"Are you pondering what I'm pondering Pinky?"
"Wuhhh... I think so, Brain, but if a ham can operate a radio, why can't a pig set a VCR?"
Day-in and day-out BGG is flooded with reviews of reviews of new releases and popular titles from the big box publishers. We all know and love these games, but all too often good games from the little man get pushed aside, hidden from view by the hustle and bustle to get what is “Hot”. This review series (at least I hope to make this into a series) will focus on titles from a lesser known (and often new) designers, publishers, and hopefully active BGG members!
Todays review will be of Elemental Clash, an as of yet unpublished Living Card Game (LCG) which has been fully developed and extensively tested. Elemental Clash focuses on a world in which magic runs rampant. Sorcerers and Wizards vie for power using their magical spells, cast from powerful Spellbooks. Battle is waged in an attempt to destroy the Spellbook of your opponent, proving your status as a more powerful, witty, and adept master of magic. The first magic user who has no spells left in his Spellbook is declared the loser, having been outmatched in a battle of wits.
This back story is brought to life in the game play of Elemental Clash through the use of a deck depletion based victory mechanic. Each player begins the game with a deck of 40 cards, which can be either one of the pre-constructed decks or one in which you have chosen cards from several different “booster sets” to mix and match. Four different base Elements exist in the game: Water, Earth, Air and Fire, with the capability to mix and match Element card types (each Element has cards associated with it), or focus on a one Element deck. Booster sets, in traditional LCG style, will contain one of each card from an expansion set. Your constructed deck of cards is considered to be your “Spellbook”. The basic rundown of the game will be familiar to players of the popular CCG Magic: the Gathering. Players will hold a hand of 5 cards which may contain Spells, Creatures, or Elemental Stones. Spells and Creatures, as they sound, are the main means of protecting from and dealing damage, as well as augmenting various aspects of the game. Elemental Stones are the power which is required to play these Spells and Creatures (think mana for you MtG players).
Although the game does draw many similarities from MtG, there are significant differences which allow Elemental Clash to stand out as a separate game. Short summaries of these unique aspects are as follows:
1. SPELL DECK/LIFE FORCE COMBINATION
Rather than having both a life force AND a deck, Elemental Clash combines these two aspects in to the simple Spellbook concept. Each player’s deck of 40 cards represents their ability to cast spells. Damage dealt to a player causes that player to lose cards from his Spellbook, which subsequently get placed in to his “Archive” (discard pile). When a player goes to draw a card and none or left, the game ends and that player has lost.
2. PLAY FIELD ZONES
The Elemental Clash playing field is much more defined and integral to play. Each players playing field is divided into three distinct areas, the Attack Zone, Defense Zone and Elemental Stone Zone. These three regions will be the locations in which you are allowed to play your Spells, Creatures, and Elemental Stones.
THE ATTACK ZONE
The Attack and Defense Zones will hold only creatures, and will determine what roles a Creature can play. In the Attack Zone, creatures are allowed to directly attack the opposing player, attempting to deal damage and force discarding from the player’s Spellbook. Creatures in this zone are unable to block incoming attacks, but may be the target of direct attacks themselves (which is a viable option to kill off your opponents attack zone creatures). Only 5 creatures may ever be in this zone at once.
THE DEFENSE ZONE
Creatures played in the Defense Zone, as it may seem obvious, are capable of defending from incoming attacks directed at a player. These creatures may not be the target of DIRECT attacks, but may instead be dealt damage that was intended to hurt a player directly. This zone allows for damage mitigation in the hopes of preserving ones Spellbook. Only 5 creatures may ever been in this zone at once.
THE ELEMENTAL STONE ZONE
As mentioned previously, this region will contain the Elemental Stones which are required to play your Spells and Creatures. Each turn a player may play one Elemental Stone to this region. This may seem much like mana in MtG, but a key difference in game play changes how this mechanic works dramatically. Rather than having individual lands/mana to use, Elemental Stones function in piles. Each player will have 5 spaces in their Elemental Stone Zone in which to form piles of Elemental Stones. These piles will be used to play spells and creatures. Elemental Stone piles generate energy which is capable of being used to summon Spells and Creatures to do the Wizard’s bidding. The type of energy produced by an Elemental Stone pile is determined by what color of stone rests on the bottom of the pile. This means that several different types of Elemental Stones (Earth, Fire, Water, Air) can be in one pile, but ONLY one type of energy will be generated from that pile. Creatures and Spells have both an element and a level associated with them, as denoted on the cards. These cards may be level 1-3, which is equal to the amount of Elemental Stone power required to cast them. For example, an Earth Creature with a level of 3 would require an Elemental Stone pile of 3 stones (or in some special cases, fewer stones which produce more energy), with an Earth stone at the bottom of the pile. If the conditions for playing a Spell or Creature are met by one of your Elemental Stone piles, you may play your card on top of that pile. Spells played in this manner will then take effect and remain there until the beginning of a players next turn, at which time they are moved to the discard pile in most cases. Creatures played in this manner remain on the pile until the beginning of the next players turn, at which point they may be moved to either the Attack or Defense zones in order to carry out the role required by the Sorcerer. Elemental Stone piles which have a card played on top of them are considered used until that card is removed.
An image of the playing zones can be seen here:
Ok, now that we have covered the unique aspects of Elemental Clash, lets take a look at how a player turns progress in the game:
Each turn a player will have a general turn order to follow. On a players turn the player will do the following:
1. The player may move any creatures played on an Elemental Stone pile during his previous turn to either the Attack or Defense zone of his play field. Spells cast in the previous turn will generally be moved to the Archive.
2. The player MUST draw a card from their Spellbook to their hand
3. The player may play an Elemental Stone to their Elemental Stone zone, forming a new pile or adding to an existing one.
4. Player may play any Spells/Creatures that they have the appropriate Elemental Stone piles for
5. Player may attack with any Creatures in the Attack Zone
The opposing player may have several responses which they may carry out on an opponents turn. These steps are by no means exhaustive as to what can be done on a player turn, but are more a general flow of how a player turn plays out. After a player has finished his turn, play will pass to the next player, who will carry out their turn. This will continue until one player is unable to draw a card from their Spellbook, at which point they have lost.
All of the artwork for this game has been done, as far as I know, by the game designer Andreas Propst. The art, although done in a sketch format, is unique and well done. The card design is colorful, simple, and easy to read. All-in-all, for a early design with only one artist, the artwork done on this game is elegant and above satisfactory. Is it professional computer design? No... But lets be realistic, we are talking about one man here...
As you can see, Elemental Clash bears many similarities to CCGs past and present. While this may be true, I think the unique mechanics presented in the game provide a new enough feel to distinguish the game from some of its predecessors. The integration of a divided playing field in to the game design changes the game from a purely card based deck building game to a game which requires thought on the best “board” positioning of ones Creatures, Spells and Elemental Stones. The deck depletion mechanism simplifies the game end conditions by doing away with the concept of “life” that is so common in LCG/CCG/TCG games.
Long time CCG players may not be the target audience for this game, although as a CCG player myself I did get some enjoyment out of using the cards to attempt to build new and interesting concept decks. With the simpler play style, non-collectable card sets, and easy to understand (read non-convoluted) rules, Elemental Clash may well target itself towards the non-CCG crowd. It may even serve as a decent introduction to the world of CCGs (even though it isn’t one) for those people who have a fledgling interest in delving in to the money sink of CCG play.
I’ve had the opportunity to speak with the designer/developer of Elemental Clash, Andreas Propst, about his game and his plans for the future. Although the base game is set to be published “soon”, Andreas has already worked out several expansion sets to the game which will be available shortly after initial publishing. Additionally, Andreas, along with some programming helpers, has managed to implement a Vassal module for play. He has offered to allow players to try the game against the developer, and can be contacted on board game geek under the user name Jilocasin.
Vassal can be downloaded from:
and you can find the Elemental Clash module at:
Image of Vassal Module in Solitaire play
Elemental Clash the LCG is an interesting and relatively unique take on traditional CCG style games. Although not collectable, Elemental Clash offers that CCG feeling while keeping the random luck card pulls out of the experience. For those who are looking for a good introductory LCG/CCG experience, maintained by an enthusiastic starting game designer, I recommend Elemental Clash. For the CCG enthusiast...well...give it a try. Maybe you’ll enjoy the experience as much as I did.
For more information on Elmental Clash, you may also see:
- Last edited Mon Sep 12, 2011 9:23 pm (Total Number of Edits: 5)
- Posted Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:21 pm