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Showing 1-10 of 563 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 682 reviews
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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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 August 18, 2017
My son loves these types of games. The instructions are complex so we watched YouTube vids to help us figure them out. The game play has a different number of rounds depending on the number of players and it seems like it will take forever but each round goes pretty quick and we can fit in a game on week nights. The pieces are all a sturdy cardboard and there are a lot of pieces.
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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 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 June 24, 2012
I can sum this game up very easily. The game mechanics are VERY similar to RISK but without having to roll dice. I read the rules, and played an 8 turn game with 3 people and it took just over an hour and a half. The game is somewhat randomized and the armies/tribes you play have special abilities that change almost every time you see them. It's a very interesting twist, and once you get the rules down, it's an easy game to play and you can talk with your friends about your day or something totally unrelated and still go for it.

All in all, it's a fun, easy and very replayable. I would easily recommend this to friends. Be aware, this is not for everyone (like The Train Game could be). Make sure you like the game Risk because at it's most basic form, that's what it really is. However, I have played Risk and although I don't like the game I do like the strategy. This game totally fills that desire in me.
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Enthusiast: Board Gameson December 10, 2016
Area control light. This is a great game to introduce to newer or younger gamers. The base game is enough for quite a few plays before you will need to add some expansions to spice things up. The gameplay is smooth and easy to learn. The components are solid. The clean up afterward is normally a pain. Overall this is a solid game
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on August 20, 2017
You are trying to use fantasy races to take over the world and earn coins when you expand so far the you put the race in decline and start again. Each race has a skill that help protect, or conquer and then abilities to aide as well. All in all fun game and for me better then risk.
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