smallworld Small World

  • Designer: Philippe Keyaerts
  • Manufacturer: Days of Wonder
  • Year: 2009
  • Players: 2 – 5
  • Time: 40 – 80 minutes
  • Ages: 8 and up
  • Description:

    In Small World, players vie for conquest and control of a world that is simply too small to accommodate them all. Small World is inhabited by a zany cast of characters such as dwarves, wizards, amazons, giants, orcs and even humans; who use their troops to occupy territory and conquer adjacent lands in order to push the other races off the face of the earth. Picking the right combination from the 14 different fantasy races and 20 unique special powers, players rush to expand their empires — often at the expense of weaker neighbors. Yet they must also know when to push their own over-extended civilization into decline and ride a new one to victory. Small World’s design emphasizes the playful fantasy theme with rich details and components that beg to be played.

    My thoughts:

    One of our friends brought this over about two weeks ago. Since then, I think we’ve played it 6 times, which is a lot for us to play one game. We’ve played it with 4 and 5 adults, David and I have played it once just the two of us, and we’ve played it with Amber, who’s 9. It worked well with all the groups, although I will say when it was just two-player it was pretty lop-sided. I don’t know if that was just because of our choices, or if a two-player game is always going to be like that.

    It’s just pure fun. It’s a light game; you don’t have to think too hard. It’s a combination of skill and luck that everyone should enjoy. You have to attack each other, since it is a small world, so you can’t really get angry when you do get attacked, a definite benefit for some groups. I think it’s going to take a few more games to really get ahold of what race/power combinations are best for the beginning, middle and end of the game. You may get to be two or three combinations in the span of one game.

    The fantasy theme is great, too, and it looks really nice. Of course, I’m a big fan of Days of Wonder in general. There are full color tokens for all the races, a variety of Troll Lairs, Mountains, Fortresses, Encampments, Holes-in-the-ground, 2 Heroes and even a Dragon. Even though the rules overall are pretty simple, you do need to pay attention to some of the details. It comes with two double-sided game boards, so the world is the right size, no matter how many players, 2-5, you have.

    The 8 and up age is right on target, too. Kids will enjoy it as well as adults. Amber actually beat us when we were playing and I don’t think David was taking it easy on her at all. Of course, we did let her take the race that had the dragon master power, but she had to pay for it. She loves dragons, though.

    A couple of comments. Watch the rules. Spaces with just mountains and no people are empty. Sorcerers can be beat, but it’s a little tough. Also, don’t discount the dwarves. I had flying dwarves last night and it worked out really well for me.

    Have you played any good games lately?