If you read very many of my blogs, you know that I love abstract logic games. I just eat them up. Can’t get enough. And this game is one that peeked my interest greatly.
When this poor neglected game found me, it was missing one crucial bit, a white king. Oh excuse me, they aren’t called “kings” they are called “elementalists”, I would hate for anyone to be confused. ::rolls eyes:: But despite the aging games faults, I felt compelled to clean and fix it up and put it through it’s paces.
A few things irked me as I read through the rules. A few cardinal pet peeves that this games designers stomped all over, and I feel the need to chastise them here:
1.) Don’t rename basic components! You probably had already figured out that this bothered me, but they renamed the kings as elementalists. This was an extremely unnecessary move, and drove me slightly batty.
2.) Cheap components! The company couldn’t even spring for plastic figures. No no no… we have cardboard cutouts of pawns and knights and rooks and such that are stood up with those little mover bases. This makes the whole game look and feel cheap.
3.) Illogical artwork! The heart and soul of this game are some elemental pieces that can be summoned. Things such as a Fire Bishop, or Water Knight. The elemental “knights” have a strange little goblin on them, while the rooks have a pegasus. Wouldn’t they have made slightly more sense the other way around? Other than the picture they don’t say “knight” or “bishop” anywhere on them, so this was a little confusing and hard to remember.
If you can drag yourself passed all of those points, it’s really not a bad variation of chess. I’ve certainly seen worse reinventions.
Basically the board is divided into four sections (light blue, dark blue, red, and green), with smaller neutral zones of yellow. Elemental pieces may only travel on their own color, or the neutral spaces. This can have effects such as knights that could theoretically hop over and capture a piece in a normal game of chess, but are pinned down due to their color. This adds a huge layer of complexity.
The other mechanic of note is a set of elemental points that can be spent to summon more elemental creatures. Each player starts with 20 points and spends them or adds more accordingly. Thus more critters can spring up out of the blue to wreck your plans. The only way to get more points is to end your turn with your elementalist on the center yellow square. This causes lots and lots of jockeying for position.
Overall I really enjoyed the game play and mechanics. It’s a very neat twist on chess without delving completely into the ridiculous like some adaptations. It’s one I will certainly play a few more times, although that doesn’t diminish my desire to give the designers a good kick in the pants.
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