At UKGE the Zatu team had the pleasure to demo a slew of amazing games at our stand, including Photosynthesis, Corinth and Cockroach Poker. The majority of our boxes were available from our store, but I had the privilege of delving into a game not yet announced on Kickstarter.
The mind behind Summoner’s Isle, Robbie Munn and the Peculiarity team, liaised with Zatu to bring their (soon-to-be) new game, Sumo Gnomes, to one of our gaming pods.
This two-player experience involves the charming theme of - you guessed it - sumo wrestling gnomes shoving and throwing each other around a tree stump. Armed with a handful of dice, players are competing to be the last one standing.
Our Sumo Gnomes demo set came packaged in a drawstring bag, similar to the one found in Hive Pocket. This housed what turned out to be hours of addictive, head-to-head gameplay. The components were:
- 10 wooden dice (five red, five blue).
- Five coaster-like playing mats.
Each player has the dice of their colour, with one of these representing their gnome and the rest depicting the actions that your sumo can unleash. The playing mats were double-sided, each capable of use as the main arena or as an individual player board.
Playing the Game
The turn-based gameplay in Sumo Gnomes consists of:
- Rolling your four action dice.
- Selecting the two you wish to use.
- Placing your remaining two in your reserve for next turn.
- Executing your moves.
Many of the possible actions are simple, including moving orthogonally or diagonally, switching places with your opponent or tricking them into moving in the direction you wish. This is shaken up a bit with the ‘Grab’ action, which augments the moves of the grabber, allowing the assailant to lift the enemy gnome by their belt and swing them around the arena. Grabbing also restricts the actions of the grab-ee, limiting their offensive capabilities.
Gameplay itself is brief, lasting between one and six minutes, which is more than enough to catch a bug for this game and lead to a cycle of “oh, just one more…”. Although dice are an inherently luck-based component, there is certainly a fistful of tactics to be had here. This became evident from both watching the countless games I had the pleasure to spectate and digging into the gameplay myself.
Initial Thoughts on Sumo Gnomes
Although just a prototype, the current components look and feel great. I find the gnome dice particularly charming. They include views of your sumo from each side, including an amusing "censored" view from below.
Speaking to the designer, Robbie Munn, there are hopes that two versions of the game will be released. This includes the standard small-box version like the one I've played, and a larger deluxe edition. The latter will be played upon a real tree stump. Having see it first-hand, it was quite the eye-catcher is is likely to be a limited edition. As a result, it would be great for your friendly local game store.
Expect the Kickstarter to launch late September or early October. Sumo Gnomes is a game to keep your eye on and I wish the Peculiarity team the best of luck!