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Subject: Elfenland - 10 Word Review and Rules Complexity Score rss

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Joe Grundy
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Following are the ten topics most characteristically mentioned about Elfenland in around 700 user ratings comments on BGG. Hopefully after 60 seconds you'll know if you want to chase more detail.

"ELFENLAND" IN TEN WORDS: (Starting with most mentions above average...)
1. Route-planning
2. Elfengold (expansion)
3. Tiles/Tokens/Chits
4. Town
5. Light
6. Family
7. Cards
8. Theme
9. Interaction
10.Transportation


RUNNER-UP TOPIC WORDS:
"Beautiful", "Fun", "Elves", "Travelling salesman", "Kids",
"Non-gamers", "Art work", "Ticket to Ride" (a game), "Obstacles"


CONTEXT:

1. ROUTE-PLANNING
"Plan plan plan, play for 30 seconds, repeat"
"plan the best routes and second-guess other players"
"make use of opponents plans with letting them take advantage of yours"
"analysis"
"foiled"
"budget, piggy-back"

2. ELFENGOLD
"raise the rating when combined with Elfengold"
"just makes it more complicated"
"scrounge a copy of Elfengold, it is worth every penny"
"makes this a gamer's game"
"prefer with"

3. TILES/TOKENS/CHITS
"placing your movement chits"
"rethinking every time someone places a suboptimal chit"
"obstacle chits add a somewhat vicious element"
"take out the obstacle chits if you want to keep the conflict out"
"enjoy trying to coopt other players' chits"
"pay attention to which chits are being drafted, you can anticipate plans"
"different transport chits over different terrain"

4. TOWN
"winner usually determined by those who fail to reach certain towns"
"a challenge to get all the towns visited"
"fun trying to determine the best path to each town"
"always use the secret home town optional rule"
"usually ties between a couple of players who visited all towns"

5. LIGHT
"fine light fare"
"light game that has potential for some strong moves"
"too light for my taste"
"I found plenty of strategy"

6. FAMILY
"Good family strategy game"
"fun light-middle-weight family game"
"spouse friendly"

7. CARDS
"Got the cards and tiles I needed"
"good looking"
"too much hoping to get the right cards"
"placing your movement chits based on the cards in your hand"

8. THEME
"fantasy"
"pasted-on"
"more intense than the theme suggests"
"neat"
"but why the childish theme?"

9. INTERACTION
"decent"
"board is too big"
"fewer than 4 plays like solitaire"
"full of interaction"
"not quite enough interaction"
"more than some people believe"
"Elfengold expansion adds more"

10. TRANSPORTATION
"different transportation mechanisms"
"quirky"
"plan routes, lay transportation chit on route segment, play matching cards"


RULES COMPLEXITY SCORE:
8 to start a first game .. 12 to be ready to fully plan ahead
(Note: roughly speaking this is a concept count, not strategic complexity)

Compare:
Ra: 10 .. 14
Chess: 9 .. 12
Settlers of Catan: 12 .. 19
Puerto Rico: 20 .. 31
Ticket to Ride: 11 .. 11
Bohnanza: 9 .. 10
Carcassonne (H&G): 8 .. 11
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Stven Carlberg
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Hi Joe -- Another interesting entry in your "condense the comments" series. It's fun to be reading along in your quoted comments and suddenly think, "Hey, I wrote that! That's me!"

I'm sure you're aware that the purpose of the Elfengold "expansion" is to restore the game to its pre-revision state, Alan's original Elfenroads game which included an auction for the transportation chits.

Some of us out here feel that what Elfenland needs, though, is not an expansion but some further contraction. With six players, Elfenland was routinely taking us over two hours and typically ended with five or six players sitting in their secret cities at 20 points and the winner being decided by who had the most cards left in hand. We liked the game, but two hours was a little bit too much of a good thing!

After several years of familiarity with Elfenland, it occurred to us to try playing just three rounds instead of four. Bingo! Now the game runs under an hour and a half, players are making decisions about their routes in different, interesting ways, and the winner finishes at around 17 instead of 20.

We like it so much better with just three rounds that that's the way we always play it now.

It's also worth mentioning that we preserve the rule from the first edition of Elfenland that you get eight new cards for each new round. (You can't save more than four cards from the previous round.) Apparently the game designer felt the game could stand to be a little shorter since this rule was changed to "refill your hand to eight cards" in a subsequent edition. But we really like the hand-management issues involved in deciding which cards to save (e.g., spend three cards to take a route with the wrong chit on it this round, or save them and hope the right chit is on the route next round?), so that solution doesn't appeal to us. For us, contracting the game to three rounds brought it down to just the right amount of time without giving up any of the route-building or hand-management challenges we like about it.
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Joe Grundy
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Hi Stven, thanks for letting me know you're enjoying the review series, and thanks also for the ideas on variations to Elfenland.

Curiously, we played our first couple of games with "draw eight additional cards" and then re-read the rules and realised it was "replenish to eight", which is how we've played ever since.
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