5 Of Our Favorite “More Challenging” Board Games You Should Try

4. Smallworld

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OVERVIEW

Smallworld is a laid-back, yet zealous civilization game that brings you back to the medieval times and makes you feel like you’re a part of Middle Earth or Westeros.

Just like in King of Tokyo, you and your friends contend with each other for control of the board that is “too small to accommodate all of you”. Races such as Orcs, Giants, Ratmen, Amazons, and Dwarves are combined with unique special powers such as Flying, Bivouacking, Historian, and Mounted, and you must pick the right combinations to occupy the most territory at the expense of weaker neighbors/races to be the Best in the (Small)World!

RECOMMENDED NO. OF PLAYERS: 2-5 players

AVERAGE PLAYTHROUGH TIME: 1-2  hours

SETUP

Double-Sided Game Board– Each side of the board features a map scaled to fit the number of players from 2 to 5. The 2-player map definitely has less room than the 5-player one (which is the one we used). The map is then divided into the Regions that can be conquered. It also has an 8-track Game Turn. If your group reaches the 8th track, then everyone should count their coins to determine the winner.

14 Races and 20 Special Powers with matching Tokens- Each combo is depicted by two tiles: one showing the race (e.g. “Trolls”), and the other showing the special ability (e.g. “Seafaring”). Each tile also has a number on its lower left/right side, which you both add to determine the tokens the player may draw when playing the chosen combo. Tokens come in squares.

The Race-Special Power combo tiles must be shuffled altogether and five must be randomly drawn to be placed face up in a single column. The remaining combo tiles will then be placed at the bottom of the column in a single stack.

Victory Coins- These octagon-shaped coins come in “1”s, “3”s, “5”s and “10” and they serve as your currency during the game. Each player is to be given five VCs at the beginning. At the end of the game, these are counted to determine which player owns the highest number.

Mountain and Lost Tribe tokens-  Mountain tokens are tokens that are placed on mountain regions, while the Lost Tribe tokens are placed on each region featuring a Lost Tribe symbol (Lost Tribes are “civilizations that have already fallen into decline but still populate”).  They are all placed on their respective regions before starting the game.intense_dd_smallworld_2

HOW TO WIN

The player with most coins at the end of the game wins!

GAMEPLAY

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Before the fun begins, each Smallworld player initially gets five Victory Coins and has to select one of the six randomly-drawn Race-Special Power combinations. If you are the first player to choose a combo and you chose the combo at the top, then you will not need to ‘pay’ any coin since it is at the top. On the other hand, if you choose, say, the Heroic Ratmen combo in the 3rd position, it will cost you 2 coins, and you will have to place it on each of the combos above it. Every time a combo is selected, it will move the ones below up the column in order to reveal a new combo from the deck. If the succeeding players chose a combo with coins on them, they get to keep it!

To any player having his/her first turn and whenever a new race is stationed on the board map for the first time, he/she must start the conquest on a Border Region– regions at the edge of the board or a shore on a Sea adjacent to the edge. However, there are races exempted from this, such as the Halflings who can enter the map through ANY region, not just Border Regions. Once your race has settled on a certain region, you can now use your coins to conquer any region adjacent to it.

Now, to conquer a region, a player must have the following available to deploy: 2 Race tokens, 1 additional Race token if the region is an Encampment, Fortress, Mountain or Troll’s Lair, and  1 additional Race token for each token already present in a region (if there is already). For example, to conquer an unconquered Mountain Region, you must leave a total of 3 tokens: 2 to conquer the area and another 1 because it is a mountainous location.

Once a player completes a turn, the player receives 1 Victory Coin for each of his occupied region, with some Special Powers providing bonuses. My tip would be to hide your victory coins to not let your slimy opponents see them and keep track of how much you are earning hahahaha

Furthermore, the number of tokens in a race is often fixed, and eventually, a race will reach the maximum number of regions it can own. When this happens, that race can choose to declare it is going into ‘decline’. This enables the player owning that race to select a new Race-Special Power combo from the column for new deployment. The tokens of the ‘retired’ race remain in the regions, but they cannot be moved anymore and they still are able to earn coins until those regions are conquered by other races.

Once all players complete a turn, the Game Turn tracker slides down to signal that there is a new set of turns. The conquering spree continues and when the Game Turn marker reaches the last spot/8th track, one final turn is played and the game ends. Each player can now reveal how wealthy or poor they are by counting their total VC and determine once and for all who is the King/Queen of the (Small) World!

EXPERIENCE

First things first: this game is very confrontational hahaha.  Given its concept, one would really expect a group of friends to fight with each other for those precious lands, but it’s also what makes Smallworld exciting! Add to that the various (and sometimes hilarious) Race-Special Power combinations that can make or break your gameplay, Smallworld is truly a delight to play with your friends. Though some game mechanics, such as the counting up of tokens and the tokens you have to leave per conquered region might be tricky to learn at first, conquering territories becomes a breeze once you get the hang of it. I also like how it introduces the option of pushing your old civilization out and starting a new one for it reminds us that we all have our limits, and we sometimes need to have a ‘reset’ in our lives to know more and grow. #hugot

Read on for more!

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