Elements

Game Overview: In Elements, your goal is to is to obtain a variety of elements which will allow you to build different substances.  Each substance has a point total that goes towards winning the game.  The different elements that are available to you include Fire, Wind, Earth, Water, Oil, Power, Wood, and Metal.  These can be obtained through cards or gems.  There are opportunities to go after the other players by getting cards or gems they have either in play or in their hand.  In addition, a two dice roll gives you options each round on what actions you will take.  This is an easy game to learn that the entire family has enjoyed playing multiple times. 

Box Contents: The review copy that was provided to us was a prototype version, which may differ slightly from the final production version.  Included in the small box, which is approximately 6 inches by 4 inches, are: the rules, 34 element gems, 18 substance cards, and 72 elemental cards.  They all fit nicely into the box.  If a small baggie is not included in the production version, you will probably want to use one to keep all of the gems together.  Elements is scheduled to be released on Kickstarter on March 31, 2016.  With the release, upgraded art will be found on both of the Elements and Substance cards.  In addition, a new substance of Elixir will available.

Clarity of Rules:  The rules manual is only eight pages long but is detailed enough where you won't have to refer back to the rules very often.

Game Play:  The game play begins with each player choosing one of the element gems and getting their first substance card that they must create.  Four element cards are dealt to each player.  These cards will represent all of the elements in the game. In addition, a Meta card may be present that can be used as a wild card element.  However, this needs to be used strategically as it will prevent you from earning any additional gems that you may have earned from that substance card.  We found that using the Meta card works best for the substance cards that do not have these extra gems or on your last substance that will put you over the top to win the game.  Each substance card requires different elements to create it.  The more points that are earned from the substance cards equate to using more elements in its creation.  For the most part, you are required to use one of the primary elements as your first play on your substance.  This can be Earth, Air, Water, or Fire.  After you have used the initial element, on subsequent turns you are able to build the entire substance if you have the necessary elements.  A few substance cards do not have a primary element on them, so you can create the entire substance right away using the secondary elements (Metal, Wood, Oil, and Power), assuming you have all of the elements. Once you create a substance, you are able to select an element gem and draw for your next substance.  In addition, if you did not use the Meta on the substance and if there are extra gems noted on the substance, you collect those as well.  This comes into play as you can use your gems as one of the primary elements if you do not have the card.  Or you can combine them together to create one of the secondary elements.  An example is air+water=oil.  As part of your turn, you draw a single card to add to your hand.  You then roll two six sided dice.  You get to choose the action  you take based on your dice roll.  You may be able to draw another card, take a card from the discard pile, randomly take another players card, all players pass a card to the left, trade a gem in play, or take a card in play.  If you roll doubles, you are allowed to steal one element gem from another player.  Play continues until the first person has created substance cards totaling ten points.

Replay Ability:  With the randomness of the card draw and the dice roll, there are no issues with replay ability.

Appropriate Audience: The recommended age is 12+, but we feel someone as you as ten can easily understand the game.  Someone younger could play along, just be aware of the smaller glass gems that are included with the game.

What We Liked/Didn't Like: The only thing that I didn't like will be addressed as a stretch goal in the Kickstarter campaign, according to the game designer.  Currently, to review your options with your dice roll and to easily identify the gem elements that can be combined to create other elements, this is only included in the rules manual.  Granted, this is on the back page and is easily accessible.  However, you have to pass it from player to player.  We really liked having options with the dice rolls instead of being locked into one action.  These can turn the direction of the game when you start taking cards or gems from other players.  The game play really shines with three and four players.

Add-ons/Other Releases:  n/a

          * A prototype review copy was provided to us.  The contents of the game or rules may change with future releases.  Our review is based upon the game that we received and also take into consideration changes that the game designer noted to us that were not present in the review copy.