Work together or you’ll be left in the dark!

Cooperation is key when you play Gnomes at Night, a new board game from Peaceable Kingdom, a MindWare brand. Unlike many traditional board games, players aren’t trying to beat each other. Instead, they must work together to move around the board and help their gnomes collect as much treasure as possible before time runs out.

In the game, “Queen Benevolence” plans to give away treasure at a celebration in her kingdom. However, when she goes to retrieve her valuables, she discovers they have been stolen. She calls on two gnome friends (that’s you!) to go into the maze around her castle, where the thief has dropped all her treasure.

The maze, aka the game board, is held in place vertically by two posts that attach to the base of the box. Setup is simple, but younger players may need an adult’s help to get the posts attached correctly. There are four different game boards (A, B, C, and D) to choose from, and each one gets increasingly harder. The game is designed for ages 6 and up, but even adults may find board D to be a fun challenge.

Each side of the game board has a different maze layout, with six pieces of treasure scattered throughout. Players navigate the maze with two plastic gnome figurines, whose magnetic bottoms attract through the board and keep them in place, even when you let go.

To start the game, players flip over the sand timer and the top “treasure card” at the same time. The treasure on the card will be printed on one player’s maze, but not the other’s. The player who can see the treasure must try to collect it by getting his or her gnome to it.

But there’s a catch: the gnomes can move along the path, but not through the stone walls of the maze, which will likely block them from reaching the treasure. That’s where the other gnome comes in. Since the opposite side of the board is laid out differently, the twin gnome may be able to move where the treasure-seeking gnome cannot. When the other player moves his or her gnome, the magnetic connection will magically slide the first gnome over the stone walls.

Once the gnomes reach the first piece of treasure, a player flips over the next treasure card and the process repeats. The players work together to get through as many treasure cards as possible before time runs out.

Since the other player’s maze remains completely out of view, only good communication skills can get you through the maze and to the treasure. Excited players may find themselves exclaiming “move this way!” or “ go that way!” (with accompanying hand gestures) as they work to figure out a way to get around the walls.

The game lasts three rounds, or about 15 minutes total. Players can shuffle the treasure cards, change boards, or switch sides between rounds for an added challenge. This makes for fun and unique gameplay eachtime you break this game out of the closet.

The game can also work for three or four players, using the included “team cards,” but Gnomes at Night works best as a two-player game.

Once they get used to navigating the board, kids will have a great time racing the clock and they won’t even realize how much they are learning about communication and cooperation.