By Rick Teverbaugh
The Herald Bulletin
— Someday, this era of tabletop gaming will be held in special esteem by people who will be left to chronicle this hobby.
When that happens, products like Small World Realms will be among the examples used to define this productive and enlightened era.
Realms is a tool that can be used to enhance the enjoyment of a couple of games that are already quite delightful as they are; Small World and Small World Underground. It really isn’t so much an expansion. There are already several of those already on the market and hopefully more in the planning stages.
For those who are unaware of the Small World universe, it consists of a pair of games where races fight over territories in a world that is way too small for all of them to peacefully coexist. A player wins a game of Small World by doing the best job of getting a race to flourish and expand, go into declide and then pick another race to do the same.
Both Small World and Underground have gorgeous maps. They are sized differently depending on the number of players. But both are static. Players are always fighting over the same turf. Not any longer.
The contents are impressive in every way. With this extension of the game, the possibilities are virtually endless for exploring ways to enjoy Small World. Not only are there scenarios for creating new game boards, but gamers can create their own maps, limited by just their own imaginations.
“Realms is really designed as true world-building toolkit for the game,” said Mark Kaufmann, co-founder of Days of Wonder, publisher of the Small World series. “The preset scenarios are the starting point and will provide hours of new ways to enjoy the game, but ultimately we can't wait to see what exciting custom scenarios Small World fans come up with.”
This product tries to put somewhat equal emphasis on Small World and on Underground in case a gamer would have a copy of one product and not the other.
“While obviously there are more players of the original Small World game, we see more and more Underground players every day, especially among the dedicated Small World fans. We wanted to make sure we offered something for both,” said Kaufmann.
Days of Wonder is now just settling in to see what the fans of the game will do.
“We want to see how people use Realms and how many make their own custom scenarios available to the public before we make any decisions as to the next steps in the Small World universe,” said Kaufmann.
I think perhaps Days of Wonder needs to come up with a tool to make it easier for players to create scenarios, save them, print them and pass them around before we see any huge number of gamer-created scenarios. This was done with another Days of Wonder line, Memoir 44, and needs to be done with Realms.
“Our hope is that the fans will come up with new ways to expand Small World that we or the game's designer, Philippe Keyaerts, haven't even thought of. We wanted to give them some open-ended design elements and see what they create,” said Kaufmann.
Until then, Realms is a remarkable achievement in advancing the flexibility and enjoyment of Small World. Realms will be available to try and purchase at GenCon, which opens a four-day run in Indianapolis on Aug. 16.