Toy Corner

Smallworld Board Game: Top Tips and Review

Apr 08, 2024

Smallworld Board Game: Top Tips and Review

The popular board game Vinci has been redesigned and repackaged by Phillippe Keyartes, now called Smallworld. The new version is available through the hobbyist game company Days of Wonder. Despite some complaints about cluttered artwork slowing down gameplay, the innovative features and meticulous attention to detail in game pieces have been praised. Smallworld offers an immersive experience with intriguing challenges that make it worth playing despite minor issues.

Smallworld Boardgame Review

Smallworld graced the gaming scene again thanks to Days of Wonder. They'd given Philippe Keyartes, the original maestro of Vinci, another shot at revamping his creation. Remember picking sides in a fight between plastic dudes on the board in the Age of Mythology? Smallworld strikes that spot but goes one step beyond with its redesigned gameplay. In this world overrun by forest ratmen and land conquests, fighting for territory forms the crux of the appeal.

It's not just another board game lost in the crowd. Despite some hiccups in its past editions, it's risen to the rank of a cult classic. Whether it's wrangling with a cluttered game map or marking your territories with coloured tokens, Smallworld stands as a testament to the innovative prowess of the industry.

Components of the Game

A minor grievance I've heard among fellow enthusiasts is the challenge of distinguishing player bits due to mingling artwork and also the vast amount of tokens given to each player. Can it slow down gameplay? Yes. Is there a workaround? Absolutely! With a little ingenuity and about 20-25 coloured tokens for each player, the problem's sorted. It's not pretty, but hey, it gets the job done. Now regarding the tokens, with over 350 game components, keeping everything organised is a challenge, I especially found the victory coins very hard to access in their slots.

Interestingly, the game brings forth some innovative elements that set it apart, such as multiple boards where your figurines could rule without spilling onto each other's territories. I find the intricate attention to detail in packaging each component refreshing. 

Gameplay Mechanics

Flipping through the Smallworld board game synopsis, what stands out are the gameplay mechanics. It's as war-like as it can get, minus the pronounced hostility seen in traditional games. You won't find yourself losing just to hail a winner here, unlike some other games that shan't be named (cough, Monopoly, cough). Instead, you pick and choose battles, understanding which fights to duke out and where to back off.

Deciding when to switch up your race and forgo your current overambitious ones is a fine line that players walk on. It's a doozy for beginners, but a gentle learning curve brings everyone to speed by the second game round, I believe that it is simple enough to let children to get involved and have an enjoyable and competitive game. I've got to tip my hat to the quality of the games produced by Days of Wonder. From the artwork to the components, everything's polished to near perfection. There's a dedicated spot for everything, even within the box, and it's this sublime attention to detail that distinguishes the Smallworld board game from the rest on offer.

Pros and Cons

The Smallworld board game is a compelling experience due to its high replayability, strategic elements, and fast pace. The game features various fantasy races and dynamic scenarios that keep the gameplay fresh and engaging. Despite being lighthearted, it maintains thrilling strategic components like territory conquests. Its vast yet compact gameplay makes it an attractive choice for strategy enthusiasts, living up to its name by offering a world where fantasy and strategy converge in an addictive format.

The Smallworld board game, while visually appealing, suffers from overly cluttered artwork that hampers visibility and slows gameplay. The complexity of the design can be overwhelming for new players. Although coloured tokens can help mark pieces, the necessity of this workaround indicates a need for design improvements. Additional issues include clashing artwork, lack of player markers, and oversized mountains that further complicate gameplay.

Strategies for Winning

Smallworld's captivating gameplay hinges on strategic choices to push for domination over fractured land. It isn't just a fun concept, it's an insightful lesson in strategic planning, amplified by the game's many expansions enhancing replayability. Here I'll share some game-winning tips involving race selection strategies and Territory Control Tactics.

Race Selection Tips

Smallworld board game's draw is an exciting line-up of special-powered fantasy races. Each race – from Commando Halflings to Dwarf – possesses unique abilities which can drastically alter your game style and victory path.

  • Consider Race Perks - Each race comes with a unique set of abilities that can provide a strategic boost, so choose one that aligns with your game plan. For instance, if aggressive expansion is your style, the Commando or Berserk races could be a good fit.
  • Adapt to the Game State - As Smallworld's landscape changes, so should your race choice. Always keep in mind the board's current state and what would offer the most advantages.
  • Be Ready to Switch - It's quite normal in Smallworld to abandon a race when it's past its prime and adopt a new one. Understanding when to change races is crucial to stay ahead.

Territory Control Tactics

Managing your area is key in the Smallworld board game. With the game's focus on area control, I have some tactics to help enhance your dominance.

  • Expand Smartly - Plan your expansion based on your current race's abilities and aim for territories that bolster your strengths.
  • Stay Balanced - While conquering more areas is crucial, don't spread your forces too thin. Maintain security of your existing territories.
  • Plan for Decline - Overreaching and decline are inevitable in Smallworld. Strategically declining at the right moment can create an advantage for your next race.

Final Thoughts

Having first been published in 2009, Smallworld still comes to mind when I have my friends over. The race selection process, territory control, and planning for decline are all integral parts of the game that require forethought and adaptability. This strategic depth of Smallworld helps keep the game fresh as there are so many different ways to go with it, especially when facing new opponents. I would say the amount of components of the game can be a headache which is probably why they have made a video game so you do not have to deal with this problem. But if you can get past this minor issue, then I highly recommend you look into this board game, there are various expansion packs available to bring even more races into the game.