I have long been a fan of Alan Moon’s original White Wind version of Elfenroads and the beautiful Amigo/Rio Grande version Elfenland that won the German Game of the Year (Spiel des Jahres) in 1998. So I volunteered to take on the duties of GM to run the tournament for the new edition—called Elfenroads, but including Elfenland, Elfengold, and a new variant called Elfensea. Elfenroads was also being featured as one of the three annual Café Jay offerings, and so had ongoing demos in the Open Gaming area. A couple of times during the week I saw folks preparing to play and either taught the game or answered questions.
The Demo on Thursday afternoon was well attended, by about a dozen folks. The rules were quickly explained, then six played a quick 3-turn game. For the heats, we would play games with three rounds of movement and in the Final we would play through four rounds and include the variant rule of having to end the game in or near your secret home city.
The first heat was early Thursday evening, and was attended by 15 adventurous players eager to guide their young elves in visiting as many of the 20 cities as they could in three rounds. Sam Shambeda visited 16 cities, besting the 15 cities of his father Steve, Nikki Bradford, Morgan LaDue and Devin Beyma. This was the only board in which no one used their log token (obstacle) to attempt to block another player. Pam Przybylski-LaDue and Woolly Farrow V each reached 15 cities on their board, but Pam had one card left to Woolly’s none, giving her the win, while Pete Gathman, David Sander and Tom DeMarco were stopped at 13 cities after everyone deployed their logs on the last turn. Anne Norton visited 16 cities in her win over Richard Beyma (15), Jason Long (15), Rachel LaDue (15) and Mikaela Kumlander (14).
The second heat, at 9:00 the next morning, drew nine players, only three of whom hadn’t played in the first heat. Eric Wrobel hadn’t played before, but came early and was given a brief synopsis of the rules. He then went on to victory on his board, visiting 17 cities in the only 4-player board over Anni Foasberg (16), Morgan (15), and Steve (14). On the other board Tom edged out a win (15 and two cards) over Doug Faust (15 and one card), Rachel (14), Pam (13), and David (12).
The semifinal was scheduled for 6:00 PM on Friday. All five winners arrived, along with the first alternate Anni, so it was decided to make this game the Final. Already ongoing in the Laurel room at that time was the semifinal and Final rounds of Galaxy. Also starting at the same time as us was the Galaxy Trucker semifinal and Final. Then at 7:00 PM in came the semifinal of Race for the Galaxy. It wasn’t overcrowded, but it was interesting (at least to me). Anyway, on the first turn First Elf Tom used seven cards to visit seven cities in the East, ending in Strykhaven. Sam used eight cards to visit six cities, ending in Rivinia. Eric used seven cards to visit six cities, ending in Dag’Amura. Pam used six cards to visit four cities, ending in Tichih’. And Anne visited six cities using seven cards and ending in Mah’Davikia. Turn 2 saw smaller gains by the players as they were farther apart and could not piggyback off of their opponents’ tile placements as easily. Sam brought his total to ten, ending in Jaccaranda, Eric was now at 11 and in Feodor, Pam jumped to ten and rested in Usselen, Anne moved up to 11 and stopped in Al’Baran, while Tom kept pace with 11 but was balked at Grangor. Turn 3 was even harder, as the players collectively used more cards this turn (39 of the 40 cards in their hands, 36 on Turn 2, 35 on Turn 1) to visit less cities. Eric did best, getting up to 17 and ending in Parundia, Pam got to 14 and ended in Mah’Davikia, Anne only advanced to 14 and collapsed in Feodor, Tom ended in the desert of Al’Baran with 16, and Sam moved his way to 15 and ended in Dag’Amura. Anne and Sam did a little trick on this turn that I hadn’t seen before - using a three-card caravan to move over a road they could have used a single card to traverse so as to get cards out of their hand that they didn’t want for the last turn.
The last turn arrived and Eric was in the lead, needing only to visit three cities. He probably wouldn’t get to the cul-de-sac Kiromah, which only Anne had visited so far, but one of the other two was probably his home city. Everyone else was worried about putting their tiles out, lest they draw a log. So after a couple of safe tile placements, Anne’s move of placing a slow going (2 card) Magic Cloud tile on the in-and-out road to Kiromah, and Pam’s attempt to slow Eric down with a log between the two adjacent cities he still needed to visit, we all passed before noticing that we had ended the tile placement phase too soon! Eric was able to use five cards to gain two cities, ending in his home city of Yttar for a score of 19 cities minus 0 for ending in his home city. Anne did the best on this turn, picking up five cities to also reach 19 cities and ending in her home city of Erg’Eren. But Eric had three cards left to Anne’s 1, so he won on the tiebreaker and Anne got second. Sam only got three cities, ending with 18 in his home city of Wylhien with one card and a log. Pam got four cities, ending with 18 in her home city of Virst with one card and no log, giving Sam third place and Pam fourth. Tom was most hurt, only getting two cities to total 18, but was four cities away from his home city of Strykhaven.