Lining up that perfect shot is a satisfying challenge and is the core of all dexterity games as is hearing the cries of defeat and the exaltation of victory as you pull off the perfect shot. 4 Elements is a gorgeous entry into this category and probably the purest distillation of the dexterity game genre that I have come across.
It’s on Fire!
Let’s start this off by saying that 4 Elements presentation is beautiful. I was sent a review copy of the full thing which includes a beautiful wooden box to present the exquisite acrylic pieces. I’m a sucker for acrylic pieces, and have pimped out several games with these. The rules are even laser etched into the side of the box!
Getting Down to Earth
The core of 4 elements is delightfully simple. Each element is represented by a different colour of acrylic and it’s own unique set of pieces for that colour. A player will take control of one of those elements and then you choose a play area, which can be of any size or shape as long as it is flat. When I played the game down at Games Expo they had some rather nice mats laid out, so if you have some large bits of neoprene lying around that would be ideal.
Each element has 3 different types of pieces, Elements, Barriers and Lords. When setting up your part of the board, the choices are endless: make a massive wall of barriers, stack the elements high on top of each other ready to launch around the play area, do whatever you want to protect your Lord. Players then take it in turns to flick one of their pieces at their opponents, keeping in mind that you cannot flick barriers, only Elements and the Lord. Any piece that leaves the play area because of this is out. Play until there is only one Lord standing!
I did love how loose the rules were whilst still providing structure to what is ultimately a pretty light game. People can play as they please, and there seems there might be a lot of scope for different ‘battlefields’ and force setups. The pieces are solid and satisfying to flick, and a delight to hear whack into each other as they go spinning across the play area.
Something in the Air
I love how simple 4 Elements is and the visual of it is fantastic. However, the price of entry is pretty high for what is ultimately a light game. At the time of writing I can only find one entry for the game on their facebook page at £89! You can buy a lot of game for £89, and while I really enjoyed my time with 4 elements at that price tag I would simply not add it to my collection (keep in mind lots of games I like I don’t own as my space is very limited).
[Edit: The fine folks that produce this game have let me know there is now a cheaper version available for £35. You can find that version here. That’s a much better price for this very pretty game.]
My current dexterity game of choice is Ascending Empires, but honestly even that hasn’t had play for sometime and will probably go in my upcoming purge. I’m not sure if I even have the desire to own a dexterity game at the moment, though I do like the look of Catacombs.
Water way to go
Ok so 4 Elements is not for me, but is it for you? I would say that if you run a club where you are frequently catering to families that this could be a great addition to the collection. It’s bright, colourful incredibly eye catching and dead simple to explain and play. I have no doubt for the right family that this might see tons of play. The design team are pretty active on the con circuit, so always worth having a look at it in real life and deciding if it is for you before buying.