Elemental chess is a rendition of chess with developed components, features, and a coin system. Now, every so often I will enjoy myself a nice available movement pattern board game that will have me and an opponent go head to head. If you want a nice image of what to expect, think planning ahead with available movement patterns and variability between games. With elemental chess, you are a king fending off your opponent’s king, both armed with a variety of characters such as infantry, mechs, knights, and missiles. You will begin to play with 20 coins, five infantry, And a king. Each character has their own moves (similar to chess) and each turn has you move one of your characters and/or enlist a character to the back of the board from your pile. For example, the infantry (the starting unit) can move twice forward or diagonal once for an attack. To add to the flavor of Elemental Chess, each enlisted character (that isn’t infantry) will be granted an element of your choice (water, fire, light, etc) and are the key to scoring points. Typically, you will be scoring two points per capture, however, when the characters are captured by a resistant element (When fire characters get defeated by water characters) you will gain bonus gold.
The strategy to this game involves calculating your movement AND infusing it with a tactical element. Elemental Chess has provided your force with opportunities to score the most coin and apply tactics to find the quickest route to your opponent’s king. This game is relatively straightforward.
I played this with my brother who has been getting into board games as of late. We took our sides and arranged our infantry. I found it a little difficult to follow the components moveset because both of our “stores” that worked as reference sheets had different information on them. My sheet elaborated on which elements are resistant to what while my brothers showed the component name to component image. What I found was it was a bit difficult needing to share reference sheets as often as we needed to. I began my play by purchasing
a mech and moving forward my infantry. My strategy was to bring in the big boys first, that way I’ll have a great defense in case he tries to rush me. I made sure to get a nice variety of elements under my characters in order to maintain a nice balance in different elements and in case I would be able to score some resistant element points. My brothers goal was to bring in his missiles and have them set up across the board. He had great coverage of the board and was able to huddle me into a consolidated location.
Throughout the game, I was bringing in pieces and watching others fall. He was set up in a way where each missile was targeting a character of mine. These characters were also nonresistant to his element which meant he was able to rack up bonus points. While I was able to fend off a few of his missiles, it gave him an enough time and money to bring in some super knights (they move like chess knights with double the coverage). In the end my king and all his army was defeated and I lost from a strategy I felt was absolutely fantastic.
Elemental Chess focuses on direct contact with your opponent. Like chess, you are aiming to destroy your opponent’s army. For a game like this, It felt a bit of a drag toward the end when we would gather enough pieces to buy smaller characters to stay in the game. While I really enjoyed the way each of the characters available movement patterns was unique and presented with a variety of strategy, I found it felt like there was too much going on. I do enjoy the pieces included to battle with and felt it reminded me a bit of a larger version of Onitama. The pacing is a bit slow and I think the rules could be more available for players.
I wouldn’t play this again because personally, I was a bit overwhelmed with all the components and how big the board was. We spent a lot of time just hovering around before reaching combat (I played reserved while my brother plays aggressively), the wild goose chase had me give up on my strategy and allow my brother to destroy my forces.
You will like this game if you’re interested in a strategic, movement patterned board game that stresses the availability of variety and option.
you will not like this game if you’re looking for something lighter and are not a fan of chess.