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Showing 1-10 of 558 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 676 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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 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 October 14, 2014
Small World is a fantasy game of victory points and area-of-control designed by Philippe Keyaerts. The object of the game is to collect victory points by controlling different regions of the map and have the most of the previously mentioned victory points at the end of nine or ten turns. You pick random races with special powers and use them until you are done--then you "go into decline" (get rid of them) and pick a new race! So let's get started:

Games like Small World are difficult to review for several reasons:
1. I love the originality and my friends enjoy it as well, but....
2. There are some Race Balance issues
3. Some of the Rules are not explained well or are incredibly stupid/illogical.

Let me get this out of the way up-front: I like Small World. I don't love it and it is not the best game I have played in the last six months, (that award goes to the amazing Twilight Imperium Third Edition), but it is a good addition to my collection.

First of all: Components. 5/5
I really love the way that Mr. Keyaerts built this game.
The two maps that are included are basic cardboard (and double-sided to accommodate different numbers of players). The artwork is nice and imaginative.
The part that I really like are the race tokens and race "cards".
The races are a variety of fantasy creatures (like Orcs, Elves, and Giants) who get a special power. Example: Seafaring Orcs or Alchemist Humans. The "cards" are randomly connected to the special power add-ons and your race is ready to pillage (pun intended) and wreak havoc upon the other players. The tokens that are used to conquer regions and defend regions are thick cardboard and don't bend. They have nice artwork on them as well and are just very well made. There are coins that represent victory points that are, again, thick cardboard and hold up well.
My favorite part of the components is probably the cheat sheets that were added. The sheet contains all the races and their special abilities. You don't have to flip open the rule book every turn to double-check what you're race can and can't do and you don't have to ask the most experienced player what everything means.

Rules/Game-flow: 3/5
This is really the only place that I have a problem with the game. Some of the races seem to be better than others and leads to balance issues. The Sorcerers and Skeletons, in particular, have a tendency to swing the game HEAVILY in favor of the play who picks them. On the other hand, Dwarves and Halflings felt like a last-resort pick in every game I have played. Not only that, but there are some special powers that can make me want to bash my head against a wall because they have almost no counter-play potential.
For instance: Dragon Master and Commando. Dragon Master means that you get a dragon token (Who we always refer to as Trogdor the Burninator in honor of Strong-Bad) and this dragon removes all enemy tokens in an area with just one of your units. Normally it takes two units plus the number of units the enemy has defending the space to take it over. So if the enemy has three units on a space it would take me five to take over their place. With the dragon it only takes one--no matter how many they have defending. Not only that, but the dragon cannot be attacked so you can cut off portions of the map and make the enemy go where you want. Commando means you take every space for one less unit than normal.
This gets into another problem I have--unit death. When you lose a spot all your units except for one are returned to your hand and you can place them back on the board next turn. I play with house rules and ignore this. When your spot is taken all of the units there die and cannot be replaced unless they can retreat to an adjacent space controlled by the defender. It makes no sense that all of your units would survive if you're completely surrounded.
The last problem is movement. On your turn you take all of your units (except one to leave on the places you control) and put them into your hand and use them to attack anywhere adjacent to a spot you control. This again makes no sense. I can't get an Orc army halfway across the world in a turn. So we play that you must attack a spot adjacent with units from those adjacent spots.
Those rules might not be for everyone but they bother me and all my friends so we made up our own set and really enjoyed the change.

Last thoughts:
Like I said before, Small World is a fun game. I know a lot of people that play with normal rules and love it. I also know people who hate the rules and enjoyed it more the way we play. Great components, cool races and special powers, and lots of fun for 2-5 players.
Give it a try if you have a friend who owns it. If you don't have a friend who owns it then I would say to pick it up if you enjoy similar area-of-control or light war games.
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on January 6, 2016
The is the second game made by Days of Wonder that we've purchased. The first being Ticket To Ride. This board game is nothing short of awesome. The creators thought of everything.

The game mechanics are much like Risk, however the game play is way more fun and the action moves a lot faster.

The game comes with 2 double-sided game boards, which offer flexibility as to how many players are playing. The smallest map for 2 players and the biggest map for 5 players.

The game pieces are as beautiful as the packaging. The instructions are written extremely well. Every scenario/question that can be thought of is covered.

So the last thing you need to ask yourself is, why are you still reading? Add this to your cart. You won't be disappointed!
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VINE VOICEon October 24, 2011
The only similarities between Small World and Risk are that both games come in a box and have something to do with maps. Other than that, the two games are completely different. However, I'm going to use Risk as a point of reference since most people have either played it, or know what it is.

The basic objective of Small World is to conquer territories on a map in a way that is completely unlike Risk. In Small World, you don't try to capture all the territories on the map, as you would in Risk, but rather enough territories to get you more Victory Coins than your opponents after a certain number of rounds.

In Risk, you use the same map no matter how many people are playing. Small World comes with four different maps that you select from depending on how many players you have. With the basic Small World game, you can play with 2, 3, 4, or 5 players (you might be able to have more players with the expansion sets, but I'm not sure).

In Risk, there are no empty territories. All territories are owned by somebody. In Small World, some territories are empty, some have Lost Tribes on them, and some may have opponent pieces on them. To conquer a territory, you need to have a minimum of two race pieces (I'll talk about races next), or one more race piece than the number of race pieces your opponent has on the territory you wish to conquer. If you don't quite have enough pieces left to conquer a territory, you can roll a dice to give yourself the equivalent of 1, 2, or 3 extra race pieces. The dice also has three blanks on it, so you have a high chance of not getting any help at all, in which case you cannot conquer the territory. After you've conquered as much territory as you can, you can redeploy your forces as you wish, collect all the Victory Coins you are due, and then your turn ends.

In Risk, you select a color and are that color throughout the game. In Small World, you select a race and its accompanying skill card (which is different every time you play the game). You can select from races such as Wizards, Dwarfs, Rats, Ghouls, Skeletons, and so on. Each race has its own unique capability, and the skill cards add to that. For example, with most races you have to enter the map from a border, and then conquer adjacent territories. Some races, however, can jump to anyplace they want to on the map. Some skill cards also allow for conquering non-adjacent territories. Another example is that only certain races, or races with a certain skill card, can conquer territories with water on them.

The interesting thing about races is that you don't get that many race cards to play, so it is impossible to win the game using only one race. In order to successfully win the game, you have to know when to put your current race into decline and start a new race in order to keep the flow of Victory Coins as high as possible. This is one aspect of the game that seems difficult for younger children to grasp.

With regards to children, another thing I think I should mention is that Small World has a million small game pieces, so you will have to keep an eye on toddlers when the game is out.

I think Small World is a fun game, and I like the balance of strategy and luck; with the balance leaning more towards strategy. I think this would be a great game to play with a group of people around the same age, but it seems to be unbalanced when playing with a group consisting of adults and children.

Small World recommends children 8 and up, but my 9 and 12 year olds seem to have a bit of difficulty with the strategies of selecting a race and knowing when to put races into decline. When playing it as a family, I always have to help the youngest two with the game.

Other than the disadvantage of youth, at least until they can get the strategy down, I would highly recommend Small World to anybody who enjoys board games. Though I need to offer a little help on occasion, my family has had fun with Small World and we will likely get some of the expansion sets.
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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 January 6, 2015
I really wanted to like this game more that I actually do. I saw it on an episode of Tabletop and it seemed like a blast. The theme is fun. The parts are high quality. The artwork is fantastic. All in all, the presentation and quality is through the roof.

The rules are simple, that isn't an issue. But there is a lot of "stuff" on the table. Between the races cards, bonus cards, the coins on the race cards, the race tiles(on and off the board), hobbit holes, tents, castles, troll dens, mountains...etc. There is a lot of stuff. It seem to distract from the game. Want to take that area? you need 2 units + 1 unit for every random item on the board. Plus there are other tokens for the board that say you can't take that area. Huzzah!

This next complaint, well this is just me. I realize that certain personalities gravitate to certain games. If you have a short attention span, then you will be going through races like crazy. If you are a cautious person, then you may only change races once. With 2-3 players, this can either be a blast or maddening. With 4 ADHD monkeys, it is like a game of hot potato.
I tend to hold onto a race about 1 turn to long. I can't seem to get a handle on any type of strategy and my own impatience works against me.

In the end. A good game, worth playing,
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on May 25, 2017
It comes with 4 game boards specific to the number of people playing. It has high quality game pieces for the huge number of races and classes. The box has great storage compartments (you won't have to go buy a tackle box to get organized.)

The game takes around 2 hours for 4 players, so get comfortable and dig in!
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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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