Tribal Games Reviews - Small World

Posted by Samuel Pons on

A Tribal Games Review of Small World


The smallest worlds have the biggest wars, and Small World is definitely not an exception! Join the band of races waging war to gain control of the overpopulated world and don't forget to bring your special powers with you!

Reviewer's Note:

Small World is a fantasy style game where players will choose from several race options, all of which are granted a random special power. Throughout the game, the players will use the races and powers to help them conquer the world, gaining points and preventing others from expanding their armies in the process. Starting race, army size, and special power are all randomly decided throughout the game, giving Small World players a different experience every game. The game also features 4 different maps, based on the number of players, which allows players to enjoy a variety of gameplay options. 

Small World also features a turn by turn mechanic with a defined end point, which keeps the game at a consistent play time, as well as allowing players to strategise effectively. Honestly a great game to set up with the family as the gameplay and point system are very simple to understand and the atmosphere created is tense yet exciting. 

How to Play:

At the beginning of the game 5 random races are laid out in a column for players to choose from and are given 5 random powers. The remaining race and power cards are stacked underneath this column for future use. On each player's first turn they will select a race with its matching power, they will then take character tokens to deploy on the map. 

Each turn consists of three phases as follows:

  1. Conquer regions - Player will place their character tokens into a bordering region in order to claim it, sometimes having to overpower any other characters that are there. This process will continue until the player is out of tokens to conquer with.
  2. Redeploy - The player will distribute their tokens between the regions they currently occupy, setting themselves up to be defended from other players during the following turns.
  3. Score points - The player then counts the number of regions that they occupy and gain points equal to that number. During this phase any special powers that increase points gained will also take effect. 

Players may also choose to use their first two phases to put their race into decline, which allows them to select a new race and power on their next turn. The declined race cannot move or use their special power, however they can still occupy a region for the player.


8.5 Dwarves out of 10

  • Replayability - 9.5/10
    The random selection of races and powers at the beginning of the game mean that gameplay will be different each game, it also prevents players from creating an overpowering winning strategy, both of which increase replayability. Having several different maps for the different numbers of players provides players with an even deeper replayability aspect, as they will have the opportunity to learn and adapt various strategies. The only feature of this game that slightly decreases the replayability of Small World is that there are only 8 races included, which can all be played during one playthrough. 
  • Thematic - 9.5/10
    The race selection and power options within Small World allow players to explore thematic environment in this game; each race ability is tailored towards its theme, and the powers all suit the fantasy surroundings. The map and race graphics, including all of the tokens also support Small World's thematic environment, however the game is lacking in storyline meaning that for a true thematic experience the players must develop their own storylines. 
  • Fun Times - 7/10
    The easy to understand gameplay mechanics and the exciting tension on every turn make Small World an enjoyable game to learn in a family or friend group. The multiple maps based on number on players also helps support a fun environment for varied size groups. Unfortunately, due to the highly thematic environment, a lot of enjoyment is lost on players who do not like the fantasy genre.

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