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Elfenland / Elfengold

Publisher: Amigo (soon to be released by Rio Grande)
Players: 2-6
Reviewed by Debbie Pickett
Reproduced here with kind permission from Funagain Games.

The more the merrier

Despite what is written on the box, In my opinion Elfenland isn't really a two-player game. It is very difficult to visit all of the destinations when you are only relying on your own transport tiles (since your opponent is probably in an entirely different place on the board). This problem vanishes with more players, however, as the number of options you have increases with the number of players.

Being a computer scientist, I understand just how inherently difficult the travelling salesman problem is - and this game is very much based on that problem. This is much of what gives Elfenland a lot of its ability to be replayed, as you try to work out better strategies each time. Not that your strategies always work out, since so much of the game comes down to luck - did you get the right transport cards and transport tiles?

If the element of luck is too great in Elfenland, I suggest getting the Elfengold expansion, which apparently makes the game much closer to the original Alan Moon's Elfenroads.

Elfengold

Improves on the original

Elfengold removes a great deal of the luck that appears in the base game of Elfenland; your transport cards are drawn from one of three face-up piles, and the transport tiles are auctioned off to the highest bidder. This auction phase gives the game a lot more player interaction than Elfenland, though it does make the game almost twice as long.

Other than the way you get transport tiles and transport cards, the game is played in much the same way, with you collecting your city markers as you travel around the board. You also collect gold as you visit cities, which is what you use in auctions to buy your transport tiles.

For those who liked Elfenland but would have preferred a more strategic variant, Elfengold is definitely for you. It retains all of the feel of Elfenland, but without many of the base game's shortcomings.

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