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on June 9, 2017
Very fun game, definitely a good game for folks who are interested in getting into something a little more complex than Monopoly, but are unsure where to start. Plan on the first few games going very slow. One of the core concepts of the game is that you play as a "race" who has a fixed "race ability" and a randomly selected "special ability". The random nature of the special ability means the game is unique every time, but it also creates very weird interactions. It takes a few plays to get comfortable working through these combos.

I'm removing a star entire due to the rule book. While the rules contain substantial clarifications and details about abilities, they do not always use consistent terminology. This gets pretty confusing. Also, the rulebook also does not have a glossary, which means key terms are only defined in context, and are easy to miss. We've gotten stuck several times, because the clarification text for an ability uses terms that we could not find elsewhere in context.
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on September 25, 2017
What a fun game!! This is one game that has a lot of playablity. It may look daunting at first with all the pieces that are used for this game but it all works well. I just wished that the insert would fit and hold all the expansions/races. Hoping that one day Broken Token comes out with a sorter for holding all the pieces for the main game as well as the expansions.

This is a fun game whether your playing with 2 or more people. You pick a race and then conquer the world but watch out you don't want to spread your self too thin otherwise you will have to put that race in decline and start over with another one. The main goal is to have the most victory coins at the end of the game.

It is a lot of fun. I would suggest getting the Small World: Pocket Encyclopedia as it has all the races and special abilities which is nice in a book for instead of the card board hand outs which may or may not include all of them.
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on December 30, 2014
Small World is a very good transitional game. New board gamer will find similarities to risk and seasoned players will find enough variation and strategy to keep them occupied.

OVERVIEW: Small World is played on a series of maps (depending on how many players) that players will compete to take over territories and defend from other players. Players choose from available races and power ups to play as and will end up most likely having 2-3 over the course of the game. Players enter the map from one of the locations on the board and expand by placing two of their race tiles plus whatever defenses are on that territory and score on coin (VP) for each. Between the races and power ups often certain territories will cost less to take over or pay out more. The power ups are randomly assigned to the races and players bid on which race they want when it's their turn to choose. When you've done all you can (or wish) to do with your race, you put them into decline and start over with a new one. Games are 8-10 rounds depending on how many players and should take about an hour - hour and a half.

PROS: Because the concept of expanding and defending territories is similar to Risk inexperienced board game players seem to be more apt to try this game out. The experience board gamer will find a lot of fun in trying to maximize synergies and out maneuver the other players. It has a limited number of rounds which keeps the game at a great length. This is at it's core a fun light hearted game that even if you are getting creamed you never really feel like you are losing. The game is never boring even if certain races or power ups may be. The boards are designed for how many players and are just small enough that you constantly are tripping over other races so no one can just hang back and stay out of the battles.

CONS: Without expansions the initial race and power combinations is limited. Many of the special abilities are just bonus points for owning particular types of land which is kind of boring. There are a ton of expansions so this is easily remedied.
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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 January 5, 2015
Who knew being a Dragon Master Sorcerer was the killer combo?!

Other reviewers have explained this game better than I will ever be able to, so I'm not going to even attempt that. Here are my tips/recommendations:
*Read the instructions. All of them. Don't skim. Caveats to powers (or specific explanations) are in the character descriptions in the Instruction Manual (some of these are not on the Individual Player Sheets).
*Do take your time to look over the race/power combinations. We let my dad get the Dragon Master Sorcerer combo, because, well, we didn't know any better...I think he's STILL counting his money.
*Don't let the initial set up intimidate you. It's a lot of pieces. A. Lot. Once you've played a game or two, you'll get the hang of it.
*Don't be afraid to decline your race! Our first round, everyone tried to hang on even when they were collecting a measly 4 tokens. Decline earlier. It's more fun.
*The built-in number of rounds is a blessing! I could see this game going on forever...but there are a limited number of rounds (depending on how many players there are). It makes it easier to plan, attack, etc. knowing how many moves you have left.
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VINE VOICEon November 5, 2013
Just adding another positive review here. We play a LOT of Euro (mainly German) board games, and this is a fantastic addition to our gaming library. Smallworld seems a little silly looking, judging by the box, but I assure you, this is a smart and fun game for fans of Euro board games. I wouldn't recommend this as the first Euro game to try (Carcassonne and Samurai are worthy starter games in the Euro realm), but it's a great game that has multiple layers of complexity and strategy. Most of all, it's fun! And HIGHLY competitive.

2-5 players
30-80 minutes (not sure what the box says, but my partner and I can play a round in 1/2 hour)
Ages 10+

** I know the Amazon description says 10-14, but that is not what the manufacturer states on the box (which is 10+) **

Some folks compare this to Risk, but I would say this is to Risk as a bicycle is to a Ducati. In a nutshell, you and your friends take turns conquering territory and reassigning your units. So it DOES sound like Risk! But wait! You don't have a singe army or race, instead you shuffle several races, and bonuses and place 5 on the board. Players pick from these 5, paying Victory points to select further down the five (first one is free). Once the player chooses, another is drawn and placed while the others move up to fill the gap. What this means is that each time playing, players will have different races with different stats, and different bonuses. So you might end up with Elves with the Berserk bonus, or Ghouls with Seafaring bonus (seafaring ghouls lol!). There are tons of combinations, and each has ups and downs.

There are four maps on two sided heavy cardboard fold outs: one each for 2, 3, 4, and 5 player games. This makes it easier to get competitive and combative instead of trying to have two players duke it out on a huge 5 player board!

Setting up the map is easy once players get the hang of it. On the first turn players start by invading the land from the edge of the board, unless they are seafaring, then they can invade water to start. Once you start invading, you end your turn (with an option to roll the reinforcement die on your last attack) and then redistribute your armies. You have to leave at least ONE unit on a territory during your attack phase or you can't redistribute on it. Each territory you have gives you Victory points. So you REALLY want to control more territory at the end of your turn. This also means you REALLY want your opponent to control less.

The other twist comes from balancing your civilizations. You can elect to allow a civilization to go into decline, thereby gaining the chance to start a new civilization on your next turn. You gain points for your declining civilization, but unless stated otherwise (such as ghouls), these declining civs have no more actions and can only hold a spot on a territory until beaten off.

Since you only have a finite number of units to use, once you start losing units (from being attacked), you find you are spread too thin and MUST start a new civilization to keep gaining VPs. So a KEY part of strategy is deciding when to lose a turn to allow your current civilization to go into decline.

Each player keeps their VPs hidden, so at the end everyone tallies and it's always a bit of a surprise. I've found a few times I thought I was surely losing and that I won handily. Other times the opposite has been true. Regardless, this is a fantastic, fun, and innovative game. Highly recommended!!!!
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on January 13, 2016
I love this game - My kids love this game....
I'm a huge fan of strategy/war games such as Axis & Allies, Risk, etc.... the ones that take hours to play. My wife and kids, not so much.... so along comes Small World into my life! It involves a simple layer of strategy with a very easy to understand combat system. The result is a game where you can conquer the world in under an hour where the play style is similar to the games I love.
I enjoy the uniqueness of each time playing the races/special powers change which keeps the game fresh. We've picked up several of the expansions and mix and mingle all the available options for an unique game each time. I <3 Small World.
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on March 15, 2014
This is a super fun board game that is deserving of its success. It didn't really "click" with us until our second game, so be sure to give it a fair chance. I generally just play this with my girlfriend, so we use the two player board (Small World is genius for including FOUR different boards, each tailor built to your specific number of players). The game dictates that you go for ten rounds when playing with two people, but we actually found that we like to go for fifteen rounds. This lets us have even more fun because we get to experiment with more race/ability combos, and each game only takes us about 45 minutes. The variety ensures that each game is different, and we enjoy experimenting with different strategies as we play. It's definitely a game that stimulates the mind, in addition to being fun and enjoyable.

The manufacturer, Days of Wonder, also deserves major credit for these high quality components. There are a TON of different tokens and pieces (plus the four boards that I mentioned earlier), and the artwork is fantastic - it really lets you get into the fantasy setting. If you have any interest at all in strategy board games, I give Small World my highest possible recommendation.
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on February 19, 2018
Fantastic Game. My teenagers and I have played over a dozen times now, and we have played with some friends. Every game is completely different, in a good way. The first game takes a while to set up and understand but there are some really nice easy videos to watch to get you on your way to conquering the world! One you get the hang of it, games are less than an our and are pretty fast paced. This is one of the best games I have ever played.
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on May 2, 2012
Okay. Small World is awesome! We had a lot of fun learning how to play it tonight. If you like board games, you should consider adding it to your games library. We played with 2 and 3 players.

It has really good replay value. You won't soon get bored with game play and once mastered is easily taught to new players. Love the 'cheat sheets' for each player. The tiles are thick and sturdy. The colors are nice and drawings are quirky and interesting.

It is a strategy based game that goes pretty quick once you've learned how to play. Be patient when learning and read all of the rules carefully. Our first game had a lot of bumps and took us about 45 minutes. It was still fun though!

The one thing that I, personally, found to be annoying was the storage bin for the race tiles. There isn't quite enough space for all of some of the races to fit! I know why they made the bottom rounded but it causes the tile sets with more tiles to not sit properly in the different holes. Our storage area didn't match up with the diagram in the rule book. It has little to nothing to do with the game or it's play-ability, so don't let that deter you.

Fun game! I found it via "Tabletop" on Youtube (hosted by Wil Wheaton) Do a quick search and watch them play. A refresher before you begin your first game really helps too! :-) Hope you enjoy!
3 people found this helpful
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