Product: It turns out that gnomes are more than pointy-hatted garden statuary. Judging by Oh Gnome You Don’t from Gut Bustin’ Games, gnomes are actually hard-drinking gem dealers who don’t mind an occasional brawl – especially if the fight might add to their stash of jewels. The rules of this cheerfully confrontational board game are straightforward, and two to five players can battle their way through in 90 minutes.
Gameplay: Oh Gnome You Don’t, designed by Lisa Bowman-Steenson, is a fairly basic roll-and-move game. Players follow a four-step action sequence on their turn. Players roll a single six-sided die to determine how many spaces to advance and move their gnome figure (represented by cardboard standees) accordingly. Players may then choose to play a card previously drawn. These cards may allow them to gain more gems, interfere with another player’s actions, or even force other players to lose gems. A turn concludes with the player drawing a new card.
Some cards are interrupts and can be played out of sequence to disrupt another player’s actions. The dueling card play supplies most of the action when the basic level rules are used.
At points along the trail, such as the “Grub & Grog Pub” or the “Gnome Depot,” players can sell certain cards and gain gems. The player with the most gems at the end of the path is the winner.
With the optional brawling rules in place, players are each given a color-coded deck of 10 fight cards that range from a 1 point "Ear Flick" to a 10 point "Wedgie Yank." A fight ensues when two (or more) players occupy the same space on the trail and at least one wants to brawl. Each player involved in the fight secretly selects a single brawl card. The cards are then simultaneously revealed. If, as an example, one player reveals a 2 point "Hat Slap" and the other a 6 point "Shin Kick," the losing player must pay the winning player the difference from his gem pile – 4 points worth of gems in this instance.
The brawl cards are set aside and are not used in future fight (although certain cards in the draw pile do allow a used card to return to the player’s active brawl deck). Brawl cards are a limited resource – sometimes it may be better to lose a minor gem or two and hoard the higher-value cards for later use.
The players sharing a space may decide to not have a brawl. However, a player with no gems has everything to gain and nothing to lose by fighting – watch out for those guys if you’re comfortably ahead on gems! On the other hand, an especially feisty gnome will soon burn through his stronger fight cards and become easy pickings for the other gnomes out for revenge.
Brawls add a fun touch to this game, but they can be surprisingly elusive. You either have to land on another player’s space with a lucky die roll or be able to play a card that results in moving your gnome – or another player’s gnome – to a shared spot. When the fights are happening infrequently, the brawl card decks remain robust and the relatively few fights either end in a tie, or only gain one or two gem points.
Marketing: The bright, cartoony game box is fun and appealing and likely will entice customers to give this one a closer look. The art design will especially appeal to both kids and parents of small children – and in fact younger children can play this game without difficulty. However, you should be aware that Gut Bustin’ Games recommends Oh Gnome You Don’t for ages 13 and up.
Success in this game depends on a willingness to attack other players, either indirectly (“I play ‘Hornet Sting.’ You lose a turn.”) or directly (“Let’s brawl!”), and the fight cards feature cartoons of gnomes delivering nose tweaks, eye pokes, and giving each other wedgies. My kids thought this alone elevated the game to near-greatness, but some parents may object. If your customer has younger children you may want to gently warn them that this game involves pretend violence on about the same level as an old Three Stooges film.
The 9 x 12 x 2-inch box, 18 x 24-inch game board, and cards have uniformly excellent graphics (and, oddly for an otherwise well-produced game, a couple of spelling mistakes). The box also contains 100 acrylic gems, five cardboard gnome moving pieces (three-dimensional factory-painted gnome figures are available as a separate sale item), 104 draw pile cards, and five sets of gnome brawl cards. The standard-size cards are sturdy and have a textured finish that will stand up to repeated shuffling.
The instructions are concise and wonderfully clear, and the action cards include brief text explanations on how they should be played – a much-appreciated addition.
Like previous games from this publisher (Redneck Life and Trailer Park Wars), this game blends plenty of mildly tasteless humor with straightforward rules. The jokes will probably wear thin after a couple of plays and there’s not a lot of strategic depth here. However, Oh Gnome You Don’t would be a good choice for a customer seeking a gift for a teenager. It also works well as a party-style game for up to five players, and for anyone who enjoys confrontational give-and-take.
Product: Oh Gnome You Don’t
Publisher: Gut Bustin’ Games
Availability: Check with your favorite game distributor or visit Gut Bustin' Games
Best for competitive players ages 13 and up
Simple to learn
Colorful theme and plenty of humor