Last week I was shown how to play Small World, a competitive strategy game that has players conquering a map with different fantasy races.
Players take it in turns to choose a race with a random power attached. One of the races I played with was the Dwarves, who got bonus coins when occupying mines (each race has a unique ability like this), who in our game had the random power of “bivouacking”, meaning I could deploy encampments to give my regions extra defense. As I received bonuses for occupying mines, it made sense to ensure I had encampments on any mine region I held. As well as from certain powers, coins were awarded for conquering and holding regions too.
As the turns continue, races go into decline and new ones are put into play. Their different abilities mean the game is constantly changing. For example, my friend played with Ghouls for a short while, who are the only race able to still conquer new regions whilst in decline. This meant I had more enemies to worry about and had to play differently for a turn or so!
The player with the most coins at the end of 8, 9 or 10 turns (depending on how long you decide to play), is crowned the winner. My friend beat me by 8 points, but a full play-through has given me a few strategic ideas for next time.
In some ways it felt like a prettier, simpler version of Risk. It was certainly less intense than Risk, and a full game must have lasted no more than an hour. The game has lots of pieces, which always gets it bonus points for me. The illustrations were attractive, and the map was nice and spacious, so playing through the game was pure joy. I really can’t wait to play again – the random race and power combos mean each game will be different. A game difficult to fault!
Have you played Small World before? What are your thoughts on it?