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Tabletop Game / Small World

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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 — creating an odd genre-blender: a sort of Euro-fantasy-semi-war-game.

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.

A unique twist compared to comparable board games is that players occasionally need to put their existing empire into decline: players gain victory points from the territory that both their current emprie and their declined empire control, but the declined empire is limited to one piece per area and cannot continue expanding.

Several expansions have been released, adding new Powers and Races, and one that allows for a bigger board and team-based six-players games.There is also Small World: Underground, a sequel which pits other Races with other Powers to control the Underground. It uses the same rules that its predecessor, with a few new rules to spice the game. Underground is playable on its own, but you can combine Small World and Small World: Underground to have an even bigger pool of Powers and Races. A licenced retheme based on World of Warcraft, named Small World of Warcraft also exists.

    Races and powers from the base game 
Small World Races:
  • Amazons: During your Conquests, you may use 4 additional Amazons.
  • Dwarves: Collect 1 bonus coin for each Mine you occupy at turn's end, even when in decline.
  • Elves: When conquered, you suffer no loss; withdraw all your tokens from the region.
  • Ghouls: Your Ghouls all stay on the map, when going into decline. In addition, they may continue to conquer new Regions during the following turns.
  • Giants: Conquer any Region adjacent to a Mountain Region you occupy at 1 less Giant token than usual. A minimum of 1 Giant token is still required.
  • Halflings: Your first conquest may be anywhere. Also place a Hole-in-the-ground in the first 2 Regions you conquer to make them immune to opponents' conquests & racial & special powers.
  • Humans: Collect 1 bonus coin for each Farmland Region you occupy at turn's end.
  • Orcs: Collect 1 bonus coin for each non-empty Region you conquered this turn.
  • Ratmen: No Race benefit other than their sheer number!
  • Skeletons: During Troop redeployment, take 1 new Skeleton token from the tray for every 2 non-empty regions you conquered and deploy it.
  • Sorcerers: Once per turn per opponent, substitute an opponent's single active token with a new Sorcerer token taken from the tray, to conquer an adjacent Region.
  • Tritons: Conquer all coastal Regions bordering a Sea or Lake at 1 less Triton token than usual. A minimum of 1 Triton token is still required.
  • Trolls: Place a Troll's Lair in each Region you occupy, to increase its defense by 1. Troll's Lairs stay when Trolls go in decline.
  • Wizards: Collect 1 bonus coin for each Magic Source you occupy at turn's end.

Special Powers:

  • Alchemist: Collect 2 bonus coins every turn your tokens are on the map.
  • Berserk: You may use the Reinforcement die before each Conquest.
  • Bivouacking: Deploy 5 Encampments in your Region(s). Each Encampment increases that Region's defense by 1.
  • Commando: Conquer any Region using 1 less token than usual. A minimum of 1 token is still required.
  • Diplomat: At the end of each turn, select 1 opponent whose active race you did not attack this turn. He won't be able to attack you next turn.
  • Dragon Master: Use the Dragon to conquer a Region using a single token; the Region occupied by the Dragon becomes immune to opponents' conquests & racial & special powers.
  • Flying: You may conquer any Region of the map, not just an adjacent one.
  • Forest: Collect 1 bonus coin for each Forest Region you occupy at turn's end.
  • Fortified: Once per turn, place a Fortress in a Region to increase its defense by 1 and collect 1 bonus coin (only when active). The Fortresses stay on the map even after your Race goes in decline.
  • Heroic: At the end of your turn, place your 2 Heroes in Regions you occupy, to make these immune to opponents' conquests and racial & special powers.
  • Hill: Collect 1 bonus coin for each Hill Region you occupy at turn's end.
  • Merchant: Collect 1 bonus coin for any Region you occupy at turn's end.
  • Mounted: Conquer any Hill or Farmland Region at 1 less token than usual. A minimum of 1 token is still required.
  • Pillaging: Collect 1 bonus coin for each non-empty Region you conquered this turn.
  • Seafaring: When your Race is active, you may conquer Seas & Lakes as if they were empty Regions. You retain these Regions even after going into decline.
  • Spirit: When sent in decline, your Spirit tokens do not count toward the "only 1 race in decline" limit.
  • Stout: You may go in decline at the end of a regular turn of conquests, after scoring.
  • Swamp: Collect 1 bonus coin for each Swamp Region you occupy at turn's end.
  • Underworld: Conquer any Cavern Region at 1 less token than usual. A minimum of 1 token is still required. All Regions with a Cavern are considered adjacent.
  • Wealthy: Collect 7 bonus coins, once only, at the end of your first turn on the map.

    Races and powers from the expansions 

From Grand Dames of Small World

Fan-submitted content that was made official.Races:
  • White Damesnote : Not very numerous, the White Dames' make all regions they occupy impossible to take as soon as they enter decline.
  • Gypsiesnote : Always on the move, Gypsies can still score one victory point for each region they abandon at the beginning of their turn.
  • Priestessesnote : When entering decline, Priestesses gather in one region to form an "Ivory Tower" that holds one Priestess for each region they occupied. It scores one point per priestess per turn, and is thus very well defended because of their numbersnote .
Special Powers:
  • Historiannote : Historians win points for each Race in decline in game when they enter the game, and one more point each time someone enters decline.
  • Pacifistnote : Gain 3 additional victory points each turn you don't attack an active civilization – Zombies in decline, though still active, don't count.

From Cursed!

Another expansion made of fan-submitted ideas.Races:
  • Goblinsnote : Goblins can conquer regions occupied by an empire in decline with one less token than usual. A minimum of 1 token is still required.
  • Koboldsnote : Kobolds can't conquer or occupy any region with less than 2 Kobolds, except when in decline. To counterbalance this drawback, they are very numerous.
Special Powers:
  • Cursednote : The Curse brings no additional troops. Instead, not taking it in the queue costs 3 victory points instead of one – the player who eventually chooses it also gets those points.
  • Daringnote : before using the reinforcement die for your last conquest this turn, you can take back your tokens (leaving one per region) for a second conquest phase!
  • Hordes Ofnote : The Horde gets two "Horde" tokens that can be used just like normal troops token for an offensive AND defensive bonus, but they disappear when entering decline.
  • Thievingnote : Each time you take a region occupied by another player, you can steal one victory point from they reserve. The power doesn't work against people in decline – including Zombies
  • Were-note : On "Night" (even) turns, each region can be taken with two less tokens than usual. A minimum of one token is still required. On "Day" (odd) turns, the power is inactive.

From Be Not Afraid!!

This expansion adds 5 Races, 5 powers, and a convenient box that can hold all of them plus everything in the previous 2 expansions ! Also adds the "Leaders of Smallworld" option.Races:
  • Barbarians: Even more numerous than the Ratmen, but can't redistribute their troops after conquering.
  • Leprechauns: After conquest, Leprechauns can place pots-o'-gold in their occupied territories. Each pot o' gold that's still in place at the beginning of the next turn is added to the Leprechauns' player's victory points; but if another player conquers the region, they take the pot instead.
  • Homonculi: Homonculi take time to grow. Each time a player disregards the homonculi in favour of a more recent Race/poer combination, the Homonculi get one more troop token for when they will be chosen.
  • Pixies: Pixies are extremely numerous, but can only leave one token per region they have at the end of the conquest phase.
  • Pygmies: Each time you loose a Pygmy Token, roll the reinforcement die and take an number of tokens equal to the roll form the reserve.note 
Special Powers:
  • Catapulted: Place the catapult in one of your regions. Once per turn, you can conquer a region by jumping over another that's adjacent to the catapult, and with 1 less token than usually (a minimum of 1 token is still required). The Catapult also makes the region untakeable and immune to other Race's powers and abilities.
  • Corrupt: Every time one of your regions is taken by an opponent, they must give you 1 victory point from their reserve.
  • Imperialist: If you occupy more than 3 regions at the end of your turn, each region above 3 nets you one more victory point.
  • Mercenary: Each time you conquer a region, you may spend 1 victory point to conquer that region with 2 less tokens than usually. A Minimum of 1 token is still required.
  • Retrenched: Gain 3 additional victory points if you occupy no more than 4 regions at the end of your turn.

Leaders of Small World: This expansion adds a "Leader" token for each Race, which can be used as a regular troop token for conquering and defending. When a region with a leader is captured, the Leader alone is taken prisoner (no tokens are lost) and can be ransomed : the player who lost their leader can by it back from the leader who captured it at the cost of one victory point. Leaders disappear when in decline. Any captured leader that hasn't been bought back at the end of the game is worth 2 victory points for the capturing player.

This game contains examples of:

  • 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.
  • Competitive Balance: The number of troops you get is inversely proportional to how strong a race and their special power are. One race (Ratmen) has no special power, just numbers ; and Races introduced in the expansions have even more troops, balanced by a drawback.
  • Creepy Cave: Small World: Underground is set in an expansive subterranean cavern. The overall tone and color palette are darker than the original game, the races are more malevolent (including liches, cultists, and spider people), and the gameplay is more difficult.
  • 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: Several Races's unique ability also exists as a special powers, and it is not uncommon to get both.
    • 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.
    • Orcs get more points by attacking occupied region, likely because they pillage it. Pillaging Orcs get even more points by doing twice as much pillaging !
    • "Bivouacking" and "Fortified" add a defensive bonus. Amazons have an offensive troops bonus, and Trolls have a huge defence bonus.
    • The Halflings' power makes two of their regions impossible to attack. "Dragon-Master" and "Heroic" do exactly the same, except the tokens can be repositioned, and the Dragon can be used in offense at the cost of there only being one.
    • "Horde" in the Be not afraid! expansion adds troops tokens, which pushes the Ratmen, Barbarians, Homonculi, Pygmies and Pixies' typical advantage even further.
    • In Underground: Muddy Mudmen.
  • Digital Tabletop Game Adaptation: Available for Steam and mobile, with expansion packs available as Downloadable Content.
  • Evil Sorcerer: The Sorcerer 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.
  • Geo Effects: 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.
    • Several Races or powers grand more points when capturing specific biomes, e.g. Humans with Farmlands, Dwarves with mines, Caverns with the "Underworld" power…
    • The "Mounted" power makes Plains and Farmlands easier to conquer.
  • 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.
  • Guest Fighter: The A Spider's Web expansion adds the Skags from Borderlands as a race, with their power being the ability to place loot tokens in the regions they conquer, which are then revealed to either be conquest-cancelling traps or a number of coins when that region is conquered or the Skags go into decline.
    • Thankfully, there's only one dragon token, and it gets removed and replaced every round.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: The Goblins' ability gives 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.
  • Low-Tier Letdown: The Dwarves from the base game are well-known for being underpowered. While their power, which is 1 additional point per mine including in decline, is far from uninsteresting, their numbers are pitifully low. This makes actually conquering the usually dispersed mines very difficult, not to mention defending them when in decline, or getting back up from a curbstomp.
  • Magikarp Power: The "Cursed" power has absolutely zero benefit, but players must pay 3 coins to pass over it during race selection instead of the usual 1. As the game goes on, it is therefore possible for the Cursed race to come with a very tempting jackpot for the player that finally chooses it.
    • The Homonculi use a similar mechanic, but with troops instead. Passing over them in the race selection queue gives them one additional troop token, making them more powerful the more time they're disregarded.
  • Massive Race Selection: Sentient mushrooms, giant talking rats, tritons, elementals, ogres, spider-folk, different flavors of magicians, trolls, ghostly women... And with the impressive amount of fan made races, the list can go on 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 the Necromancer Island expansion.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: The Elves' power is to never loose troops when they lose a region. Either because they make sure everyone is evacuated safely… or because they fled before danger was even at the gates, depending on how you choose to interpret it !
  • Nubile Savage: They seem to be going for this with the Amazons; They wear strung-together leaves... and nothing else.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: The "Peace Loving" power (earn 3 extra coins for each turn you didn't attack an active race) specifies that Ghouls in decline (who continue to act as if they are an active race) are still considered in decline regardless.
  • 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 Kobolds Are Different: In the "Cursed" expansion pack, kobolds are depicted as tiny, humanoid creatures with pink skin and Pointy Ears. They are one of the most numerous races in the game.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: The Tritons are all burly mermen with seahorse heads. And that's not even getting into the starfish pasties...
  • Our Werebeasts Are Different: The "Were-" power allows any race to become werebeasts, which allows you to conquer regions with a two token discount when it's nighttime (aka even-numbered turns).
  • 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.
  • Rat Men: The Ratmen race. Their strength is having an especially large amount of unit tokens.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Can be the Amazon's Achilles' heel. They get more troops for attacking and can thus tear through enemy defences, but said troops are removed from the board game at the end of the conquest phase. Being to greedy with you conquests can leave you open for horrible punishment.
  • 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.
  • Stripperiffic:
  • The Amazons wear bikinis mead out of leaves that cover next to nothing.
  • The Priestesses' robes feature both Navel-Deep Neckline and Sexy Backless Outfit. Let's just say their clothes don't leave much to the imagination.
  • 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.
  • Vestigial Empire: When a race declines, it turns into this, ready for the newest rising empire to take its place, but not quite gone yet.
  • 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.
  • 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.