, which is drawn blindly from a bag and place the tokens on the game board while trying to trap their opponent. Players can only draw up to four tokens and can move one space each turn, however for each token lower than four the player draws, they get to move one additional space. It can allow a player to forgo all tokens and just run for their life! There is no player elimination in this game, as the game ends when you trap the player on your right resulting in victory! Or defeat if you’re the unlucky one that is trapped. The way the element tokens act when placed on the board is my favorite part of this game! The different elements are earth, fire, wind and water.
EARTH! Earth is nothing special in this game other than when placed next to or on top of other earth token it creates a mountain range which is very hard for sages to cross over.
FIRE! Fire is fun, (I feel like a pyro) When a fire token is placed next to another fire token it spreads which means you get to draw another fire token from the bag (for free) and place it on the board next to the line of fire you have just created. Trust me before you know it fire is everywhere.
WIND! Wind is an interesting one as it doesn’t block you from moving, it helps you. Wind tokens when moved onto them, let you jump over them and if placed on top of other wind tokens they let you jump even further in that direction. Suffice to say wind is always welcomed when you opponent is starting block you in.
WATER! Water tokens are usually the way I win games …or lose them as water is evil in this game. When a water token is placed next to another water token this will create a river which then gets to moved by the player who placed the most recent water token several spaces depending on how many water tokens where adjacent to it.
HEART! Yeah, there is no heart other than the love poured into this game by its creative team. So sadly, won’t be able to summon Captain Planet.
Quick mention that I almost forgot is that certain elemental tokens can replace exiting ones on the board, such as water replaces fire, fire to air, etc. This can also be depicted in the border of the game for easy reference. Very nice touch!
Lastly are the components, I saved this one for last cause it holds one of my only real cons of this game. Two of the three component types in this game are great, leaving the last one wanting more. The first two are the game board and the sage figurines which I must say are very beautiful. The game board has this earth tone to it which matches the theme nicely with the outer part of the board showing which elements consume which. The figurines are neat as I have yet to identify what they are made from, maybe clay that’s painted (honestly don’t know), but they feel like something that belongs in an Indiana Jones movie in some tomb. They look and feel ancient which again matches this game nicely! The last component which feels misplaced to me is the element tokens. They are just plastic (which is fine, its cheap to mass produce), but the color they have gone with for them just don’t fit into the theme. They look like they are from another game entirely. Again, not a huge con but just a bummer that the game is so close to being perfect just to be ruined by a mild eyesore.
Overall Element is one of my new favorite abstract games and I can’t see that changing anytime in the future. It is easy to teach, quick to play, along with NO PLAYER ELIMINATION! I feel I must mention another possible con. That is the fact that to some the luck element (not a pun on purpose) of the game with drawing random tokens out of the bag may be not for people who love deep strategy. That’s not to say there is no strategy, there is tons, but luck is there. For some who are more a fan of the chess style battle of wits it might be a con. I hope to see this game available more in local game stores and maybe more discussions on a Board Game Geek’s website. Amazon seems to be selling it for about $25 which is quite a deal for any board game fan.
Happy gaming Gamers!
- Theme is Fun. (even if not much)
- Easy to teach.
- Pretty quick games.
- No player Elimination!
- Certain components don’t mesh visually.
- Some Luck is involved.