Elric, Battle at the End of Time

Chaosium, Inc., 1981, 1-4 players, ages 12 and up. Elric is based on the fantasy writings of Michael Moorcock. I haven't read any of the books, but that isn't a requisite for playing the game. Elric is a pretty standard strategic war-game, executed very poorly. This is my second Chaosium game (the other being Arkham Horror) and it's become quite clear to me that these people don't (or at least didn't) know how to write decent rules. They're poorly organized, incomplete, inconclusive and generally irritating. One almost gets the impression that they don't bother play-testing their games with people who are not already familiar with the game and its rules. It only took us about 30 seconds to come up with questions that are not covered by the rules, and things went downhill from there. I can't think of a worse way to spend an evening's gaming than spending all of one's time arguing over game mechanics not fully explained (or not explained at all) by the rules. Further muddying the waters are the proper names used in the game (places, persons and things). I assume these come right out of the books and so perhaps Chaosium can't be held entirely liable, but these nonsensical "throw scrabble tiles up in the air and see what they spell" names only serve to further frustrate the players. The game pieces are cheap paper and cardboard and the art is amateurish to the point of almost being childish. The game itself (or at least, what we managed to cobble together) is uninspired. You have armies, personalities, artifacts, magic spells and fleets. The basic goal is to take over a lot of territory and become powerful enough to conquer "Melnibone" (if you don't know, forget about it, it doesn't matter). New pieces are garnered basically at random (through something they call "mustering"). This game eschews any sort of production scheme, much to its detriment if you ask me. A strategic war game with elements of fantasy could've been pretty interesting, but this game manages to screw it up at every stage. I dunno, I could go into more detail, but what would be the point? This is an obscure game from decades ago that certainly deserves its place in gaming limbo. My set is going back to eBay (or the garbage if nobody bids on it).

Avalon Hill acquired and published this game in 1984. No idea whether or not they improved the rules.

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