Elementis

The theme for the Berlin Mini Game Jam on March 2011 was “colors”.  I teamed up with Volando and we came up with a simple design for a small strategy game that would work similar to a board game.

The game was already fun to play at the jam, we got excited and we thought that we could turn it into a full game.  Unfortunately, there was never time for this.  It needed a huge resedign of the user interface, and on top of that, the fact that there are no instructions available.  The rules, through simple once you’ve figured them out, are a bit obscure on first play.  We never got around to implement a proper tutorial, not even to write a text-based introduction to the game.  It’s been a few years since, and this has become another one of those projects in my hard disk that I’d like to redo from scratch one day but never find time to.

The game can be played between up to 4 players at the same computer, or against the machine.  There are 2-player, 3-player and 4-player modes, and each player can be “human” or “machine”.  There’s also a handful of boards to choose from, and two rulesets; which are basically the same except for one single rule, the one that lets you defend your territories; this one is not present in the “aggresive” mode, turning that one into “the player who plays last wins”.

A brief explanation on the rules: It’s a turn-based game.  In your turn, you place one of your “pieces” in the board.  There are 4 types of pieces: Fire, air, earth and water.  The relationship between the pieces is as follows:  Fire burns air.  Air blows earth.  Earth covers water.  Water extinguishes fire.  Which means that fire and earth do not interact with each other, and air and water are also mutually neutral.  The board might or might not have gaps, you can only place pieces in the non-gap positions.  Once the board is full, the game finishes, and the player with the higher score wins.  The moment you put a piece on the board, it’s compared with its 4 neighbours ( above, below, left and right ).  If the piece “kills” that neighbour, the neighbour is transformed into a copy of your piece; in other words, you “capture” it.  That only happens with pieces from other players: your own pieces cannot capture each other.  The effect then cascades down, evaluating the neighbours of the captured piece.  But, if your piece “loses” against the “enemy” piece, it’s your piece the one that transforms (but does not cascade), you have basically given that piece to your opponent.  Note that sometimes that’s what you want, depending on your strategy.  Now, the difference between the two modes, is that in the “aggressive” mode your piece can still capture enemy pieces before it gets transformed.  In the normal mode, you can only capture pieces if you are not captured yourself, which means that you can strategically locate your pieces so that they defend each other.  At the end of the game, the player with more captured pieces in the board is the winner, the number of captured pieces each player has during the game is shown on the sides of the board.

Anyway, I hope you like it.  I must confess that I did “invest” a lot of time “testing” the game in the 1-human against 3-AI mode: if you know how the game works it’s fun to play again and again.

Elementis

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