SMALL WORLD OF WARCRAFT
By Raymond "DuMeeple" Dumee on October 21, 2020
It's a small world after all, it's a small small world. In this case, it's a Small World of Warcraft or actually the world of Azaroth. When Blizzard and Days of Wonder announced their collaboration to create the Smallworld version of World of Warcraft, lots of heads turned and a few tail bones started to wag at the DumeeGamer headquarters, as we all like a good merger of two already awesome games. Time for my little brother and me to find out what's it all about.
In Small World of Warcraft players fight for control of regions in a world that is simply too small to accommodate all races. The game has got the basic set of rules of Smallworld and for this reimplementationis, it is set in the fantasy world of Azaroth; the wonderful yet dangerous world in which the videogame World of Warcraft takes place. For the right ambiance, additional rules have been added in order to create a more Warcraft kind of game.
The box looks awesome with great art work done by Michael Coimbra. In that beautiful box you will find six dual layered game boards, sixteen Race Banners, twenty Unique Special Power Badges, lots of game tokens and even more Victory Points tokens, hundred-eighty-two Race tokens and fifteen Murloc tokens. Aside from all this gaming goodness, there's also the Turn-tracker, which has its own Crown as a Turn-marker, one Reinforcement Die and the Rulebook, which is accompanied by a Variant Rule-sheet and five Player Summary-sheets.
The game is set up by placing a number of Game Boards matching the number of players and placing game tokens accordingly on the different regions. Race Banners and Power Badges will be displayed for the first round and every player will get five Victory Points. At the start of the first round, players will choose a Race in combination with a Power and acquire a set of Race Tokens, often with some special tokens belonging to that Race or Power.
After this, it is mainly a question of Exploit and Conquer. With your Race tokens on hand, you can enter a new region with two tokens, if the region in question is an entry region, you'll have to add an additional token, when it is a mountain you have to add an additional token as well as an additional race tokens for every other Race token in that region. Do so until you have conquered so many regions that you have no race tokens left. At the end you may use the Reinforcement Die, to tip the odds in your favor, after which you may redeploy your troops.
The last phase of your turn will always be the counting of your regions, which will grant you Victory Points. Often you will have some areas that will give you even more Victory Points. When you have tallied all your points, make sure to keep the total score a well-guarded secret from other players. In the following rounds, you will retrieve all your Race tokens, except one per region you control, and take the rest back in your hand, so you can start to conquer new regions.
When you get tired of the Race you have, mostly because you are start to run out of Race tokens after a couple of rounds, you may go in decline. Doing so will give you the opportunity to choose a brand new race the next round. After each round the Turn-marker goes one up on the Turn-tracker. The player who has the most Victory Points at the end of the last round, wins the game and will be crowned the new absolute Ruler of Azeroth.
Small World of Warcraft looks awesome and Days of Wonder didn't spare any expense on components as they feels great and are all from nice, thick cardboard. When you are familiar with the original Smallworld, this game will be a piece of cake to learn. If you are not, it's also not a hard game to learn. It has got a big rulebook, but the best way to learn this game is by playing it and learning it as you go.
Unfortunately for some, this is Smallworld with a good World of Warcraft sauce on top; it's not exactly the same as World of Warcraft itself, but has captured the essence of said game really nicely. As far as gameplay is concerned, there is not much "real" World of Warcraft to the game. With four or more players you can encounter quite some downtime, but even then a game is easily played within two hours. When it is just my wife and me we play the game within the hour and it's is still a good game with just two players; you just use less game boards.
Michael "Magic Mike" Dumee's (WoW Veteran) videogame perspective
The videogame topping used with this board game is really nicely done. It is in itself also a good board game which plays really well. The artwork is a trip down memory lane, as you will recognize the components used in the game and will be familiar with what they do. My brother already told me: "it is not World of Warcraft: The Boardgame", but it was fun. I still would have liked to see a few more similarities to the original game. Nevertheless, I would like to play Small World of Warcraft again.
Raymond "DuMeeple" Dumee's view
I may not be that familiar with the World of Warcraft as I only played it sparsely during the first year. However, I am well versed with the Warcraft line of games ever since I installed the first "Orcs & Humans" on my old computer back in the day. For me, this is an awesome new standalone version of Smallworld with a kickass theme and awesome artwork from World of Warcraft poured over it. Also, it features some slightly changed rules to make things more interesting.
If you like games that feature area control and different player powers, this game is definitely for you. For fans of both Smallworld and World of Warcraft, you will have a great time while playing Small World of Warcraft, just don't expect a true "World of Warcraft: The Boardgame". For me, it really brought back good memories of both a good video game and a cool board game I used to play. Now let's play again little brother, Horde for the Win (As opposed to my little sister-in-law, who actually beat us and won... damn her!)
SMALL WORLD OF WARCRAFT
Days of Wonder
Year of release: 2020
Designer: Philippe Keyaerts
Artist: Miguel Coimbra
Players: 2 - 5 players, ages 8 & up
Playtime: approx. 60 minutes