It is a place, where you always gain your strength. The quiet and peaceful garden is a paradise for anyone, who wants to listen to nature and relax. But then you leave the house and suddenly the grassy field becomes a battlefield! All the dwarves in the neighborhood will run and fight for the territory. No one wants to retreat even a step and they prefer to send moles to do the trapping. And when you come back from your vacation? Everything is blamed on a dog!
There is no doubt, for a moment, that there are dwarves behind all the broken gardens. You will surely believe that, if you play board game 75 Gnom ‘Street by Ankama. This is a colorful box, that has been prepared for all gardeners by duo Charles Bossart and Sébastien Darras. Game was published with Fabien Mense’s illustrations for the first time in 2016.
The box is a drop smaller, than its square brothers, but it still provides ample space for all dwarves and their weapons. On the lid we can see such a fight taking place and watch the dwarfs with the different colors of their hats battling it all out. But there is still order inside the box. Miniatures are separated into the compartments and each color gets three figures. They are covered by game board, which is also the first component, that players will put on the table as soon as setup begin. And they must fill it with terrain and action tokens, that have clearly defined places.
Each participant then selects color and gets all the relevant components, that are put in front of him. First of all, there are three dwarf fighters, but also a set of cards (results, catapult and eight dwarfs), tokens and a note sheet. From the shuffled treasure deck, participants each get one secret card, which only they can see for themselves. This is the card that others will want to deduce!
The whole match is divided into turns, in which everyone battles, before doing the true actions. The dwarves do it in the opposite order than all others. At this stage, all participants select one dwarf card from their hand and put it in front of each other on the table (secretly with the picture down). At the same time, all will reveal their choices and, according to the results, determine the order. Individual cards are placed aside and can only be get back, when the player has no card remaining in his hand.
In the event of a tie, the two dwarves will leave their seats to the opponents. They will get to caught up in fighting each other and have to settle with last two places. They have to fight each other for the better spot. Both rivals simply take a catapult card of their color, put a dwarf token on it and launch it on the game board. By doing so, they are trying to get their token as close as possible to the chimney printed on the game board.
Final order then determines, when the player gets the chance to make his actions. This is the second phase of the round, which always starts by player choosing a terrain and action counters from the board. And in this chosen place, from which he has taken the token, he immediately places his dwarf miniature in play. This allows him to throw away the opponent’s dward, if he was standing there from previous round. When all dwarves of the player are in the garden, he can instead move them through this action.
The second choice at the beginning of the phase – the action token – determines the opponent, that the player can interrogate and subject of the question he wants to ask (flower, zone, line of sight). But he can always ask only the rivals, who are further down the turn oder. By asking these questions, player attempts to determine identity of the card, that the opponent holds from the beginning of the game (treasure).
In an effort to find out, where player buried his treasure, an active player can only ask a question that can be answered YES or NO. Three choices of action tokens determine, what part of the plan can the player cover – either the area surrounding his dwarf (just placed), row and the column, in which he stands, or all fields with a flower of the same color as his resting spot. The adversary has to answer according to truth and give all opponents some clues on their treasure hunt. This information will be marked by players in their notebooks.
If a player suspects a place, where the treasure might be buried, he can sacrifice one action card from his hand and send moles to action. However, such a box must also contain one of the player’s miniatures at that time. Such placed token can not be relocated, but there can be tokens from more player stacked on one terrain (order in which they were placed is important!). But some of these tokens can be only baits used to mislead enemies. In addition to his own dwarves, there is also a cat, that can be moved, darting away the dwarves. Instead of interrogation phase, player can move the predator cat.
At the end of the round, all terrain tokens and interrogations are returned to the board and the game continues from the beginning in chooisng new order for upcoming turn. Once one of the players has no card at the beginning of the round, it is time for the last fight. Once this round has been played, it is time to reward all victory points. These can be earned for dwarf figures currently in the garden, correctly placed mole tokens (on the locations of the treasure of opponents), and baits (a successful bluff that lured another opponent to a fake trail). The winner is the one, whose sum is the highest.
75 Gnom ‘Street is a deduction game that is set in this incredible world of moles, dwarves and treasures. Players will have to actively look for clues to determine the exact treasure positions.
Each round can use terrain and interrogation mechanism, that is a little confusing in its whole form. Depending on the terrain selected, player determines the space, where his dwarf will sit in that round. This is the position, where he can search for treasure in the current round. Whether he is looking for a buried gold in a column, a row, under the same color or around a dwarf, he always needs a place to place his figure.
But all this is complemented by a fight for the order at the beginning of each round. This determines who you can ask when in the round. And even if you are almost sure about your guess, but you just need to confirm one last thing, you have to wait until you have the right cards in hand, get to play soon and control some space. Everything can be saved by special skills on dwarfs’ cards.
Searching a grid for some hidden things, altough through zones, and their gradual elimination as false leads reminds us of game Ships. Well, a lot advanced version with more choice of areas to cover. It is by their appropriate combination, that the final estimate can be obtained. But what’s more important – the player has to be very fast, because the others are going for the same thing, and everyone has access to all the information. Enemies hear all the answers to your questions, and they all have the same starting position to determine the treasure position.
We will not conceal the fact, that we have really enjoy the deduction games since Cluedo. We have a soft spot for them. This one looks complicated at first glance, but the result is only combination of few easy rules – dwarfs and tokens (that’s really a special mechanism, that you’ve got).
There is one disappointment, that bounds to deductive and bluffing component in this game. The box is recommended from two to four players. Two is normally the number, in which this type of games does not work. Well and 75 Gnom ‘Street is no exception! Although the rules offer this option, there is nothing fun about it. Therefore, digit two on the box is misleading.
But our biggest problem is with the way, how ties are decided in the fight for order. Suddenly, a skill competition is somehow squeezed into a thoughtful game, and it works as such a small exclamation mark already on paper. And the gameplay really correspond to this suspiction. This solution to dispute simply does not belong in a deduction game. You would most certainly prefer to flip a token (or roll a dice). Or, you can implement the same rule as we did – whoever has less tokesn placed on the board at the moment wins duel without any luck involved.
75 Gnom ‘Street is a promising deduction game, but at the last moment, several elements have gone wrong. When you put them together, it’s suddenly not so great. But searching for the treasures of rivals with public information for everyone is still interesting, though, given the more complex rules, it is particularly suited to older players and for bigger number games. 75 Gnom ‘Street is an above-average game, that raises more hope, than it can deliver.
+ Interesting inquiries based on area
+ fight for order
+ graphics and processing
- decision in case of a tie is a skill competition
- does not work in two players
- more complicated rules
- not available in English