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Tabletop Game: Small World
It's a world of Slaughter after all!

Created by Days of Wonder, Small World answers the question, "What would happen if a Euro Game company decided to produce a lighthearted Mythology strategy game?" by throwing just about all the known fantasy races together onto the same world map in a simultaneous bid for survival and conquest.

Small World is, at the same time, more and less reliant on chance than its better-known board game analogue. Dice are downplayed in combat and, instead, the majority of the luck factor lies in generation of playable races. There are two decks: Racial banners and Special Power badges, each adding a power or restriction while in play and modifying the number of troops available to the player. These decks are shuffled and laid out in pairs, and competition often starts with a race to get a particularly synergistic race/power combo first.

This game contains examples of:

  • Absolute Cleavage / Sexy Backless Outfit: The Priestesses and their... robes.
  • Buy Them Off: The idea behind the Corrupt power. Whenever one of your territories is taken, the player who took it from you pays you a victory point.
  • Curse: The Cursed power screws over everyone, whether you choose it (it's the only power that doesn't have a troop bonus) or not (by paying 3 victory points to pass it on the queue instead of the usual 1).
    • Cursed with Awesome: At least someone can get a decent number of points out of it if it's been on the stack for a while.
    • Gypsy Curse: Possible with Cursed Gypsies, though it's no more thematic than if used with any other race.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Several in Underground.
  • Death from Above: Courtesy of the Flying special power, which lets you attack any space you choose on the map instead of just those adjacent to you.
  • Death Means Recruitment: Skeletons gain troops with every few territories they take, presumably representing bolstering their numbers with the corpses of the defeated.
    • The Necromancer directly converts dead troops into Ghosts.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: You'd think Tritons would be able to capture sea areas on their own, but (just like any other race) they need to be Seafaring Tritons in order to do that.
    • In Underground: Muddy Mudmen.
  • Evil Sorceror: The Sorceror race certainly looks the part, what with their goatees, slicked black hair and pointy-collared capes.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: Added (along with an island) to the lake in the middle of the map with the Necromancer Island expansion.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Hordes Of power; No capture bonuses, no special tokens, just lots of troops.
    • Creates something of a Badass Normal when coupled with Ratmen, who also forgo special abilities for large numbers.
  • Expansion Pack: Several, in true Euro Game fashion. Most add even more races and special powers to the pile.
  • Glass Cannon: Pixies - introduced in Be Not Afraid... - come in large numbers but can't leave more than one troop in each of their territories.
    • Amazons gain four extra troops while attacking, which can allow them to cut through enemy territories fairly easily. These extra troops vanish after attacking is done, though, so unchecked expansion can lead to brittle defenses.
  • I Have the High Ground: Mountains are the only natural terrain that grants a defensive bonus.
    • The Giants' racial ability is a downhill charge, giving them a bonus when attacking into areas adjacent to mountains they control.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: The Dragon Master special power gives a race access to a dragon token that can conquer any territory by itself regardless of terrain or number of enemy units and makes that space immune to enemy abilities.
    • Thankfully, there's only one dragon token, and it gets removed and replaced every round.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: The Goblins' ability given them bonuses for attacking races in decline.
  • Leprechaun: Added in the Be Not Afraid... expansion, complete with pots of gold.
  • Lost Tribe: The Lost Tribe pieces, single troops placed on predetermined spaces at the beginning of the game. They don't attack on their own and aren't controlled by any player but must be defeated in order to conquer their territories.
  • Massive Race Selection: Sentient mushrooms, giant talking rats, tritons, elementals, ogres, spider-centaurs, trolls ... the list goes on seemingly forever.
  • Mass Teleportation: You can begin a turn by collecting all your remaining active troops from the board and placing them elsewhere as though you'd just selected them as a new race. This can result in a Stealth Hi/Bye if you use it to escape an approaching player's advance or to ambush another player's weak areas.
  • My Death Is Just the Beginning: The White Ladies become invincible after they go into decline.
    • To a lesser extent, this also applies to the Priestesses. Upon going into decline, they build a tower, which is not invincible, but is generally more effort than it is worth for any other race to take without a dragon.
  • Necromancer: A player takes this on as a special role in - duh - the Necromancer Island expansion.
  • Nice Hat: The Skeletons wear cowboy hats (and boots). No explanation is given.
  • Nubile Savage: They seem to be going for this with the Amazons; They wear strung-together leaves... and nothing else.
  • Only Mostly Dead: You can use a turn to put your current race into decline, minimizing their presence on the map and making them unable to act but still netting you victory points in addition to any you'd gain from your new, active combo. Done either way after a couple of turns, when you can't gain anything more with your current race, or sooner if there is a desirable combo on the table.
    • Not Quite Dead: Ghouls maintain their numbers and can continue attacking after going into decline.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Horned Viking helmet; big, scraggly red beard; an axe in one hand and a beer in the other... this is a parody game, after all.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: The Tritons are all burly mermen with seahorse heads. And that's not even getting into the starfish pasties...
  • Parody: The cartoony artwork of prancing Elves, carousing Dwarves, brutish Trolls and the like should be a hint that this game encourages having a laugh at the expense of a few stock fantasy tropes.
  • Pre Existing Encounters: The Lost Tribe pieces; There are predesignated spots on the map to place them on during setup.
  • Random Number God: Downplayed significantly in comparison to other strategy games, but players have the option on the last conquest attempt of a turn to roll a D6 (the "Reinforcement Die") once for extra effective troops.
    • The Berserk power allows the Reinforcement Die to be used on every conquest attempt.
  • Recycled in the Underdark: The stand-alone spinoff Small World: Underworld, with monstrous races more appropriate for the setting.
  • "Risk"-Style Map: None of the sections are named, but the map divisions resemble divided provinces or kingdoms.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: The Ratmen race.
  • Romani: The Gypsies, added with the Grand Dames of Small World expansion.
  • Scoring Points: One of the things that sets this game and most other strategy games apart; Victory in Small World is determined by who can score the most in the allotted number of turns. Although many versions of Risk do now play for points within a turn limit.
  • Self-Destructive Charge: Actually a viable tactic on the last turn, since points are collected at the end of each player's turn and can't be taken away through loss of territory.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Philippe Keyaerts's Vinci.
  • Stone Wall: Priestesses become this when they go into decline; They consolidate all their remaining troops into a literal tower of tokens on a single space, with the full defensive and point bonuses of its component pieces.
  • Take Over the World: Averted. This is another difference between Small World and other strategy games. It's actually impossible for any single race to occupy every space on the map due to limited numbers. It might be possible for a single player to control the entire map between active and declined races, but it would take either the full cooperation of every player or a ridiculous amount of luck.
  • Take Your Time: Averted. Again, this is a Euro Game we're talking about. Everyone gets between eight to ten turns to earn as many victory points as they can.
  • Title Drop: The Cursed power, debuting in the Cursed! expansion.
  • To Win Without Fighting: The Peace-Loving special ability rewards you for not attacking another player. (Expansion into unoccupied territories doesn't count towards this.)
  • Tunnel Network: The Underground ability lets you treat all spaces on the board with a cavern symbol as adjacent to each other for movement.
  • Variable Player Goals: All players are trying to get the most victory points, but the variety of possible race/power combos keeps any single spot on the map from being universally desirable over another. Some players may even actively try to conquer fewer territories based on the bonuses their abilities give.
    • The Necromancer in the Necromancer Island expansion has outright alternate rules, achieving victory when all his Ghost tokens enter play.
  • We Are as Mayflies: A preferred strategy for any race with the Stout ability, which lets you decline without dedicating a full turn to it. This makes it possible to pick up a race, spread out, decline, then pick another fresh race the next turn and jump ahead several points in the process.
  • We Have Reserves: Pygmies recover troops based on a die roll whenever any of them are killed. Still fully susceptible to Random Number God, as half the values on Small World's D6 are zeroes.
  • Whole Costume Reference: The Queen token (granted by the Royal power) is wearing the same dress as Disney's Snow White. She does not otherwise resemble her at all.
  • Why Won't You Die?: When a region occupied by a player is conquered, one defending troop is killed (removed from the game) and the rest are salvaged; Elves and Immortal races have the ability to salvage all of their defenders instead.
  • Woman in White: Priestesses and White Women, both introduced in the Grand Dames of Small World expansion.
  • Your Soul Is Mine: The Necromancer employs Type Two, turning fallen enemies into Ghosts under his control.
  • Zerg Rush: Possible with races (Amazons, Ratmen, Kobolds or Pixies) or powers (Hordes Of) that offer a large number of troops.


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alternative title(s): Small World
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