Designed by: Stephen Glenn. Edited by: Frank DiLorenzo and Ferdinand Köther. Illustrated by: Tina Bongorno.
GOBBLESTONES is an easy to play, fun, family, strategy game that is playable by 2-4 players aged 10 and upwards. Games take up to 30 minutes but can be a little longer or shorter depending on the speed of thought of the players.
There is no actual board, instead there are 9 double-sided tiles (10 if you have the extra promo board) with 25 numbers on each side in 5 x 5 grids. The numbers run from 0-6 (with no "1s") and are printed in bold white on different coloured squares; each number having its own specific colour: ) 0s = grey, 2s = light blue, 3s = green, 4s = yellow, 5s = dark blue and 6s = red.
Place nine of these boards into a 3x3 grid to form the playing area and choose a start player.
Players each have a "Scrabble" type tile stand on which they place 5 tiles drawn from the provided bag. On their turn each player plays at least one tile and up to how many they wish (up to 5) onto the "board". The rules for laying these tiles is simple, they must be placed in an orthagonal row or column and (apart from the first tile laid) have to be placed next to pre-laid tiles. Also, and this is the evil part of the game, they may never be laid so as to form a 2x2 square of any kind, which makes it very difficult at times to lay the tiles you want to.
Players tiles are of the same colours as the squares on the board, with the exception that they are created using mirror-like facings, thus they are quite difficult to distinguish under regular household lighting. especially Light Blue and Green and in some shadowy lights Green and Dark Blue are very similar; in other lighting the colours look clear and bright (there are no Grey tiles).
Tiles have to be placed onto the same coloured squares and as each tile is laid the player adds up the value from the board, keeping a running total on the provided score pad.
After playing tiles from your hand you get to draw tiles from the bag. If you decided not to play any tiles (even though the rules intimate that you must play at least one tile on your turn) then you can draw 5 tiles - there is no limit to the number of tiles you can hold, though your tile stand will only hold about 10 tops. Families will merrily go about placing their tiles as they get them, 1, 2 or 3 at a time whereas games players, noting that each tile remaining in hand at the game end is worth one point, may well take two or three (or maybe four) turns of not placing any tiles, thus picking up 5 tiles a turn and then they are more likely to have the correct coloured tiles in hand to be able to run out 5 tiles, scoring reasonably high and without the penalty of not being able to draw any more tiles (play 5 draw zero) bothering them as they still have 10-15 tiles in hand for their next turn. Of course if all players do this then the bag will quickly empty and the game end will begin. The game ends when one player plays his last tile and cannot draw enough tiles to restock. The player with the most points wins.
The Grey squares (0) are not mentioned in the game rules. Our guess is that as there are no Grey tiles then these squares are blocks that you cannot play on. Another way of looking at them is that they are Jokers that any colour tile can be played on but the value is zero, thus no points are garnered from playing on the Grey squares.
We have found that the most fun, and keeping in line with the way the game should be played, is when you begin with 10 tiles instead of 5 (basically each player passes on the first round and draws 5 extra tiles). This gives each player plenty of options at the beginning of the game and more than likely gives them a boost on the score card. After that it is up to the players how they proceed, passing and taking another 5 tiles, playing 1 tile and drawing 4 or any of the possibilities. There is a variant on play whereby the tiles are played face down and can be played onto the incorrect squares (ie play a Red tile on a Green square). If no one calls your bluff you flip the tiles over and score as usual. If your bluff is called but you haven't bluffed (all tiles are actually on the correct colours) then the player who challenged you loses points equal to the value you just scored. If they catch you in a bluff then you get your tiles back and score zero.
The theme of the game is set around hungry little Goblins eating valuable stones and there are some natty little illustrations of fat Goblins in the rules booklet. As gamers it is obvious that this Goblin theme is rather weak and only necessarily attached to the mechanic because games need a theme. Having said that, it is such a good, fun mechanic that it could be Goblins eating Gems, Kids collecting sweets or Decorators painting bricks and it would still be strong enough and good enough to create a valuable game.
Overall this is a simple fun family entertainment that we at Games Gazette rate highly.