Small World is an area control game in which players, picking a race and special power, attempt to conquer as much territory as possible.
This game has constantly been one of those I’ve always been keen to try but for some reason (lack of funds) I never have done. So big thanks are due to the friends who bought me this as a gift!
The game is gorgeous to look at and has a few key twists which make it endlessly re-playable.
To start the game players pick a race – from 14 choices including sorcerers and wizards to amazons and giants – and combine them with a special ability – including ‘mounted’ and ‘dragon master.’ So you end up with the likes of Hill Giants or Mounted Rat Men.
Players have a set number of player tokens which are used to occupy territory on a fantastic-looking board. Adjacent territory can also be conquered if a player already has their tokens in place. At the end of each turn, victory coins are earned for each area occupied.
However, and this is a key element of the game which really makes it stand out, as races only have a certain number of tokens available, players will eventually run out. At this point, the race can be placed into decline. It will still still sit on the board for a while and gain players points, but won’t be active and can therefore be easily conquered by other players.
Placing a race in decline means players can choose another race and power. In this way the game is different every time, and continues to change and evolve through every sitting.
Not only do races have their own abilities (some can conquer areas more easily than others, using less race tokens, for instance) but the special powers are also really useful. For example, ‘Wealthy’ gives the race an extra seven victory tokens to start the game.
This means that every time a race is placed into decline and a new one is chosen, turns can be radically different.
A large number of expansions also adds extra gameplay.
But does it work with two players?
Small World’s designers have really made the theme work well. The whole point of the game is that the board is a little too small to comfortably accommodate too many races.
So one universal board for two player, three player etc games just wouldn’t work. So in the box, as well as A LOT of cardboard to be punched and sorted, there are a number of player boards.
I love this, that the game has a two player board. It doesn’t feel like two player was an afterthought, or that a two player version is just possible (but probably not very good).
I’ve played with two, three and four players and enjoyed them all.
My wife and I have really enjoyed our two player games, discovering new combinations of race and powers, and the game can be quite brutal if a player goes on the attack.
Visit the game’s official site here.
See a play through on Tabletop here.