For years I had exactly zero interest in playing Small World because I kept being told, “It’s Risk with fantasy races,” but after rather terrible experiences playing Risk with my brother in high school, I really did not want to play it more. Then someone said, “No Ticia, it’s an area control worker placement game.” Now in our gameschooling, I like worker placement. I… well I’m not as big of a fan of area control, but this is a more interesting version of that. So let’s talk about my Small World game review.
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What is Small World?
You are in a fantasy world. This world has many different regions, each region has some fun tricks to it and different races or traits will like different regions. For example, dwarves like mountains so they can mine and will get benefits from it.
The races and factions are randomly shuffled together. You don’t get to pick what is paired with what. As you can see, the options are frightened mushrooms and fisher liches. The top piles are the unmatched races and traits. You can see the traits pile is larger, because there are more traits.
The tiles give you a shorthand of what each race and trait does, but thankfully the rule book gives you a much more in-depth of what each of those symbols means.
Now, there are several different Small World expansions. You need to look carefully at the expansion. Some expansions are whole games in their own right that add fun new rules and do not need the original Small World game board. Other Small World expansions are only new races and powers.
Look for the phrase: This is a stand-alone game.
There are at least a half a dozen more expansions.
What makes Small World a unique area control game?
While there is some amount of worker placement, as you place your armies, really it’s an area control game.
On your turn, you place your armies, then conquer surrounding areas. When you conquer you return the conquered armies, minus one, that one goes into the box.
That is one thing I like about this area control. When you lose the battle, you don’t automatically lose all the figures you lost. You keep most of them.
Next, let’s say your armies have gotten to the point that you can’t conquer any new land, then you switch to a new race and trait, and your old race and trait goes into decline.
It’s still on the board, and you can still earn victory points for it, but you don’t conquer new territories with the old race. Instead, your new race conquers now.
This lets you keep going and not feel like you are out of the game once you’ve started losing. There is nothing worse than knowing you are going to lose the game and sitting there for another hour waiting for the other person to win.
Also, this game is a shorter area control game, most versions of this game are an hour or less.
What do expansions bring?
Each expansion has a different set of races and traits. Also, each expansion will add special items or landscapes.
- Small World Underground introduces relics and places of power.
- Small World World of Warcraft plays more similar to the original game but also has relics. From what I’m reading up it does not integrate well with the other Small World games. We never particularly tried to integrate them, so I hadn’t thought about that.
- Small World Sky Islands is the only expansion that adds a new board but is intended to be played with one of the stand-alone expansions.
More gameschooling fun
Let’s see what other games there are.
- Quacks of Quedlinburg
- Using Gamewright games for writing prompts– though I’m trying to remember if this was part of my Forbidden Island review or the sand version…
- Touch of Evil game
- History games
- Fool’s Gold board game