It’s Independence Day here in the USA, and fun loving Americans everywhere are drinking beer, setting off explosives, and firing handguns wildly into the air. Yee haw. It’s a day for backyard barbecues and spending time with family, which is exactly what I will be doing. One of the things I always bring to these gatherings is a bag of games.

A good game for a family BBQ

Eleminis is a quick and family friendly card game for 2-8 players, designed by Michael, Matthew, and Joshua Laird. It’s basically a set collecting game where players try to be the first to collect a set of five elements: air, rocks, fire, plants, and water. There are two basic card types in Eleminis: character cards and action cards. The character cards include the five elements I mentioned, stars, and trash. Star cards are wild and count as any of the five elements. Trash cards are well, trash. They just take up space in your card row and keep you from winning. The action cards allow you to do special things like swap, discard, or move cards from one card row to another.

Draw a card and play it

The rules for Eleminis are pretty simple. On your turn, you draw a card and then choose to either play it into your own row of cards in front of you, or play it into a row of cards in front of one of your opponents. Each player has room for five cards in front of them. If a player has space for an additional card, then the new card can simply be played in that space; however, if there are no available spaces, then cards can be played to replace weaker cards. Each element card shows two elements that are weaker; for example, water can replace rocks and fire. Stars can replace any character card, and trash can replace anything but a star.

Grandma might get mad

Once you draw your card, you have to play it, even if you don’t like the results. If a card doesn’t get you closer to the win, then you are going to want to play it on someone else, so there is definitely a “gotcha” aspect to this game. Luckily, it’s a pretty quick game, like maybe 15 minutes at most, so I haven’t had an issue with it. Try to spread the “gotchas” around and don’t pick on the little ones too much.

A lesson learned

I was really happy to see this new release of Eleminis. My kids gave me the first edition of the game as a birthday gift, probably around four years ago, but I after it sat unopened for a couple of weeks, I returned it to my FLGS and got used the credit to get something else. I know, lame. I had played the game once back in 2012 and honestly, I didn’t think much of it. In retrospect, I now realize that it was because I played it with gamers and not with kids. Months later, my friend Jen brought a copy to play with my son’s robotics team during some downtime at a tournament, and they all loved it. I immediately went back to my FLGS to purchase another copy, and sad trombone they were all gone. They were really gone, like out of print gone. Sad sad Jeff learns a valuable lesson. Anyway, now it’s back, better than ever, with new artwork!

What do I think of it?

Look, not every game is a finely crafted wonder of modern game-making science. Some games are just meant to be quick, fun, and easy to play. Eleminis is a perfect example of a family friendly game that you can toss in your bag when you are at a picnic or barbecue and have a good time playing with children. It requires very little brainpower, so if you have had a few adult beverages, it’s unlikely to change your gameplay. I think Eleminis is fun, and I’m happy to have it back in my collection. Pick it up from your FLGS, or you can buy it online from Game Salute.

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