I was luck enough to receive a copy of Element before it’s actual release. You can see my unboxing of the game here. I sat down with both my 11-year-old and 6-year-old sons ti give it a whirl and see what the hype is all about. It wasn’t long before the night had gotten away from us and a handful of Element plays were under our belts. Rather Dashing’s Cornerstone Collection winner hits shelves soon, then you can enjoy the game as much as we do.
The goal of Element is to surround your opponent’s Sage so they can’t move. A Sage is out of the game as soon as it’s surrounded, with no opportunity to draw Element Stones to replace those surrounded it. In a 3 or 4 player game you’re trying to surround the Sage of the player to your right. If you surround a different Sage, you’ve won the game for someone else. (Turn order moves counterclockwise in games with more than 2 players.)
Setup of Element is easy. Each player’s Sage is placed on the board in specific spaces depending on the number of players. All the Element Stones are placed in the included bag and mixed up.
Each turn a player can take up to 4 Element Stones and move their Sage. Sages can move in any direction. The number of spaces a Sage can move depends on the amount of Element Stones a player chooses to draw from the bag.
- 4 Stones – 1 Move
- 3 Stones – 2 Moves
- 2 Stones – 3 Moves
- 1 Stone – 4 Moves
- 0 Stones – 5 Moves
Stone placement and movement can be done in any order. Stone powers are resolved as soon as they’re placed. The different stones each have different effects. Fire stones cause the line of Fire Stones they’re placed in grow. Earth stones can be double-stacked for form mountains that cannot be replaced on the board. Earth stones connected to mountains create ranges that can’t be moved diagonallay through. Water stones cause other connected Water stones to shift. Wind stones allow a Sage to skip over them as a free action.
Other things to keep in mind is that stones can be replaced on the board by Element Stones that trump them in the elemental cycle. Water replaces Fire. Fire replaces Wind. Wind replaces Earth. Earth replaces Fire.
For more info on Element Stones and how they work, check the full rules click here.
Element has been wonderfully produced by Rather Dashing. The box and board are sturdy with excellent designs. The Element Stones are plastic and each stamped with their respective symbols. Element includes a beautifully made cloth bag to hold all the stones. I’ve never seen a more well-made bag come with a game.
The real gem, though, is the Sages. They’re beautifully sculpted and feel wonderful to hold. The muted colors, match with the beautiful board design, really bring the game to life.
Such beautiful sculpts
We had no trouble learning Element and jumping right into play. It took a full game to really understand how each Element Stone worked and to start developing some strategies. Once we did we had an amazing time with the game trying to outdo each other and manipulating the board with our stones. Element never felt unbalanced, and games usually came down to the wire before a Sage was completely surrounded.
Choices were easy at the start of our games, with all of us drawing a full compliment of 4 stores and only moving our Sages once. As the games drew on we found it more and more necessary to draw fewer stones and move our Sages more. This made it a bit harder to trap the other Sage. Risks started to be taken until one person slipped up and found themselves surrounded.
The choice of pulling more stones versus having more mobility with your Sage can be nail biting. Well-placed stones can have dramatic effects on the board, making the game have a very fresh and dynamic feel to it.
Overall Element was a winner for us. Though abstract, the beautiful design and effects of the Element Stones bring a wonderful thematic feel to the experience of playing. I’m already looking forward to my next play of the game, and I may have to bring this one to work to try on my coworkers.
A copy of Element was provided free for review by Rather Dashing Games.