Elfenland

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Elfenland is a German-style board game designed by Alan R. Moon and published by Amigo Games in Germany and Rio Grande Games in the United States in 1998. It won the Spiels Des Jahres in 1998 and the Deutscher SpielePreis 3rd place 1998. It is originally based on his earlier game Elfenroads, but since Elfenroads took about four hours for a good game he simplified the play to reduce the time closer to an hour making it appeal better for a family game.

The game is played by 2-6 players with 4-5 making for the best game. Each player tries to reach as many cities as possible and then return to their "home city." Home cities are drawn at the beginning of the game from a pack of city cards and they remain hidden throughout the game.

Players move using transportation cards. Elves can travel on a wide variety of vehicles including troll wagons, elf cycles, rafts, giant pigs, unicorns, dragons and magic clouds. Different types of transportation will travel better over different terrain. There is only one problem: you cannot travel over a route (except water) unless there is a tile of that type on the board. Before anyone can move, tiles are drawn and laid out across the board and this part is the one that calls for the most strategy as players try to line up their tiles to set up a nice route for themselves and try to mess up their opponents at the same time.

As well as normal tiles, each player receives one trouble tile for the length of the game. These mess up other players by forcing them to use an extra transportation card at that point. Also, any player can simply use any three cards to pass over any route that has a tile already there.

The game has subtle strategies to make others navigate through the cities. When a player puts a transportation type you don't want in your path then you have to find a way around it. All of the aspects of the game make for a very exciting race to visit the most cities while never quite being sure who is winning until the last round.