Liga: Small World Realms Review

Small World Realms

Designer: Philippe Keyaerts
Publisher: Days of Wonder
Players: 2-6
Ages: 8+
Duration: 20 minutes
Times Played: 5 times (3 with 2 players and 2 with 3 players)
Reviwed by Andrea “Liga” Ligabue

I’m been really happy to get a preview/review copy of the new Small World expansion since I’m a fan of these game and I’m used to play it often both in family (with my daughter) or at Club TreEmme (my association).

Small World Realms is an expansion that go in a different direction from the last releases. The mean idea around Small World was about a world with many difference races fighting for the supremacy. Every game was different because the races are different: adding new races and powers means news combination and possibility and new games.

This time Days of Wonder decided to try to change the world itself offering a set of pre-made big “hexes” (actually not real regular hexes) with 3 terrains each that you can combine in different way to create news maps and scenarios. The hexes are double faced with normal terrains on one side and underground terrains on the other one.

Small Worls Realms include 12 pre-made scenarios and rules/hints to create your own maps/scenarios. Of course I’m not been able to play and test all the scenarios with all the possible number of players so this will be a preview of what I was able to play until now and the overall impression about the product.

First of all what is in the box ?

26 two-face geomorphic hex-shaped terrain tiles that are the core part of the pack. Nice idea not to include mountains in the terrains displayed but use 12 tiles you can overlap. Every terrain tile display sea and from 1 to 3 regions. Of course caves, mines and magic areas are displayed on some regions. To make simpler the building of the scenario every hex is marked with a different letter.

6 chasm tiles and 4 pick tiles are also included. Picks are “very high” mountains. You can put a pick tile over a mountain tile making it an “harder to conquer” area (you need 4 units to conquer an empty pick!).

Also include 8 special counter to be used in scenarios: 1 Rusted Throne & 7 Miscellaneous Tokens ranging from a Castle or a Mill to a monster close to a Yeti. I’m sure soon will be available scenarios using this nice tokens!

Also include in the box the 6 tunnels: like the free expansion distributed at DoW booth in Essen 2011.

First Impressions

My greater concern was about how the built maps will looks like and the solidity of the whole. I’m quite happy about it: the maps are great and the “geomorphic hex-shaped” are quite stable with no real problem during my session (and I’m used to play with kids that are the best tester for solidity!)
The scenarios are enough to offer a great variability and we take time to decide which scenario play. Some scenarios seems better designed for 4-6 players but also with 3 players you have choices.
There are also 5 scenarios playable by 2 player so, I’m been happy also about this part.
Of course, as you can see reading the manual, the range of players has been officially increased to 6!

This expansion make also the “river rule” first presented in Underground official. I really like this rule and it works really well also

In the details

First of all I have tested the rules to make your own map. I know that 12 scenarios are a good range of possibility but of course the possibility to create endless maps was one of the things to test. According to the rules “when building a new Realm, try to use an average of 9 Regions (Regions, not Tiles) per player” and “Each Terrain type and each Map Symbol should be present in a proportion of about 1/5th the total number of Regions in play”. So, for a 2 player game, we prepared a map with 20 regions with 4 of each type. We decided to have Sea & Lakes. I also settled two picks to try how they work.

The overall impression was really good. The game was the old known Small World with a new freshness.

We than moved to pre-made scenarios playing Adrift and Crops of Power. The first one use the possibility offered by the “geomorphic hex-shaped” tiles to change the map during the game.

The other one introduce the nice idea to have power connected to the control of some regions. Both scenarios was funny and tense. Again the overall impression was to play the same loved Small World with something new.


I really think this one is a must buy for Small World addicted because the possibility offered my the “eomorphic hex-shaped” tiles are endleess. The scenarios presented in the box are just the top of the iceberg but I’m sure DoW and fans we will create new ones using the great range of possibilities offered by this expansions.

They showed us that we can change the map, connect powers to regions, use races as enemies, making moving maps, offering special victory points for special region and connect, with tunnels, to the underground. We can limit the choice of the races or grant bonus to an underground race going under the sun or vice-versa.

Of course, with tunnels, you can connect the old map to some new area … a magic island ? A special place where living an old proud race ?

I’m not sure Small World will be again so small in the future.

Ratings Summary from the Opinionated Gamers

I love it!… Andrea “Liga” Ligabue
I like it
Not for me

About Andrea "Liga" Ligabue

Andrea "Liga" Ligabue is a game expert contributing to many games related international projects including Gamers Alliance Report, WIN, ILSA Magazine and Boardgamenews. Member of the International Gamers Awards Committee is coordinator of Play - The Games Festival and founder of the project Ludoteca Ideale.
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