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The Elfengold expansion for Elfenland restores the original flavor of Elfenroads by adding the auction element back in, and reducing the luck factor in the game. While the game can last considerably longer when played with the Elfengold expansion, it is also more strategic and provides even greater player interaction.
We had an great time playing this the other night that I almost wanted to start designing my own expansions to Elfenland! The interaction between players is much more obvious than Elfenland because of the more devastating special tiles. The auctions balance the game itself, keeping certain tiles from becoming too powerful although one can still get lucky and draw one from the stash.
I've had some interesting reactions with this game, and one warning is not to trust the box on the time for the game. The six player game takes about three hours to play. Also, I wouldn't recommend playing this with those who haven't played Elfenland.
One of my friends felt that the gold and auctions made the game feel like there were three games in one and we haven't even added the new wizard cards into the game! One friend said that he'd never play the original again and even taunted someone who bought Elfenland without the expansion and said it wasn't a real game without it...!
Everyone should buy this expansion. It will make Elfenland/Elfengold one of the top ten games on almost everyone's list. Far superior to Die Siedler in terms of excitement and strategy. You'll see why the original Elfenroads was hailed as such a classic.
I would never play the original Elfenland again if I could choose. Everything is more under your strategic control. There is no limit to card hand size, you get to choose your cards at the start of each round, tiles are auctioned off with gold, and you get gold depending on the cities you visit. The game has a great atmosphere and you really feel like you're traveling. There's a real ebb and flow too: do you caravan now in order not to fall too far behind, or do you save your cards in hopes of a big push in the next round? A real struggle that is always fun and will always play differently each time.
Elfenland/Elfengold has all the marvelous flavor of Elfenroads while cutting down on the playing time of the latter.
With the addition of Elfengold, Elfenland becomes an affordable alternative to Alan Moon's legendary game release of Elfenroads. This expansion adds a bidding element to Elfenland that allows players to acquire the movement counters that will do them the most good. Players acquire gold by visiting cities along their way. The game becomes much more strategic and less luck-driven.
Another added feature is a number of non-movement tokens, such as spells and sea-monsters, again making the game a lot less kind and gentle. One variant that is included is the addition of wizard cards, which allow a player to teleport from city to city for a small expenditure of gold. I do not recommend using the wizard cards if you are playing with the original game's destination cards, as it makes it far too easy to get to one's target city.
While the additions found in Elfengold make for a longer game than the original, the added strategy and texture makes it all worthwhile. Having now played both the original and with the expansion, I doubt I will be going back to the original any time soon.
This is an expansion set for Elfenland and will be of no interest unless you have that game. You might also find it of limited interest if you have the parent game, Elfenroads, for what this set does is enable you to turn Elfenland into Elfenroads, albeit in a version played on a smaller board, with fewer rounds and with a consequently shorter playing time. (In Elfenroads you have 8 rounds in which to visit 25 cities; in Elfengold it is 6 rounds and 20 cities.)
The difference between Elfenland and Elfenroads is that the latter involves money. Each time you visit a city you earn its ``value'' in gold pieces. This gold is then used to buy transport counters. In Elfenland these are things you draw; in Elfenroads you draw about half and get the rest via an open auction. The aim of the game remains the same -- visit all the cities -- but gold is now also used to split ties.
At the start of the game each player is given five transport cards and twelve gold coins. The basic procedure for each player in each turn is then as follows:
As you can see, this makes for a much tighter supply of transport cards, more control over the resources you pick up, and more competition between the players. Further options that I didn't mention in the basic outline help deal with the shortages of cards and/or money that are likely to affect players. Among the transport cards are a set of gold cards. Whenever one of these turns up it is put to one side on a separate pile. As an alternative to taking a transport card a player may pick up the pile and the gold it is worth. The gold cards are then discarded and the pile starts to build again. Extra transport cards can be gained by forgoing movement for a turn.
The expansion kit contains the cards and gold pieces that you need for all this and also a few extras in the form of new tokens to provide two or three extra wrinkles at the route planning stage and some cards to be used in a variant.
The box says that the game is for 2-6 players, but this is an exaggeration unless your boredom threshold is very high. These Elfentravel games should never be played with 6 and, although I haven't tried playing one of them with two, I can't see how they would be very interesting at this extreme either. Regard them as being for 3-5 players. The estimated playing time for Elfengold then becomes around 90 minutes, more with 5 players, less with three. This makes the game about twice as long as Elfenland.
For gamers who have Elfenland but not Elfenroads this is a good purchase. For those of you who do have Elfenroads the decision is whether you want a shorter version of the same.