Small World – A Review

Small World is a fantasy area control/conflict game for 2-5 players designed by Philippe Keyaerts and published by Days of Wonder. Small World is easily a game for any family or gaming group to pick up and bring to the table. You invade. You conquer. However, your true goal is to get coins, which are counted at the end of the game as victory points. So how do you play this fantastical melee? It’s easy!

At the start of the game, you take an available race/power combo, which are either free or may cost you a little coin. You then take your army and start conquering, working from somewhere on the edge of the board towards the middle. The more land you take, the more coins you get. Your invasion or your payout is supplemented by the powers granted by both your power token and your racial selection. On subsequent turns, you either continue your expansive conquering or you send your race into decline. If you go into decline, you choose another race on your next turn. Going into decline doesn’t prevent income, it just lessens what you get if you had racial powers that granted bonuses. You continue play through a pre-determined number of rounds based on the number of players. At the end of the last round, you count your coins and whoever has the most coins, wins.

This game has plenty of replay ability in just the race/power combos alone, but the fact that you use a different board for each number of players adds even more variety. And if you get bored of what’s in the base box, there are plenty of expansions and add-ons to spice up the rules and fun.

As far as component quality goes, every piece of this game is a nice thick cardboard, or in the case of the reinforcement die, wood. The art is beautiful on all the components, and that extends even to the coins. I only had one minor issue in punching the tokens out, and it could have easily been my fault. I don’t feel like any of the components will be ruined any time soon. Both boards in the box (yes, I said both) are well made, and fit neatly in the box. This brings me to my next point; the box is very well organized and all tokens have their own place. There is even a token tray that holds all the race tokens that can be removed from the box and set on the table to keep it organized. Did I mention it has a top to hold them in place during storage? Very few companies can boast that claim.

An issue you may notice is that some race/power combos are a bit more powerful and desirable than others. This could lead to certain games being runaways in points, but the randomness of the shuffle and reveal of the race/power cards doesn’t guarantee that problem in every game. In my playthroughs, that has happened once in nearly two years of owning the game.

Overall, this is a lighter game mechanic-wise, but it is definitely a fun game that really anyone can enjoy. If you’re looking for something for the whole family to enjoy or that you and your friends can get together and play, this game will fit the bill nicely. It doesn’t take long to set up, nor is it terribly expensive ($50 MSRP, but can be found cheaper online) for a non-traditional board game, and it’s really easy to learn. For the replay-ability and variety involved, this is a solid addition to any collection.

Small World Components
Small World in a box.


Gameplay 5 stars

Quality 5 Stars

Price 4 Stars

Value 5 Stars

Overall 5 Stars

10 thoughts on “Small World – A Review

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