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Small World Review (iPad)

Small World Review (iPad)
Game Name: Smallworld
Platforms: iPad
Publisher(s): Days of Wonder
Genre(s): Board Games
Release Date: September 2010
ESRB Rating: N/A

Small World is the latest Board Game port to the iPad platform from Days of Wonder.   Learning from the strengths and weaknesses of their last port, Ticket 2 Ride for Xbox Live Arcade, Small World is a tremendous improvement.

Small World is an award-winning fantasy game where players vie for conquest and control of a world that is simply too small to accommodate all of the zany races such as dwarves, wizards, amazons, giants, orcs and even humans that inhabit it. Sitting across from each other around the iPad, or playing in solo play mode against the game’s built-in artificial intelligence, you will use your troops to occupy territory and conquer adjacent lands in order to push your opponent’s races off the face of the earth, in this rip-roaring fun digital board game.

As with any great board game, if you can make a digital version that is fun to play, the immediate advantage is playing with out the setup and clean up time.  Small World for iPad is fantastic to play if you don’t have the time or space to set up the board with all the little pieces that go along with it.   In our testing we found that the average Small World game on iPad is about 5 times faster than the traditional cardboard game.

The iPad version does have its limitations.  To begin,  the original board game allows for 2-5 players, while the iPad version limits you to a maximum of 2. The offering is 2 player hotseat or 1 vs the AI, no online multiplay is available yet.  This brings up the next limitation, the AI.

While playing the AI will help capture the essence of the game, it is quite predictable and easy to beat.  We worked out a few of the the AI’s shortcomings:

  • AI is bad at selecting races, knowing when to decline, and entering the board.
  • AI is easily beaten when faced with immune colonies.
  • AI seems to only select to decline when reaching certain numbers of race tiles as opposed to making decisions based on number of territories and/or points earned per turn, this ability is essential to developing and evolving your strategy as the game progresses.

The single AI difficulty setting and overall weakness of the AI conspire to shorten the number of plays you will get out of the app before feeling it lacks challenge. The support for two player live play is a saving grace, provided you can find willing opponents.

While it’s not fair to say it, as any board game port will always lack the charm of playing at a table with friends, I still think playing Small World out of the box is a far more enjoyable experience.  That said, the iPad version of Small World is colourful, a lot of fun and incredibly well polished – especially if you hate to lose.

One Comment

  1. Demo says:

    Point/Counterpoint: I think the time saved in token cleanup and money management chores over the cardboard version outweighs the fun of moving physical cardboard chits and makes this a worthy purchase even for owners of the boardgame. It also lets you play a quick duel at the pub without getting beer on your board.
    It does not replace the boardgame completely though, due to not supporting 3, 4 or 5 players.

    Cursed is a great expansion for the iPad game.
    White Ladies is a terrible expansion for the iPad game as its components are weak in Dueling situations.

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