Small World is a familiar game if you have played Risk. The same idea of conquest is there, but it lacks the time devotion and resources available. In Small World, you represent a fantasy race that has a special ability. All the races you expect to see are there such as Orcs, Elves, Kobolds as well as more specific races such as Wizards and Ghouls. The special abilities range from Forest to Berserking to Seafaring. Each race and special ability are randomly paired and give you different abilities as well as having a specific number of units. There are 4 different boards representing one for a different number of players, so a 2 player game has a separate board from the 4 player game. The board and pieces are gorgeous and there is a tray to hold all the pieces neatly.
In the beginning of the game, you first lay out races and special abilities and get an amount of points. The first combination is free, but if you pass them up, you place a point on it and move to the next. Then starts the conquest where you place pieces on the board marking your progress across the land. At the end of your turn you collect points equal to the territories you control as well as any special abilities. After the first turn, you may put your current race in decline (which they can’t expand but you still gain points for them) or continue on conquesting with the current race. There is a set number of turns and at the end you count up the amount of points each player has.
I have played this with a couple of different gaming groups and they have all enjoyed it. The thing that has bogged down the game were referring to the special abilities and race abilities. The game feels like it goes quickly though with little downtime. There is always something to look up or to strategize for or against. Luck isn’t involved much, but there can be politics. I always enjoy playing this game and see many more hours with expansions and new sets out.
This is a great game that has entertained my group multiple times. Days of Wonder suggest it for ages 8 and older. Anyone older than 8, possibly younger, would enjoy this game. They already have two sets to pick from, the base set and Underworld which is a stand alone game that adds a few new features. There is another set coming out which appears to be a build it yourself map. I would recommend getting the base set first based on other reviews and personal experience. Happy gaming.