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Small World

45 out of 51 gamers thought this was helpful

What is Small World?

Philippe Keyaerts’ Small World is a game of conquest in a world that is much too small for the grand ambitions of its inhabitants. As the player, you control different fantasy races (one at a time) with their (randomly assigned) special abilities and attempt to expand your empire across the map before they fall out of power, only to be replaced by your next race of creatures.

How does it play?

In the beginning of the game, you determine which board you will be using to ensure that the world is indeed quite small for the number of players you have. Then, you’ll set-up the board with impediments to your civilization’s expansion (in the form of mountains and Lost Tribes) where it instructs you to, and then (finally!) you’ll get into purchasing your starting races! Every player starts the game with a small handful of coins which are then used to purchase races throughout the game (those leftover at the end become your victory points!) and are gained by holding land.

Alongside the board is a deck (of paired race and ability tiles) with a few of them face-up on display to be chosen from (though it’ll most likely cost you some gold). Once each player has picked up the race tokens from their chosen race, the game is ready to begin! Each player will enter from the outside of the board and conquer the surrounding tiles until they eventually choose to go into ‘decline’ (make your current race inactive and pick a new one next turn).

What makes Small World a unique experience?

The act of putting a race into decline is what really gives Small World its unique flair. This “feast or famine” style of play creates an additional layer of complexity and strategy as you must determine when you should put your race into decline and where you should enter the board to maximize your empire in the small world–-not to mention which race/ability combo you’re currently playing or going to bring in.

Final Thoughts

One of my small, but (personally) significant grievances with Small World comes from how underwhelming it feels to conquer Lost Tribes in the base game. Fortunately, that problem has already been addressed in the standalone expansion (Underground) with the addition of “relics”.

Overall, however, Small World is a great for what it is–a gateway game into modern boardgaming–but, the randomness of the game might take a bit away from its longevity. The game does not draw from a deep well of replayability due to the fact that you can’t play again to try a different strategy since all of your strategies are developed on the fly due to the random race/class combos. A House Rule that allows you to select which Race and/or Class you want to play (at an increased price) might put more emphasis on strategy and less on luck of the draw. That change would allow for brainstorming out of the game (and thus more cravings to play the game).

Go to the 7 Wonders: Leaders page

7 Wonders: Leaders

26 out of 26 gamers thought this was helpful

7 Wonders: Leaders is the first expansion to one of my favorite games of all time. 7 Wonders on its own is the entire package for me–engaging gameplay, beautiful artwork and seemingly endless replayability. When I had started getting into 7 Wonders, I hadn’t even thought of expansions, there was just nothing that I could think of to improve on the current game.

Yet Antoine Bauza still managed to do just that.

What’s New with Leaders:

Leaders adds another aspect to the game that greatly affects the way the game is played. Right before you pick up the cards for your first age, you take a certain number of Leader cards (determined by the number of players) and make hands of four for each player. You pick and pass them, just like you would for an age, except you don’t discard the last one, you just pass it on. At this point, you have four leaders and the opportunity to pay to build one at the beginning of every age with one extra that you don’t end up playing.

How does this change the game? Leaders influence the path you take throughout the game. There are leaders that straight up give you things like gold, victory points, sciences or military strength, but there are also those that offer incentives for playing a certain way (i.e. extra gold for upgrading your buildings or extra victory points for having one card of each color played). The hand of leaders you end up with makes for a good outline of the way your game should be played because you have an advantage over your opponents in the area now. If you feel overwhelmed by the amount of choices 7 Wonders throws at you, adding Leaders to your game might actually help make those choices for you.

However, that’s not the only thing that Leaders adds to the game. Leaders also adds an eighth wonder, the Colosseum of Rome. Rome works with the Leaders as it allows you to build more than three per game and also makes them cheaper for you and your neighbors (to a lesser degree) to purchase-–it is an interesting and welcome introduction to the game.

Final Thoughts:

While Leaders might be a rather simple expansion, it does manage to accomplish the unimaginable in improving one of the best games that I have ever played. That alone makes it a definite purchase in my eyes. That said, if you own 7 Wonders you shouldn’t feel compelled to purchase the expansion, but if you’re burning out on the base game or want an extra little kick for your 7 Wonders game-–it’s just what the doctor ordered.

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