Every parent knows the frustration of their children eagerly jumping into an elevator and promptly pushing every button to get all the numbers to light up. So pretty. So frustrating, and doubly so for the next passengers in the elevator who undoubtedly have some choice words for the “souvenir” of kids on the lift. That’s just the beginning, though. There’s something magical about elevators too, and they feature in films as far ranging as The Shining, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and even The Matrix. Heck, there are movies specifically about being stuck on an elevator!
When young game designer Harrison Brooks reached out and asked me if I’d like to check out his new card game Elevator Up, I was intrigued. Always on the lookout for a quick, easy game, his enthusiasm was infectious. He’s 17 and has a published game that you can buy on Amazon.com. Pretty darn impressive, really.
But what’s the game itself like? It turns out that Elevator Up is quick to explain, fast to play and so much fun that K-, my 16yo daughter, has called dibs on our version so she can have a game in her bag to play with pals! I think the fact that it’s designed by someone her age is appealing too, and she highly endorses the artwork.
The premise is straightforward: 2-5 players are racing to get to the top of a set of buildings by riding the elevators. Definitely family friendly even to your younger players, and self-contained in a single deck of playing-size cards. Here’s a game in action:
A little bit like Uno, the goal is to be the first player to get rid of all your cards. Each player starts with three cards face down (don’t peek!), two cards face up, and three cards in your play hand. You can see the three face down to the left of my hand, the two up cards behind my hand, and the three cards in my hand. In my hand is an 8th Floor card, which I can play on another 8th Floor or any lower floor: The elevator can never move to a lower floor!
In the middle of the table is the stack of cards and a discard pile. Look closely and you’ll see it’s a 5th Floor. That means I could definitely push the elevator higher with my 8th Floor card. But I have two special cards too: New Building (which sweeps the current discard pile out of the game entirely and lets me go again, a powerful card) and Go Down To Lobby (a wild card that I can play at any point and then lets the next player also play anything they’d like on their turn. I operate by the Uno rule of never play wild cards until you’re stuck, but that New Building card? Hmmmm… It can help me not have to pick up a big stack of discards later in the game if I end up stuck, but my opponents reaps that benefit too.
The deck and discard pile offer up a few more examples of the simple and fun artwork style of Elevator Up:
When it’s your turn to play, you can match the current floor and play as many of that floor as you have, or you can play one (or more, if they match) of a higher floor. Once you get to the 9th or 10th Floor it gets pretty tricky because without any special cards in your hand, it’s probably going to result in you picking up the discard pile. Ugh. You then draw from the deck up to a minimum of three in your hand until the deck is exhausted, then it’s end game time!
We zipped through our games pretty fast; not too much strategy here. Once the deck is exhausted you play out the cards in your hand, then the two face-up cards in whatever order is advantageous. Once they’re all played, you finally play the three hidden cards without peeking by flipping the top one and playing it or – waa waa – being stuck picking up the discard pile. We played a couple of quick games, with each of us winning one and losing one. Maybe five minutes for a full game once you know the rules. Really fun and unquestionably family friendly.
A closer view of some of the special cards along with a single floor card. Notice each has clear and understandable text and a fun and self-explanatory image too. I imagine even children too young to read could enjoy this game as long as they can recognize numbers.
This is the kind of game I love to review, actually. It’s a great story of a young gamer who invented his own game, refined it with lots of playthru’s with his friends and family, got it published and is now selling it on Amazon. If you’ve got a family or friends who are looking for a fast game perfect for a café, bar, or even just relaxing on the patio with the little ones, Elevator Up is definitely worth a look. As for us, I think we’re going to buy another copy so we have one at each house.
Elevator Up, Ages 7+, 2-5 players, light reading ability recommended. $9.99 at Amazon.com. Recommended!
Disclosure: Harrison, the “Chief Elevator Officer”, was going to send me a copy of his game for review but as I learned more about his story, I opted to support him by buying myself a copy directly from Amazon.