Elephant Run

Players 2
Length 10 minutes
Equipment Required piecepack
Designer JimAdams and AmyEnge
Version 1.2
Version Date2004-10-29
License Unspecified , re-licensed CC BY-SA 4.0


In Elephant' Run, one player is an elephant that’s big, strong, and equipped with a good memory and a huge appetite. The other player controls a group of six rice patty farmers in India trying to eke out enough sustenance to support their huge households. Things are tough enough for the farmers until one day the elephant decides to use the shared rice patty as the lunch buffet. While local statutes prevent the farmers from hurting the elephantine freeloader, it is perfectly legal for the farmers to starve to death should they not find some nonviolent way to save their crop. So, they run into the patty and try to herd the elephant out. Assuming they can avoid getting stepped on, will they be able to save enough of their rice patty for the upcoming harvest?


Reviews & Comments

Elephant Run is a humorous reworking of traditional chase games such as Foxes and Geese, with a few new territorial elements thrown in. One player controls an elephant (pawn) that travels around a four by six grid of rice paddies (tiles), eating them as it goes. The second player controls six rice farmers (coins), and tries to prevent the elephant from eating rice paddies and stampeding farmers. The elephant can capture by stampeding (jumping over) a farmer, provided the space beyond the farmer is an uneaten rice paddy without a farmer in it. But an elephant cannot re-enter a rice paddy that has already been eaten. Farmers, however, can jump without capture as above or may run freely across ravaged rice paddies to quickly get into position to block the elephant from eating more of their livelihood. The elephant's player wins by scoring ten or more points (any combination of eating tiles and/or stampeding farmers), otherwise the farmers win.

We found Elephant Run to be interesting for the first few plays, but upon further analysis it seemed like a full solution to the game was just around the corner. So the replay value might not be very high for those who want a deep intellectual challenge. But this isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially for a game where the target audience appears to be children or parents playing with their children. None of our games took longer than ten minutes to play, which is also good for kids with short attention spans. There's even a built-in method of compensating for stronger or weaker players -- simply change the number of points required for the elephant to win. For these especially child-friendly features, Elephant Run comes recommended, although adults are likely to lose interest.

With the exception of a few minor flubs, the ruleset was fairly well written, albeit not very easy to refer back to when rules questions came up during the first few plays. The ruleset could be improved by dividing the text into subsections, or at least by using shorter paragraphs. The use of graphics was good, overall, but in the release version I would like to see one more graphic clarifying when a farmer may or may not jump or use its special running movement. For example, when the space beyond another farmer is empty, a farmer may not both jump and run to the next available rice paddy. For players of roughly equal skill, ten points did, in fact, seem to be about right for a closely balanced game. The appendix was just adequate, but the flavor text and additional graphics were nice touches.

Conclusion: Elephant Run is a quick, fun little game, but it certainly won't appeal to everyone, and is probably solvable. But those very qualities earn it the consolation prize of Best Children's Game. Score: 21.93

-- ClarkRodeffer

Oct 19, 2004

CategoryGame MechanicAsymmetricCategory ChaseCategory