Fourth Game: Elfenland
I tend to think of Elfenland as a rail game with a fantasy theme. As such, I quite enjoy the game. I taught the game to Glen back at our Labor Day get-together. He developed a liking for it and began gathering people to play. Since there were already six people playing, I was just going to teach / refresh and find something else to play. However, Amy dropped out, so I took her spot. Dwight was the only other person who had played before. The main point of the game is to travel around the 20 cities of Elfenland and pick up the cylinders located there. Whoever collects the most cylinders in four turns is the winner. Each turn, each player has 8 cards that represent various types of transportation. These modes of transportation are limited to certain types of landscape and can require one or two cards depending on the landscape. Players then take cardboard chits representing these various methods of transportation. These are then placed on the roads between the cities and represent the transportation available for that leg. Only one chit is allowed per road. If you need to use a path and do not have the matching card(s), you can always caravan using three cards. Each player also has an obstacle chit that can be placed once per game. This adds a cost of one to the path on which it is placed. After the chits are placed, players move their pieces around the board using the cards in hand. After everyone has moved, the board is cleared of chits, and it is all repeated.
As is often the case for new players to this game, it can take a turn or two for everything to make sense. I'm not sure that things ever really made complete sense to Jessica. She continued to try odd things throughout the game. Jacqui on the other hand, seemed to take to this game rather quickly. Although she often thinks of herself as a placeholder in games with Glen, she managed to be just one step behind me the entire game. I was next to last in the first round. Jacqui had done the best before me, picking up six cylinders. Due to an excellent hand and fortuitous placements by my opponents, I was able to pick up eight cylinders. This placed a big old target on my back.
In the second round, things started off looking pretty good. Unfortunately, I did not play one of my chits as quickly as I should. This error was compounded by someone placing an obstacle on the path into the one way city after I placed one of my chits there. This really was expected, but it certainly made life more difficult. Needless to say I bypassed this city. I was still able to pick up 5 cylinders and finish in a good starting spot for next turn. I was still one cylinder ahead of Jacqui. Dwight had also managed to catch up to us.
The third round started off looking very advantageous. However, this would not last long. 4 obstacles came out this round. Granted, one of them was mine trying to block some mountain passes. Another was placed to block Dwight's journey into the one way city. However, the others were directly in my path. This resulted in me getting only 3 cylinders this time. Fortunately, this was the same result for Jacqui and Dwight. In fact, everyone did poorly this time around.
In the final turn, I managed to get exactly the cards and chits I needed to get 3 of my last four cylinders, which were all in a row. There was an outside chance that I could get the fourth, but I wasn't going to hold my breath. As we started placing our chits, I was fortunate enough to be able to play them so that even if all three paths were obstacled, I could get the three cylinders I needed. Fortunately, there was only a single obstacle left. Believe it or not, Jacqui dropped in square in my path. I told her it was a waste, but she chose to ignore that. I had already given up on my last city due to other tile placements. As it turned out, Dwight could only get two cylinders and Jacqui could only get three. Out of the blue, Glen manages to grab six cylinders, tying me for first place. However, since I had more cards left over, I was declared the winner.
Stephen -- 19 (wins tiebreaker)
Glen -- 19
Jacqui -- 18
Dwight -- 17
Cheri -- 16
Jessica -- 14
This was another pleasant game. I was surprised at how vindictively several people played in this game. However, overall, there was still a friendly tone. My getting eight cylinders early on made me a target for the rest of the game, which I accept as part of the game. However, it would have been nice if they had paid a little more attention to what Glen was doing on his last turn. I had a chance to block the last piece he picked up. However, I was tired and ready for the game to end, so I passed on the opportunity. Oh well. At any rate, the game was enjoyed by all with several people wanting to play the next time we get together. Unlike several of my favorite games, Union Pacific and Atlantic Star, this one is much easier for them to get their hands on. Our total playing time was a little under 2 hours.