The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Small World

I’m moderately surprised how often I’m playing Small World. I mean, I liked Vinci, but this newer version is growing on me. Part of the appeal is that I can teach it in a few minutes (explaining details during the game) and there’s no particularly strong left-right binding. (The latter issue jumped in my head when I declined to enter a teaching game of Puerto Rico, after having just taught Small World). I think I’ve now played this 3 times in the last three weeks; good for a game that’s not fresh off the presses.

I am somewhat annoyed by the “Cursed” adjective, as it tosses a random effect often in the late game. But there are always going to be good and bad powers in any “break the rule” game, so I was always going to be annoyed at something. (To be fair last night had Maurading Amazons show up 3 turns from the end, and only the prior’s race Cursed kept them off the board).


Written by taogaming

January 5, 2010 at 6:44 pm

Posted in Misc

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  1. I was surprised by how much I liked Small World also. It helped that I had low expectations, I think (I really *didn’t* like Vinci, but a lot of that was tied up just with the fact of the open scoring). Playing with 3 made for a tight, fast, fun game.

    The “cursed” tag seemed pretty lame to me to; I haven’t seen it in action, but it seemed like pure random screwage.


    January 5, 2010 at 7:08 pm

  2. Its good 2 player also, though different. It becomes a tactical wargame of sorts instead of an excercise in controlling the incentives of the other players.


    January 5, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    • I moderately dislike the ability to pick up and re-enter (voluntarily), and it seems to make the 2 player game too tactical.


      January 5, 2010 at 8:01 pm

      • It is a really big effect in 2 player and does have this effect. You really have to play it more like a wargame.


        January 6, 2010 at 12:28 pm

  3. I expected to like Small World as well, as I’ve always been a big fan of Vinci, but for some reason, whenever I play it, I find myself wishing I was playing the older game. Maybe it’s the faulty graphics on the new game (flashy, but the plain graphics of Vinci make it much easier to play). Maybe it’s the clearer rules for the races/powers in the older game (I find I need the cheat sheet in Small World, as there are subtle points for many of the races). My whole group never had a problem with the open scoring in Vinci, so that’s another factor (although that’s easily dealt with with a house rule of having everyone reveal their scores on Turn 7 or so). Or maybe it’s a nagging feeling that SW is just a bit too short. It’s a terrifc system and I’m glad it’s back from a company that will give it great support, but if you wanted to play, I’d try to talk you into playing Vinci instead.

    (I will say that I always had a strong preference of playing Vinci with 4 players, as that number seemed to fit the map size best. So with 3 players and maybe with 5, I’d probably opt for Small World and its variably sized maps. But then I’d just wish we were playing Vinci with 4!)

    Larry Levy

    January 6, 2010 at 12:05 am

  4. Ditto. I’m a big fan of Small World – because of the reduced playing time, but I miss:

    1) Everybody having the mountain skill,
    2) Everybody having to keep unit cohesion

    These two skills made the decisions on where to go in the map excruciating. Without them, the map tactics almost don’t matter. The game devolves into who picked the best race, not who managed his races best. Which is fine, picking the best race is still fun, but Vinci is most certainly not superseded.


    January 7, 2010 at 9:58 am

    • Another Vinci fan I played with missed the unit cohesion as well, but honestly I liked Small World much better without the rule. Having to keep unit cohesion would be too limiting. Only certain types of empires would be viable, you’d be channeled too much. You’re still more vulnerable if you string yourself out too much – too many neighbors can take cheap shots at lightly garrisoned spaces – which I think is sufficient penalty.

      I think the Mountain balance of Small World works pretty well, they’re a little weaker strategically than they were in Vinci but they’re worth points. They’re harder to take over, but if you do, you’re more likely to keep the spaces when you go into decline. I think it’s simpler and better.


      January 8, 2010 at 3:22 pm

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