Moose tracks are more than a delicious ice cream flavor—they can also be the vehicle for some adorable and whimsical gameplay. In Elk Fest, two players are pitted against each other as elk named Jule and Ole. WAIT. Elk? I thought we were talking about moose? Well, those large species of animal from the deer family are often called “moose” in North America but are more commonly referred to as “elk” in Eurasia. Further adding to the confusion, there are animals referred to as elk in North America—but they are completely different. For the sake of argument, lets just say Jule and Ole are moose.
Elk Fest transforms any surface into a river with either side housing river bank pieces. Each moose is standing on opposite sides in the style of an old western high noon shootout. Each river bank is equipped with three river stones that can be flung and flicked to your moose-heart’s content. Why flick? Your goal is to create a path that will allow you to safely maneuver across the river to the other side. Player’s take turns flicking two or three stones (depending on turn order). Once flicked, a stone can be forced off course by the opposing player’s flick—herein lies the gameplay. No player “owns” a stone, rather all stones are fair game. Before, between, or after flicks, you can decide to let your moose take a step from one stone to another. Careful though, if you should fall into the river the opposing player’s turn starts immediately, your moose is placed back to its most recently dry position, and they get three flicks instead of two.
As a dexterity game, you might not expect much story—and you’d be right. I would, however, like to point out the symptom of the human condition often referred to as “the grass is always greener”. Jule and Ole are literally struggling to actualize that idiom as they traverse the river stone-by-stone to get to the other side. I’ll also point out that there is no reason to get that heady about this game—just get that flick’n finger ready.
The components of the game are a nice and hefty wood. Each river bank comes with a set of stickers that act as anti-skid cushions to keep the gameplay stable. The bits are a perfect size for uncoordinated kiddy hands and klutzy adults. The game box is small and could easily be consolidated into a little travel bag or tossed in a pocket for a game on the go.
Elk Fest has been a perfect coffee shop game for me; just enough light-hearted fun without any real need for attention or focus. As a standalone game, it fills a small time slot and keeps a conversation flowing. As a filler game, it’s a nice mental break with just the right amount of dexterity.