Wednesday, May 13, 2009

It's a Small World After All

Back when I was in High School I used to listen every Sunday to the Dr. Demento Show. A Syndicated radio program that plays novelty music (i.e. Parodies, Comedy, and all around goofy music that most people have no idea exists). I only stopped listening because the local station stopped carying the show.

I recall once he played a parody of "It's a Small World" that went something like—"It's a world of Slaughter a world of Fear, It's a world of Death and there is no Cheer"—or something like that, it's only a vague recollection.

Anyway, that song keeps trying to get in my head; luckily, I can't remember the words, just the sentiment. The above lyrics are made up by me, but very well may be the real words—that's not the point though.

The point is, that Justin bought Small World and we had a play the other day. This is why that song keeps trying to infiltrate my consciousness.

Small world apparently is a remake of a game called Vinci. Looking at the images of Vinci, I can sort of see what kind of changes they made (I'm a little too lazy to read the instructions to see if I'm right). The biggest of which is the theme.

Small world takes place in a typical fantasy setting, while at the same time lovingly mocking the fantasy tropes we've all come to love: Dwarves, Elves, Wizards, Ghouls, Skeletons, etc.. In this world, there is not enough land for all the many races that wish to take up residence. As a result, we have Feudal Europe—there's always a war going on.

Now I don't really like game reviews where they sit and explain the rules for 10 minutes—so I'm not going to do that. I'll just give a quick overview. On each turn you take over parts of the map with your chosen race or you put your race into decline so that you can use a new race on your next turn. Each race has a racial trait and those traits are matched with a randomized skill, which creates a variety of strategies for taking over the map. At the end of each turn you score the number of spaces that you managed to occupy. After 10 turns you see who has the highest score.

We were playing this just before a scheduled D&D session, and when our DM got there we had one or two turns left. Just looking at the game in progress is intimidating and seems complicated, and he stated as much. But actually this game is far simpler than a lot of the strategy games out there.

Part of what makes this game fun is the theme—I like there to be a story to the game. I'm not so much into abstract games, but take an abstract game and tack on a well thought out theme and I'm all over it.

As is typical of most of our first time gaming sessions, we misinterpreted one of the rules until the 7th or 8th round (of 10) which would probably have made things go a little different. Also, unlike other take over the world games (RISK I'm looking at you and your ilk) you aren't judged on your ability to take over the world. You're scored at the end of each round, so the ability to hold a territory for the remainder of the game is not quite as important as taking over as many spaces as possible each round—I kept forgetting this at first, and by the time I got it, it was too late; and since it was time for D&D we didn't play the traditional now-that-we've-messed-it-up-and-played-it-wrong, let's-apply-all-that-we-learned-in-this-first-not-real-game-to-a-second-actual game.

As is typical of Days of Wonder games, the components are very high quality and worth the higher price tag. I definitely recommend this game. 

And since I cannot remember the parody words, I keep getting the actual song—It's a Small World, stuck in my head. I hope you do as well after reading this Muahahahah.

1 comment:

  1. I liked playing Small World, it was even better on the second run through (and not just because I won by a long shot).