Small world is a war board game, the objective is to get victory tokens. There are a few ways to get victory tokens, but at its simplest your achieve your goal by controlling as much land as possible for as long as possible. GAMES magazine gave it Best New Game of 2010. Aside from getting your troops from point a to point b, and the time it takes to gather and mobilize an army the game utterly ignores logistics, surpassing the low standards of the current gaming industry.
The Game, and Why It's Awesome
Smallworld is a pretty simple and uninteresting game in and of itself - Each player has a number of tiles, which they use to conquer the regions of the map - Two tiles are always needed no matter what, and from there on, extra tiles must be added for each region, according to what defences lie in the region. So, for example, if you want to take a region with two enemy tokens and a mountain in it, you must place three tiles plus two, as a region can only be conquered if you have two more tiles than your opponent. Then you keep doing that, until you lack tiles or feel you got to stop to not spread yourself too thinly, since each conquered region must be held by at least one friendly tile to give points. The system is simple and easy to learn, but there's not a lot of complexity to the game... Fortunately, this is where the races come into the game.
When you start the game, the players pick five 'race cards'. These cards have an assortment of different Factions on them, such as the typical Humans, Wizards and Orcs, but also Skeletons, Ghouls and fukken Meremen, and at their left side, you place another card, which further defines the Faction. This means that you'll get Pacifist Orcs, Stoic Elves and the ever infamous Beserk Amazons, which will further add to the factions. At the start of the game, you pick the faction in the top of the pile, or give off points to each faction until you find the one you want. This means that you can get many different factions, which will enhance the game to some pretty awesome degrees.
Combinations of Doom
For any experienced player of Small World, there's a few notorious combinations that everybody will be scrambling to get first as they appear.
- Berzerk Amazons: The legend. The combo players will whisper with trembling voices, who heralds the destruction of worlds and bloody genocide. "Bezerk" lets you roll the Reinforcement Die for every single Conquest, which often make you able to take any Region with one or two tiles. So that's good. Amazons? They get 4 extra tiles when on a Conquest. Nothing, I repeat, nothing can stop this freight train of doom. If this combo has any weakness, it's that it'll easily wipe out a huge swathe of land in one or two rounds, but after that, there's not a lot to do. The combo cannot make large territories either, since they only have 10 tiles on the defence.
- Stout Ghouls: The most hardass combo in the game. Ghouls allow you to keep playing as normal when Declining, alongside your new Race. Stout lets you Decline the Race and KEEP playing instead of waiting for your next turn. It essentially allows you to play and play until if you feel like having a buddy race to roam with, at which point you'll get just that.
- Flying Sorcerers: Quite a gimmicky combo, Sorcerers has the ability to make a region held by one enemy tile transform into a Region under your control, with one Sorcerer Tile. Sorcerers alone tend to be weak because of it, since everybody and their grandmother won't give you that Region to transform... But what can they do, when you can attack any goddamn Region in the game? It's not effective per say, but it's funny and trollworthy as fuck.
- Fortress Trolls: Want to never be attacked again? Want to be totally unassailable? Fortress Trolls' your Race. The Trolls allows you to place five Den Tiles in the first five Regions you occupy, which increases the strength of each Region by one... And what does Fortress do? The same exact thing. Those five regions aren't gonna be taken anytime soon. Bonus point for taking Mountains for a native 3+ difficulty.
- Heroic Haflings: Fittingly, HHs are a pretty difficult opponent to fight. The two first Regions the Haflings occupy gets the Hole Tiles, which makes them impossible to Conquer. Heroic does the same thing, only that you can move around the Hero Tiles to any Region you already occupy. Four Regions that cannot be taken no matter what anyone do? So that's why wizards like to use Haflings as their agents.
- Pillaging Skeletons: This is possibly the only race you can spend the entire game with and still win, essentially how it works is this: for every two non-empty regions you conquer (enemies, free peoples) you get a new skeleton and pillaging means you get an extra gold for every non-empty region you conquered this turn so what you do is pick up ALL your pieces, don't bother holding territory and multiply your skeletons till you get all twenty and that is when you bother making money, bonus points for having ghouls go behind you get all the territory you empty.
- Merchant Elves: Another one-race-wonder combo that provides an almost unstoppably consistent income regardless of what happens in the game, although getting them after declining your first race is delicious. Merchants gain extra money but give you less tiles to work with, but you'll never have less tiles than what you started with due to elves never being removed from play after another race turfs them out of their territory. Even if you get utterly annihilated you're still banking a disproportionately moderate income when you reenter the board as strong as ever next turn. Other players won't have a chance to develop themselves as refusing to deal with your scumfuck elf doucebags will soon have you spreading out and receiving up to 16 coins per turn before any declined races are involved.
- Tiny World: Small World comes with four boards, each made for a set number of players (3 to 6). However, these boards are just short of being perfect for all players to have the space they need, barring a few players with Ratmen or Amazons. So, to up the tension, you can play on a board that is one size too small (4-Person board for 5 players e.g), and suddenly, everything requires you to fuck over another player. Fun for the whole family!
- Static Empires: In the base rules, players are allowed to take up all of their tokens in the beginning of their turn, meaning they can effectively start your entire everything over every turn with no negative sides. To force players to make more strategic decisions, players can only remove all tokens but one from the board; so every conquest has to start from a token on the board (unless of course it's the first turn for that Race, or the Race was wiped off the board previously of course).
- Legacy: Record the final occupied territories of the winning player. The next game you play uses these locations for the lost tribe instead of the marked ones.
- Small World Underground: A complete game in its own right, not requiring original Small World, it takes place in an underground cavern with a new set of more monstrous races, like drow and lizardmen and mushroom people. The map now has rivers that can be crossed by conquering them with a single unit, then abandoned at the end of the turn. It also gives the neutral tribesmen magical items that the players can claim after conquering their land.
- Realms: The create-your-own-map box. Comes with 26 double-sided tiles so it can be used with either Small World or Underground, or even both at the same time. The scenario book has a few cool layouts and some special rules to go with them if you're not feeling creative.
- Mini-Expansions: Be Not Afraid, Cursed, Grand Dames, etc. Each one just adds more races and powers. Be Not Afraid comes with a tray with enough room to hold its own content and two more expansions. The ideas for abilities remain good throughout, but the race designs have started to fall apart (They went from adding pixies, kobolds and gypsies to icecream people and the dogs from Borderlands in Spider's Web. Seriously).
- Necromancer's Island: One player takes on the role of Necromancer with the goal of summoning all of his ghost tokens onto the board. As the players kill each other off, the Necromancer gets to convert their losses into ghosts. If he gets them all, he wins. He also gets to buy up to five special powers with the points he earns from conquest and use them all at once. Meanwhile, the rest of the players are still trying to play a regular game and win by points, so they need to strike a balance between earning gold, fighting off other players, not fighting other players too hard, taking out the ghosts and not committing so much to thwarting the Necromancer that they fall behind.
- Leaders: Allows you to buy a leader token when selecting your race, who just counts as an extra unit on the board. If captured, it's worth points to whoever took it at the end of the game, or it can be sold back to its rightful owner for a ransom.
- Tales and Legends: A deck of random event cards that last for one round each.
|Classics:||Backgammon - Chess - Go - Tafl - Tic-Tac-Toe|
|Ameritrash:||Arkham Horror - Axis & Allies - Battleship - Betrayal at House on the Hill - Car Wars |
Clue/Cluedo - Cosmic Encounter - Descent: Journeys in the Dark - Dungeon!
Firefly: The Game - HeroQuest - Monopoly - Mousetrap - Snakes and Ladders - Risk
Talisman - Trivial Pursuit
|Eurogames:||Agricola - Carcassonne - The Duke - Settlers of Catan - Small World - Stratego - Ticket to Ride|
|Pure Evil:||Diplomacy - Dune (aka Rex: Final Days of an Empire) - Monopoly - The Duke|
|Others:||Icehouse - Shadow Hunters - Twilight Imperium|