Well, it seems the Sages of the four elements (Earth, Wind, Water, and Fire) are battling for dominance. Only will reign supreme in this abstract board game for 2-4 players, from Rather Dashing Games.
So does this earth, wind, and fire other abstracts, or is it all wet? Water you waiting for?! Let's find out!
Element is a pretty simple game with REALLY nice components, let's take a look at what's in the box!
- Game Board -The game board is a grid with four starting points (one for each element's sage).
- A nice, embroidered cloth bag
- A whole pile of Tokens, evenly distributed over 4 colors
- 4 Sage pawns
Jeremiah--One thing I noticed right away was that the components were high quality. The element Tokens are a nice molded plastic token. I (at first) was disappointed that the Tokens all had the same design on them, but as you'll soon see, a big part of the game is drawing them blindly from the bag, so having different designs on them would make it easy to cheat. Not that I would ever do that!
Setup for the game is super easy. Everyone selects a Sage to play (they all play the same way, they're just different colors so you know who you are), you throw all the Tokens in the bag, and then place your pawn on the corresponding starting spot. And then pick in some interesting way who will go first.
The goal of the game is simple: using the tokens, completely surround the Sage of the player to your right. So there's no getting back at the guy who just did mean things to you; it's all about chasing one player and one player only.
Each turn you'll draw up to 4 Tokens from the bag, play and resolve them, and then move your Sage one adjacent space (orthogonally or diagonally). You can draw fewer than 4 Tokens on your turn, and for each fewer one you draw, your Sage gains an extra move. You could conceivably move 5 spaces by drawing zero Tokens. If (after you've resolved your Tokens) you're surrounding the Sage of the player to your right, you win!
Okay, let's talk about these Tokens and what happens when you play them. They all do different things that mimic the element that they represent.
- Water flows--When you place water Tokens, they move on the board the number of spaces equal to the number of tokens in the group you've added to. You can move them however you want but they have to move like a big snake.
- Fire spreads--If you play a fire Token next to another fire Token (or group of them) the fire spreads by adding a Token on the opposite side or open sides of where you just placed a Token. (Yes, that means you can add more Tokens by playing just one.)
- Earth becomes mountains--Earth Tokens can be stacked. Once stacked they become a mountain range, meaning any adjacent earth Tokens are also considered a part of the mountain range. This is important, because if Tokens are adjacent diagonally you can still slip through them, if they become a part of a mountain range you can't do that anymore! Making it easier to be surrounded.
- Wind flies--Wind is the only element that allows you to jump. If you are adjacent to a wind token you can jump it. If there are two wind tokens stacked (yep, you can stack these too) it allows you to jump an extra space. Three will give you another space, and so on.
If, after you've resolved any movement, spreading, etc., you've surrounded your adversary, you win!
Jeremiah--Let's just get this out of the way: I love this game! I've played it a ton with casual gamers because it's a quick filler-length game with an easy learning curve--it's an easy sell when picking a game to introduce to a casual group!
Firestone--I just need to stop saying I don't like abstracts, because it's been proven wrong way too many times. Including this time. Element is terrific. I love the clever play, and the puzzle aspect of determining the best thing you can do with the Tokens you've drawn. The drawing of the Tokens does add a luck factor to this that some people might not like. But I do like it
Jeremiah--As I said earlier, the components are great. I particularly love the Sage pawns. They're thick, dense, and uniquely designed to look like they're hand carved--they're really, really cool. I'm also a fan of the artwork and aesthetics; this game just LOOKS great on the table!
Firestone--Yes, it's gorgeous. Even the bag is better-than-average. And those Sages look like they came from an ancient archaeological dig.
Jeremiah--This isn't just for casual players. Firestone and I played it a number of times against each other, and even with our gamer groups it holds up super well. It definitely falls into the category of easy-to-learn/hard-to-master. And there are a lot of fun combo-maneuvers you can pull once you really grasp the finer points of the elements!
Firestone--My favorite part is how differently this plays at different numbers. With 2, it's just me vs. you--like most other abstracts. But with 3 and 4, it completely changes, because your goal is to defeat the Sage to your right. So someone is punching you in the throat, and thwarting your moves, but you CAN'T retaliate, because that's not the goal. It's non-intuitive, in a great way. And even the fact that it's an abstract that supports up to 4 players (and well) makes it unique.
Jeremiah's Final Verdict--Element is such a solid abstract. I'm a big fan of the ease of play, the learning curve is pretty quick, and the setup is even quicker. Element is a great, meaty, abstract filler that has definitely earned its spot on my game shelf!
Firestone's FInal Verdict--This elegant and clever abstract has found a permanent home in my collection. It's great for casual gamers, experienced gamers, and everyone in between.
Can't read? Great! Here's a podcast with Jeremiah's Drive-By Review of Element!
Thanks so much for reading! Have you played Element? We'd love to hear your thoughts, too! Just comment below or email us by clicking the contact button up top!
Theology of Games would like to thanks Rather Dashing Games for providing us with review copies of Element. This is no way shaped our opinions of this title.