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Elements: The Card Game

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Rating: 4.6/5 (147 votes)
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KyleElements The GameIn 1993, a small gaming company called Wizards of the Coast published a novel card game developed by college professor Richard Garfield called Magic: The Gathering. Originally intended to be something of a casual game to be played in between the larger campaigns present at gaming conventions, Magic's popularity almost immediately exploded. In the seventeen years since, not only has the game maintained its popularity, but it has also spawned a number of other collectable card games, each in their own turn serving as the source for novels, manga, and Saturday morning cartoons. There have even been a number of browser based collectible card games including Elements, a surprisingly deep and well rounded offering from Zanzarino Design.

In this fantasy themed collectible card game, you take on the role of an elemental, a kind of mystical spirit composed of one of the twelve elements, or fundamental building blocks of existence. As an elemental there are a number of skills available to you that you can employ to test your might against other elementals. If you are very good and very lucky, you may even prove strong enough to challenge beings claiming to be invincible gods.

Before you even think about annoying deities, though, it might be wise to familiarize yourself with the basics. In your standard duel each elemental begins with 100 health points, and your goal is to reduce your opponent's health to zero. You'll accomplish this using three basic card types: creatures, spells, and permanents. Creatures will attempt to attack your opponent each turn and sometimes come with special abilities that can further give other elementals severe headaches. Spells are cards that produce their effect once and are then discarded. Permanents, as their name might suggest, are played and continue to produce their effect permanently throughout the game (unless, of course, another card is played that negates the effect or destroys the card).

Of course, playing these cards isn't free and that's where "Quanta" comes in. Most cards require a certain amount of element specific quanta in order to come into play, and to get that quanta, you'll need to play special permanent cards such as pillars and pendulums. While we're covering quanta, it's also worth mentioning that often times the special abilities of some monsters also requires the usage of quanta to activate. Manage your quanta and knock your opponent out before he gets you, and you'll win some Electrum (that's the in game currency), and maybe even win a card.

Like all good collectable card games, the nuances and mechanics of Elements could go on and on, and also like all good collectable card games, the best way to acclimate yourself to them is to get in there and play. In between matches you'll be able to manage your deck, visit an oracle that gives you money and sometimes cards and special abilities, embark upon quests (which act more like a tutorial than anything else) and you can visit the bazaar where you can buy lots of cards and build up your deck. Happily enough, unlike real card games, you won't have to save up a week's worth of lunch money doing so.

Elements The GameAnalysis: In many ways, Elements manages to capture much of the spirit that I once felt when I used to play its spiritual ancestor over a decade and a half ago. It sparks the imagination and puts your vision and strategic mettle to the test. It can suck you in for hours at a time, but with each match lasting hardly more than a few minutes on average, Elements can be as casual an experience as you like. There's even plenty of camaraderie to be had as you chat with other players over strategy, which card is the best to upgrade, what elements work best with each other, etc.

In truth, Elements plays much like a streamlined version of Magic: The Gathering, but it is important to note that there are plenty of differences at work here to make Elements its own game. Here, the complexity of the game's structure as a whole is minimized; however, the interplay that goes on among the dozen different elements creates a breadth of diversity and possibility that lends a wonderful capacity for complexity in strategy and deck building.

And yet, with so many different elements available, this game manages to maintain an admirable balance. No one element is "better" than any other element. Instead, each element has its own personality. Entropy relies heavily on instilling chaos and status effects, Death focuses on poison and capitalizing off of creatures removed from play. There is no single winning element, nor is there any guaranteed successful combination of elements. Monochrome decks can put a serious beat down before the other side has a chance to act, but Rainbow decks can be particularly brutal when crafted right.

Like so many collectible card games, deck building is a major part of Elements, a fact that has its positives and negatives. Elements provides a wonderful support system to take advantage of in between duels from an in game store to an unlockable upgrade service to an oracle that can be visited daily for money among other things. I think the biggest thing lacking here is a way for players to barter cards directly amongst each other. This is particularly true when you start earning rare cards that don't really fit well in your deck. Another downside to how much emphasis is put on deck building is that once you get to a certain skill level, it becomes almost necessary to have an extremely focused deck. The problem with this is that while deck building is intense, actual matches can end up feeling like they are being played on auto-pilot as your deck only revolves around a single strategy.

Elements The GameIt does take a while to get to this point, of course. Before you're playing at a truly competitive level you'll go through no shortage of grinding and thankfully there's a solid amount of skill stratification amongst computer opponents. You'll start at level 0 as you learn to play, but with patience, imagination, and skill, you can work your way up to playing the False Gods that inhabit level six. One of the best parts of collectible card games though is the ability to play real live players, and the bragging rights that comes from taking them to school. With a loyal and extensive following, you'll find no shortage of flesh and blood opponents to test your deck against. Unfortunately separating live opponents by skill level could have been done much better here. Unless you have someone specific you are going to duel against, PVP (player vs. player) matches are divided amongst upgraded decks and non upgraded decks. The problem here is that there's nothing stopping a highly skilled player from developing a deck without upgraded cards, meanwhile someone who finally has been able to upgrade their first card will likely get destroyed by someone with a fully upgraded deck. Creating PVP skill levels based on games played or record might give players a chance to enjoy more evenly matched games.

From a technical standpoint, Elements rates fairly well. There's a suitably large library of unique and rare cards each with its own gorgeous artwork. Meanwhile, aside from a little lag when playing PVP matches, the interface is mostly intuitive and responsive both in and out of matches. My largest complaint is that the game could do a much better job of indicating certain status effects. Sometimes when an effect is cast on a creature it will receive a marker indicating that the creature has that effect, but some effects don't leave markers which can lead to confusion if you aren't paying attention, and sometimes lose you a game if you don't realize an effect is in play soon enough.

Collectible card games can be something of an acquired taste and Elements is no different. Sure, it can be a very casual game, but you'll learn that to go much further beyond the beginner levels will require a level of dedication that is anything but casual. But Elements ultimately strikes the right formula that makes it easy to slip from a casual indulger to a devoted enthusiast. A solid mechanic supported by strong balance, versatility, and tons of creativity and possibility help make Elements an undeniably addictive offering and a respectable addition to the online collectible card game genre.

Play Elements: The Game

Thanks to Matt, Nixx, Sethum, Jb, William, Charles, Alex, and Will for sending this one in!


I played this for a while, and I did think it was a lot of fun (and quite pleasant visually). Ultimately it was the grinding that made me stop, which is a shame, because it played quite well up to that point.


I have to agree to the Tahnan, for a limited time, this game is pretty quick to pick up and fun. But I lose the will to play after I got all the Kongregate achievements due to all the grindings you need to upgrade your cards...


Wow, when you mentioned WOTC, I immediately thought of Pokemon. That was and still is a great game, but WOTC doesn't make it anymore.


Hmm...where is the tutorial? There is not much explanation or strategy--you just play what you can "afford" (and of course, there is no way of knowing how much quanta you have, so that's a crap shoot) and hope that your creatures are doing something to someone. I'd rather have more control and a useful tutorial to explain everything.

vcordie(I might be will, forgot what name i submitted with) September 1, 2010 5:14 PM

Yay, I recommended this years ago. Its about time =D. Btw, check out the offical elements forum for easy decks that you can make right from the start to grind enough cash to take on the false gods. Just dont get banned from the forums like i did.


There is a tortorial at the beginning of the game but you have to login/register.

Anyway if you really need one or have forgotten just post a comment saying you need one.


Sry for double post but @Dsrtrosy there is a chart to the far left listing how much quanta you have for each element and on the right of the cards near the top of every card in the card selector is a white band leading to the edge of the screen. Those cards with the band can be picked. So maybe you weren't paying enough attention. Oh well :/


I did register and I got a two-note "tutorial" that didn't give much in the way of information. I was waiting for there to be more, but there wasn't. One note said there was a "white band" that showed how much quanta I had but no such thing seemed to exist. I was indeed paying attention. Thanks for your sarcasm.


I have absolutely no idea what you have to do but hitting space bar and clicking randomly seemed to get me winning so I must have done something right.

It was all quite spangly and lovely and everything but meaningless


Hoo boy, this has got to be one of the longest game reviews in jig, or something, because by the time I finished scrolling past it I decided I'd leave a comment about it!

dsrtrosy: I registered a new account (because it seems that even though you can put in your e-mail address, there's no way to retrieve passwords?) to go through the tutorial just for you, as I found the game pretty easy to learn to play. Quoting the tutorial, "a white band behind the card launch cost means that there is enough quantums to play it."
The "white band" is pretty plain to see throughout the game, so perhaps you really weren't paying attention! No sarcasm here~
Additionally, to agree with Arumlol, it is very easy to see how much quanta you have: it's above your HP, which is also an important thing to see, and that box takes up a significant part of the screen, I really don't know what you were seeing.

But anyhow, to conclude my longcomment, the problem I have with these kinds of games is you have to grind to get the money to afford new cards, so I can't just go willy nilly experimenting with different deck builds without a huge boring grind. Also the password retrieval. Still, online card games are pretty fun, esp. since you don't have to wait for the computer to think!


I've been playing the hell out of Elements lately. I do have a few nitpicks--mostly, the grinding is ridiculous. I'm trying to get a fully upgraded deck, and the cost is just far too high. When on average you're getting maybe 35 per win, it takes a long time to get up to 1500 (* 30-35 cards = thousands and thousands of games).

Plus, there's no good interim option between level 3 (easy, low payout) and level 5 (hard, higher payout)--what they offer is PVP, which can be more difficult than the computer.

The only functionality I'm really missing is the ability to have multiple decks at one time. It would add variety, especially when you reach the point where, like you said, you're just hoping you draw the right cards to complete your one strategy before you die.


It's not very well publicized, but the Elements trainer is great for experimenting with decks. The developers also use it to test out new cards, which can give you a leg up in PVP when the cards are officially introduced to the deck.

Underneath the play area, you'll find links to the forum, wiki, development notes and all matter of other things which can help you if you want to play this game for more than a few minutes at a time. (Me, I'm a few-minutes-at-a-time type, but the resources were good for getting started, too.)


Oh and drstrosy sorry if you think i was scarcastic but if you need anything about this game i'd be happy to help you.

Oh, and a card i found really useful was Boneyard with Chaos Seed because if you had Boneyard in effect and killed and enemy you would get a free skeleton.LOL!

Side note: Thanks to Reibear for backing me up.


Man, this game isn't honest... Or it was programmed to steal or it's AI is learning really fast to cheat! A pity, because it seemed so nice at first...


Though the AI does have different starting life and some of the later ones use extremely expensive/rare decks, they don't "cheat"... until you meet the false gods, which is entirely their premise.
Also note that if you reset your deck, all quests that you have completed before will still be completed with your new deck. This allows some quick experimentation without losing too much progress (at least early on).

Anyway, here are somethings which haven't been mentioned that annoyed me about Elements:
The way you get cards at the end is extremely awkward, feels way too random, and as the only way to get rares, makes some of them VERY VERY hard to get. Its to the point that if you didn't choose one of the "rarer" rare weapons as your last reward, its probably easier to just reset your account than trying to play to get it.
On the other hand, as you can buy every starter card that in the store, its probably faster to just start with a deck that can earn cash quickly then start with the type you want to get the cards.

The upgrade system, not only is the price so high, it forces you to grind like crazy, but also is such that most cards are STRICTLY better when upgraded. I feel that this is a bad decision regarding game balance, and it would be much better if upgraded cards still had some drawback as compared to the originals (such as costing more for a bigger effect), even if in the metagame, one version does become strictly better than the other.


I love this game :3 it is sooo addicting!


@ JIGuest

Grinding is a pain, definitely, but a better way to gain electrum than just the winnings from a match is to win upgraded cards, which sell for over 1000 electrum a piece. You can win upgraded cards from false gods, so it's good to have decks designed specifically for taking them out. Here's my strategy:

If you have nothing but unupgraded cards, put together an aether stall deck:

6 dimensional shields, 6 phase dragons, 18 aether pillars
(optional: drop an aether pillar or two for a lobotomizer or two)

The strategy here is simple, just try to have enough quanta to consistently have a dimensional shield out, and spend the excess on phase dragons. If you're going up against a false god that casts miracle, hold a couple phase dragons in your hand and play them all at once for a surprise kill, so he doesn't have the chance to cast miracle when he's low. (Miracle, Divine Glory, and I think Rainbow all play miracles). You can't really win with this deck against false gods that run a lot of permanent control, so just give up if your opponent starts playing lots of explosions, etc.

This deck doesn't have a great winning percentage against false gods, but I think it's the best with unupgraded cards, and it's still worthwhile to grind false gods even at a low win percentage (probably around 10%), because the payoff for winning an upgraded card is so high.

After you've saved a bunch of money this way, switch to a ray of light/hope deck. The elements wiki has a good breakdown of this deck: http://elementswiki.co.cc/decks/anti-false-god-decks/ray-of-light-hope-deck/

The only thing that really needs to be upgraded for this deck is the ray-of-lights, so you can save enough to put together this deck fairly quickly. As you upgrade more and more cards for this deck, your false god win percentage rises. Now you have a good engine for earning electrum!


I played a bit off and on, but it just takes forever to "get" anywhere after you've done the entry-level quests (1500/card to upgrade). Also, the roulette wheels are just beyond stupid in operation, because when would you ever *not* want to spin all? Unless I'm missing something there, that just doesn't make sense.

A lot of upgraded cards do in fact cost "more" - the creatures, specifically, do usually cost 1 more (but have more damage as a consequence, for example. So not every upgraded card is better in *every* way.


Elements has a massive and very active community attached to it as well -- look below the game window for the link to the Forums, which occupy at least an hour out of every one of my days. :)

Also, the Chat Window button (directly below the game window) is usually populated with forumers that are very knowledgable.

When you register for the forums, don't forget to mention that Essence referred you! :)


This game is so hard even if I click every single thing on the screen somtimes I dont win. And the spins at the end are way too random I shoud just get 1 copy of evrey card that comes up instead of having to match all 3.

ddevans96z September 3, 2010 7:15 PM

If you click level 0, it guides you through a basic tutorial, showing the things you need to actually play the game.

On the right hand side of the screen is your hand. If you can play a card, a white band appears next to it, but if you don't have the quanta, it won't show up.

As for seeing how much quanta you have, look on the left side. It shows how much quanta you have for each individual element.

Person of Awesome September 4, 2010 11:36 AM

The ridiculous amount of grinding is one of 2 things that made me hate this game. The other was the fact that unless you used a super rainbow deck with upgraded cards of awesome you couldn't ever win. Ever. The only way it was even possible to beat an enemy with a level higher than 2 was to use a deck that had been used 700,000,000 times before and was posted on the wiki.
Let's just say I wasn't excited when this game finally got a review, and leave it at that.
PS: Jay, could you maybe make the captchas a tad easier to read? The black type on a gray and black background is absurdly illegible.


I'd like it better if the UI for managing your cards and deck weren't so unwieldy, and if it always refunded your costs when you canceled an action! For example, if you click Top 50 to be paired against another player, then cancel, too bad, you're out the coins. Sometimes when you play an ability of a permanent and then cancel, too bad, you're out the quanta.

Patreon Donator Infant Tyrone September 6, 2010 2:49 PM

This game has been eating my time like crazy. The grinding is ridiculous, but I can't seem to tear myself away, I just keep going back.
A lot of the complaints mentioned above are totally valid: the cancel option is cruddy, the card management stinks (it gives me a pop-up information window that is blocked by the cards! Boy if that's important information I guess I'm just screwed, huh?) And I have to say there are times when it does seem like the AI is cheating-- my quanta disappear, I kept running up against the exact same unbeatable deck every time I got within 5 rep of 500.

All that said... I can't stop playing it.

Patreon Donator Infant Tyrone September 6, 2010 8:56 PM

Thanks for the tip, Kyle! Using it now...and getting my a55 handed to me, but I've won 2 of 5 matches... so much for getting anything done today!


A lot of previous commentators have summed up my nitpicks (the grinding especially - ugh!), but one of my major beefs is with the painfully low card variety. Each color does basically ONE thing. If you want to play a monochrome type deck, heaven help you if it isn't "the right one". Plus there seems to be very little in the way of PVP balance when you can toddle in as a brand new player and get immediately curb-stomped by someone flinging around an ultra-rare nymph card.


I'm really loving this game too! Any chance of this becoming a droid app? Then I could throw in a round here and there whenever I want and maybe not be so snared into spending all night on it! (Or just waste more of my time! ;-) )


Elements is one of the greatest flash-based web-game ever, once you understand how deeply and well it is organized.
And, well, refering to a comment i recently read... play lvl0 to learn the basics if you are searching for more tutorials visit the forum, which will offer you a huge amount of help.


I bought a bunch of these spark things but they keep dying for no reason. So I tried this other thing thats supposed to eat stuff but all it does is sit there and not do any damage and the AIO cheats and kills everything else I play. And when I finally won and got to the spinny thing it wouldn't work. I'm never playing this again and I'm going to try and beat that burn the rope game again.


Man, I'm really laughing at some of these comments (You know who you are :P) after I see who posted them. Essence said something about this earlier bit here's something a little more specific to help you get the hang of the game:
http://elementsforum.co.cc/index.php/board,54.0.html shows a bunch of nice and easy tutorials to get started with, and once again, don't ever hesitate to walk into chat with a question.


Yeah, I'm definitely sensing some sort of cheating, if only of the merely "cheap" variety in that your draws seem to get consistently worse (and the opponents' significantly better) beyond Level 2.

I don't think I was able to even get a game at 2 or above where I didn't draw all-pillars or all-expensive-cards-and-no-pillars-in-sight type draws, while the enemy always had not 1 or 2, but 4 or 6 huge creatures out within three or four turns, while I couldn't even draw anything.

You expect that to happen once in a while, but it seemed built-in after a few levels, consistently screwing you (and removing fun, encouraging quitting).


This game seem perfect in terms of no fees and fun simple gameplay but they ban players by IP so if a friend or someone hacks on your computer then you pretty much stuck.

The forum don't allow ban talk and the customer support is awful.

It basically the idea of Runescape all over again, great game but the owners/mods/community ruin it.

I can't not recommend this game as you may get hooked and one little mistake by staff will cause you to lose all of your progress.

DrunkDestroyer November 3, 2010 1:16 AM

People seem to be complaining about the grind in this game. It is true that the 'middle' portion of the game is much longer, and less directed than the 'beginning' and 'ending' (all terms used very loosely).
But think of it as a learning curve. In the beginning, you need to finish all the quests, and are guided on your way. At the end is where you have found a playstyle, and are challenging yourself with even more new concepts, PVP ect (weekly tournaments and War are created and hosted by the Forums community-with some sweet prizes for the winners).
The middle is where you must find your way, and some people are put off by the grind, but I can assure you, it does get much easier. Maybe it will take you longer than expected, but as long as you stick to it (even the Oracle will give you a huge boost over time, with the free electrum/cards/FG predictions)it will happen. Also, the developer plans on legnthening the quests, so it will get easier, trust me.

Very useful little hint that noone seems to have pointed out yet

When the Oracle gives you a False God Prediction, it would be wise to search for any direct counters-as your chance of winning will be very high, and you have a chance of winning an upgraded card


i am reading alot about the cost of changing cards to try different decks.... one thing i have found usefull is to log into the game in 2 windows... this way you can sell/buy what ever you want if it desnt work just close out that window and revert to the original one so you dont lose $$$... if u end up likeing the change close the first window and continue with new deck

TimerClock14 February 1, 2011 7:20 PM

I see a lot of people saying that they are discouraged to play this game after a while because of the grind. I also see a comment regarding the community which I feel I must address, but I will not.
First things first: If you think that the current game is boring and the like, then do I have news for you. Back in December 2010, the creator of the game, Zanzarino, announced that he will be making changes to the Top50 opponent. In a nutshell, Top50 will become Top500, and be available to everyone who spins the oracle. (and no, it does not discriminate players by score)


Hey ok i found a way to win evrey time so just follow these steps if u wanna win
1 go to http://www.elementsthegame.com/trainer.html its like u could have all the cards for free but its not cheatng
2 clik on more power 10 times so you hav maxxium power level
3 put all the best cards in ur deck i put red dragons and fireballs cause they rox
4 play any level vs computre and ur cards
i hope this helps for peeps who say its to hard cause now i can win all the time

swarm fighter December 22, 2011 3:58 PM

one thing i find really anoying about upgrading is that it completely screws up my strategy because my deck relies mostly on firefly queen creating fireflies to make light to turn back into life and into more fireflies but my problem is that upgraded or elite fireflies make fire not light this for me is a HUGE problem
but all in all apart from the grind and elite fireflie problem this is a good game (also who thinks that upgrading should be cheaper)


Why am i assigned to this random username in the chat and how to i change it >.


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