by Gary Sonnenberg
Board game manufacturer:
Days of Wonder
Number of players:
Small World is a quick, zany game in which players fight for control of a world that is, believe it or not, too small to fit everyone. The large amount of combinations of races and special powers is both what make the game fun and what gives it great replay value.
The game and gameplay
Players take control of various fantastical Races (Dwarves, Giants, Wizards, Halflings, even Humans), each of which is paired with a Special Power. Continues below
These pairings are entirely random and are different every game, which provides great variety from game to game. Each race is not only paired with a Special Power, but comes with a power that relates to the race itself. These powers generally do one of two things. They either give you bonus points for conquering certain regions, or they make it easier to conquer certain regions.
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Battle in Small World is very simple. An empty region would take two attackers to conquer. If there is a single enemy, it takes three. If there is a single enemy and a mountain, it takes four. Basically, you must equal the amount of cardboard already in the region and then add two.
This mechanic is simple enough that I could even recommend playing this game with fairly young children, as they would greatly enjoy the theme and artwork, and the mechanics are simple enough for them to understand.
Throughout the game, players may decide that the race they are using has either been decimated to the point that it is no longer useful, or that they have merely spread themselves so thin that there isn’t much more they can do. When this happens, a player takes a turn to go into decline.
All of the regions they occupy remain occupied, but they can no longer attack with that race. On their next turn, the player will choose a new Race (with a new Special Power) and get back to work trying to conquer as many regions as possible.
Small World is for 2-5 players and works very well with any of those numbers. The reason it works so well is that a different board is used for each number of players. (The game comes with two double sided boards.)
Each board is designed to give players enough space to rack up a decent amount of points, while at the same time being small enough that players are almost forced to run into each other and have direct conflict.
At the end of each turn, a player adds up how many regions they occupy with both their active Race and any from their declined Race. After adding any bonuses they may have from their Special Powers, this number becomes the number of victory points the player scores that turn. The game ends after a given number of turns that varies depending on how many players there are.
Pros and cons
Small World is easy to teach and learn.
Gamers young and old can enjoy it.
The artwork is great and helps to engage the players.
There is plenty of replay value here.
If fantasy or direct conflict are not your cup of tea, then this game is not for you.
Small World is fairly light, goofy, and fun. There are nearly countless combinations of Races and Special Powers to explore (especially if you add in the several expansions that have come out), and you are always left wanting more.
If you’ve played Small World, then please leave a rating and comments using the link below.