Small World: Review

Small World is a game I’ve been interested in since I saw the first episode of Tabletop; it seemed a somewhat complex, but interesting game.

When thinking up gifts this Christmas, Kristan and I decided that it would be an interesting thing to get for Julie.

Today, we played for the first time, and it was fun! It was definitely a bit long for the first game — about two hours — but I think it’ll be a lot quicker the second time around. (It’s also a type of game that I could see working well on a computer — the physical interactions with all the options requires a fair amount of interpretation that isn’t trivially internalized.)

The basic idea of the game isn’t much different from Risk: You have territories. You conquer other territories. As yo are conquered, you lose pieces. Once you lose enough pieces, you pick a different race and start over; the end-game goal is to get as many ‘tokens’ (game points) as possible.

The race choices you have are limited to five at any given time, rotating through a set of 15; each race gets combined with a special power — things like “Flying”, which gives the ability to conquer non-adjacent territories, or “Mounted” which lowers the cost of conquering Farmland and Hills.

Since the race + power combinations are random (shuffle the deck of cards), you can get interesting combinations. Bivouwacking gives you 5 extra defense tokens to deploy as you wish, combined with Halflings, whose initial two regions can’t be conquered at all.

For Alicia, Kristan and I, the game was quite enjoyable and picked up throughout; Julie was a bit slower to pick it up, and lagged slightly towards the end of the game, but that doesn’t surprise me with ~2 hours of back and forth.

For people who like board games, I think that Small World would be a positive addition to any gaming collection, and I look forward to the chance to play with some friends who might be interested in the future.

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