It has been called Risk with benefits and that’s not a totally inappropriate tag to hang on Small World, a fantasy global conquest game from Days of Wonder.
Small World came out in 2009 and was designed by Philippe Keyaerts. Though there was some detractors who didn’t favor the game’s simplified combat, many realized the many strategic and tactical nuances of the game.
In short order, Small World became one of the hottest games of the year. In keeping with that popularity, Days of Wonder added value to the product with expansions. But more on those later.
For those who know nothing of the game, Small World is inhabited by a zany cast of characters such as dwarves, wizards, amazons, giants, orcs, and even humans, who use their troops to occupy territory and conquer adjacent lands in order to push the other races off the face of the earth. Points are gained by occupying those areas and after a certain number of turns, the player with the most points wins.
In the original game, there were 14 races and 20 special powers that are randomly paired in each game to create a nearly endless array of combinations to make sure Small World has a lot of replay value. The game can be played by two to five players and each has a different board to keep the Small World crowded.
Despite the game having a lot of variety and several expansions, there was still room for new ideas and concepts, so earlier this year Days of Wonder released Small World Underground.
“Philippe Keyaerts had the original concept for an underground version of the game, which went through several iterations,” said Mark Kaufmann, Days of Wonder's Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “As it evolved, it became clear to us that the Underground version simply was too deep to limit it to an expansion. It really is a different world and requires the new terrain, all the new races and special powers, and of course the monsters, relics and places that make their first appearance in Small World Underground.”