by Guest Contributor: Matt McKenzie
Elementos is a fast-paced, two-player, abstract strategy game from designer Sharon Katz published by Tyto Games.
Each player controls 9, double-sided wooden discs depicting two of three possible symbols; wood, water & fire. So a piece might have Wood on one side and Water on the other. Players move these pieces towards their opponents' pieces, one square at a time. If you want to move a piece into a square that's currently occupied by an opponent's piece, you first need to be showing the correct element. Only then can you move into that space and eject the former off the board.
It's just like Rochambeau, but in this case; Water defeats Fire, Fire defeats Wood and Wood defeats Water - but rock-paper-scissors is a "simultaneous action selection game" while Elementos uses those mechanisms in tactile movement game, adding another level of strategy to the already tight board.
The board (which is the box, I love that) folds open to be a 3 by 8 grid. Each wooden disc has a hole in the center which can hold the player's "baton". Each player's Baton starts in the center of their nine discs.
The board folds open to be a 3 by 8 grid. Each wooden disc has a hole in the center which can hold the player's "baton".
On your turn you can move a piece into an empty space or move to capture an opponent's piece (following the wood>water>fire>wood rules) or flip a piece over to reveal a different element. Movement is simple. Either the discs or the baton, can move sideways, forwards or forwards diagonally. Nothing can move backwards. The disc that's holding the baton can carry the baton forward one space (and is impervious to capture).
From the Box Elementos 2 Players, ages 7+
Playing Time: 15 minutes
Designer: Sharon Katz
Artist: Sharon Katz
Published by: Tyto Games
The object of the game is to get one of your wooden discs carrying the baton to touch your opponent's side of the board.
On its face, this cleaver, pretty, abstract game is lite and familiar. Rock-paper-scissors meets checkers. But it only takes a few turns to realize you'll need tactics and strategy to win at this game. The board is only 3 squares wide. Your Baton needs to travel forward 6 squares to win the game. At times during the 'battle' it feels like 60. That's what it feels like, a battle. A bottle neck. The entire war relying on this one choke point. Each decision that results in forward movement feels like a tiny victory while every time your opponent advances it feels like tiny defeats.
This game has all the hallmarks of a classic, abstract strategy game. Simple rule-set yet good depth, unique and attention grabbing components, a light side and a dark side.
This game has all the hallmarks of a classic, abstract strategy game. Simple rule-set yet good depth, unique and attention grabbing components, a light side and a dark side. Classic.
What's unique about Elementos is it's board/box. This game is ready to travel. I don't know about you, but games that travel well get played more. I can't tell you how many games of Hive I've played in dark restaurants waiting for entrees. Elementos is a perfect candidate for that treatment. There's even a little latch to make sure the pieces don't fall out.
Elementos' components are good. Everything is wood. The board/box, the discs and the Batons. The graphic design is done by Sharon herself. It's simple but very effective. The symbols for water/wood/fire are all different from one another and easily recognized from a distance or upside down and blend nicely to the aesthetic of the game. I only wish the components where slightly better. Elementos deserves a deluxe edition with bake-light tiles and a hardwood board but as it stands right now, it's produced to be significantly cheaper than Hive or Santorini. (Two other abstracts currently dominating the field)
So if you're in to Abstract strategy, two player games or pretty games that travel well, I'd recommend you give Elementos a try!
About Our Guest Contributor Matt McKenzie
Matt McKenzie is a dad. Like a real dad. He is also a husband. A real one of those too. He is a board gamer and a geek. A fanboy and an enthusiast. A comic book fan and movie fanatic. His gaming style is voracious and he prefers games that are played on a table and a lots and lots of lots of fun. His friends say that he is a swell guy and want to spend more time with him.
Find Matt on Instagram.
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