Smallworld is another game receiving a lot of press this year. It is "on the slant" for the blog but since it deals with fantasy characters such as orcs, dwarves, giants, trolls, etc. and it is so popular right now and yet still obscure to many, I thought I'd cover it here.
Smallworld (ignoring the name's inadvertent reminder of a certain famous song and ride at some famous theme parks) is a version of Civilization, Risk, etc. but with fantasy characters and not grounded in history. It is also more lighthearted and plays faster for those who feel bogged down by those older games.
Manufacturer's product description:
Small World is a zany, light-hearted civilization game in which 2-5 players vie for conquest and control of a board that is simply too small to accommodate them all! Picking the right combination of fantasy races and unique special powers, players must rush to expand their empires - often at the expense of weaker neighbors. Yet they must also know when to push their own over-extended civilization into decline and ride a new one to victory. Designed by Philippe Keyaerts, as the fantasy follow-up to his award-winning Vinci, Small World is inhabited by a cast of characters such as dwarves, wizards, amazons, giants, orcs and even humans; who use their troops to occupy territory and conquer adjacent lands in order to push the other races off the face of the earth. Small World marks the return of the Days of Wonder line of heavily-themed, big-box sized games featuring evocative illustrations, high-quality European components and a compelling, fun theme.
This is the game that keeps appearing in all my research and on numerous displays. Apparently, if you like fantasy, especially Lord of the Rings style, and civilization games, this one is for you.
Honestly, this one would be most appealing to the menfolk in my family who adore Carcasonne but some of them don't adore fantasy (I know, how can I be related to them?) so I'm not sure how popular this one would be for my family. However, the fantasy side of it makes it appealing to me when I want to run screaming from the room whenever the other games are offered as entertainment.