June Game of the Month – Small World

The Game of the Month series highlights one of the many games in our library at Ravenwood Castle. We will briefly describe the game, how to play it, and why we like it.

Game: Small World

Publisher: Days of Wonder

I ran into a friend and his family the other night at the local ice cream store. We got to chatting, and he mentioned how much fun they were having playing Small World. I hadn’t played it in a while myself, and his enthusiasm inspired me to pull my copy off the shelf at our next family game day.

I quickly remembered just how good this game is, and the girls absolutely loved it. We have played it half a dozen more times in the last two weeks, and the girls demanded I pick up a few of its many expansions. Small World has become the game of the hour at our house, and by extension, the Ravenwood Castle Game of the Month for June.

Published by Days of Wonder, Small World is a game of conquest and area control, in a world inhabited by dwarves, wizards, Amazons, skeletons and leprechauns. There are 14 different fantasy races (more with expansions), each with their own ability. When setting up the game, each race is randomly combined with one of 20 unique special powers. On their first turn, players choose one of five available race/power combinations with which to conquer the world.

The twist is that no individual race is going to be powerful enough to last the whole game – at some point a player’s power will begin to wane. When that happens, the player has the option of sending his race into decline. Although this costs a turn, it allows the player to choose a brand new race on their next turn and start their conquest anew. Balancing how far to push any one race is one of the key decisions in Small World. Go into decline too soon and you lose out on potential conquests. Push too far, and you waste turns that could be more productively spent.

With 14 races and 20 powers, there are a multitude of different possible combinations. And the race-power combinations play very differently, making each game of Small World unlike the last.

But don’t take my word for it. The next time you visit Ravenwood Castle, grab a copy of Small World out of the library, stake out a table in the Raven’s Roost Pub, and get to conquering!

If you’d like more information about Small World in the meantime, check out a full play through in this episode of Wil Wheaton’s TableTop.

Jim Reed

Jim Reed is a lifelong gamer who started with the original red box Dungeons & Dragons. After spending 20 years in the corporate world, he decided it was high time that work be fun and struck out on his own. Jim now owns and operates Ravenwood Castle, and spends his days ensuring his guests have as much fun as he does.