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Gnomes at Night

Gnomes at Night is a cooperative maze game from the developer Peaceable Kingdom. A detailed description is at the bottom. It is billed as a “quick-thinking communication game,” and I certainly agree. The suggested age range is 6 and up, but one could push it lower by simplifying the game and not using the timer. My 8-year-old received this game as a gift for his birthday, and we play it on a semi-regular basis.


Setup and play is fairly simple. A vertical board is held up between two plastic grips that clip to the side of the box. One gnome goes on each side of the board, and connect through it by magnets in their bases. Players flip over treasure cards that they collect while navigating the maze. This is where that “communication” and “cooperation” come in. When one gnome's path is blocked by a wall, the other can take over on its own side and free it by moving within its area. The “quick” comes from the game’s sand timer - you have two and a half minutes to complete your task.


While playing, my son and I have developed a specific set of phrases to communicate where we were going, who should be moving, and when we needed help. We played a few rounds without the timer to get the hang of play. Without using the timer, Gnomes at night might be playable by kids as young as 4 or 5. Kids younger than that will probably have trouble getting the hang of it. Even keeping the timed aspect, you may want to do away with the sand timer altogether and use something that makes noise: phone, kitchen timer, traditional stopwatch, etc. I don't know about you, but I'd prefer to focus on the game, as opposed to watching a timer while also trying to navigate a maze.


Overall, I'd say this is a good game for young children and parents alike. I'm sure my son would be glad to play this with friends, now that he has the hang of it. He says that “this might be the best board game we own.” You can, of course, find copies at a number of major retailers, but I always suggest supporting your Friendly Local Gaming Store, if you have one.

Official Product Description:

Queen Benevolence is hosting a celebration to honor her loyal subjects. To thank them, she will give away 12 extraordinary items from her treasure box that she keeps hidden away in a secret chamber in the castle. But when the Queen goes to choose the items that she wants to bestow, she discovers the box is empty! A thief has stolen her treasures and is running away with them! The celebration cannot happen without the treasures and there is not much time before daybreak and the start of the party. The treasures must be found! What's a cooperative game? It's a game where everyone plays together, no one is left out, and everybody has fun! Players work as a team against a common obstacle, not against each other. Cooperative games emphasize play, not competition. Kids work together, help each other, and most importantly, they play for FUN!

Includes: 4 game boards (levels A thru D), 12 treasure cards, 2 game board holders, 2 team cards, 2 magnetic gnome movers, 4 corner-start cards, 1 sand timer and instructions. For 2-4 players ages 6 years and up.



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