Box cover of Elfenland
|Designer(s)||Alan R. Moon|
Rio Grande Games
|Age range||10 and up|
|Setup time||< 5 minutes|
|Playing time||60 minutes|
|Skill(s) required||Route planning
It is originally based on his earlier game Elfenroads (published by White Wind), but since Elfenroads took about four hours for a game, the play was simplified to reduce the time closer to an hour, making it appeal more as a family game.
The game is played by 2–6 players, with 4–5 making for the best game. Each player tries to reach as many cities as possible and then return to his "home city." Home cities are drawn at the beginning of the game from a pack of city cards and they remain hidden throughout the game. The game is thus reminiscent of the traveling salesman problem.
Players move using transportation cards. Elves can travel on a wide variety of vehicles including troll wagons, elf cycles, rafts, giant pigs, unicorns, dragons and magic clouds. Different types of transportation will travel better over different terrain, and some methods of transport cannot cross certain terrains at all. There is only one problem: you cannot travel over a route (except water) unless there is a tile on that road, and only the type of transport shown on the tile can be used to move along that road. Before anyone can move, tiles are drawn and laid out across the board. This part is the one that calls for the most strategy, as players try to line up their tiles to set up a nice route for themselves and a difficult one for their opponents at the same time.
As well as normal tiles, each player receives one trouble tile for use during the game. These hinder other players by forcing them to use an extra transportation card at that point. Also, any player can simply use any three cards to pass over any route that has a tile already there, allowing the type of transport shown on the tile to be ignored.
The game has subtle strategies to make others navigate through the cities. When a player puts a transportation type you don't want in your path then you have to find a way around it. All of the aspects of the game make for a very exciting race to visit the most cities while never quite being sure who is winning until the last round.
There was an expansion for Elfenland published, called Elfengold. Note that this is different from the original Elfengold published by White Wind. The expansion, however, is hard to find.