Elfenland: Fantasy Board Game Rules, Winning Strategies, and Play Instructions


Elfenland is a fantasy-based board game that takes players on a journey through a world of elves, dragons, and unicorns. The game was designed by Alan R. Moon and first published in 1998 by Amigo Spiele. It won the prestigious Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) award in Germany in the same year, cementing its place in the annals of board game history. The game is designed for 2 to 6 players, for ages 10 and up, and typically lasts between 60 to 90 minutes.

The objective of Elfenland is to travel through the mystical land, visiting as many of the 20 cities as possible within four rounds. Players use transportation cards and travel counters to navigate the map, overcoming various terrain challenges along the way. The game requires strategic planning, resource management, and a bit of luck to win.

Elfenland is a board game that was first published in 1998 by Amigo Spiele in Germany and later by Rio Grande Games in the United States. The game was designed by renowned game designer Alan R. Moon, who also created the popular game Ticket to Ride.

The game is set in a mythical world where players take on the role of young elves, embarking on an adventure across their homeland. The objective of the game is to visit as many of the twenty Elfencities as possible.

Elfenland is a reimplementation of an older game called Elfenroads, which was also designed by Alan R. Moon and released in 1992. Elfenroads combined elements of a race game with pick up and delivery mechanics. It was well-received but had limited availability, which prompted Moon to reimagine the game as Elfenland.

The concept of Elfenland was well-received. It won the prestigious Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) award in 1998, which is considered one of the most significant achievements in the board gaming industry. It also received a nomination for the Deutscher Spiele Preis, another major award in the board game community.

In 2015, Amigo Spiele released an anniversary edition of Elfenland along with a new expansion, Elfengold. This edition also included elements from the original Elfenroads game, offering players a more complex and strategic gaming experience.

I really enjoyed playing games of Elfenland because of the simple yet strategic gameplay which has a whiff of Tolkien and LOTR about it – charming fantasy themes, and high-quality components. Its success has made a significant impact on the board game industry, inspiring other designers to create similarly themed and mechanically driven games.

Rules for playing Elfenland

  1. Each player chooses a color and takes the corresponding elf boot markers and home city card.
  2. The game board is set up with the city cards shuffled and placed face down. Each player draws a card to determine their starting city.
  3. Players take turns placing transportation counters on the routes between cities. These counters determine the type of transportation (e.g., dragon, unicorn, raft) that can be used on that route.
  4. Players then use their transportation cards to move along the routes, aiming to visit as many cities as possible.
  5. At the end of each round, players count the number of cities they have visited and mark it with their elf boot markers.
  6. The game ends after four rounds. The player who has visited the most cities wins the game.

While these are the official rules, players can introduce ‘house rules’ to add variety to the game. For example, players could agree to use a specific type of transportation for a round or limit the number of cities that can be visited in a round.

View (PDF) the official rulebook for Elfenland here – View Elfenland Rulebook

How to Win at Elfenland

Winning at Elfenland requires a combination of strategic planning, efficient use of resources, and adaptability. Here are some strategies that can help players of all levels improve their game.

  1. Plan your route: At the start of each round, look at the map and plan your route. Try to visit as many cities as possible while using the least amount of transportation cards.
  2. Use your transportation counters wisely: These counters can be used to block routes or make them more accessible. Use them strategically to hinder your opponents or aid your own travel.
  3. Adapt to the game: The game board changes with each round as players place new transportation counters. Be ready to adapt your strategy based on these changes.
  4. Manage your resources: Keep an eye on your transportation cards. Running out of cards can leave you stranded and unable to visit more cities.

Remember, the key to winning Elfenland is not just about visiting the most cities, but doing so in the most efficient way possible.

Best Strategies for playing Elfenland game

The best strategies for playing Elfenland involve a mix of offensive and defensive plays. On the offensive side, aim to visit as many cities as possible each round. On the defensive side, use your transportation counters to block routes and hinder your opponents’ progress.

Another effective strategy is to keep a diverse set of transportation cards. This gives you more flexibility in navigating the map and allows you to adapt to changes in the game board.

Finally, don’t forget to keep an eye on your opponents. Anticipate their moves and adjust your strategy accordingly. If you see an opponent heading towards a city you’re planning to visit, consider changing your route or using a transportation counter to block their path.

Scenarios for Elfenland

Elfenland is a dynamic game that presents players with a variety of scenarios. Here are some common situations you might find yourself in, and how to turn them to your advantage.

  1. You’re running out of transportation cards: If you find yourself running low on cards, consider visiting cities that require fewer cards to reach. You can also try to acquire more cards through trades with other players.
  2. An opponent is blocking your route: If an opponent has placed a transportation counter on a route you planned to use, consider using a different type of transportation if possible. If not, you might need to change your route.
  3. You’re falling behind: If you’re trailing behind other players, don’t panic. Remember, the game is not just about visiting the most cities, but doing so efficiently. Focus on planning your route and managing your resources effectively.

Remember, every scenario in Elfenland is an opportunity to refine your strategy and improve your game.

Frequently Asked Questions about playing Elfenland game

How many players can play Elfenland? Elfenland is designed for 2 to 6 players.

How long does a game of Elfenland typically last? A game of Elfenland typically lasts between 60 to 90 minutes.

What is the objective of Elfenland? The objective of Elfenland is to visit as many of the 20 cities as possible within four rounds.

Can I block an opponent’s route in Elfenland? Yes, you can use your transportation counters to block routes and hinder your opponents’ progress.

What age is Elfenland suitable for? Elfenland is suitable for players aged 10 and up.

For more information about Elfenland, visit the official game website here.

Official rulebook for Elfenland hereView