Elementos is a deceptively simple abstract two-player game which is easy to play but much harder to master.
The wooden box opens out to form the 3 x 8 square playing grid. Each player has nine discs and a ‘wand’ that fits into the hole on each disc. The discs are each double sided and have on each side symbols representing fire, wood or water. The symbols on each side of the disc differ, so a disc showing fire will have either water or wood on its obverse side. The owner can peek to see what symbols are on the reverse of each of his pieces but cannot peek at his opponent’s pieces. The fire/wood/water symbols work using the rock/scissors/paper mechanic: fire takes wood, wood takes water, water takes fire.
The object is to advance the wand to your opponent’s back row. The discs and the wand can move sideways or forward (including diagonally forward). Pieces can never move back. The disc with the wand in it can only advance to the square directly in front of it but it cannot attack or be attacked.
As an alternative to moving a piece or taking an opponent’s disc vulnerable to yours, you can choose to flip a disc to its other side. The trick in this game is to manoeuvre pieces so that they threaten and take your opponent’s discs without being taken in turn.
Elementos is a very cleverly designed game that plays quickly. It offers a refreshing alternative to checkers (draughts) but it scratches a similar urge, and it can be played on fairly equal terms by adults and children. Production values are high: the box/board and wooden components are attractive but it also makes the game highly portable.