König der Elfen
original German edition of King of the Elves
from 14 customer reviews
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The elven king is dead. By tradition, a new king is chosen from the elven princes. In their quest for the crown, the princes leave their castles to tour the villages of Elfenland using the unique modes of transportation available in Elfenland. They first visit the villages in their own realms and then travel to the villages in other realms. In each village, the princes receive a few gold coins as tokens of their visit. To thwart their opponents in the quest for the crown, the princes can place thieves and obstacles along the routes. The prince who collects the most gold in his journeys, will be crowned the new king.
You might be wondering why I say that it is one of the best, when it is so easy to abuse the rules, and break this game? Well if you make some minor rules adjustments, the strategic possibilities of this game are fantastic. Here are the rules tweaks that I would reccomend:
1. After the first turn, deal 8 cards to each player, but have them discard down to a maximum of 10 cards. That way, they get some advantage by keeping cards, but not an undue advantage.
2. Only allow the gold doubling bonus to occur the first time you land on the village.
The first two rules are pretty much necessary, but this third rule is optional:
3. Playing a thief on a village with another players gold card cancels the effect of the gold card instead of giving the player 2 gold for that player. All other players who land there must still give the thief 2 gold.
The fact that you can add and remove villages, buy cards, exchange cards, play obstacles, and thieves, makes for a very challenging and exciting game. Also, the theme of the game, the artwork, and everything else make this game a winner, despite its susceptibility to abuse.
This game plays much better than Elfenland, and has more strategic possibilities. It is also easier to set up and take down.
I write reviews with family game nights in mind. King of the Elves is nearly perfect!
The game is based on the excellent board game Elfenland and is almost like a souped-up, fantasy-themed Mille Bornes. Players play two phases. In the first phase, village cards are played, and obstacles/bonuses are added, making the 'board' the players will travel on. The second phase, players get as far around the 'board' as possible, collecting coins as they go.
This game is fun, unique, and clever (and the artwork is beautiful!) Everyone I have played this game with has loved it and wanted to play again immediately. The game can be a bit edgy (sometimes all the obstacles seem to affect mostly you and no one else; sometimes you can't seem to get the cards you need to travel) but it tends to balance out through the number of rounds played and through special cards like the knight card. And if you hate card games and have to have a board game, pick up the also excellent Elfenland!
King of the Elves
The good: Fun, fast, very inexpensive, high replayability, beautiful artwork. The bad: As with most card games, sometimes the cards just don't fall your way.
All in all, highly recommended for family game nights!
This is the card game version of Elfenland+Elfengold. The components are similar and the travel cards are identical to those in Elfenland and the coins to those in Elfengold.
The play time is a little shorter but it is not as fun just seeing the cities. You don't get the feeling like you're going to ride a dragon across the desert.
If you really like Elfenland and would like a shorter game with less set up time, then you will enjoy it.
King of the Elves is a very creative card game in which you play travel cards to move through the world of Elfenland. Whoever acquires the most gold on his travels is the winner.
One thing I really like about this game is all of the options available to you on your turn far more stimulating than the common draw then discard routine seen in most card games. The more I play this game the more I appreciate how well thought out it was.
All in all, this is a fun and unique game. Ive enjoyed playing it with 2, 3, and 4 players but have never tried a 5 or 6 player game. For the price, I would certainly recommend it.
This is an excellent game - there is no doubt about it. We have played it several times and it will come out many more times. This is with no modification to the rules. Sure there are good card combinations that get a player a lot of points, but I don't see this as a major problem. Most of our games (always 3 player so far) have been close and resulted in an exciting finish. That's the point - its an exciting game simply because - 'if I ONLY draw that card I need then...'. Overall an enjoyable family game with plenty to think about and a pleasurable theme.
I have heard many complaints about this game, mostly from people who've played Elfenland, and prefer the board game to the card game. Fair enough--and so I will also say I haven't played the board game, so that is a caveat. But I will say that I find King of the Elves to be an excellent game.
I really like card games that play more like board games, and I really dislike card games that I could have played with a regular old card deck (Lost Cities is a prime example of a game I could have played with a regular deck of cards--and should have played with a regular deck of cards.) K.o.t.E. is a great example of the first type: a card game that plays more like a board game. There are two phases: the first phase you actually build a land with cards around the table, the second phase you race around the land trying to visit every city. You could almost think of this game as a vastly improved version of Mille Bornes with half the luck of Mille Bornes, but enough luck to keep the game fun and not too deep.
This game is inexpensive and plays really well with 3 and 4 player. 2 players works, but seems to be too easy to play. 5 or 6 players tends to take a long time in the planning phase with people constantly burning cities, redrawing cards, re-redrawing cards etc. But even still, if you are patient, it still works with five all right. This game is great for families and non-gamers who seem to take to the game quickly. It is a lot of fun to try and make it all the way through the land and get your bonus, but also fun trying to max your hand for points.
I never mention game variants because I never play with game variants, but this game has 2 small problems, that I feel really do require fixes, so I'll mention them here.
I like playing this game, and though it is not an all-time classic, it does get played often because it is light and fun. And 'non-gamers' love it. Great bang for the buck.
I hated Elfenland. There. I said it. This is blasphemy in many gaming circles. But I never could see the point of Elfenland--it sure seemed like a lot of work. Amd what was a card game doing trapped in a board game body? So I suprised myself when I bought King of the Elves.
I shocked myself by liking King of the Elves. That may sound weird, but consider the game play is more open-ended and player intercative in King of the Elves, and the strategy seems to be even better. King of the Elves is a strong game.
The cards are very pretty, and the game play is logical and fun.
The best part of this game is the price. Save yourself some money and buy King of the Elves instead of Elfenland!
I'll confirm that Elfenland wears a little thin after a few years, and that it's not some kind of panacea for a gamer's longing for perfection. But it's a great game with a special place in my heart, and although I play infrequently, I still love it. King of the Elves fills in another niche in the Elfenroads string of iterations, simplifying the simplified version of the original Elfenroads. It's quicker, lighter and much more interactive than Elfenland and mechanically better than Elfengold (which, in my opinion, isn't saying much). The addition of new special action cards adds a much-needed tactical edge to the game, and the absence of caravanning both simplifies the movement from village to village and forces players to manage their cards well. I think the trade-in option during the planning round is a superbly simple control and balancing tool, where a player may draw three cards from the supply, then has to discard four. I may make that a house option in Elfenland right off the bat next time we play. One of the best things from the original, the transportation card management and planning, is still preserved perfectly in the card game, with the added fun of gold. All in all I think it is a great little card game that has a wonderful versatility, plays very well with only two (which Elfenland doesn't) and keeps the flair and piquancy of the original in fine Doris Matthaus form. Now that I have the three sequels to Elfenroads, I have literally hundreds of cards, counters and gold chips, which are all totally interchangeable. Theoretically I have enough stuff to make an entire new game or a 12-person game of King of the Elves! Not that I would ever want to... Nutshell from-the-hip review is, if you liked Elfenland and found it somewhat lacking, or wanted to like it but just couldn't quite get there, try this one. I really think it's different enough to work for you.
Alan Moon revisits his beloved Elfenland in this card game, which retains much of the flavor of the board game but also has a few surprises of its own.
The game includes the same transportation cards that its forefather uses, as well as a few new types, such as village cards, escorts, and thieves. The goal of the game has changed from visiting the most villages to earning the most gold, but the feel of the game is remarkably similar. Movement has changed not a whit, other than being able to use any available transport cards to journey from village to village. No longer must a player agonizingly stay in a town because the only way to the next town is via giant pig and you have a fist full of dragon cards.
If there is a downside to this game, it is that players have quite a few options available each turn, and deciding between them can cause some agoningly long waits between players.
If you enjoy 'Elfenland' and want a travel version of it, one that actually has a lot of strategy of its own, King of the Elves will certainly fill the bill.
This isn't simply Elfenland minus the board! This game represents a great improvement over the already award-winning original. King of the Elves has done away with the board, making the routes much more variable, and added many action cards, making play simply much more interesting.
The biggest problem I had with the original Elfenland is that there was too little interaction between the players. Each player plans his/her own route, can't waste the limited transportation chips to mess up someone else's route, and has only one obstacle to directly hinder other players. In King of the Elves each player builds his/her own kingdom of two or three cities (normal or two-person game). Each city has a worth in gold, depending on how difficult the terrain is (for example, 3 points for meadow, 5 for mountains, 7 for sea). The travel route, however, is the same for everyone. Each player must travel through as many kingdoms as possible, starting with his/her own. Mulitple rounds are played (as many as there are players) and each round means a completely new route and new travel possibilities. In King of the Elves, there are no more transportation chips, just the travel cards like in Elfenland. Therefore, travelling is just a matter of having the right cards. During the planning phase each player in turn either adds a city card to his/her kingdom or tries to collect better travel and action cards. Finally, there are all sorts of interesting action cards, which one can play either during the planning phase (e.g.: obstacles, which only hinder your fellow players; the thief, who will steal some of the gold for you each time someone reaches this city; or extra gold, which doubles the value of the city only for you) or the travel phase (e.g.: bodyguards who protect you from theives and obstacles; and change direction, to allow you to return to cities you just visited). A nasty little mechanism prevents you from simply collecting an infinite number of cards in your hand--so you have to decide at some point if you want to concentrate on travelling further or making the way more difficult for other players.
If you're like me and wanted to like Elfenland but were disappointed, give King of the Elves a try. And even if you don't know Elfenland, try King of the Elves. It is just a great little game with a good portion of luck, strategy, and meanness!
The King of the Elves is a good game - it involves a lot of decision making and some sprinkles of strategy. I would only rate a 5 to what I believe to be a 'perfect' or 'pretty damn close to perfect' game, so below are what I believe to be the game's negatives :
- Your 'strategy' is initially dictated by the cards randomly dealt to you in the opening hand, and so a player who starts off with an excellent hand might still defeat someone else who plays the game better than everyone else, yet who has a handicap of having useless cards to begin with.
Similarly, there is too much luck with the draw 3, replace 4 action as well.
- There isn't true interactivity between players in the game. I think it would be possible to play this game without anyone uttering a single word (not that we do of course, but I hope you understand my point!).
- As has been mentioned, the gold card seems to be too powerful. A variant that we proposed (which we haven't fully playtested yet) is to make the amount of gold earned when playing the gold card equal to the village value - 2. So the higher priced villages (where the gold card would predominantly be played) still pay more than lesser priced villages, but not outrageously so as is the case with the current rules, whereby the gold card pays double the village value. Also, you only get the gold card bonus the first time you pass it, and cannot acrue the bonus again if you journey back to the village using a reverse card.
Anyway, the game has its merits and is a worthwhile investment, but there are certainly better games out there worth consideration.
I read the reviews and picked it up. It's not very thrilling for me, since the game is over very quickly. At its core, it's a card counting game; you have to track your cards so that you can travel around the land as many times as possible. I like light games, this is a pleasant diversion. It won't get pulled out of the closet very often.
A couple things on this game:
First, in general it's pretty good. I like it better than Elfenland, although that's not saying a huge amount. It's got a lot of the attraction of Elfenland in a more manageable package, and it steals a little bit of the cash management stuff from Elfenland + Elfengold without the headaches of that longer, more substantial game. In short, it's a decent game.
Now, the caveats: firstly, the game is monumentally unplayable with 6. In this particular case, the game really works best at about 4. I'm horrified that they even printed 6 on the box.
Secondly, the gold cards are rather obviously broken (especially in combination with the reverser cards) and result in the strategy of hoarding cards being extremely powerful. That's OK; the rules change we use it to make gold a revenue doubler for every player, not just the playing player, and we remove the reversers from the deck. This seems to work all right.
As I say, there is a decent game in there somewhere, but I must admit being put off by its rather obvious and serious problems... makes you wonder how much playtesting they actually did.
This is obviously personal preference, but I find it quite off-putting that people will give a game 4 and 5 stars only to go on to say that it is broken. Shouldn't the rating be based on the game as it is written? If you give it a low score and then go on to say 'however, with these changes, it becomes a 4 or 5' it would make more sense, in my opinion.
And the fact is, as so many have mentioned, that this game is broken due to the over-valuing of the gold cards. They can be readily abused, especially in concert with a 'change of direction' card. Beyond that, a lucky player doesn't even NEED such abuse if they manage to draw more gold cards in concert with the higher valued cities than other players. It becomes quite boring with each player hoarding cards hoping for that one 'big combo' since no other action you can take can compete.
Yes, with some changes the game is enjoyable. However, when you rate a movie, do you say 'Well, I give it 4 stars because if the acting were a bit better and the director had done a better job, that's what it would have deserved'?
This improvement over Alan Moon's award-winning Elfenland (see December 1998 GAMES, now translated by Rio Grande) retains the enchantment of the original but adds more player interaction. Players build villages, featuring six types of terrain, in their own realms. They then finish the round by traveling the land, stopping at each village to earn the gold available there. The player with the most gold wins. You must plan to have the right cards to visit each village: Seven types of transportation are available, but none serves all terrains. The Magic Cloud, for instance, will only carry you to three kinds. A wide variety of Action Cards allows you to steal earnings from others, double your rewards at a city, or lay obstacles that opponents can only surmount by drawing heavily upon their travel resources. Cards played replace Elfenland's inflexible board routes and, with the Actions, make for an even more delightful game of strategy and gratifying meanness.
First there was Elfenroads: a critical success, but also a limited edition and very much a gamers' game. Not a combination that makes anyone a lot of money. Then came Elfenland, a shortened and simplified version of Elfenroads aimed at the broader and much bigger family market. Get that one right and you do make money, and, as you all know, Elfenland did get it right. This new one is a third trip to the well, taking the same idea and redoing it as a card game. There is a long list of Hollywood films that can be cited as evidence for the proposition that follow-ups are artistic failures more often than not, but among all the rip-offs you do get the occasional Godfather II. This game isn't in that sort of league, but it is also a long way from being a piece of pure exploitation. The marketing strategy has been to attach it to Elfenland's coat tails and graphically the two games are very similar, but the mechanics are new. You still have elves going on journeys but this is most definitely a different game.
The cards come in three types: travel cards, village cards and action cards, with the first being the element that has been carried across from the earlier games. So you have elf cycles, troll wagons, pigs, dragons, unicorns, clouds and rafts, and each is good on certain types of terrain and either inefficient or useless on others. In the boardgames the terrain lay between the villages. That is obviously not possible when there is no board and so this time the terrain is attached to the villages themselves. If you wish to visit a mountain village, unicorns or dragons or clouds are good news; you can get by with elf cycles or troll wagons; but pigs and rafts are no help at all. If on the other hand the village lies on a lake or a sea, it is a case of rafts or nothing.
The game consists of a series of rounds in each of which card play will result in a circuit of villages, with one or two lying in front of each player. Once this part of the round is complete, each player will undertake a journey starting from the part of the circuit immediately in front of them and collecting gold as they go. The player with most gold at the end of the game will be the winner. Various of the villages will also have been embellished with action cards, some good some bad. The good ones will make the journey more profitable for the player who placed them and the bad ones will make life more difficult for everybody else. Typical cards include thieves (who rob travellers passing through the village of some of their gold), logs and sea monsters (which increase travel costs), gold (which increases the income from the village) and soldiers (who get you past any bits of nastiness that the opposition has put there). Once everybody has made their journey, new cards are dealt out, all the ones that were played in the previous round are removed to the discard pile and the whole business starts again.
This process of circuit building provides the game with a solid and interesting core giving everyone plenty to think about. Your aim is to create a circuit which suits your travel cards but which won't suit those of your opponents, and the game gives you a good range of tactical options. You can play village cards not just in front of yourself but in front of others. Likewise with action cards. Restrictions on the number of cards played in each area make timing important here and that is usually a good feature of a game. At a cost of gold you can buy up to three extra cards and can remove villages and their associated action cards from the section in front of you. This also brings in considerations of timing. You can also, at a cost of reducing your hand size, trade unwanted cards for new ones from the deck.
An interesting core then and since the core is almost equal to the whole, this ought to make for an interesting game and to a large extent it does. But there are weaknesses. The first is easily fixed: just don't believe everything it says on the box. ``2-6 players, playing time 45 minutes''. Pah! I haven't tried the game with two but think it would lose a lot (though See Larry below). I have tried it with six. Never again! My group are not slow players but with this number it still took us over two hours and for a game of this weight that is way too long. This is something that the designer and developers should have been aware of, for much the same is true of Elfenroads. With four players it is an excellent game; with six it drags interminably. Some of my players refuse to play it under any circumstances and the reason is that their one experience of it was the time we tried it with six. If you buy this one, the first thing you should do after removing the shrink wrap is take a felt tip pen and change that ``2-6'' to ``3-5''. That way you won't forget. I'd also suggest that even when playing it with five you reduce the number of rounds to four.
The other is more subtle but can probably also be fixed. It concerns card hoarding. There are a couple of aspects to the game that tend to make this a good idea. One is a bonus element in the scoring; the other an interaction between two of the action cards. (I shan't be more specific than that, because if you don't spot it the problem won't arise and you'll probably enjoy the game more.). Provided this is not carried to excess, it is simply a strategic option and for many groups that is how it will stay. However, if it is carried to excess -- and there is nothing in the rules to stop it -- the whole game structure starts to come apart, with the draw deck becoming unacceptably small and key cards not circulating. This happened in our not to be repeated 6-hander. If you do run into the problem, try introducing a maximum hand size. I would suggest 8 as the maximum number of cards that you can carry over from one round to the next. This is high enough to give players the option of holding back on the length of their journey this round in order to score better next but is enough to stop excessively large hands and to inhibit people who might be temted to sit on key cards in order to deny others their use.
In summary, I think that this was one of the better games from Essen, but against that positive statement must be set the fact that I thought Essen '99 was short on good new games and so the competition wasn't that tough. A less equivocal recommendation can be built round the flexibility the game has when you are considering its likely appeal to various groups. Gamers who thought the SdJ game too light are likely to find this one much more to their liking, but at the same time it has the potential to be enjoyed by family groups who would shy away from Elfenroads. This is one of those games that can be played either hard or fairly friendly. Normally that would mean ``buy this'', but here it is not that simple for you also need to decide just how many games you want about elves riding round on pigs. They have now spent so much time in each other's company that people are starting to talk. If the answer is that you only want one, and if you already have Elfenland, then you might find that the goal of having a game that will appeal to both keen gamers and fringe gamers could be better achieved by buying the Elfengold expansion. That is the majority opinion among the views I have read, but it is by no means unanimous and so it is going to come down to a case of reading both descriptions and then making your own call.