Elemental Chess: An Old Game With a New Twist

Elemental Chess

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.

Elemental pieces

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.

Elemental Chess Board

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.

This entry was posted by The_Null_Entry on Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010 at 5:48 pm and is filed under Abstract Logic Games, Board Game Reviews . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

38 Comments

  1. Hello and thanks for the time you put into reviewing my game. Honest feedback is always welcomed. I am glad you did not find fault with the game mechanics. Graphics and pieces aside it is a fun game. It cost me a new car loan to put it into production and the artwork has an Asian background. There is no “King” because I wanted the game to be gender neutral, but the King ended up looking like a king anyway. The pieces work and last, but yes if I do another version better pieces would be a must. (F.Y.I. I went in debt with a loan to do this). Someday…probably when I am retired and have a little money in the bank I will do a second version.
    Cheers,
    Michael Vaughan

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