The table top board game, Small World, was created by Philippe Keyaerts and released in 2009 by Days of Wonder games. This board game is suggested for ages ten and higher and should take about 45 to 60 minutes to play, depending on your number of players and their familiarity with the rules and set up.
Small World was a follow up game for Philippe Keyaerts to his popular game, Vinci, and has seen global popularity and success since its 2009 release. It has been so well received over the past two years in the gaming world that it has captured Games Magazine’s Game of the Year for 2010 as well as Board Game Ratings.com Best Strategy Game of the Year for 2009. Small World has also seen a host of expansions and add-on supplements released already as well.
Initial reaction after purchase of Small World should leave you pleased and excited about your new board game as the game is well stocked with beautiful color tokens, victory coins, two double sided color world boards, and a bevy of stylistic fantasy races to peruse over, as well as a well written color rules book. The rules are simplified and easy to review, with color pictures that show examples of movements, attacking strategies, as well as scoring examples. The set up and rules should not take you more than 10-15 minutes to go through and understand before you can quickly launch yourself into your first play.
In Small World, you take on the role of a fantasy race in a fantasy continent or world, where you quickly take to conquering areas of land to score victory coins which double as points. You have a set number of rounds to conquer, hold, and score these victory tokens with the winner being the player who has the most victory tokens after the last round of the game is concluded.
The popularity and general love for this game comes from its ability to keep things fast paced and moving, while still adding an element of strategy from round to round, player to player, to the game mechanics. Its addictiveness is lent from the strength of player races that you take on and the ability to combo that with special powers each race may have each time you play. When you begin the game, you take on the roll of a race, of which you will choose one of six presented to you. The races include fantasy races such as Elves, Orcs, Halflings, Dwarves, Giants, Trolls, Skeletons, etc.
The great blend of different powers each of these races will have allow one half of the combinations for you to try, play, and experiment with. The other half of the combinations of fun will come from the special powers which each race begins with. These powers are randomly assigned as the races come into play in the game. These powers can be benefits such as flying, or perhaps the power to go berserk in combat, or even the power to rise as undead after battles complete themselves. All of the powers make each race and power combo even more diverse and exciting to try each time you play and replay this game. That combo and re-playability, in a nut shell, keeps each game fresh and keeps the player wanting to try different strategies and combinations again and again. If your flying ghouls did well one game, but your merchant dwarves did not do so well the next game, just try another game and you may have commando halflings defeating dragon controlling Amazonian women.
On top of the varied strategies and infinite combinations of races and special powers assigned, the game takes one more step into the variation pool and allows you to put your starting race into decline when their numbers and strength begin to weaken. This allows you play multiple race and power combos over the course of the single game play. You may play dwarves and tritons one game against your opponent’s race choices of wizards and trolls. Even after taking your old race into decline, you continue to score and hold these members of your declining race even after you begin conquering with your new race. It is a way to run two civilizations at once and begin to double score against your opponents each round, racking up the victory tokens. Your declining civilization is weakened in that you do not get to reinforce them in the same ways each round you would your new or active race and most of the races moving into decline lose their special power, but, this is still a key mechanic or strategy that adds scoring punch to your game each time you play. In several play tests sessions I have seen players go through as few as two races in game or as many as four races in a game. That is the great appeal of this simple strategy gem, combination, re-playability, and fast moving pacing.
In closing, if you are looking for a great game to purchase or try for gaming buddies, game night, or for the family, Small World packs a big punch and should satisfy your cravings no matter what type of board gamer you are.
If you are interested in finding Small World locally, try checking at Attactix in Aurora, Black and Read in Arvada, Valhalla Games in Wheat Ridge, and Enchanted Grounds in Highlands Ranch.