Attack the ships! Collect all the elements! Loot and Eleminis are two of my favorite card games, ones I’ve pulled out since my kids were young. I was curious when I heard both were getting redone, and looked forward to checking them out for GeekMom. I knew the artwork would be different, but what about the game itself? They both arrived around the same time. I was excited to try the new versions and invited my teen son and two young nieces to play with me.
Eleminis! Eleminis! Eleminis! Throughout the years of socializing with gamers and non-gamers alike, I have come to divide my vast card and board collection into categories: party games vs. strategy games, games based on age groups, space considerations, time to play, etc. There is only one game that seems to fall into so many categories that it’s hard to classify (in my wanna-be-librarian brain) and that’s Eleminis. As a little-known game that had a short-run first edition, most people have never heard of it. I have introduced it to groups of intense, hard-core gamers and at distracted extended family gatherings. Grandparents, teens, and preschoolers all enjoy it. There’s no set-up time, explanation of rules is simple, it’s constantly interactive, competitive but fun, and game time is short enough to whip it out at every opportunity. Which I do. However, I was getting worried about my copy because it had started to get worn, and replacing it would be expensive. You can get a vintage copy yourself if you want. Then I heard a new game publisher was creating a second edition of Eleminis. THANK YOU, FLYING MEEPLE! I practically kissed the new box when it arrived. I’m so serious. I love this game. Here’s me getting whupped by my niece when she was only three.
For 2–8 players of any age, place the deck of cards on the table. Imagine five open card slots in front of each player. On each turn, the player picks up a card and places it on an open slot. Anyone’s slot, not just their own. The goal is to collect five elements (Water, Air, Fire, Rock, Plant). The order of elements isn’t important, and more than one of the same kind can be in front of a player. Each element can replace two other specific elements. Trash cards can take away an element and use up a slot. Star cards are wild and can take away anything, including Trash. There are also action cards to swap, take away, or move around the cards on the table. Game play continues (the discard pile can be shuffled and reused) until one person has all the five elements (or star cards).
The second edition has all new artwork, which we love. Each element has a more three-dimensional style, and they are still adorable, but have distinct personalities. The Star especially is amusing in that it looks SO FREAKIN’ EXCITED! The action cards now are anthropomorphic as well. Unlike the old version, the new Star, Trash, and action cards have visual depictions of what each card can take away—very helpful during play.
Skip and Two Discard cards are gone. Thank you for that—we really never liked the Skip card. There are fewer Trash cards, and there is a new card called Recycle, which means you discard one and take another turn. There is a light environmentally friendly tone to the new Eleminis that we appreciated. Not just the new Recycle card, but the Trash card is described as “pollution.” The directions included are very visual and well written out. Players are encouraged to get creative and make up their own games using the cards. I liked that note.
My son missed the blank cards that came in the old deck. After playing several fun rounds, he wanted to make “Empowered Elements!” cards that could do super things like search the discard pile for extra elements to play on your turn, or your own row cannot lose any cards for one round, etc. Maybe for the third edition… But all of us had fun with the new edition. Now I can retire my first edition happily.
Loot by Gamewright is a pirate-themed card game. I am a total pirate geek. I’ve held a kid’s history camp all about pirates. September 19th is a very important day in my house. With ships to plunder, gold booty to collect, pirate captains to play, Loot is a good time.
Although suggested for ages 10 and up, I’ve taught younger kids without a problem. You can play with two or three people, but it’s better with at least four (you can play up to eight). There are four types of cards: merchant ships with various amounts of gold pieces depicted on them, pirate ships with their strength depicted by skulls and crossbones, four pirate captains, and one Admiral. Very easy set up. Everyone starts with six cards. The rest of the cards go in a draw pile. There is no hand limit, but if at the end of the game, any merchant ships still in your hand are deducted from your total. The goal is to capture merchant ships with the highest amount of gold pieces. The way to do this is to attack with pirate ships. On each turn, players can do one of several things: pick up a card, lay down a merchant ship card, or attack a merchant ship in play with a pirate card.
Players win a ship if they have lain down a ship and no one attacked it for that round, or they have attacked another ship and have the highest amount of skull and cross-bone pirate cards after a round. The pirate captains trump to win a ship, but if another player has a pirate captain too, the last one to place the card wins. The Admiral is as strong as a captain, but can only be played by the person who laid down the ship in the first place. The speed of the game depends a lot on the luck of the draw and how risky players are in placing down merchant ships (instead of hoarding them). It’s most fun when multiple ships are in play and everyone is trash-pirate-talking each other. The game ends when the draw pile is done and a player cannot place a card.
The new version has no rule changes; it’s strictly cosmetic, which is an improvement. It comes in a tin, which may seem like a small detail, but I was happy to see it. My old version’s box is falling apart, so I know the new one will last for years to come. The artwork is very different. The old one was cartoony, the new version’s pirates have more realistic illustrations of mean-looking pirates. Personally, I liked the old silly ones. But the biggest change is the colors on the pirate ships. It was frustrating to distinguish between the blue and green on the old version. The new version is very distinct—yay! I mean, Yarrrr!
GeekMom received copies for review purposes.