Small World is a 2-5 player fantasy themed area-control (think Risk, or Diplomacy) game for ages 8 and up that takes between 45 to 90 minutes.
In Small World players take control of various fantasy races such as dwarves, wizards, amazons, giants, orcs, and even humans, using their troops to expand their territory around the board.
Gameplay: At the beginning of the game players select from a pool of available races. Each race is defined by two interlocking tiles, one tile is a noun describing the race (ie. Elves) and the other is an adjective (ie. Flying). The tiles will also tell players special abilities that their race will have and how many troops they have available.
Using the troops and abilities players then proceed in conquering as many territories as they can, sometimes at the expense of opponents. To begin your conquest you must invade the “Small World” from the edge of the map before you can proceed inland. To conquer a territory that is empty you just need to put one of your troops into the territory as long as it is adjacent to one of your other territories. If there are unfriendly units in the territory you must commit more troops than they have defending it. If you don’t have the troops available you can try to make up the difference with a roll of the dice. This dice has numbers 1, 2, and 3 as well as blank sides. So if you have two troops and they have two troops you will need to roll a 1 or higher in order to win. You must also be careful not to over extend yourself as you only have a certain number of troops.
Players can also choose to put their civilization into decline and choose a new race. What this does is keeps 1 troop of the race in decline in each territory it controls and players will no longer be able to use them but can still collect coins from those territories at the end of each turn plus any territories they control with the new race they’ve chosen. Knowing the best time to put your civilizations into decline is part of the strategy as well as there are only 9 rounds and it takes a turn to go into decline and choose a new race.
At the end of each turn players collect coins for each territory they have under their control. After the final round the player with the most coins wins.
Thoughts: My gameplay overview was pretty short but that’s because the game itself is pretty easy to learn and there aren’t a lot of different concepts at it’s core. The tougher part is mastering the strategy. If you enjoy Risk, or games of that nature you will love this one, in fact this game replaces Risk for me. It feel less cutthroat and does not feature player elimination like Risk and games of that ilk. It’s also a lot more replayable as you are likely to have different race tile combinations each time you play giving you a different ability and thus a slightly different strategy each game.
Components: The components are of really good quality. Everything is cardboard except the dice of course, so if you were hoping for little plastic men you are out of luck. The artwork is beautiful both on the different components and the board itself. It’s vibrant so it is easy to tell the different territories apart, even from a distance.
For the Parents:
Violence: There is mechanical combat involved.
Sexual Content: None.
Horror/Occult: This is a fantasy based game with various fantasy creatures and races.