Small World review

16 December 2015
smallworld-34787.jpg Small World
It's a small world after all

Days of Wonder | Territory control | 2-5 players | 60 minutes | 

In Small World you must take on the role of a number of different fantasy races who are, as the title might suggest, trying to take control of a small world. However, unlike some games that see you choosing your faction and then sticking with it throughout the game, Small World allows you to swap and change as the game progresses. The idea is to earn the most victory points by taking control of different territories but to do that you’ll need to play as orcs, elves, giants, dwarves, etc.

An interesting mechanic that adds a little spice to these typical fantasy tropes is that they can be combined with special abilities, so you might end up with berserker elves or flying orcs. On your turn you need to expand into different adjacent territories, placing the tokens of your fantasy race inside it, and you’ll score points for each one you occupy. However, you can also attempt to take over enemy territory by sending tokens to ‘attack’ them – all but one of the enemy tokens you defeat are sent back to the opponent while the other is removed from the game entirely. 

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The problem is that each race only has a certain number of tokens for you to use so you can’t just go throwing them about willy nilly. However, when you’re starting to get low on tokens, you can choose to put that race into ‘decline’, which means you keep all the tokens on the board and keep scoring points but can’t move them around.

Instead you now choose another race and starting the territory conquering process all over again. Knowing when to switch is key to winning the game because you don’t want to get stuck with a race that can no longer conquer enough land and they’ll also become a target for more powerful opponents. Finally, like the majority of Days of Wonder’s games, the production quality of Small World is superb, ensuring it’ll be visually appealing to those who have never played before.

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