Ticket To Ride A Dragon (or Unicorn, or whatever…)
In case you didn’t get the joke, this game was designed by Alan R. Moon, and won the Game of the Year (Spiel des Jahres) award even before the now ubiquitous Ticket To Ride. And even though there are no trains or tunnels in this game, a few plays will make it evident that Mr. Moon is the king of travel-themed games, and that this award was well-deserved.
Elfenroads is actually three games in one: Elfenland, Elfengold (an expansion), and Elfensea (a second standalone game). In each game, players take the role of young elves whose task it is to travel around the land and visit as many cities as possible before becoming adults. And to do so, they will need to ride on wild boars, magic clouds, dragons, unicorns, and more to reach their various exotic destinations.
The theme is light and fun, and yet the games themselves require a good amount of strategic thought. Planning out your route isn’t easy, especially when the other players also plan on using the same route but with different forms of transportation! Depending on which version you play your cards may be determined by blind luck, but whatever your game you’re sure to be in for a treat.
- Decisions: 4/5. Depending on which game you’re playing, your travel cards may be drafted randomly or chosen with care, and you may or may not get the travel tokens you thought you needed. But where there’s a will there’s a way, and if you look closely enough you can almost always come up with a change of plans (which is needed more often than not).
- Artwork: 5/5. The artwork is charming, and helps transform a game about card management into a memorable adventure. And the maps are superbly hand-illustrated as well. What more can I say?
- Replayability: 5/5. If this game just came with Elfenland and Elfensea, I would give this a 4 out of 5. But the addition of Elfengold adds a crazy amount of new dynamic possibilities. I’m confident that this game will keep hitting the table time and again for years to come.
- Awesomeness: 5/5. I actually like this better than Ticket To Ride. Unlike the latter game, you are never permanently blocked anywhere; you can always find a way, even if it costs you more than you want to pay. And why would I take a train when I can ride an Elfcycle or a dragon?
TOTAL SCORE: 19/20
Bottom line: This is a box full of possibilities. There are enough Elfen-variants and Elfen-expansion elements to keep players happily adventuring for years. Highly recommended!