Small World is a board game that uses a territory-conquering system similar to risk, but has fantasy flavor and special powers for each person’s army.  Once all 1,000 pieces are punched and organized, it’s surprisingly simple to set up and to get going – and the game has only the one core mechanic to make sure play is relatively straightforward.  I thought I’d go through a list of pros and cons:

Pros

  • You get a lot of goofy combinations between race and “class” which adds to the hilarity.
  • The core mechanic is straightforward (number of pieces of cardboard in a tile = such a great way to do it!)
  • The core mechanic is fun (send your troops to kill your enemies!)

Cons

  • It’s very much an interactive, beat-each-other-up type game.  So if your audience isn’t prepared for that, things might get dicey.
  • Because the only variance is in generation of race-class combos, and I’m positive they aren’t exactly balanced with each other, it can feel like you got outlucked in that respect.
  • There’s a lot of specific rules for stuff that seems extraneous – like, more +1 for territory stuff and less Sorcerer-type abilities would aid this game in its simplicity.

As is, I would recommend this game to any group that can handle Settlers, Dominion or even Carcassone.  It’s lots of fun and once you get the base rules down you can devote free mental energy to the surprisingly complex strategy and the special rules I talk about above.

Overall: A-
Ease of Teaching: B+
Replayability: Medium-High
Brokenness of Dragon Master Skeletons: High