Posted by: gschloesser | August 2, 2011

Elk Fest

Design by:  Hermann Huber
Published by:  Mayfair
2 Players, 10 – 15 minutes
Review by:  Greg J. Schloesser

 

Years ago, I took some heat for describing Crokinole as a “flicking” game.  I admit I was being flippant, as the game undeniably involves considerable skill and a decent amount of strategy.  Still, at its heart, it is a game of flicking a disk, and that requires a different type of skill than is present in most board games I tend to play.  Much the same can be said of Elk Fest, a fun, but very light dexterity game from designer Hermann Huber

The goal of Elkfest is quite simple:  strategically place stones so you can safely guide your wooden elk across a raging river.  This is accomplished by flicking wooden disks into proper position, which then serve as stepping stones for the elk.  As long as the front legs of the elk figure can reach the next stone, it can move onto it.  The idea is to position the stones at just the right increments so the elk can move from stone-to-stone without falling into the river.

The elk tokens begin on opposite sides of the table, each resting on a riverbank piece.  Three wooden “stones” are set beside each elk, and the game begins.  Players alternate flicking two stones per turn, then moving their elk, if possible.  On the first two turns, players must only flick their own stones, but thereafter may flick any stone that does not contain an elk.  After flicking stones, the player may attempt to move his elk.  To move, the front legs of the elk must be able to reach a stone.  In other words, it must be within leg-length of the elk’s existing location.  After moving, the back legs of the elk must rest upon the stone upon which its front legs previously rested.  A player may move the elk as far as possible as long as these conditions are met. 

If a player attempts to move the elk, but the distance proves too far, the elk falls into the water, and returns to its last dry position.  The stones are also returned to their previous positions.  This same consequence is suffered if an elk is knocked over by a sliding stone.  As a penalty, the player’s turn ends immediately and his opponent gets to flick three stones on his turn.  Likewise, if a player flicks a stone off the table, their opponent also gets to flick three stones on their next turn.  Flick carefully!  

The game concludes when one player successfully moves his elk onto the opposite riverbank tile.  Generally, this takes from ten-to-fifteen minutes, but it can be shorter or longer based on the skill of the players.  

Elk Fest does require some skill when flicking the stones, but it isn’t a deep, highly refined skill.  It is more on the order of the skill required to play paper football well.  Size-up the shot, flick the disk, and hope it comes to rest at the desired position.  Since there are only six stones in play, and four of them will generally be occupied by the legs of the elks, that leaves only two disks to flick on each turn.  Often, these are way out of position, so it takes some skill to maneuver them where you desire.  The more you flick, the better you will get, and the quicker the game will play to conclusion. 

Elk Fest is a cute diversion, but little more.  It is light fun, but with adults, it runs its course quickly.  It is a good choice while in a restaurant or waiting for other gamers to arrive, but after a few playings, I’m done with it.  But I’m probably not the target audience.  The audience is likely a younger group – the same group that still enjoys a rousing game of paper football.  I used to be one of those folks, and fondly remember wiling away many a recess hour flicking a paper football along a wooden bench, attempting to rise to glory and best my boyhood friends.  Those days are long past, however, and the amusement derived from such pastimes no longer keeps my attention for long.  However, for those who are still in that age group, Elk Fest should be a welcome alternative.

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Responses

  1. This game is the one that proved to me that I don’t “flick” very well and thus should stay away from these kinds of games. On the positive side, this game works very well for what it is. (5/10)


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