Combo-Loving Pocket-Travelling Sumo Gnomes

Combo-Loving Pocket-Travelling Sumo Gnomes

January 25, 2020 0 By Ryan Sanders

Ryan looks at Peculiarity’s 2020 release, Sumo Gnomes

Sumo Gnomes? That sounds really odd. I get it, and yet it is a thing. Is it a good thing? Well, you will have to keep reading to find out. Sumo Gnomes is a travel 2-player dice game, where players are well playing a gnome in a sumo match. If that intrigues you or piques your curiosity, or just sound so weird that it sounds awesome, read on…

Editors note: A version of this article was originally published on our brother site, The Inquisitive Meeple back in 2019 before the Kickstarter. The Kickstarter is now over, but we thought we still publish this preview ahead of the games 2020 release.  This article has been edited (including the cutting out of an interview with the designer) to better fit the style of Adventures in Gameschooling. 

What Kind of Game Is it?

The gist of Sumo Gnomes as described by the designer, Robbie Munn:

“At its core, this is a sumo style wrestling game between two Gnomes battling atop a tree stump dohyō (arena). The wrestling starts by rolling four action dice and choosing which two actions you want to use and which two to keep in reserve for potential use next turn. If your opponent is still on the stump, then it’s their go, to do the same. From that point onwards you only roll the action dice you used previously and pick two actions from the newly rolled dice and what you have in reserve, whatever is not used refills the reserve and so on. It can be a super quick game, you could push your luck by going in hard and fast early, or play more cautiously until the right combo of actions turn up, either way, a game should last no more than 1-5min, with the first to win two out of three bouts claiming the bragging rights.”

Sumo Gnome Thoughts

Sumo Gnomes is a really cool little travel game, that really has a lot going on for a game that only takes 5 minutes to play. In Sumo Gnomes there are 7 moves (one for each die face and one die face allows you to either move OR push) however, need to be within range to do those moves.  Players also have combos and special moves they can try to pull off as well. Instead of players rolling all 4-dice on a turn (other than the first turn) the two dice they didn’t use go into a reserve and won’t be rolled until used and you will start your turn rolling the two you used the last turn. This makes it so the game isn’t totally random, as you know at least some of the moves you may be able to pull off for sure (and so will your opponent). Rounds play within 30 seconds to a couple of minutes, with the winner be the first to win 3 rounds. However, if you don’t want to play a game that takes 5-7 minutes, you can always play just one round.

Sumo Gnomes Prototype

I will say, it may take you a few rounds, maybe even a couple of games to get use to the different things you can do, so there is a slight learning curve to this game.  That said,  I actually hope after it’s out some time, the designer Robbie Munn, releases some advance combos (maybe 3 different dice face combos and some more 2 die game like the Grab+Switch) even if it’s just via a ruleset on BGG. Also, I like to note this could be a fun game to do some kind of tournament play with.

As a side note: As a parent of 5 that has been through the baby stage multiple times, this one could be a good on to play if you want to play board games but are too tired or don’t have a lot of time, due to having a newborn. 

I don’t know what the final age limit will be on Sumo Gnomes, but I know that my 5th-grader (age 11) was able to handle the game. Maybe a little too well, as I have yet to win a complete game (of winning 3 matches) against him. This is a game in his is words that is “awesome.” While I am not sure it reaches the level of “awesome” to me, it is a very good game and that has a unique theme (which I really like seeing), and is worth checking out.

Our copy of the Sumo Gnomes prototype in play

Final Thoughts

In some ways, Sumo Gnomes reminds me of the old late 80s/early 90s action/sports arcade games, where you would only have only a few buttons, but there are combo moves you can pull off. If you are looking for a fast action, fast playing, small footprint game for 2-players, that you can take with you on the go then Sumo Gnomes is what you are looking for!


Sumo Gnomes will be released in the Spring of 2020. 

Thanks to Robbie for both the interview and sending me a copy of Sumo Gnomes for an honest (p)review.

Ryan Sanders is the founder, owner, and editor-at-large of Adventures in Gameschooling. He’s also the guy behind its social media accounts. God has blessed Ryan and his wife Mary, with five children, which he homeschools. As a Christian, he believes that he should not only look out for your own interests but other peoples too (Philippians 2:4) and this is one of his guiding principles for Adventures in Gameschooling. Ryan’s expertise is informed by almost two decades of experience as a stay-at-home father and from the running The Inquisitive Meeple where he performed over 300 written and podcast interviews within the board game industry.