Small World 2
One would think that being both a board game journalist and video game journalist would be a bit cumbersome…and they’d be right. I’m stretched pretty darned thin as it is these days and both of these gaming genres require a lot of time and energy to keep up with. With that being said, there are a few benefits I get to enjoy…one being that I get to see (and try) video game adaptations created and based off of popular board games. In this case, “Small World 2” is the video game adaptation of “Small World” by Days of Wonder. For those of you who wish to learn more about the board game, you can check out my review and related video HERE. Before we take a look at “Small World 2”, I’d like to quickly thank the folks at Days of Wonder for graciously providing me with a press copy.
The main menu, surprisingly, has a lot of options for the player to consider. Some of the video game adaptations I’ve covered previously often fell short in this department. In “Small World 2”, players will be able to play single and multiplayer. With regards to the latter, you can play against others via a pass-and-play system locally or online in real-time or on a turn-by-turn basis. That’s great news for those of you who want to take a turn, log off, and come back to a game the next day when you’re not so busy. There are AI opponents however, should you just want to fly solo (though there’s no way to adjust the difficulty). I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the in-game video tutorial, which will help newcomers get acclimated to the rules and gameplay. My only complaint here is the lack of a fullscreen and/or screen resolution toggle in the options menu, as there is none.
Speaking of which, “Small World 2” sticks with the formula in regards to how the game is played. The game supports between two to five players and just like the board game, the board itself will change depending on the number of players. Vets of the board game will also see some familiar faces in regards to the playable races in the game: Amazons, Halflings, Ratmen…they’re all there. The random bonuses (power badges) that accompany these races are also present. What I’m trying to say is, if you’ve played “Small World” before, expect to be able to jump right in without any problems.
I explained the rules of “Small World” in my review of the board game, so I won’t cover them in-depth here. I will sum things up for you newbies by saying that “Small World” and “Small World 2” isn’t about chosing one race and seeing them to victory…you’ll actually be commanding a number of races and seeing to the rise and fall of each one you pick. You gain victory points at the end of your turn for each territory you control, plus any racial and random bonuses that you might happen to satisfy. As the game progresses, you’ll eventually lose armies due to invasion, limiting how many points you might earn on your turn. In that case, you’ll place your current race into “decline”, pick a new race on your following turn, and begin conquering all over again with a new set of racial and power badge bonuses. The player with the most points after so many rounds wins the game.
One thing I was surprised to see upon the game’s release was a total of three different DLC packs, ranging from three to five dollars a piece. Each adds something new to the game in the form of races and power badges, giving fans of the original board game something new to mull over. I partially wish however that these had been included with the original game…releasing DLC day one is usually not a popular move with potential customers, in my experiences. Still, these DLC packs will give long time players a reason to invest in the video game adaptation, as they are cheaper than their board game expansion counterparts (“Small World: Underground” averages a price tag of forty dollars).
All in all, there’s every reason in the world to love “Small World 2”, even if you’ve never played the board game. The interface was fluid and easy to read, and I really appreciate the fact that the developers went the extra mile to include tutorials. I often had to look in the manual when playing the board game to clarify powers and the like…I didn’t have to do that here. This makes the game extremely user-friendly. Online play is certainly a bonus, though I have a feeling I’ll be making use of pass-and-play when I don’t feel like digging through my board game closet to find the physical board game. My only concern is the lack of fullscreen and the fact that you can’t make the AI easier…beginners will surely become frustrated as the AI is pretty difficulty to defeat. The game is only $14.99 (as of 12/18/13), which is about twenty to forty dollars cheaper than the board game (depending on where you shop)…making it a great (and cheap) way to buy into the “Small World” universe. Based on the strategic gameplay elements, replayability, and accessibility, I’d have to say that “Small World 2” is most certainly worth the investment.
Final Verdict: 9/10
You can learn more about and purchase “Small World 2” by visiting the following websites: