Elchfest is a dexterity game for two, with an elk theme. It was designed by Hermann Huber and is part of the Kosmos 2-player line; in the U.S., the English version is published by Mayfair Games and is entitled Elk Fest. Players take on the role of an elk, either Jule or Ole, on opposite sides of a river bank. The object is to get your elk to the other side of the river by flicking stepping stones for your moose to travel over. The first elk to get to the other side wins the game. Game time should fall in the 15 to 20 minute range.
Out of the Box
Elchfest comes in your basic Kosmos 2-player box; a nice, small, 2-piece, sturdy cardboard box with an insert that holds the pieces and a set of rules. There is Jule (the light colored elk), Ole (the dark colored elk), 6 flicking disks (stepping-stones), 2 river banks (with rubber inserts to prevent sliding), and an illustrated set of rules. All the components are wooden and are very nice. I have the German version so can’t really comment on the rules; however the English translation here on BGG were very short and to the point.
Set up is quick. Each player takes an elk, a river bank, and 3 stepping-stones and sit opposite one another. Place your river bank in front of you an agreed upon distance away from the other bank; the rules recommend about 18 inches. Put your elk on your river bank and your stepping stones to the right of your bank. The players should agree before beginning whether players can flick stones from either side of the table. The younger player starts.
On the first turn, the starting player will flick one stone. From there on out, players will alternate flicking 2 stones per turn. The 3 stones that open the game to the right of your river bank, must be the first 3 stones that are flicked. After that, any free stone may be flicked.
At any time during your turn, you may move your elk, if possible. When moving your elk, its front and back hooves must either rest on a river bank or a stepping stone. You can move your elk to a nearby stepping stone as long as its rear hooves rest where previously its front hooves resided, while its front hooves rest firmly on the new stone. Your elk can move multiple times during your turn, just as long as its front hooves can reach a new stone. The first elk to place its front hooves on the opposite river bank wins the game.
There are two situations in which a penalty is applied. First, if you make either elk get wet by knocking it off of it’s stone and into the river, your turn ends and you must place the elk back in its previous spot (as close as possible). Your opponent then gets a bonus flick and will thus get to flick 3 times during his/her turn. The other penalty is when you knock a stone off the playing area; the stone is returned to the playing area, to the right of your river bank. Your opponent then gets a bonus flick as described above.
There’s no heavy strategy here; all you need is precision with your flickin’. The only real choices you’ll have during your turn, is whether you’ll try to advance your elk or hinder your opponent’s movement. Of course, you’ll want to avoid any penalties, which can occur if you’re too aggressive when flickin’. While it can be a bit frustrating when you can’t flick a stone where you need it, I find it very satisfying when I’m able to make my elk move with a beautiful shot.
While the rules give you the option, we tend to allow players to hit from either side. This gives you a little more options and seems to help the game play a bit quicker.
Elchfest is good for what it is: a quick, light, and fun little filler. It sort of reminds me of my glory days, when I would flick paper footballs with my friends during my youth. The box recommends it for ages 8 and above, but I think younger folks could enjoy this as well. For more serious finger flickin’, I prefer Pitchcar, but when I only have a few minutes free, Elchfest succeeds in scratching my dexterity itch. Overall, it’s a fine addition to the Kosmos 2-player line of games. I currently rate Elchfest a “festive” 6.