Due to come to Kickstarter at the end of January, Gnomes & Wizards is a skirmish combat game from Cavernwire Games where players each control a clan of gnomes or wizards doing battle to earn the points needed for victory.
Designed by Bobby Powell, the game is played over 10 rounds on a modular board made up of triangular tiles, and from halfway through the game, some of these are flipped each turn so that the occupiable area of the board shrinks over the course of play. This helps to focus the combat between the warring factions. Each gnome/wizard tribe has its own special abilities and these can all be buffed up by collecting 'power crystals', which are notionally what the tribes are fighting over.
Shown here on Board's Eye View is the game prototype set up for just a two-player head-to-head. Gnomes & Wizards is a fun and very playable two-player game, especially if you don't mind the luck quotient that's an inevitable consequence of the game's reliance on card draws and on dice for allotting actions. Gnomes & Wizards really comes into its own, however, with four playing as a contest between two allied factions. You'll still be rolling and assigning custom six-sided dice, and drawing cards, but the dynamics and extra layer of tactics required in working with a team mate seems to mitigate the luck. This is a game that's definitely at its best as a team game; and the Kickstarter is expected to allow for up to six players. That said, the game is playable on an 'every tribe for themselves' basis, where every player is attacking every other. As in other combat games like Wildlands (Osprey), four (or up to six) player 'every faction for themselves' warfare can be joyfully chaotic.
With all the special powers, there's a fair bit of icongraphy to keep track of: you'll need to know not just how your own special abilities work but also those of all of your opponents' units. We'd hope to see some streamlined player aids emerge in the Kickstarter campaign. You'll find that familiarity with the units and knowing what each can do greatly speeds up play, and, as you'd expect from a skirmish game, Gnomes & Wizards really shines when it's played with an adrenaline rush of urgency.
The Gnomes & Wizards Kickstarter campaign is now live. Click here to find out more and to back this game.