The first weekend of the New Year brought me an intro to two new games – Small World and Lords of Waterdeep. Both games are based in a fantasy realm with the mechanics of a Euro boardgame, and each offer a different take on some fast-paced group play of control and development of an imaginery world.
You can pick up a copy of Small World at specialty game shops and in book stores like Barnes & Noble. The game has been around for about three years, but my brother just tipped me off to it being a great game to play with a mix of kids and adults in about an hour-and-half’s time.
Small World comes with four maps on two game boards comprised of different regions of hills, fields, forests, mountains and water areas. Players take on the role of some 14 races including Elves, Humans, Giants, Dwarves, Amazons, Sorcerers and Ghouls. Each race comes combined with one of twenty random special powers such as Commando, Diplomat, Alchemist or Flying. Using a combined special power and race, each player spreads out across the board occupying regions, fighting other races and scoring coins toward victory. Once a race becomes over-extended, a player marks that race in “decline” and selects a new race.
The nearly endless permutations of races and special powers creates immense replay value in the game. One turn, you may have Diplomat Dwarves battling Flying Ratmen. A few turns later, Hill Giants and Mounted Haflings may be vying for control of the board. The art and combinations of races and special powers make Small World funny, fierce and a great entree for players new to strategy boardgames.
Lords of Waterdeep
I spent Saturday afternoon at the Metropolitan Wargamers club in Brooklyn, and the guys turned me on to my first game of Lords of Waterdeep. Longtime D&D players know Waterdeep to be one of the main cities within the storied Forgotten Realms campaign. The Lords of Waterdeep, released just last year, takes the history of Waterdeep as a jumping-off point for a strategy boardgame that can be played by 2-5 players in about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
You begin the game as a Lord with two agents in your employ. Using these agents, you recruit parties of thieves, warriors, priests and wizards to complete Quests selected from a pile a cards. Along the way you also gain and play Intrigue cards which can be used to block or reward other players as loyalties shift. As you complete quests, construct buildings and reap gold, the play quickly switches-up throughout the game as your opportunity to change the turn order and grow your pool of agents and influence.
My first go-around with the game was with a group of experienced players, yet I quickly picked up on the raucous tone of the game as competition grew more heated yet good-natured. Five players seemed a bit cumbersome, and the other guys said a 3-4 person game is ideal. I’d recommend Lords of Waterdeep for veteran strategy gamers looking to bang out a quick, fun game or for a group of players who are looking to graduate from a game like Small World.