Reviewer: Alex Morse
Small World is (at the time of writing) my favorite board game that we sell at The Stadium. As I begin writing reviews, I thought it would be appropriate to start with a game that I have a large amount of experience and love for.
Overview: Small World is a strategy board game created by Days of Wonder, which is also particularly famous for making Ticket to Ride. In Small World, you play against other people to try to conquer a fantasy world, where you play as various fantasy races. The game plays similarly to Risk, but with a twist. At the start of the game, combinations of various races and modifiers are randomly created, creating dynamic playstyles. Another strategy element is that if either you decide that your combination you chose at the start was either an awful idea, or no longer is effective, you can put your race into decline to pick a new combination. For more specifics on the rules and gameplay, I recommend watching the TableTop episode above.
Quality: One thing that I really like about Days of Wonder is that everything they do has a high standard of quality in not only gameplay and design, but in the physical pieces of the game as well. The pieces are all made of a thick cardboard, with a vinyl-like printing on top. The game comes with a tray designed to hold everything in a well-organized manner. The absolute best part, in my opinion, is actually the game boards. Yes, I said “boards,” as in plural. The game is designed for 2-5 players, and comes with two boards. Each board is double-sided, with a different map layout on each side designed so that no matter how many people you’re playing with, the map will be an appropriate size to avoid either too much clutter on the map, or too much empty space. After all, it’s a little difficult to conquer your opponent’s spaces if there isn't any space. On the flip side, it would be a pretty uneventful game if everyone is so spread out that they never have to fight each other.
Estimated playing time: 40-80 minutes
Age range: 8+
Expansions Available: Yes, in the forms of board extensions and additional race/modifier combinations.
- Very high replayability value
- Quick to learn the basic mechanics
- Awesome build quality
- Double-sided boards
- A theme with lots of room for future additions via expansions
- Even with the large amount of combinations, the game comes with cheat sheets so people can keep track of what each race/modifier does.
- It supports up to five players (as opposed to the common player limit of four)
- Games with fewer players can feel a bit more cutthroat, with fewer diplomatic options than in larger games.
- A couple combinations are probably a little too strong, especially in smaller games (*cough* elves *cough*)
- Some pieces are irreplaceable without diminishing the randomization of creating combinations (If you just make paper handmade versions of pieces, for example, you’ll see them coming up)
Conclusion: I think that Small World makes for a great game when you want to play something with a little more complexity than your average party game, really shining when there are four or five players. Also, considering the rich field of expansion content in addition to the already large variety of races and modifiers in the base game, this is a game that you could keep coming back to for a long time, while still remaining fresh.
About the reviewer: Alex Morse has been a Stadium employee since 2011. His favorite Magic card is Voidslime. He enjoys Starcraft, Doctor Who, the My Little Pony TCG and the sweet, sweet feeling of mechanical keyboards.