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Gnome themed strategy game

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harmon89's picture
Joined: 01/13/2016

I haven't gotten too far on this game idea yet, but I'd be interested in hearing if the general idea sounds interesting to anyone. I've always been curious about the mysterious and elusive creatures that gnomes can be so I might be biased toward the idea. ;-)

Shady Forest is full of gnomes of all kinds. Some are famous for their knowledge, others their stealth, and some for their wealth and influence among the clans. Throughout the game you will play as several different gnome characters with the goal of winning 3 elections as 3 different characters. You may pass some of your knowledge and experience from one gnome to the next, and this is something you will need to do if you want your gnome dynasty to last.

Start the game by rolling 25 dice that are one of 5 colors (5 dies of each color). The color of the die represents the type of gnome. The number represents which of the 6 clans the die will go into.

The gnome factions are as follows:

Blue = Knowledgeable Gnome
Green = Wealthy Gnome
Black = Stealthy Gnome
Yellow = Influencial Gnome
White = Normal Gnome

Once the dies have been divided based on clans, the dice within each clan are rerolled to determine the number of gnomes in each clan. So for example if a green die is rolled in clan 2 and it is a 5 that means there are now 5 Wealthy Gnomes in that clan.

Next, each player looks at 3 character cards and chooses one of them. All players reveal their choice simultaneously. Each character card indicates the friendship level with each of the 6 clans (usually between 1-5) as well as the amount of stealth tokens and knowledge cards they will get to start the game.

Once everyone has chosen their character and collected their knowledge cards, stealth tokens, and gold, they move the markers on their player mat to indicate their friendship level with each of the 6 clans based on their character card.


At the start of each round roll 1 die and add it to the smallest clan. (The smallest clan determined by adding the pips on all the dies in that clan). The color of the die is chosen by the player with the strongest friendship with that clan.

The game is played by every player taking an action for each clan, each person taking 1 personal action, and then holding an election to determine who wins the election for that round. The winner will discard their gnome and draw a new character. The first player to win 3 elections wins the game.

The actions available to each clan are the following:

Gain 1 gold coin for every 3 wealthy gnomes in the clan. (each pip on a green die represents 1 wealthy gnome)

Gain 1 stealth token for every 3 stealthy gnomes in the clan. (each pip on a yellow die represents 1 stealthy gnome)

Gain 1 knowledge card for every 3 knowledgeable gnomes in the clan (each pip on a blue die represents 1 knowledgeable gnome). Knowledge cards will have between 1-3 knowledge points that will come in handy during the election. There will also be other unique abilities and uses that will be indicated on the knowledge cards. (This is where it could get a lot of fun thematically.)

For every 2 influencial gnomes you may convince 1 gnome from another clan to join your clan OR for every 3 influencial gnomes from another clan you can convince 1 gnome to leave the current clan.

For example if you are currently taking actions for clan 1 and in clan 1 there are 2 yellow die with a total of 8 pips, you can convince up to 4 gnomes from another clan to join your clan. This could be a combination of any number of die as long as the total on the dies does not exceed 4.

Once a player has chosen an action they will roll one additional die that will aid them in their action for that turn.

The player with the strongest friendship among the clan gets to choose their action first, followed by the player with the second strongest friendship. This continues until the player with the weakest friendship has taken an action. Once a player takes one of the 4 actions, no other player can take that action. If 2 players have the same friendship level they may both take the same action.

After actions for all 6 clans have been made, everyone decreases their friendship marker with each clan by 1.

Each player may then take 1 personal action before the election.

Personal actions include:

Give 1 gold coin to increase your friendship with 1 clan by 1 point. (you may give as much as you wish)

Play any number of knowledge cards from your hand. (some knowledge cards cost stealth tokens in order to play)

Collect 6 gold coins.

The winner of each election is determined in the following way.

Knowledgeable Gnomes (blue) always vote for the player who has the most knowledge points (each knowledge card has knowledge points ranging from 1-3)

Stealth Gnomes (black) always vote for the player with the most stealth tokens

All other gnomes vote for the player with the strongest friendship with their clan. If 2 or more players are at the same friendship level with that clan the votes are divided between them (rounding down).

Once a winner has been declared, the winner must discard their character card and draw a new character. The player must also adjust their friendship levels, stealth tokens, gold coins, and knowledge cards to reflect the number indicated on their new character card. The only way to ensure that you do not lose everything you have worked hard for is through your knowledge cards.

Many knowledge cards will indicate how much gold, stealth tokens or knowledge cards you are able to keep from your previous gnome. Some knowledge cards also give you a permanent boost in your friendship with a certain clan as long as you hold on to that knowledge card.

Once you win an election you will likely have some tough choices as you decide which knowledge cards you will wish to keep, and which you will discard.

let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Joined: 02/07/2011

A few comments for you:

- I like the fact that you're using dice for more than one thing: population count, different factions, manipulating the dice each turn to do something, etc. Having that many dice for a single purpose would seem cumbersome so it's nice to read about how frequently that pile of plastic will be used.

- I think the Stealth Tokens should be used to do something special, instead of just counting as favor for that one faction. They're called Stealth for a reason, so make that part of the fun - similar to the PLAY KNOWLEDGE CARDS action. For example, allow players to spend Stealth Tokens on one-shot special effects that temporarily affect other player abilities or the state of the game. The first thing that comes to mind is preventing a specific action for a specific player for one turn, but I'm sure you can think of plenty more. This can also be used to mitigate the effect of powerful Knowledge cards.

- How much of the game can you implement with simultaneous turns? I'd suspect this would add a level of urgency and drama in each phase where you could make it work.

Beyond hearing more about playtesting, that's all I have at the moment. Hope it's helpful! Best of success to you on this. :)

harmon89's picture
Joined: 01/13/2016
Thanks for the comment

Thanks for taking the time to read my post. :)

I agree with you that it could be nice if stealth could do more than it does currently. Right now you need stealth in order to play some knowledge cards, but other than that and earning favor with the Stealthy faction, it doesn't do too much. Adding a stealth deck seems like a good solution. It should spice up the game if someone could slap down a stealth card and change up turn order or something along those lines.

I'm also considering making holding onto gold a viable strategy by making Wealthy Gnomes drawn to the player with the most gold. Players will have to balance how much gold they will spend on gaining favor with clans and how much to save behind to gain favor with the wealthy gnomes. Also, if they win the vote with the wealthy gnomes and have a whole lot of gold, they run the risk of losing a lot of it if they don't have knowledge cards to pass it on to their successor.

I'll have to think about how players could play simultaneously. I think it could be possible, and I can see how it could add tension to the game if the correct mechanic was implemented.

let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Joined: 02/07/2011
Different Cards

Maybe you can have Stealth, Smarts (instead of knowledge), and Strength Cards? Players can use these to manipulate the game in some fashion.

Not sure what a gnomish feat of Strength would be, but maybe it could be tied into other mechanics, like Mining for gold instead of just collecting it. Play a Strength Card to collect gold somehow. Maybe tame animal friends (now I'm thinking back to old skool "David the Gnome") or maintain/establish some kind of connection to nature.

I may be going further astray from your original game idea by finding ways to link the game closer to the theme. However, I think it's worth investigating. Finding ways to connect mechanics to theme is never a fool's errand.

harmon89's picture
Joined: 01/13/2016
Good thoughts

Perhaps instead of stealth cards/tokens, stealth could be labeled Skills to cover a larger array of things. There could be different colored tokens to represent different types of skills. (Sort of like the gems in Splendor). And different smarts cards would require certain types of skill to be at certain levels before playing that smarts card.

For example the smarts card "Tame Animal Friends" would require 2 yellow skill tokens (perhaps yellow represents communication.) Gnomes also put a high value on storytelling. Perhaps to have the knowledge of storytelling you must have 3 yellow tokens. etc.

In this scenario stealth would be just one of the different types of skill tokens.

Thematically it probably doesn't make sense for you to lose your skill tokens until you get a new character (and even then you can pass some of your knowledge on to your successor).

I played a couple rounds last night with my wife with some slightly older rules (Ideas change quickly in game design). It went pretty well. We played that for the personal actions phase you could take 2 of the following 3 personal actions.

Collect 1 Gold for every 2 Stealth tokens. (I haven't had time to create any stealth cards so still working with the token idea.)

Most Smarts cards cost between 1-3 stealth in order to play them, though some of them can be played without any stealth tokens.

Pay 1 Gold to increase favor with a clan by 1. (no limit to how much gold you want to spend)

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