Title: Gnoming A Round
Published By: Grandpa Beck's Games
Released: 2008 - Updated 2020
Player Count: 2-7
Time to Play: 15-30 Minutes
You're a gnome and you got bored with your everyday gnome life and decided to go check out life among the giant people (aka humans). On your adventure, you discover a magical world of whirling windmills, colorful plastic balls, and field after field of green lawns made of this strange grass. Intrigued, you watch as the giants whack the balls with flimsy metal rods. Cheers raise through the air every time the ball makes its way into a tiny cup. After careful study, you learn the sport is called mini golf and you decide it is just what you need to liven up your village. You set on home with the goal to create the best mini-golf course known to man....errr gnome.
Just like in real mini golf, in Gmoning A Round your goal is the finish the game with the least amount of points. Players will work to manipulate their own 3x3 golf course of cards to try and create patterns that will score the lowest amount of points when the round is over. Players will work to create rows and columns of repeating numbers to help score negative points, and use cards like mulligans to further lower their scores. Just watch out for hazard cards! Those are never good for the person who they appear for (but they can be helpful to other players).
Gmoning a Round reminds us a little bit of Skyjo with how set-up and player's turns work, so if you are familiar with Skyjo learning Gmoning a Round will be a breeze. Even if you aren't familiar with Skyjo, getting started with Gmoning a Round is super simple (unlike getting a hole-in-one). For set-up deal each player 9 cards that they lay face-down in a 3x3 grid. Players then flip over any two of the 9 cards that they would like. Put the remainder of the deck within easy reach of all players and flip over two cards to create two different discard piles.
The player who is closest to the age of "fore" will go first. On a players turn they do the following actions in order:
Draw -choose a card from either the top of a discard pile or from the top of the deck
Play - if you would like to play the card you chose, replace a face-up or face-down card of your choice from your grid
Discard - whichever card you have selected to replace, is flipped face-up and added to a discard pile of your choice (unless it is a hazard card, then it is just removed from the game)
There are 4 types of cards in Gmoning a Round. Players will need to strategize on which cards to play or replace in order to score the lowest amount of points when the round ends (which happens once one player has all 9 of their cards face-up). Let's talk about the different types of cards and how the scoring works. At the end of the game, each column and each row is scored.
Positive - these cards are numbered 3-8. Each positive card on a player's board earns that number of points in both its row and column unless the entire row/ column contains 3 of the same numbered card, in which case the number is subtracted from the total instead. For example, a row that shows a 3, a 5, and an 8 will score 16 points, while a row with three 5's showing will score -5 points. Since cards are scored in both their row and their column, it is possible that a card may be part of a triple in a row and not in a column (or vice verse), so it may score negative points one way and positive points the other.
Negative - these cards are numbers -1 - -4. There is no bonus granted for triples of these numbers, so feel free to use them to maximize their usefulness on your board. Just like positive numbers, negative numbers are scored for both the row and column.
Hazard - hazards are never good for the player encountering them. When a hazard card is discarded, all other players get to turn over a card on their grid (as long as it is not their last face-down card). If a player still has a hazard card on their grid at the end of their turn, they receive a +10 point penalty.
Mulligan - just like in golf, mulligans are super helpful. Mulligan cards have no number, but can instead be used to count as any number needed to complete a row or column of 3 matching numbers. This card can count as a different number for the row and column that it is in. Note: a player may only ever have one mulligan on their course at a time.
Just like in real life mini golf, sometimes you take a swing, and your ball bounces. In Gmoning a Round, when you choose to replace a face-down card if the card you reveal matches the card you are replacing it with (or at least one other revealed card on your grid), you can choose another card on your grid instead of discarding it. This can repeat if the next card you reveal also fits the criteria.
Once a player reveals their last face-down card, the round end is triggered. Each other player gets to take one final turn before scoring. Points are then scored and players set up for round 2. Gmoning a Round is played over 3 rounds and the player with the lowest score at the end of the game is the winner.
There are also advanced rules for super fancy bounces, runs, hazards, and mulligans which players can opt to use any or all of during play. These rules can be used to create new challenges as players get familiar with the game.
Gmoning a Round was a joy to play and definitely scores a hole-in-one in our book. The artwork for Gmoning a Round is tee-rific and made us laugh. Some of our favorite gnomes were the gnome who ripped his pants, the gnome with the hedgehog (it reminded us of Alice in Wonderland), and the gnomes on the swing.
We really enjoyed that while Gmoning a Round is easy to learn, there is a good amount of strategy involved with trying to score the lowest amount of points possible. Thinking about how a card will get the least amount of points in both its row and its column is a good brain workout. It's a little push your luck, a little puzzley, and a whole lot of fun!
The mini golf theme is integrated well into Gmoning a Round. The scoring system makes sense, the ball bouncing is fun, and hazards and mulligans fit in great. We also appreciate the option to increase the difficulty as players get familiar with the basic game mechanics. It can help keep the complexity higher for adults who are playing.
We also appreciate how to rulebook has to example turns in it for a four-player game. Between the four different options, the pictures and descriptions clarify pretty much any question a player might have when starting to learn Gmoning a Round.
Now you no longer need to wait for warm weather to get your mini golf fix. Gmoning a Round will scratch that itch all year round. Plus who doesn't love garden gnomes!
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