Days of Wonder: Small World – Review

August 3, 2011

Publisher Days of Wonder
Genre Strategy Board Game
Number of Players 2 to 5
Play Time 40 to 80 minutes
Initial Review Date 8/2/11
Last Updated 8/2/11
Files/Tools Rules – Download
Click here to Play

This is a fantasy game where you via for control of various territories. However, land is limited and so it will get crowded fast.

Game Play

The game board starts with a few regions pre-populated with generic pieces that are not controlled by anyone. Additionally, certain locations have mountains placed on them.

Each player begins with 5 coin  which they can then use to purchase their starting race.

Each race is randomly generated and is made up of 2 parts, the race and their special ability. This combination is random each time because they are separate pieces which are joined together.

The races are tiered and so you have the option of skipping over a race to pick up one higher up. However, each time you skip over a race you must place a coin on that race.

When you pick a race you also collect any coins on it. In this way less appealing combinations become worth more later on.

Each half also has a number on it. When added together this tells you how many of that race you get. So the more powerful an ability is the fewer units you get and vice versa.

Once you collect your pieces you can then place them on the board coming in from any edge. To conquer a region it takes 2 pieces, plus 1 for every piece on that location whether it be a mountain, or another race. This is cumulative as well, though there are some abilities in the game that grant discounts to conquering certain regions.

On  your final play you may attempt to take a land with fewer tokens then is required. To do this you roll a special die which depending on your roll can act as if you have 0 to 3 more units. If this is successful your units move into the region, if they are unsuccessful they must return to the previous space.

then you can redeploy your units. That is you can reduce how many units you have in each region to one and then redistribute the extra pieces to any region you control. You may vacate a region completely at this point as well if you wish.

Then finally you get money. You get 1 coin for every region you control plus any bonuses your current combination might give you.

Play then proceeds with each person buying their first race and placing them down.

On subsequent turns you can either choose to continue to expand or put your race into decline.

Expanding is much like the first turn except you can only attack regions you are already adjacent to. You do have a limited number of tokens though and most races do not acquire additional tokens during the game. So, eventually you will expand as much as is possible at which point it is probably time to put your race into decline.

When you put a race into decline you reduce each region to a single token and flip them over. Additionally, you lose any special abilities you have and your race board is flipped upside down to show it is in decline.

when you put a race into decline it can not take any additional lands. You just score whatever coins you get for lands they occupy and your turn ends.

On any turn during which you do not have an active race you can then purchase a new race as per the beginning of the game. You then score points for all of your races (both active and those in decline).

However, you can only ever have 1 race in decline (pending of course the special ability that gets around this). So when you put a 2nd race into decline any that remain of your first declined race are then removed from the board.

Player Vs. Player

It happens pretty quick into the game that you will start conquering regions occupied by other players. When this happens their counters are removed from the board. However, the player only loses half of those counters (rounded up). The counters that were not lost may then be redeployed at the end of the current player’s turn. In this way races will gradually get wiped out as they are conquered by others.

Winning the game

so, there is a tracking counter that advances after all players have had a turn. When this tracker reaches the end each player gets 1 last turn and then the game is over. It’s a good idea to keep track of this as you obviously don’t want to be putting a race into decline on your final turn. When the game ends each player counts up how much money they have and the player with the most wins.


The game mechanics are pretty simple which makes it easy to learn. Additionally, a cheat sheet is provided for each player so that you can easily look up the abilities. It is a well designed game that requires a fair amount of planning and strategy.

I’d recommend giving it a try if you enjoy strategy games that only has a small amount of luck involved.


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