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Showing 1-10 of 544 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 660 reviews
on December 2, 2015
Conquering a map is so satisfying. I don't know why, but it is. Small World is a great game, as long as you know what you are getting. It's a low-to-mid-weight Euro-style strategy game, easy enough for kids to learn, but with enough strategy in it to appease adult strategists. It is not, however, a deep strategy game that will excite people looking for another version of Twilight Struggle, Puerto Rico, Agricola, etc.

PREMISE

The idea of Small World is to take a group (elves, trolls, humans, etc.) and randomly pair them with a special ability (flying, seafaring, commando, etc.) to get a unique combination of special powers, and then dominate your way across the map. Naturally, you will suffer from the "spread too thin" phenomenon of Risk, and your opponents will eventually plow through your pieces like an NFL player on a Pop Warner team. BUT, better than Risk, you don't have to stick with that group. You can give them up, selecting a NEW combination from the table, and start re-plowing through the opponent that just plowed you. (Or, you can conquer a different part of the map.) This keeps the game feeling fresh.

REPLAYABILITY

As I mentioned in the premise, the various combinations of groups, combined with a blank group card and a blank special power card, give this game a high amount of replay factor. It's also a GREAT game for 2 players. You can even control two different groups each and play on the four-player board, as I've done, for a different, more challenging, and zanier experience.

STRATEGY LEVEL

This is a low-to-medium-weight game. It has strategy along the lines of games like Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride. Those looking for a good family game with more strategy than average (almost no dice-rolling!) will love Small World. If you're looking for map conquering, this has got it. If you're looking for a long-term strategic, deeply contemplative game with lots of planning, seeing a visionary strategy through to completion, this is not your game. However, I am a lover of the Puerto Rico-type deep strategy game, and I absolutely love Small World to play as a "break" game in between long strategic sessions. It has enough strategy to appease my appetite for that kind of game, but is fun and lighthearted enough that I don't have to think too hard about what I'm doing.

TIME COMMITMENT

You can vary the amount of rounds that you play, using house rules, if you want. If you play the full game, it will take 45-60 minutes for a 2-player game. The first game takes a bit of getting used to, what with the rules and the specific special abilities of every type of group, but the mechanics are easy enough to pick up, and after one tutorial game, you should feel confident. Setup takes a few minutes, and there are many small pieces, so make sure you account for that.

OVERALL

I play it 2-player with my girlfriend all the time, and we love making up various house rules as well as playing it according to the rulebook. I've also played it multi-player, and it's even more zany and fun. A good addition to any game shelf.
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on February 27, 2016
Okay, so let's talk about Smallworld for a second.

I'm a long time gamer. Board games, video games, card games... you name it. I'd seen this game numerous times, picked it up and flipped it over to gaze longingly at all the pretty pictures, thought long and hard over if I wanted to give it a shot, and ultimately would end up putting it back down and moving on.

Seriously, if you like games and you're considering buying this one, my advice is to do yourself a favor and do it.

The pieces themselves are all very high quality. The game comes with two, double sided game boards (which board and side you use is dictated by the number of players you have 2-5). Now, this is an ingenious little mechanic because of the way the game plays. You see, the whole idea here (and the source of the name of the game) is that you're all competing over this area of the world and it's just too small for all of you. By having four distinct game boards you're guaranteed that the size of the game play area is balanced for the number of players you have. There is a tray that comes with the game that all the pieces fit into, so setup and clean up is fast and easy (so you won't have dozens of sandwich baggies filled with counters to sort through at the start of a game).

And the care that went into balancing this game is just mind blowing. The spaces on the game boards are divided into specific types of land (so hills, plains, forests, etc... ), there are things that will give a player bonuses on certain types of land spaces - and the layout of the terrain types on the boards is extremely well done. It's pretty rare that you find yourself in a situation where there is only a single play that you have during your turn.

The game plays very simply - you pick a race/power combination from those that are randomly determined at the beginning of the game. That combination gives you certain abilities (so, you may be able to conquer certain types of terrain at a discount, or you gain bonus points for beating up on people, or you get defensive structures that you can place in spaces you take over... ). Most of the abilities are very straight forward and easy to understand, and there are a number of "quick reference" sheets that explain all of the races and powers at a glance. It's rare you'll need to reference the rule book during play. These race/power combinations give you the number of race tokens you begin play with. Want to take over a new piece of land? It takes 2 race tokens, plus an additional token for every "thing" that's in that space ("thing" here can be just about anything - other player race tokens on the board, neutral 'lost tribe' tokens that begin in play on certain spaces, mountain regions get a token to remind you that it costs one extra to conquer them... all in all it's very quick, easy, and visual to figure out how much it costs to take a new space).

At the end of your turn, count up the number of spaces your tokens occupy and you get a point for each. Race/power abilities might give you additional points, but that's pretty much the gist of the game right there.

Oh, except for the whole going into decline part...

You see, the race you start the game with probably won't be able to last the full test of time. As the turns pass, you'll come to a point where clinging to the old ways just isn't going to cut it. That starting race has run its course, and it's time to shake things up. When you're ready (and choosing the timing on this is vital to learning how to play the game well), you can put your race into decline. You flip over the tokens in play, leaving only one token in any space you control on the game board. On your next turn you select a new race/power combination and bring them into play. As you expand your new empire, you continue gaining points for spaces that your in decline race still controls as well.

So far we've only played the 2-player version of the game, and it works extremely well in this format. From everything I've read the game only gets better the more players you have (and considering how much fun it is with only 2 people, I can't wait to try out a larger game). The basics are easy to pick up, even for people who aren't hard core gamers, but there is a depth of strategy here along with the random race/power combinations that will keep you interested.

I expect we'll be playing this one for a very long time. Extremely happy with this purchase.
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on October 27, 2013
I play this all the time with my roommates and friends. It's easy to pick up because the rules are pretty simple, but the more you play it, the more you get used to the races and special powers used in the game. The best part is the game is different every single time, because you shuffle the deck. It's also a very different game depending on the number of players, and not just because you get 4 game boards out of it. A 2-player game is way more aggressive, while with 3 or more players you can spread out more. I personally play with a few "house rule" variations to make things more competitive, but it's easy enough to learn the base rules.

The only potential drawback is that pre-expansion, the base game doesn't quite have enough races for 4 or 5-player games. You'll rotate through some of the same races before the game ends. Fortunately the expansions with the extra races are pretty cheap and add a lot to the game.
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on March 16, 2017
Everytime we play this, somebody in the group says "this game is so fun, we should be playing it every week." Its true, it is a well paced game that plays different each playthrough. The difference comes not only through different class combos, but also in the developed tactics of your competitors. A class and special that at face value seems weak becomes invaluable in certain circumstances. The games are always so close for us and the clear victor is always a turn away from defeat.
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on July 22, 2013
I got this as a birthday gift for my fiance, and we've played it several times since then. He even brings the game to parties. The first play-through took some time (as neither of us had ever played it before), but we quickly caught on. The instructions were well written and not at all boring, and the game itself is fabulous.
One of the things I love about this game is that it's actually fun for two people. I've played lots of games that claimed to be for "2-6" players, but you needed at least 3 to have any real fun. SmallWorld is actually really fun even with only two players.
I highly reccomend this game if you're into table-top gaming, love to conquer new worlds and love to smash your opponents into little bits.
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on July 28, 2015
Small World is a game of conquest. Players spend a single token to hold a territory, or 2+ tokens to conquer new territories. At the end of each turn players receive 1 coin per territory they currently hold. What makes Small World unique is that players don’t receive additional tokens.
The two big decisions of the game are choosing which race to play (trolls, skeletons, amazons, elves, etc.) and when to decline them.

Each race has a unique ability, and a randomly assigned second ability. These abilities can help players conquer new territories, defend existing territories, or grant bonus coins when specific circumstances are met. A declined race has no powers, but they still give players 1 coin per territory they control, and a player who declines can claim a second race on their next turn.

Combat is simply a matter of paying the price in tokens to conquer a new territory. There’s very little luck involved, but players will typically gang up on the current leader.

Rounds can feel a little slow as you wait for other players to take their turns, but it’s good game for anyone who likes to put a lot of thought into each move they make.

If you’d like to see a sample game I recommend you do a search on YouTube for Tabletop Small World on the Geek & Sundry channel.
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on October 8, 2012
So, this is one of the many games on my wish list that I got from Wil Wheaton's Table Top webisode - and while a fun game to play, not a perfect game -

First, once opening the box, there are pieces that you will take out of their cardboard homes to make into playing pieces, and while they do provide a storage bin (Big Plus) it is not quite right for all of the races - some had some trouble fitting into the container - but I was not discouraged, so I went onto the next phase, setting up the game.

Once I set the game up, which did not take overly long, and we started to play our first match of small world - at first, it was kind of fun, come in and conquer and what not, but there is a huge element missing in the game - there is no way top defend your land once you receive it - if the other player has enough pieces, you just lose you land - the thing that needs to be brought in is the dice element from Risk, which this is basically a fantasy fun version of risk - it seems that they took the conquer element from risk, but took out the attack and defend element, which was sorely missed

My son said it best when he said, "What's the point?" - you take over what you can and get your points, but you cannot defend, so someone with an army of ratmen can come in and take over the Trolls and their Holds pretty easily - it is not really a challenging game

i did enjoy the game, but after seeing my son and my wife kind of disappointed in the outcome of the whole experience, I feel that this game will probably collect dust on the shelf and be brought out once ni a while when someone wants to defeat me in a Small World.
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on July 27, 2016
I bought this game randomly because the description sounded interesting, and now I can't get enough of it! The game is very fun and the strategy involved is very deep. There is tons of replayability due to the various perks throughout the game. The instructions are overwhelming at first but once you start playing it will make sense.
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on July 20, 2011
Plenty of people have done an admirable job of explaining the games in their reviews, so this is instead an attempt at a comparison between a number of games, the pros and cons of each and which may suit different people best. The games in question are: Carcassonne, Settlers of Catan, Castle Panic, Smallworld, and Forbidden Island.

We have had Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne (with a number of expansion packs) for quite a few years now, and only recently added the other games above. We usually either play just as two adults, or with our two older children (age 9 and 8), and so our conclusions are based on how these games work in those settings. So here's what we've found:

Settlers of Catan
We got this around the same time as Carcassonne and initially just didn't latch onto it. Partly it's that it's supposed to be 3 players or more, and we often play as just two of us. Once we found online some instructions for playing as 2 players it came out more often, and as time's gone by it's become fairly 50-50 whether we play Settlers or Carcassonne on a quiet night in. The choice will usually depend on how much we want to think. With Settlers, you're always planning and calculating; with Carcassonne, you're taking it a card at a time.

Who should get it: Settlers is well-known as one of the great modern games. I'm not as sold on it as some people, and it takes quite a while to learn and feel comfortable with, but once you get the hang of it, it is an entertaining and enjoyable addition to a games collection. There are several 2-player rule variations out there if you need them and they work well (we found one that worked for us and we've stuck to it). But this isn't a game for kids; I would suspect not until they're 16 or so. Amongst other things, I think they'll find it too dull.

Carcassonne
This has been a favorite for years now, and everyone we've played it with has gone off to get it themselves. We usually play without farms because it then becomes less directly competitive and more sociable. Kids can play it, adults can play it, it's relaxed, it's fun and it's simple to learn. Here's one nice thing about it: you don't have to be constantly thinking and planning ahead. You don't know what card you're going to draw next time, so you just play one card at a time. You're encouraged to discuss where to put a card, and since you don't know what piece you're getting next, your comments to another player are usually pretty unbiased.

Who should get it: In my experience, pretty much anyone, except those who want ultra-competitive games. The first few expansion packs are also well worth getting, but don't bother with anything from Mayor onward.

Castle Panic
The kids love this one, again it's simple to learn and it has the added bonus of allowing them to get out their aggressive instincts and go postal on monsters! They don't like the `master slayer' option, but prefer just straight cooperative play. After the first few plays, I've found the basic game is too easy, and so we're experimenting with making it more challenging, such as starting with no walls, or drawing 3 monster cards at a time instead of 2. I think Castle Panic will become a game that we get out pretty regularly to play.

Who should get it: People with kids, who want to play cooperative games. Could be fun as a party game too!

Smallworld
While the kids have enjoyed playing this, I think their interest is starting to wane already. I suspect it will work better as a game with a group of adults, or when the kids are older. It has a lot going for it, especially the creative cards and board, but as others have noted - what's with the box for the tokens? Very poorly designed and adds unnecessary annoyance. Most of the time when playing we've found it's not too directly competitive, it's easier to attack lost tribes or declining races, so generally it doesn't get too personal!

Who should get it: I think this would make a fun addition to a games collection, but I don't think it would be a go-to game, especially with kids. The rules are more complicated to learn and explain than the other games, and this makes it hard to just sit down with new players and get on with a game. Having said that, we've enjoyed playing it , and I think it'll get pulled out every now and then over the years.

Forbidden Island
Although the kids would prefer Castle Panic, when we've played Forbidden Island (at my insistence!) they've thoroughly enjoyed it. As the island starts to collapse in a heap toward the end of the game, the tension levels rise and people are on the edge of their seats! The game always ends with voices rising in pitch and tension as cards get turned over - it's fun! It's a pure cooperative game, and that works well for us as a family - no one feels bad, we're all in it together. We're still using the `Normal' level of play, maybe we'll notch up a level soon!

Who should get it: If you like cooperative games, I think this is excellent to have. I love how easy it is to set different difficulty levels, and it's definitely the game that's had the most excited tension - Castle Panic has this at times, but not sustained (at least as the basic game). It doesn't have the whole monster thing going for it that Castle Panic does, and I think that's why the kids haven't latched onto it so quickly (kill trolls or wander round an island getting treasure - which is your average kid going to choose?) but I suspect that long-term it'll have more staying power.
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on December 21, 2014
Takes a bit of patience to learn, especially when you start adding expansions, but it's a really fun game. I'm more of a Scrabble, Scattergories, etc. kind of game player, but some friends introduced me to Small World and I have to say I really enjoy the strategy of the game- enough to have purchased a copy for myself.
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