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Small World Underground - Board Game Box Shot

Small World Underground

Small World: Underground title

Small World Underground is a stand-alone game set beneath the surface of the same fun, light-hearted Small World universe of epic conquests and fallen empires.

Designed by original Small World author, Philippe Keyaerts, it features all new Races and Special Powers, and introduces Monster occupied regions that protect Relics and Places of great power!

Small World Underground game in play
images © Days of Wonder

Play Small World Underground on its own or combine it with other Small World game elements.

User Reviews (10)

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Amateur Reviewer
33 of 36 gamers found this helpful
“Underground! Where Shrooms And Dwarves Feast!”

“All the magic happens underneath our own feet and we don’t have a single clue!”

Smallworld Underground is a marvelous board-game designed by Philippe Keyaerts. It is, just like Smallworld, a strategy game and is comparable to risk, but in my opinion much better. (no dice -> less luck,more strategy)

First of all it’s fantasy themed, which I like more then a realistic theme.
Secondly, The illustrations are so beautiful! For example this cute version of the Kraken.
You have 15 different races and each of them can have one of the 21 available special powers which gives this game a lot of replay value.
Not only are the races very appealing, the board itself is just gorgeous. This is always a good thing because if you want it or not, you are going to spend a lot of time looking at that board.

The goal of this game is to collect as many coins as possible by conquering lands en keeping those lands.
Every piece of land that is in your control at the end of your turn will give you one coin.
So choose a race and keep pillaging those regions! Fight for honor! For Glory! Fight…for Victory!
Of course, after a while, your army will become smaller, you simply can’t avoid that.
Then a true leader must abandon his former race and army to get a new one. I know, this sounds harsh and…(moment of silence)
it’s hard to make such a decision, but let’s face the truth…you wanna win, don’t you? :p
This is another great aspect of the game, when you feel that your current race is “too stretched out”, your race can go in
decline and the next turn, you may choose a new race from the ones available.

When you open the box, you will notice that there are a lot of race tokens. The publisher added a simple “storage system”
to the game so you can easily take the race tokens you need.
Furthermore I want to say that the rules are easy to learn and are well written in the rule book.

This board game has a special place in my growing collection of games. It’s my favorite game now and probably will stay my favorite game for some time longer.
Hopefully I inspired you to try out this game for yourself and when you do, try to win for me 😉

Player Avatar
I'm a Gamin' Fiend!
Amateur Advisor
17 of 18 gamers found this helpful
“Pros and Cons”

Stand Alone Game – While this fits into the popular world of Small World, new mechanics help it stand out. You do not need to buy into any of the other sets to be able to play this one.

Game Mechanics – During your turn, you move your pieces to try to take over the Underground. Very little dice rolling is involved and a lot more planning ahead. There are multiple maps in the box, based on the number of players, and each one has a River running through world. This makes expansion more expensive but can speed crossing certain areas. There are also special Relics and Places of Power that add another layer of tactical thinking to the game.

Replayablity – The Races and Powers are shuffled each game and you will always come up with a different game. The Relics and Places of Power are shuffled each game and you don’t know which you will get until you conquer the monsters covering them. When playing with different numbers of players, the board changes.

Some might not like the number of pieces
– However, I do! I love all the little pieces of gold, the race tokes, the silver hammers for the dwarves, all of it! Just be aware that there are a number of pieces. Thankfully, the box is well designed and keeps all the little bits where they go, even when traveling.

The River – In our games, we have found that the river really cuts the board in two. You have to be dedicated to expanding across the river to spend one of your precious race tokens moving across it. It takes a race token to cross the river, you can’t hold the river (without a special ability), but your token comes back to you at the end of the turn. One good point though is that the river sections often boarder a larger number of land spaces, making it easier to cross big expanses of the board more quickly.

Small World Underground is a great game built on a solid system. The game always changes and can be taught fairly easily. It can drag a bit with larger groups, just like it’s predecessor, but the Relics and Places of Power spice up the play.

Side Note on Expansions
You really can’t talk about Small World or Small World Underground without mentioning the expansions. Most (if not all) of the expansions and two core sets can be mixed together. There are rules for compatibility on the Publisher’s website. I strongly recommend the Realms Expansion as it lets you change the board every game and the Tiles have Small World on one side and Underground on the other. The expansions simply add to the replayability and fun.

Player Avatar
55 of 63 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Great Game for it's Genre but make sure you have the Right Group of people”

Improvements/Changes over the original:

—–The Good:

– More Female/Elegant races (A request from fans during the original)
– More Unique Themed Races:

Shadow Mimes
Mud Men

Iron Dwarves


– Abilities that activate after a race goes into decline
– Relics
– Monsters as opposed to Lost Tribes

—–The Minor Let downs:

– Races and powers from the original not present.
(Sorry No Flying Amazons)

– Some characters may have similar abilities and when you want to mix the sets you may want to pick and choose.

*** From my experience as a designer though it’s good they kept some of the mechanics that worked instead of completely revamping everything. I personally like choosing the more interesting version of a character ***

Down Time & Player Experience

Small World is actually a fairly short game often completable in less than an hour even with three or more players. It runs smooth, swift, and at a great pace.

It’s also long and tedious sometimes lasting two hours plus with downtime that will make you want to slap someone.

This is very dependent on who you play the game with.

The game provides several sheet copies of all the races and powers enough for everyone to have their own copy BUT often times people will wait until their turn to read up on the races they’re about to choose or plan a strategy for what they already have.

This can seriously ruin the Small World Experience and dramatically change the game play time. Specially for the impatient.

I LOVE this game but I will admit that you don’t want to play it with that guy/girl who always takes forever to make simple decisions.

Worthwhile Investment

Small World has had two full games and several expansions. The creators of the game listen to fans world wide (the inspiration for their expansion races/powers) and the more they create the more you want to collect.

While the instructions can feel a bit tough to read the first time around, the game itself is extremely easy to learn if you have someone at your side to explain it. Casual and Strategy fans can both enjoy this franchise although like any title there’s probably someone out there who’d rather sit out.

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Novice Advisor
Count / Countess
Advanced Reviewer
33 of 47 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“A Refreshing Variety of the Small World Gameplay”

Small World Underground is a great stand alone game in the Small World family. If you are not familiar with the original Small World, it is much like Risk in that you are attempting to control the board with an army of tokens. Only the playtime is much shorter and Small World appeals a lot more to casual gamers such as myself. In fact, it’s the original Small World that got me into board games.

The difference between the original and Underground is that there is a river that splits the map in half and you must conquer the river with a token to continue conquering spaces on the other side. However, no one but the Krakens can hold the river and you must redeploy the token at the redeployment phase. There are also chasm spaces which cannot be conquered, but play a part in race abilities such as the Spiderines and the Flames. There are items than can be obtained after defeating a space occupied by lost tribesmen than give you an additional ability for as long as you hold the space with the item.

Although the Small World expansions are designed for the original, all of the races and special abilities found in the Cursed!, Grand Dames, and Be Not Afraid expansions for the original Small World will work with Underground as well. You can mix and match a handful of races and powers between the original Small World and Underground. I myself enjoy taking the Flames, Gnomes, Iron Dwarves, Ogres, and Lizardmen from Underground and using them while playing the original Small World.

Overall, I would take the original Small World over Underground because I prefer the race abilities of the original, but Underground is certainly a refreshing variety of the Small World gameplay.

Player Avatar
Amateur Reviewer
Amateur Advisor
36 of 52 gamers found this helpful
“Nice enhancements”

In comparison to the original Small World there are some nice new things. I really like the new relics and location based bonuses. There are some nice new races but personally I like the ones from the original Small World more.

If you already own Small Word I am not sure if you should buy Small World Underground, because you will get only the relics in addition.

If you do not own the original Small World I suggest you by Small World Underground instead of the original one.

Player Avatar
Gave My First Grade
11 of 17 gamers found this helpful
“A Great Place To Start”

This game has a special place in my collection since it’s the game that got me into modern board games and its also the first board game that my gf wants to play regularly (this is HUGE for me).

I was hooked from the first play, from the awesome artwork of the box, the characters of every race, the cardboard pieces, to the simple mechanic that reminded me of Risk but with special abilities, relics, races and different types of terrain, everything was full of new mechanics to me (at least from boardgames).

I just wanted to say that I love this game and I’d recommend it to anyone, from people new to the hobby to board game veterans who for some reason haven’t played it yet.

Player Avatar
Gamer - Level 1
26 of 46 gamers found this helpful
“Great Standalone, ”

I loved the new races and special powers. I especially like the river that runs through the middle of the board. It’s fun to add something to use the tokens for aside from attacking. The relics and special places add a nice twist to the game, creating a way to steal powers from others. Only complaint is that it’s hard to mix some of the old and new races together because of their abilities.

Player Avatar
15 of 53 gamers found this helpful
“The same, but different”

I played Smallworld first, which my sister owns and really liked it. When I saw Underground, I decided I had to have it. The game has very minor differences, and still has the same enjoyment value. My only real criticism is in regards to the number of pieces. We’re really careful with our games, but I am still worried about losing pieces.

Player Avatar
I'm Completely Obsessed
10 of 59 gamers found this helpful
“changed of heart”

initially i gave this game a 7 but the more i play the fun i have if i can change the score now this game will get 10 … simple but yet fun art works are great races are funny whole family can enjoy it

Player Avatar
Critic - Level 1
8 of 49 gamers found this helpful
“Enjoyable and tedious”

Rules are easy to understand and yet downtime with 3+ players can be enormous for what it wants to be. 2player it shines.


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