Small World – Intrigued and Excited

I have been following Small World, a new game coming from Days of Wonder, for a couple weeks now and I wanted to put up a couple links to some information about it.

Small World is a reinvention of Vinci, one of Philppe Keyaert’s first games from the nineties. Vinci is a tactical war game that has in some ways been compared to History of the World, a game that has proven quite popular in our game group.

In Small World players play different races and attempt to move across the face of the rather (pardon the obvious pun) small world. Players accumulate points which, according to the Bruno Faidutti preview, are hidden until the end of the game. This seems important to me. If done properly it can assist in preventing the game from resulting in a simple case of beating on the leader. Also when points are hidden or difficult to easily calculate, the game is more exciting and players can simply play the game rather than constantly calculating their position.

Another interesting aspect of the game is the combination of race (examples include Elves, Zombies and Giants) with different powers like Flying, Wealthy or Heroic. Each race has something special about them and each power does something as well. Thus, each game will play out differently as different combinations come into play.

The Days of Wonder site has a very nice set of slides showing off Small World. The artwork is pretty cool as well and you can get a good idea of what the game looks like from their site.

The Small World pre-order should be up this week at the Days of Wonder online store. In general I don’t get board games until they have been out for a while (well, new board games, I do tend to snatch up expansions very quickly) but this game might just be an exception.

    ojiepat Says:

    To a certain extent, “hidden” victory points is good, but there needs to be some way to judge how other people are doing. I am also usually among the first to clip the people I think are in the lead, it’s how I tend to play games, when they allow for it. But as long as you can see people getting the points, but have to remember them on your own, that works for me. 😉

    This does sound like an interesting game. I look forward to playing it.


    I dig the art style too, good stuff.


    It actually says in Bruno’s preview that more hard core players have the option of having VPs open for all to view but my preference is for things to be a bit more vague. As players will be able to see each other gaining VPs they will certainly have some idea of the other player’s scores but knowing for certain tends to bog games down a bit I think. You also spend VPs to get better race/power combinations (VPs that can later be claimed by other players – check out the slide shows for more info on that).

    james Says:

    Interesting. It sounds like a game our group would like. and having to spend VP to use powers would make it more interesting. especially if teh VP cost varied by power.


    I don’t know exactly how it’ll be handled in Small World, but game mechanics that stick out in my mind to allow players to spend VPs during the game have never worked out.

    It always seems to come down to two things: one, poor balance – in most cases the reward for spending victory points is too low for players to care.

    Two, you’re moving further away from the end of the game. If players truly are playing to win, they’ll typically want to avoid giving up an advantage in victory points when they’re ahead if it doesn’t buy them a good chance of getting more victory points, assuming that’s what matters. And players who are behind face a similar dilemma, equally distasteful if they are likely to put themselves further behind the leaders.

    I admit in a game just played for fun (which is often supposed to indicate you don’t care who wins) these dynamics change, but I often like games that can be both fun and competitive at the same time. Plus how many “just for fun” games use victory points?


    Well, the same mechanic was used in Vinci and it worked (by most regards), so I’m not too concerned about it.

    However your comment about “just for fun” strikes a bit of a cord in that I have been thinking a lot about “fun” in games lately.

    The reason being that many people find different aspects of a game fun and/or look for different aspects in the games they are going to play. For example a lot of people over the years have found Talisman fun but there are very few decisions to make in the game and for me it really is the ultimate dice fest. What’s fun about that? Well, it CAN be fun for some because of the theme and the idea behind it. Others don’t understand this. I like some games that I play “just for fun” but others (Talisman has really lost me as a fan for example) no longer appeal to me. On the other hand I also enjoy games that are competitive but obviously which would imply that I find them “fun”. Still, I am obviously enjoying different aspects of these games.


    That makes me curious about Vinci now 🙂

    There are indeed many ways to enjoy games, and enjoyment of a game may even be for different reasons by different people.

    The easiest examples of “just for fun” games in my mind are often party games. Just the play of the game is usually enough, and I’m much more likely to remember how much fun it was to see Tom guess flying winnebago without getting “Lone Star” than who won that game.

    I guess in games with a slightly more “serious” style, one question is whether the game’s objective or win conditions are related to the gameplay elements which are most fun. Even if you’re not having fun because you’re winning, when you are in the lead are you winning because you’re having fun?

    When this connection is lacking it doesn’t necessarily mean the game is poorly designed, just that there’s usually little reason for players to drive the game to any kind of completion. So either the end game needs to be handled automatically, like Pictionary’s movement track, a time limit or hard resource limit (cards in the deck, etc.), or the game may stagnate and stop being fun through lack of movement.


    Well, Vinci is just Small World with a different board and a non fantasy theme. Still it does sound like a decent game but I am planning to wait for Small World as I like the art a lot better.

    The other kind of “just for fun” games I think is games where the fun is in the theme. Last Night on Earth or Talisman are good examples. I know back in the day I use to love Talisman but these days I just don’t find that kind of game quite as interesting. Still, I can play a game that is mostly theme and kind of have a few laughs while I know some people need to feel the challenge of the game to find it at all interesting. It really is a matter of taste but I can certainly tell my tastes have changed over the years.


    You can find the full rules for Smallworld at the link below. The release date in the US seems to be May 6th.


    It looks pretty good. I sort of wonder why the Elves would ever need to go into decline but perhaps that is one of the things you need to see in play before it makes sense.