Our first game was a quiet club night, which was in some ways a great thing as we had four quality players to try out Small World from Days of Wonder. Adam, Sonna-Ra, Ann and I sat around the table and set up a memorable game that everyone was keen to retry again that night. I had watched a number of useful videos from Scott Nicholson and Tom Vassel among others, a quick rules read the other day and I was primed to teach. I must say that after the videos I felt I knew how to play straight away, I was very comfortable, so tribute to the video makers and also the game for its simplicity.
I started out and had chose the Commando Giants at the top of the pile, bypassing some interesting other choices as I calculated that this would give me a great start to conquer lots of territory. I blitzed in, stealing 6 territories, a great start. Ann was next and chose the Bivoached Ghouls, who cam on at the other end of the map, stomping into 4 territories and setting up camps (should this be graveyards for Ghouls???). Sonna-Ra picked up the Swamp Wizards who predictably tried romping through the swamps, seizing magic sites and running into and over Ann’s Ghouls, which created some hostility. Adam now jumped in with Flying Halflings. They seized some ground in the middle of the table, planting their two hobbit-hole homes on two mountains.
My Giants continued their blitz, seizing lots of open ground until we were maxed out. My combination allowed me to easily seize almost any ground, even mountains. Ann counter-attacked into the Wizards without much success. The Wizards now turned on Adam who lost ground, the Wizards taking another magic site. The Halflings were weakened, Adam decided to go once more and grabbed back some turf.
Now my Giants went into decline, they were stretched out and could not expand further. Ann felt the same abut her Ghouls and went into decline as well. Sonna-Ra thought she would push once more and grabbed a little more land, just not enough as the last attack failed with a bad die roll. Adam decided to follow us into decline, the Halflings were weak and would hold their hobbit-homes for some time.
My next choice was to take the Berserk Trolls. Inspired by their name I rampaged in from the Ghouls flank, taking empty ground and risking attacks everywhere using the die roll that Berserk gave me for each attack. I surprisingly made great rolls and seized some good ground considering the risks. Ann came back in with Pillaging Humans, who did, well, pillage. And not just anywhere, there was and old score to settle with some Wizards sitting on farm land the Humans would score double points from. Predictably this was a massacre. Sonna-Ra put the Wizards in decline while some remained. Adam now gravitated to Diplomatic Skeletons, a role he seemed to suit well. With mass bone rattlings his army stomped into the remaining Wizards, gaining two new Skeletons for his trouble. His army was now the largest.
The Trolls continued to rampage wildly, this time with less success as the previous luck seemed to swing back the other way. Ann continued to make great ground, scoring plenty of great points from the pillaging Humans by successfully attacking and holding farmland. Sonna-Ra grabbed the Heroic Tritons, and with revenge on her mind she made a coastal land grab into the Humans and Skeletons. Adam continued to rattle on-wards, deciding it was better to attack forward and grab land against weak declining races than into the strong Tritons, in the process gaining more Skeletons to offset some of his losses. Cleverly he had avoided attacking Sonna-Ra and used the Diplomatic trait to stop her attacking him on her next turn.
My Trolls were exhausted, so I sent them into decline. The Humans had a last fling, grabbed a few more points and then looked exhausted. Sonna-Ra battled on unable to attack the Skeletons, she ran into some declining Ghouls and unsuccessfully against the Humans. Adam was still feeling very good about the Skeletons, and as they grew strong enough each round to continue attacking he did just that, taking out one opponent and using the Diplomatic trait to cover his flanks.
As the end of the game neared I choose the Alchemist Ratmen, which gave me good numbers and a couple of bonus points for the last two turns. Deciding to attack from the far corner of the table I knawed into some Humans and open ground created by declining races being removed. By now the Humans had declined and Ann had taken up some Mounted Elves, who rode at speed ontot he board, grabbing as many farms and hills as possible, dispatching a couple of declined Trolls on the way. Sonna-Ra sent the Tritons battling on-wards, where possible taking easy coastal victories. Adam decided to continue the Skeletons, his strength was dropping yet somehow they just gained enough strength from all the attacking.
On the last turn I risked a high stakes rush which flopped with just two territory gains. The Mounted Elves rode roughshod over more decling Trolls and a Lost Race making a massive last grab for points. The Tritons were exhausted and had to content themselves with a single victory. Lastly the Skeletons were exhausted, yet had managed well to hold a lot of ground.
The game ended with a cheer as we had laughed and heckled each other through a great game. A short discussion of what we had learned had us wanting another game. Tallying up the points I found myself 7 points ahead of Ann. Adam had made a great recovery with his Skeletons to come back to 5 points behind Ann, while Sonna-Ra was a few more back.
Small World is a game that really makes you competitive, yet its fun light theme and ability to keep coming back and back makes this game a great break from heavy thinking games. It was easy to learn and the major strategies were quick to grasp.
A big thumbs up for Small World from us all.