Tabletop Review: ‘Gnomes at Night’ From Peaceable Kingdom

‘Gnomes at Night’ from Peaceable Kingdom. Photo by Elizabeth MacAndrew.

It is that time of the year again where both kids are home for summer vacation and I need to find activities they can do with each other that does not drive me insane. When I saw a copy of Gnomes at Night from Peaceable Kingdom at our local independent toy store, I was first attracted to the stamp on the front that indicated it was a “cooperative” game where players work as a team.

What Is Gnomes at Night?

Gnomes at Night is a cooperative maze game for 2-4 players ages 6+ that takes about 15 minutes to play. In the game, you take on the role of gnomes trying to hunt down treasures for the Queen in a maze.

Gnomes at Night Components

‘Gnomes at Night’ components. Photo by Elizabeth MacAndrew.

Gnomes at Night contains the following:

  • 1 Instruction Booklet
  • 2 Magnetic Gnome Markers
  • 4 Game Boards
  • 2 Plastic Posts
  • A 2 1/2 Minute Sand Timer
  • 12 Treasure Cards
  • 4 Corner Start Cards
  • 2 Team Cards

The components seem to be of a decent enough quality and should stand up to quite a bit of play.

How to Play Gnomes at Night

For the review, I will describe the two-player directions; there’s small variations for three or four players that includes use of the Team Cards.

Goal

The goal of Gnomes at Night is to cooperatively gain as many treasures as you can over three rounds.

Setup

The setup for ‘Gnomes at Night.’ Photo by Elizabeth MacAndrew.

Setup is fairly easy for the most part. Select one of the game boards (A is the easiest, while D is the hardest). Slide the two posts onto the designated part of the box bottom and then slide the chosen Game Board between the two posts. This is the one part that may need some parent supervision as an overeager kid shoving those posts two hard might damage the boards a little. Then shuffle the Corner Start Cards into one pile and the 12 Treasure Cards into another pile.

How to Play

Game Rounds

Each game is made up of three rounds. At the beginning of the round, each player faces one side of the board. Draw a Corner Start Card and each player directs their Magnetic Gnome Marker to that corner so that the magnets in the markers connect with the board between them. Start the timer and then flip over the first Treasure Card. The treasure should appear on one side of the board and players must communicate with each other to guide their connected Gnome Markers through the maze to get to the treasure.

These players start in corner two and will be looking for a Treasure Map. Photo by Elizabeth MacAndrew.

Only one person can move the joined Gnome Markers at a time and cannot pass through walls while they are controlling the Gnome Marker. If you come across a wall, the only way to get through it is if the opposite player can freely move their Gnome Marker.

A Gnome Marker moving through the maze. Photo by Elizabeth MacAndrew.

Once a Gnome Marker touches a treasure, draw a card for the next one. Players continue to cooperatively get the treasures until the Sand Timer runs out or the 12 treasures are found. At the end of the round, total up how many treasures you found and award your team with that many points—12 points are possible for a round, with a total of 36 possible for a three-round game. Then reshuffle the 12 Treasure Cards and the Corner Start Cards and repeat for two more rounds.

Game End

The game ends once players have gone through three rounds. Total the number of treasures you got over three rounds to get your final game score.

Why You Should Play Gnomes at Night

Gnomes at Night is fun, quick, and encourages kids to play nicely. Setup is fairly quick, even if an adult needs to connect the Plastic Posts. The different difficulties create a nice way to up the challenge level which really helps with replayability.

Gameplay is fast to catch onto and the rounds really do move fast. The one challenge I saw is making sure to watch the timer to catch when it runs out. The suggested age of 6+ is likely on target. Kids need to be able to describe directions in order to play and W (age 5) couldn’t quite get it but A (age 8) caught on fast. I think we could help W learn with some practice, but we would want to set the timer aside and focus on the communicating part without the time constraints. The game is still enjoyable enough for a parent to play with a kid, though you easily get caught up in the rush of trying to beat the timer. So far, A and I can get to about 34 points on Boards A and B. A says, “I like the challenge of trying to figure out the maze on the other player’s side so that if you need to go through a wall, you know they can help you.”

Gnomes at Night has a suggested MSRP of $19.99 and I think you will find it to be a very enjoyable game for that price. Amazon is selling it for $19.95. Grab it and you might just find yourself wanting more cooperative games for your collection.

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