Gaming Unplugged: Small World expansions

December 6, 2009

Earlier this year, Days of Wonder published Philippe Keyaerts’s Small World, a fantasy territory-grabbing game that has already won a couple of Game of the Year awards. Contained within that game were dozens of fantasy races and special powers, plus one blank race banner and one blank power banner suitable for players to create their own additions to the game. Some of those player-created additions have now been collected and officially released as mini-expansions!

Small World Cursed! brings opportunistic Goblins and swarming Kobolds to the proceedings, as well as five new special powers, including “Were-“, Ransacking, Marauding, “Hordes of”, and Cursed. These powers mostly revolve around aggression, although the Cursed power is a curious (and painful!) exception. Grand Dames of Small World add the feminine races of Gypsies, White Ladies, and Priestesses plus the powers of Peace-Loving and Historian. A lot of Grand Dames is concerned with races in decline, giving that otherwise passive part of the core game an added dimension.

The best part about adding both expansions to the base set is that it takes much longer for a declined race to be “recycled” in the last few turns, if at all. I’ve played one four-player session that went through all of the races in the nine turns without repeating That kind of variety is what makes Small World so fun. None of the new additions feel too strong or two weak, although the strength of a few may take some time to discover. 

Both expansions include a quick rules summary for their respective races and powers, as well as crediting each new addition to its creator. These submissions came in from seven different countries and eleven different players, showcasing the international appeal of Small World. Each can be picked up for around ten dollars. Unfortunately, the one drawback to these expansions is the fact that the much-vaunted box insert of the original game wasn’t designed with expansion in mind; I had to abandon mine and resort to traditional bagging in order to contain everything in one box. Still, that’s a small price to pay for the added entertainment.