Water. Earth. Fire. Air. Long ago…. sorry wrong introduction.
Theme and What is it?
Water. Earth. Fire. Air. Long ago…. sorry wrong introduction. Element is a chess like game where the goal is to trap your opponent using the 4 elements. With the addition of the silver expansion 1 of 3 different elements can be added to the game to add a bit more complexity and fun to the game.
Piece placement and movement are all the features Element offers. Like chess each of the piece have special movement rules. Although, you have the randomness of having to draw those pieces out of a bag which makes it less chess like. The randomness means you don’t go through the same sequence of moves like expert chess players. Using these pieces, and even your own piece, the whole goal is to trap your opponent to not having any place their pawn can move.
My first impression was, “oooooooooooooooooooo this has promise” and I was right. The simplicity of the rules and concept combined with people who enjoy thinking strategy to make complexity is one of my favorite motifs for games and Element delivered. Combine that with the silver expansion that added 3 really fun mechanics and different ways for the 4 base elements to interact makes for an especially fun thinking game.
Game Build Quality
The pieces are all plastic, sturdy and durable, the game board just a regular run of the mill game board. I have found a lot of games that draw pieces from a bag fail to provide a bag big enough for hands. This game does not have this problem. The bag for this game makes it easy to draw without fumbling around trying to get a closed fist out of a bag.
The element pieces are brightly colored and there is no confusion over what pieces you drew and the 4 player pieces are unique in both color and design. The board itself is just an 11×11 grid but the outside has all 4 elements in the corners and subtly shows which elements override which other ones.
Having played this with both 2 and 3 players, the game is more interesting with 2 as it is clear how your choices matter to the game. Multiplayer gives you a single person you are attempting to capture (to your right) so sometimes it is more important to help another person than to keep assaulting your primary target. The 2 player game is phenomenal and the silver expansion adds just enough new mechanics to make it a long standing game.
Age Range & Weight
The suggested age is 14+ which can easily be played with people younger although they might not grasp the intrinsic strategy it’s still extremely easy to learn. The difficulty of this game is solely based on your opponent(s) which I feel is what you want from a game like this.
As a big fan of chess and games that are designed to be played against players and their choices, Element is a game that I try to bring out as much as I can. The choices that you make are generally meaningful and you have to be able to adapt on the spot and take some risks. Master all 4 elements and bring balance….ahh sorry I did it again; use all the elements at your disposal and trap your opponent before they trap you.
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