The latest game to turn up on the Board Game Truce this year was Small World. It’s a game that Amy and I have played once or twice before but it’s not something we’ve regularly gone back to.
Last night as we got through an initial “rules refresher” game, then another “proper” game, we wondered why we hadn’t picked it up as often as we both really enjoyed it.
For two players you start with a smaller world map (up to five players can be accommodated on a much larger map than the picture below); the aim of the game is to get to the victory point total first. Victory points are gained through conquering areas of the map, for which the player gains one victory point at the end of each round.
You conquer lands with your chosen race. Each race comes with a certain amount of tokens which you place on an area to conquer it. Each race also comes with a random special power which grants extra tokens and quite often a special trait specifically for that race – such as, an extra victory point for an area if it has a mine symbol on it.
In order to conquer an area of the map you need two tokens from your race plus however many other tokens there are on it. For example, if I have conquered an area and have one token on it then Amy would need three of her tokens to conquer it, this depletes her available number of tokens but it means she gains a victory point for that area instead of me. Some special traits mean that areas conquered by a race will require one extra token should another player try to conquer the land
Now here’s the clincher. Each person can have one active race and one “in-decline” race. The premise being that once you’ve expanded your active race as much as you can you place them into decline. This means you continue to accrue victory points for the areas the in-decline race occupy but they can’t continue to conquer other areas. You then get to pick another active race (with their special trait) and begin your conquering all over again.
The game can be fairly short, for a two player game there are 10 rounds, but it is a strategists dream. The race cards and special powers pairings are randomly assigned at the start each time you play, thus enhancing the replayability.
Obviously there’s a lot more to the game and three paragraphs are never going to cover all the intricacies of the rules but this post should be a reminder of how much fun can be had playing this and it’s something we should be going back to a lot more than we have done in the past.
If you like your board games and you want to add Small World to your collection here’s a handy link to Eclectic Games, our local independent board game shop.