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Subject: Vinci vs Small World: The definitive guide with pictures rss

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Catherine Short
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Introduction

Ever since Days of Wonder started releasing pictures for a game they would produce I was on the edge of my seat wanting to find out more. As more and more information was available I liked the look of the game and the art work was amazing.

Unfortunately they announced that the game re-implements Vinci, a game that I had only recently purchased. Vinci plays for 3-6 players and so far has not gone down well with my friends. I was intrigued to find out how much of the original Vinci rules they would change to match up with the gorgeous art they were previewing. If it was too similar then there would be no point buying another game no one wanted to play.

This review compares the differences between Vinci and Small World so that people can see which game they will prefer. In all instances the left most pictures will relate to Vinci and the rightmost one will relate to Small World, although most of the time it is pretty obvious.

Background

Vinci was published in 1999 and has a very low GameID on BGG of 60. It is hard to find an English copy of this game any more (although there are some French copies on ebay) and is seen to be an old classic. Released at a time when Carcassonne did not exist there were few mainstream board games around. Not many people knew these types of board games existed (and most people still don’t) and thought Monopoly was great (and some people still do).

Ten years on I can see why the decision to re-implement Vinci was chosen. Nowadays board games have a lot of great artwork coupled with attractive components to try and excite more people to the hobby. They are trying to compete with computer games that display great graphics and have stimulating stories. By updating the rules set and graphics of Vinci it has become the new game Small World.


Box

Before you even open the box a big difference can be seen between the two games.


I have included both the first edition and second edition for Vinci box as they are very different.

Vinci has a very history based box picture for both editions. By looking at this picture I would think the game is a civilisation game with fighting. It is designed to play with 3-6 players, but some 1 and 2 player rules have been posted on the geek.

Small world has a lot of colour and straight away you can see there is a very fantasy based theme with the cover showing Dwarves, Elves, Wizards etc. I think it was a shame that they did not manage to include all fourteen race pictures on the front, they are missing Tritons and Trolls. Maybe they are hiding behind the giant. Stated as being for 2-5 players this is a big difference to Vinci.

Comparing these different box covers it is hard to believe they are based on the same rules set.

Game Board(s)
On opening the box the next big item you notice are the boards.


Vinci only contains one game board that is based on a map of Europe. It is broken up into many different provinces; Forest, Mountain, Plains, Prairie and Farmland some of which contain mine symbols and port symbols. It is very large and, for a small number of players, it was easy to hide in a corner keeping out of everyone’s way.

Small world contains two different game boards that are each double sided. These are used for different numbers of players in the game. Each board is specifically designed to get a good experience with all number of players and are the reason it can be played with two players.

Components

Tiles for Civilisation


In Vinci there are 22 different civilisation tiles plus four extra with a slight variation giving a total of 26 different types of tiles. They are all put into a bag at the start of the game and shuffled. When a civilisation is drawn from the bag two tokens are placed in position on the game board. This means all possible combinations of tiles are possible. In total there are 351 different combinations.

Small world contains 14 different races and 20 special abilities which gives 34 different extras. At the start the race tiles are mixed together, the ability tiles are mixed together and both are placed by the game board. As shown in the picture above they are different shapes so that one race goes with one special ability. This means the number of combinations of powers is limited as it will never be possible to mix elves with orcs. Although Small World has a larger number of different abilites, there are a smaller number of possible combinations, only 280.


Player tokens


In Vinci each player has a specific colour that does not change through the game. When a civilisation goes into decline then a decline token is put in every region that the civilisation occupied. It is easy to see from a quick glance at the board were each person has their civilisations.

In Small World the tokens for the player are determined by the race in which they are using at the time. This can lead to a bit of confusion if the same race is used twice in one game. Unless you can remember who has which race, a constant check of tokens in front of each player if needed. If the race goes into decline then the race tokens are just flipped over on the board which is quite neat.

Game Play

So with all the differences mentioned above how does the actual game play compare to Vinci? Well there are some very obvious changes, most of them to try and make the rules a lot simpler.

d10-1 In Small World mountain regions cost one more to conquer than all other regions and there is a mountain token in the region to help remember this. The mountain token can be seen in the following picture.

In Vinci mountains and forests cost one more to conquer. This new rule with the mountain token makes this easier to remember, you need to equal the number of tokens in a region then add two in order to conquer it. Also in Vinci mountain regions you occupy do not count towards your score, but in Small World they do.

d10-2 Small World has hidden victory points and I have read a great number of reviews saying this is a good idea. Vinci had a scoring track around the outside of the board that meant everyone could know exactly who was in the lead. By concealing victory points you have an inkling as to who is winning, but you can never be sure.

d10-3 A game of Vinci ends when a certain score is reached and this number was dependant on the number of players. In Small World there are a set number of rounds in the game. This leads to quicker games in which everyone knows when to push for maximum victory points. In Vinci it was always hard to know when the end would come and pushing too hard for those extra points too soon would mean you would get wiped out.

d10-4 The special ability of giants used to be a general rule for everyone in Vinci. When conquering a region next to a mountain region you already occupied you needed one less token. This rule has been dropped in Small World, but not completely lost as it was given to the Giants.

d10-5 When choosing a civilisation the first one is free in both games, but if you do not like it then you can pass over it. In Vinci it costs two victory points to pass over a civilisation combination, but in Small World it only costs one victory point. This makes the choice of moving to the next race a lot easier and cheaper. The luck of the draw is not against you so much.

d10-6 When you have chosen your race and special abilities the number of race tokens you start with is just the total of the numbers on the two cards. For example all the following combinations will give you ten starting tokens of your race.

In Vinci the number of coloured tokens you start with is the sum of the red numbers on the civilisation tiles plus a base number that is dependant on the number of players. For example the left civilisation in the picture below would give you 6 tokens plus the base number and the right civilisation will give you 7 tokens plus the base number.


New players would always get confused how many tokens they would start with. This rule change has made this part of the game a lot simpler.

d10-7 The rules for declining a civilisation have slightly changed in Small World. In Vinci you would put your civilisation into decline then immediately pick a new civilisation. In Small World you decline your current civilisation then wait to your next turn to pick your new civilisation. I have not played Small World enough to determine how this would change the game, but I think the difference is very subtle.

d10-8 Small World has introduced a reinforcement dice that consists of three blank sides and the numbers 1, 2 and 3 on the remaining sides. At the end of your turn you can try and conquer a region with fewer tokens than are normally needed. You then roll the dice and see if you get any reinforcements. The number you roll on the dice is the number of reinforcements you get. If you now have enough tokens, with the reinforcements, to conquer the region then you do, otherwise nothing happens. So a win-win situation.

d10-9 As always each game box contains extra tokens so you can create you own special abilities and races.

d10-1d10-0 In Vinci a declining civilisation of one player can not be adjacent to a none declined race of the same player. In Small World a declined race of one player can be next to the current race of the same player.

Overall the game play of Small world is very slick and finely tuned. There are less obscure rules to remember as everything about Small World is meant to appeal to a more casual gamer than Vinci.


The Final Word
Small World is a stripped down version of Vinci with a fantasy theme. It is a lot prettier and with the simplified rules it has more appeal to certain types of gamers. At the end of the day both games are still very similar in how they play.

I now own copies of both games. I still like Vinci, but Small World will be more appealing to my friends. Maybe when they have played Small World a few times they will want to try Vinci again. You can always hope.

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Doug Adams
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Nice review - thanks for the images. The thing that immediately strikes me is how "busy" the game looks graphically. Nice to look at, sure. I think it's convinced me to stick with the much cleaner 2nd edition Vinci.
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Laszlo Molnar
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Quote:
The special ability of giants used to be a general rule for everyone in Vinci. When conquering a region next to a mountain region you already occupied you needed one less token. This rule has been dropped in Small World, but not completely lost as it was given to the Giants.

Probably it's because in Vinci you got no points for conquering a mountain region. As this rule was deleted, the rule of extra point next to mountains could be 'deleted' too.
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Chris Martin
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cj1582 wrote:
Game Board(s)

Each board is specifically designed to get a good experience with all number of players and are the reason it can be played with two players.
Actually, I think that the gameboard is better in Vinci precisely because it is based on a real map. It means that there is more peculiar geography to navigate, whereas the Small World maps are actually quite uniform and thus bland.

cj1582 wrote:
Tiles for Civilisation
I don't think that the number of combinations is the point, so much as the fact that Vinci helpfully colour-codes all abilities so that you can see quickly whether they give VPs or military bonuses or "random stuff".

cj1582 wrote:
Player tokens
One thing you don't mention is that the decline sides are difficult to distinguish. Also, lots of Vinci players stuck decline markers to one side of their chips so that they can also be flipped over if need be.

cj1582 wrote:
d10-1 In Small World mountain regions cost one more to conquer than all other regions and there is a mountain token in the region to help remember this.
In Vinci mountains and forests cost one more to conquer. This new rule with the mountain token makes this easier to remember, you need to equal the number of tokens in a region then add two in order to conquer it. Also in Vinci mountain regions you occupy do not count towards your score, but in Small World they do.

d10-4 The special ability of giants used to be a general rule for everyone in Vinci. When conquering a region next to a mountain region you already occupied you needed one less token. This rule has been dropped in Small World, but not completely lost as it was given to the Giants.
I don't think that the mountain tokens are that helpful, certainly after the first game. Most people I play with just look at me with mild incredulity when I tell them that there is a whole set of chits just designed to remind that that mountains are defensive terrain. No one I've ever played Vinci with has had trouble remembering that mountains and forests receive defensive bonuses. What's more, the "no VPs but military advantage" aspect of mountains in Vinci presented a fascinating trade-off that is lost in Small World.

cj1582 wrote:
d10-2 Small World has hidden victory points and I have read a great number of reviews saying this is a good idea. Vinci had a scoring track around the outside of the board that meant everyone could know exactly who was in the lead. By concealing victory points you have an inkling as to who is winning, but you can never be sure.
As has been (I think) quite clearly established by others elsewhere, hidden VPs in this context is actually a bad idea. It does not stop so-called "kingmaking" or leader-bashing - it just means that the kingmaking / leader-bashing is blind. Worst of both worlds.

cj1582 wrote:
d10-3 A game of Vinci ends when a certain score is reached and this number was dependant on the number of players. In Small World there are a set number of rounds in the game. This leads to quicker games in which everyone knows when to push for maximum victory points. In Vinci it was always hard to know when the end would come and pushing too hard for those extra points too soon would mean you would get wiped out.
Again, trying to time your end like that was part and parcel of the skill in Vinci. Now you can just play that bit more mechanically.

cj1582 wrote:
d10-5 When choosing a civilisation the first one is free in both games, but if you do not like it then you can pass over it. In Vinci it costs two victory points to pass over a civilisation combination, but in Small World it only costs one victory point. This makes the choice of moving to the next race a lot easier and cheaper. The luck of the draw is not against you so much.
In fact the opposite is true. Because the cost of buying the last combo is so much lower and because some combos are so overpowered relative to others, there is much more luck in that somebody could be presented with an overpowered combo that they can buy cheaply for five VPs and gain massive advantage from. In Vinci, almost no civ is ever worth buying for 10VPs, and so you usually have at least some chance of bidding for it as it slides down the track.

cj1582 wrote:
d10-6 In Vinci the number of coloured tokens you start with is the sum of the red numbers on the civilisation tiles plus a base number that is dependant on the number of players. For example the left civilisation in the picture below would give you 6 tokens plus the base number and the right civilisation will give you 7 tokens plus the base number.

New players would always get confused how many tokens they would start with. This rule change has made this part of the game a lot simpler.
Maybe because I am always on hand to tell new players how many troops they get, I have never seen this to be a problem. Besides, it's easily and quickly fixed even if they do mess up, and doesn't affect their ability to plan strategically.

cj1582 wrote:
d10-7 The rules for declining a civilisation have slightly changed in Small World. In Vinci you would put your civilisation into decline then immediately pick a new civilisation. In Small World you decline your current civilisation then wait to your next turn to pick your new civilisation. I have not played Small World enough to determine how this would change the game, but I think the difference is very subtle.
I actually think that this is an outright improvement in Small World! The reason is that in the final turn, if you knew someone would cross the finishing line, you could sometimes just decline onto a civ that had lots of VPs on it so as to maximise your score. That always struck me as a little gamey, and I think that the new system is an improvement. It also has the effect of keeping the other players on their toes a bit not knowing what you'll come on with.

cj1582 wrote:
d10-8 Small World has introduced a reinforcement dice that consists of three blank sides and the numbers 1, 2 and 3 on the remaining sides. At the end of your turn you can try and conquer a region with fewer tokens than are normally needed. You then roll the dice and see if you get any reinforcements. The number you roll on the dice is the number of reinforcements you get. If you now have enough tokens, with the reinforcements, to conquer the region then you do, otherwise nothing happens. So a win-win situation.
The problem, as has been pointed out elsewhere, is that this introduces a sole random element into the game. The benefits of a lucky streak can be substantial relative to someone who has an unlucky streak. If chance is to be introduced into a game it should involve so many rolls that the odds even out. There are insufficient rolls in a game of Small World that the chance evens out, and the benefits are quite high. You probably make seven reinforcement rolls in a given game. If you succeed in all of those, you probably gain an average of 15 VPs from holding extra territories, and for longer. This is often more than the difference betwen first and last place, let alone between first and second place. you gained these points through no skill of your own. Perhaps a better solution would be to give each player a limited number of "mercenaries" which she could deplete during the game to bolster insufficient troop numbers. This has the same effect as a reinforcement die, but removes the random element and adds an extra tactical dimension. In fact I might suggest that next time I play!

cj1582 wrote:
d10-9 As always each game box contains extra tokens so you can create you own special abilities and races.
It contains an extra race and ability tile, but no extra tokens. You'd have to make those up yourself. Similarly you could have made up some extra Vinci abilities had you really wanted.

cj1582 wrote:
d10-1d10-0 In Vinci a declining civilisation of one player can not be adjacent to a none declined race of the same player. In Small World a declined race of one player can be next to the current race of the same player.
Again, a change that simplifies Vinci but removes some of the skill. On the other hand, it does add some skill in the ability to defend your old empire.

cj1582 wrote:
There are less obscure rules to remember as everything about Small World is meant to appeal to a more casual gamer than Vinci.
You say that like it's a good thing!

cj1582 wrote:
Maybe when they have played Small World a few times they will want to try Vinci again. You can always hope.
A fervent amen to that, brother.
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Laszlo Molnar
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chris wrote:
cj1582 wrote:
There are less obscure rules to remember as everything about Small World is meant to appeal to a more casual gamer than Vinci.
You say that like it's a good thing!

Chris, I guess that's the big difference between your opinion expertly explained in your review and in some others' opinion (like mine, not so expertly explained in my review). The big difference is I do think it's a good thing, yes. (of course not for playing between hardcore gamers but usually you just can't play with hardcore gamers.)
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Mark Thomason
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Wow Chris, tell us what you really think!

Seriously, I think you might be a wee bit biased. Catherine's review does a great job of outlining the differences without feeling the need to have a negative perspective on almost every change. It can be hard to keep an open mind when someone re-does a game you love though.

I do agree that the board looks a little cluttered, and I'm not sure the mountain tokens are all that necessary, but otherwise I think the rules changes seem to be reasonable and create a game that is more accessible than Vinci. I've only played Vinci a couple of times, but I guarantee if I get Small World I'll get to play it more often than I would Vinci as it's going to be easier to hook people into the game.

Granted, there's surely deeper strategy to Vinci, but unlike Chris I don't think that's a necessarily bad thing. I might be tempted to house rule and leave the dice out if I felt it added too much luck, but I'll have to play first and see what I think.

Great review Catherine!
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Laszlo Molnar
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Blackfaer wrote:
I might be tempted to house rule and leave the dice out if I felt it added too much luck, but I'll have to play first and see what I think.

Maybe you just rather leave the berserk quality in the box; otherwise it really doesn't add so much luck, maybe only a bit more risk.
 
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Anders Pedersen
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cj1582 wrote:

In Vinci there are 22 different civilisation tiles plus four extra with a slight variation giving a total of 26 different types of tiles. They are all put into a bag at the start of the game and shuffled. When a civilisation is drawn from the bag two tokens are placed in position on the game board. This means all possible combinations of tiles are possible. In total there are 351 different combinations.

I'm no mathematical genius, so forgive me for asking: How do you reach the number of 351?
Should it not be 22*21=462?
What am I overlooking?

cj1582 wrote:

d10-2 Small World has hidden victory points and I have read a great number of reviews saying this is a good idea. Vinci had a scoring track around the outside of the board that meant everyone could know exactly who was in the lead. By concealing victory points you have an inkling as to who is winning, but you can never be sure.

I think the jury is still out on this one!
As other posters have mentioned, this can lead to blind kingmaking.

cj1582 wrote:

A game of Vinci ends when a certain score is reached and this number was dependant on the number of players. In Small World there are a set number of rounds in the game. This leads to quicker games in which everyone knows when to push for maximum victory points. In Vinci it was always hard to know when the end would come and pushing too hard for those extra points too soon would mean you would get wiped out.

I can see how first time players might get a bit confused as to the position of players towards the end, in Vinci.
However I find it more elegant to end the game by a set number of points rather than to introduce a turn limit.
Not having played the game yet, I'm curious as to how this changes the flow of the game. With a limited amount of turns, it can really hurt to go into decline. Are people generally changing races several times during a session, or only once?

Otherwise nice comparison.
Although I disagree with several of your remarks, it is nice to see a comparison being positive towards the changes of a classic.
Keep up the good work.


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Laszlo Molnar
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dbc- wrote:

However I find it more elegant to end the game by a set number of points rather than to introduce a turn limit.

I'm not sure what 'elegant' means in this case. I don't see ending by a set number of points better or worse than ending after a given turn number. It just changes your strategy a bit, also it introduces some extra concerns for your turns.

dbc- wrote:

Not having played the game yet, I'm curious as to how this changes the flow of the game. With a limited amount of turns, it can really hurt to go into decline. Are people generally changing races several times during a session, or only once?

I think it depends on the number of players. With 2 players you have I think 10 rounds, that allows 3 or maybe even 4 races (2 or 3 declines) being played. With 5 you have only 2 races or 3 until the end.

dbc- wrote:

Although I disagree with several of your remarks, it is nice to see a comparison being positive towards the changes of a classic.

I think the difference between positive and negative reviews is mostly that people who think Vinci is a classic don't really like the changes while others do. If you love Vinci it's quite probable you will have problems with Smallworld. If you like but not love Vinci things might be different. Also if you like gamers' games that can be played with gamers and you have enough gamer friends to play with, you don't need Small World. But if you have mostly casual players they might enjoy Small World more than they would like Vinci (if they played Vinci at all).
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Laszlo Molnar
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dbc- wrote:
cj1582 wrote:

In Vinci there are 22 different civilisation tiles plus four extra with a slight variation giving a total of 26 different types of tiles. They are all put into a bag at the start of the game and shuffled. When a civilisation is drawn from the bag two tokens are placed in position on the game board. This means all possible combinations of tiles are possible. In total there are 351 different combinations.

I'm no mathematical genius, so forgive me for asking: How do you reach the number of 351?
Should it not be 22*21=462?
What am I overlooking?

And another number that seems to be the correct answer for me: 325.
You have 26*25=650 possibilities but you have to divide that by two as the pairing of AB is the same as BA. So 650/2=325.
(It would be 351 if it was 27*26/2 but there are only 26 different tiles)
 
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Werner Bär
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lacxox wrote:

And another number that seems to be the correct answer for me: 325.
You have 26*25=650 possibilities but you have to divide that by two as the pairing of AB is the same as BA. So 650/2=325.

And since each tile is available twice (*), add 26 to that for an AA draw -> 351.

(*) Depends on your version. One print run had 2 specialist tiles and 2 barbarians, others only 1 specialist and 3 barbarians).
 
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Laszlo Molnar
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Oops, I forgot AA. yes, it's 351 then

It should be added though that as it's really 22+4 tiles (the 4 tiles showing almost the same as 4 others, just with little number differences) if you counted the number of different variations with 22 it would be only 253. So the 280 variations of Small World just feels like the 253/351 of Vinci, while it's even a bit more balanced.
 
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Chris Martin
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Blackfaer wrote:
Wow Chris, tell us what you really think!

Seriously, I think you might be a wee bit biased. Catherine's review does a great job of outlining the differences without feeling the need to have a negative perspective on almost every change. It can be hard to keep an open mind when someone re-does a game you love though.

I do agree that the board looks a little cluttered, and I'm not sure the mountain tokens are all that necessary, but otherwise I think the rules changes seem to be reasonable and create a game that is more accessible than Vinci. I've only played Vinci a couple of times, but I guarantee if I get Small World I'll get to play it more often than I would Vinci as it's going to be easier to hook people into the game.

Granted, there's surely deeper strategy to Vinci, but unlike Chris I don't think that's a necessarily bad thing. I might be tempted to house rule and leave the dice out if I felt it added too much luck, but I'll have to play first and see what I think.

Great review Catherine!
I think that I was fair and balanced. I think that by contrast Catherine's review "feels the need to have a positive perspective on almost every change". To take just one example from my lengthy list, what about die number 2? She says that she has "read a great number of reviews saying [hidden victory points] is a good idea". I've seen a lot of people expressing serious reservations about this, pointing out that you end up with blind kingmaking/leader-bashing, which is vastly worse than the sighted equivalent. Last time I checked, most people seemed to have accepted that this was at least a possibility and that the change was not unambiguously good. But not according to Catherine. (Seriously, I think she might be a wee bit biased.)

I'm not criticising Small World. I LIKE Small World. I played it again on Wednesday night, and the people I played it with had a great time. I'm criticising the hype. Let's not get caught up in the usual mass hysteria around a new release proclaiming it to be perfect. It's a flawed game. A good game, but a flawed game. Some of those flaws are frustrating because it is derived from a game that didn't have those flaws. But that's fine - each game has to stand on its own merits. Small World has lots of merits as a game. It is particularly good for people who either don't like or aren't very good at board games, for example (which, let's all face facts for a moment here, is what we all mean when we talk about how it's more "accessible"). There's a need for these simple games to lure people in to the hobby, and hell, to give us hobbyists something to relax with. But that does not mean that these games are as good, qua games, as proper hobby games.

Lastly, and a bit pettily, I kind of object to anyone arbitrarily declaring their review "the definitive guide". What, so everyone else's can just be ignored? Perhaps if it was a review of reviews then that could be got away with, but there is a LOT that had already been brought up elsewhere that is completely ignored here. It's as if the OP had just played a few games of it and then decided to write their "definitive" guide without reading what other, perhaps wiser, heads had to say. My review is good, but it's flawed too, as I said in about the second or third reply I made on the thread. So I think I was justified in ripping apart the bits I thought were weak or plain wrong. When you're aiming to write the definitive guide, you'd damn well better have written the most comprehensive review on the site, and have done so by a country mile. If you've not done so, expect to be slated both for your errors and for your hubris. Heat. Kitchen.
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Catherine Short
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Thank you for all the comments. I have been reading them carefully. It seems some people have got a little upset with certain items in my article and I feel the need to defend what I wrote.

chrisjwmartin wrote:
Catherine says that she has "read a great number of reviews saying [hidden victory points] is a good idea". I've seen a lot of people expressing serious reservations about this, pointing out that you end up with blind kingmaking/leader-bashing, which is vastly worse than the sighted equivalent. Last time I checked, most people seemed to have accepted that this was at least a possibility and that the change was not unambiguously good. But not according to Catherine. (Seriously, I think she might be a wee bit biased.)


When little information was known about Small World I read a lot of the initial threads about this change and came away feeling that people would prefer hidden victory points. Maybe I should of written this instead of what was actually written. Now Small World has come out, people's opinions may of changed, I have not been following what the general consensus is now.


chrisjwmartin wrote:

Lastly, and a bit pettily, I kind of object to anyone arbitrarily declaring their review "the definitive guide". What, so everyone else's can just be ignored? Perhaps if it was a review of reviews then that could be got away with, but there is a LOT that had already been brought up elsewhere that is completely ignored here. It's as if the OP had just played a few games of it and then decided to write their "definitive" guide without reading what other, perhaps wiser, heads had to say. My review is good, but it's flawed too, as I said in about the second or third reply I made on the thread. So I think I was justified in ripping apart the bits I thought were weak or plain wrong. When you're aiming to write the definitive guide, you'd damn well better have written the most comprehensive review on the site, and have done so by a country mile. If you've not done so, expect to be slated both for your errors and for your hubris. Heat. Kitchen.


When I wrote the word "definitive" in the title it was not because I thought my review was the best review on the site. I wrote it because I was directly writing about the differences in Vinci Vs Small World, with pictures, which no one else had done when I submitted my article. Hence the word definitive, plus it sounds pretty cool.


I am sorry if it was a little biased, it is always hard to write an objective review.

Actually I take that back. I feel that I stated the facts and you have stated your opinions to these facts in your reply. I did try and put in a general opinion about the hidden victory points, but it seems I was wrong what the general opinion is. As stated by dbc-)
Quote:
The jury is still out on this one!

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Chris Martin
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Hi Catherine,

I was upset with Mark Thomason's response, not with you. I disagree with a lot of your points, but you're entitled to hold your view and we can discuss those things if you'd like. Perhaps you'd like to go through my points and see what you think of them. If you disagree, why?

On the issue of objectivity, of course it's hard to be objective - in fact, it's impossible. We approach our perception of anything through the miasma of our own preconcieved notions. For example, some of what you wrote on luck no doubt felt like a "fact" - but was actually an opinion. What I stated in response was my opinion. Whose opinion is right? Well, that's for the dialectic to establish.
 
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Catherine Short
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chrisjwmartin wrote:
cj1582 wrote:
Game Board(s)

Each board is specifically designed to get a good experience with all number of players and are the reason it can be played with two players.
Actually, I think that the gameboard is better in Vinci precisely because it is based on a real map. It means that there is more peculiar geography to navigate, whereas the Small World maps are actually quite uniform and thus bland.


I like the way Small World can play with two players and this is because of the smaller maps. I like the way that the map in Vinci is roughly right in terms of terrain when compared to real life. Both have their own merits.

chrisjwmartin wrote:
cj1582 wrote:
Tiles for Civilisation
I don't think that the number of combinations is the point, so much as the fact that Vinci helpfully colour-codes all abilities so that you can see quickly whether they give VPs or military bonuses or "random stuff".

I included the number of combinations as it interested me and thought others may also be interested. I also thought it would highlight replayability value. In this case I thought Vinci won.

chrisjwmartin wrote:
cj1582 wrote:
Player tokens
One thing you don't mention is that the decline sides are difficult to distinguish. Also, lots of Vinci players stuck decline markers to one side of their chips so that they can also be flipped over if need be.


I have only realised this after playing some more games of Small World. When we played Vinci we only put decline markers on when the civilisation was in decline.

chrisjwmartin wrote:
cj1582 wrote:
d10-1 In Small World mountain regions cost one more to conquer than all other regions and there is a mountain token in the region to help remember this.
In Vinci mountains and forests cost one more to conquer. This new rule with the mountain token makes this easier to remember, you need to equal the number of tokens in a region then add two in order to conquer it. Also in Vinci mountain regions you occupy do not count towards your score, but in Small World they do.

d10-4 The special ability of giants used to be a general rule for everyone in Vinci. When conquering a region next to a mountain region you already occupied you needed one less token. This rule has been dropped in Small World, but not completely lost as it was given to the Giants.
I don't think that the mountain tokens are that helpful, certainly after the first game. Most people I play with just look at me with mild incredulity when I tell them that there is a whole set of chits just designed to remind that that mountains are defensive terrain. No one I've ever played Vinci with has had trouble remembering that mountains and forests receive defensive bonuses. What's more, the "no VPs but military advantage" aspect of mountains in Vinci presented a fascinating trade-off that is lost in Small World.

I actually find them helpful as the less I have to remember when thinking of strategy the better. They are easy to miss out if you do not want to include them.

chrisjwmartin wrote:
cj1582 wrote:
d10-2 Small World has hidden victory points and I have read a great number of reviews saying this is a good idea. Vinci had a scoring track around the outside of the board that meant everyone could know exactly who was in the lead. By concealing victory points you have an inkling as to who is winning, but you can never be sure.
As has been (I think) quite clearly established by others elsewhere, hidden VPs in this context is actually a bad idea. It does not stop so-called "kingmaking" or leader-bashing - it just means that the kingmaking / leader-bashing is blind. Worst of both worlds.


When little information was known about Small World I read a lot of the initial threads about this change and came away feeling that people would prefer hidden victory points. Maybe I should of written this instead of what was actually written. Now Small World has come out, people's opinions may of changed, I have not been following what the general consensus is now.

chrisjwmartin wrote:
cj1582 wrote:
d10-3 A game of Vinci ends when a certain score is reached and this number was dependant on the number of players. In Small World there are a set number of rounds in the game. This leads to quicker games in which everyone knows when to push for maximum victory points. In Vinci it was always hard to know when the end would come and pushing too hard for those extra points too soon would mean you would get wiped out.
Again, trying to time your end like that was part and parcel of the skill in Vinci. Now you can just play that bit more mechanically.

This round system makes the game end very quickly. You definitely have less turns per game compared to Vinci so not so much need for long term strategy. You are constantly thinking about the end game and how many more turns are left. Not necessarily a bad thing as it makes the game very short, down to personal preference I think.

chrisjwmartin wrote:
cj1582 wrote:
d10-5 When choosing a civilisation the first one is free in both games, but if you do not like it then you can pass over it. In Vinci it costs two victory points to pass over a civilisation combination, but in Small World it only costs one victory point. This makes the choice of moving to the next race a lot easier and cheaper. The luck of the draw is not against you so much.
In fact the opposite is true. Because the cost of buying the last combo is so much lower and because some combos are so overpowered relative to others, there is much more luck in that somebody could be presented with an overpowered combo that they can buy cheaply for five VPs and gain massive advantage from. In Vinci, almost no civ is ever worth buying for 10VPs, and so you usually have at least some chance of bidding for it as it slides down the track.


I've actually been thinking about this a bit more. In Vinci the end score for six and five players is 100, four players is 120 and three players is 150. At the start you have ten victory points.

In my games of Small World we have been getting no where near to these scores. In a two player game the most I have got so far is 105 and four player games ended at about 85. The change in cost of skipping over a tiles combination could be because end scores are a lot lower in Small World than in Vinci.

chrisjwmartin wrote:
cj1582 wrote:
d10-6 In Vinci the number of coloured tokens you start with is the sum of the red numbers on the civilisation tiles plus a base number that is dependant on the number of players. For example the left civilisation in the picture below would give you 6 tokens plus the base number and the right civilisation will give you 7 tokens plus the base number.

New players would always get confused how many tokens they would start with. This rule change has made this part of the game a lot simpler.
Maybe because I am always on hand to tell new players how many troops they get, I have never seen this to be a problem. Besides, it's easily and quickly fixed even if they do mess up, and doesn't affect their ability to plan strategically.

We even had a crib sheet made to stop people forgetting this rule, and it was still forgotton. shake

chrisjwmartin wrote:
cj1582 wrote:
d10-7 The rules for declining a civilisation have slightly changed in Small World. In Vinci you would put your civilisation into decline then immediately pick a new civilisation. In Small World you decline your current civilisation then wait to your next turn to pick your new civilisation. I have not played Small World enough to determine how this would change the game, but I think the difference is very subtle.
I actually think that this is an outright improvement in Small World! The reason is that in the final turn, if you knew someone would cross the finishing line, you could sometimes just decline onto a civ that had lots of VPs on it so as to maximise your score. That always struck me as a little gamey, and I think that the new system is an improvement. It also has the effect of keeping the other players on their toes a bit not knowing what you'll come on with.


Yeah I agree this was a good change.

chrisjwmartin wrote:
cj1582 wrote:
d10-8 Small World has introduced a reinforcement dice that consists of three blank sides and the numbers 1, 2 and 3 on the remaining sides. At the end of your turn you can try and conquer a region with fewer tokens than are normally needed. You then roll the dice and see if you get any reinforcements. The number you roll on the dice is the number of reinforcements you get. If you now have enough tokens, with the reinforcements, to conquer the region then you do, otherwise nothing happens. So a win-win situation.
The problem, as has been pointed out elsewhere, is that this introduces a sole random element into the game. The benefits of a lucky streak can be substantial relative to someone who has an unlucky streak. If chance is to be introduced into a game it should involve so many rolls that the odds even out. There are insufficient rolls in a game of Small World that the chance evens out, and the benefits are quite high. You probably make seven reinforcement rolls in a given game. If you succeed in all of those, you probably gain an average of 15 VPs from holding extra territories, and for longer. This is often more than the difference betwen first and last place, let alone between first and second place. you gained these points through no skill of your own. Perhaps a better solution would be to give each player a limited number of "mercenaries" which she could deplete during the game to bolster insufficient troop numbers. This has the same effect as a reinforcement die, but removes the random element and adds an extra tactical dimension. In fact I might suggest that next time I play!


Sounds like a nice variant for people who want more tactics. More and more games are coming out with dice mechanics now and I really hate games with too much luck.

chrisjwmartin wrote:
cj1582 wrote:
d10-9 As always each game box contains extra tokens so you can create you own special abilities and races.
It contains an extra race and ability tile, but no extra tokens. You'd have to make those up yourself. Similarly you could have made up some extra Vinci abilities had you really wanted.

cj1582 wrote:
d10-1d10-0 In Vinci a declining civilisation of one player can not be adjacent to a none declined race of the same player. In Small World a declined race of one player can be next to the current race of the same player.
Again, a change that simplifies Vinci but removes some of the skill. On the other hand, it does add some skill in the ability to defend your old empire.


I like wedging my declined civilisation into the corner of the board and protecting it with my active civilisation. Doesn't work though when a civilisation comes onto the board.

chrisjwmartin wrote:
cj1582 wrote:
There are less obscure rules to remember as everything about Small World is meant to appeal to a more casual gamer than Vinci.
You say that like it's a good thing!


Small World has a very similar rule set to Vinci and by bringing out this new game people have now become aware that Vinci existed. Not many people on these boards have played Vinci, they may not even of known it existed. Now if they like Small World they may be interested in trying out it's big brother, Vinci. So in future I could introduce Vinci as "Small World with more depth" and get it on the table. So I do think it is a good thing. Throw them a line, then pull them in.

chrisjwmartin wrote:
cj1582 wrote:
Maybe when they have played Small World a few times they will want to try Vinci again. You can always hope.
A fervent amen to that, brother.


Fingers crossed.
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Stephen Owen
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The rule of cohesion (all areas must be linked unless you have astronomy) is missing from your comparison. This is fundamental to Vinci and absent from SW presumably to simplify play as with the other changes. This essentially produces a dumbed down version of Vinci with the presumed goal of widening the potential audience.
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Thank you, Catherine, for an excellent comparison review. I just played Vinci for the first time an hour ago, and your review was extremely helpful in my understanding of the relation between Small World and Vinci.

Obviously with one play of Vinci, I can't have a fully informed opinion. However, most of the mechanical rule changes to Small World seem to be mere objections to change: the new mechanics you describe don't seem to make a huge difference in the game. In particular, neither the no-VPs-from-mountains nor the cohesion rule seem essential, but merely rules applied so they can be broken by special powers--if they were essential, they would not be broken in Vinci by special powers.

To particularly address the hidden victory points, I think the problem with Vinci is that a player will attack the established threat, king-making the yet-to-play opponent for no good reason. Personally--and it is definitely a personal preference--I like hidden VPs so every one plays his best game and no-one king-makes the most popular player or dumps on the least popular player--and these psychological biases always exist..

I rather prefer the theming and components of Vinci, but barring a 3rd edition of Vinci, I think I may buy Small World. Thank you, again.
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If you seek enlightenment, as your appellation suggests, then read my forthcoming review of SW (and its relationship to Vinci) in Counter magazine.
 
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Michael Denman
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I had figured Small World would just feel like a slightly changed, shorter, lighter version of Vinci. WRONG! All of the comparisons in the world can't actually prepare you for having to play the game. All of the pretty graphics are a real hindrance to actually PLAYING the game. Not the first game to shoot itself in the foot by choosing beauty over playability and certainly not the last.
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After Vinci it might feel like that. Still I don't think it's so unplayable with this design.
 
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Trump wrote:
All of the pretty graphics are a real hindrance to actually PLAYING the game.

I saw (but didn't play) Small World today, and the board is extremely busy visually. With no unique player colors to guide you, I'm not sure I can imagine how situational awareness wouldn't suffer tremendously. The game seemed to play much more slowly than Vinci, but newness and AP might have contributed.

Replacement tokens might help, but with Spirits, you have the issue of tracking each player's current empire, his declined empire, and his possible declined Spirit empire. Further, since you can pull additional tokens from a race-specific limited supply, using replacement tokens gets complex.

Actually seeing the game has dropped Small World from must-buy to must-play-before-buying.
 
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Thanks for the comparison. I have only played SmallWorld and wondered about Vinci. Our group is experienced and plays very involved wargames. When we played SmallWorld we had 6 games in 8 hours. Everyone has fun. There is no downside to that.
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Tall_Walt wrote:
Trump wrote:
All of the pretty graphics are a real hindrance to actually PLAYING the game.

I saw (but didn't play) Small World today, and the board is extremely busy visually. With no unique player colors to guide you, I'm not sure I can imagine how situational awareness wouldn't suffer tremendously. The game seemed to play much more slowly than Vinci, but newness and AP might have contributed.

Replacement tokens might help, but with Spirits, you have the issue of tracking each player's current empire, his declined empire, and his possible declined Spirit empire. Further, since you can pull additional tokens from a race-specific limited supply, using replacement tokens gets complex.

Actually seeing the game has dropped Small World from must-buy to must-play-before-buying.


Couldn't you just resolve the ownership issue by tossing some colored markers/blocks/disks into the game, signifying your civilizations? You just put a little block on each space you own. Yes it adds another element to the player's turn/board, but helps clearly denote where the players are gaining points.
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WerewolfByDay wrote:
Couldn't you just resolve the ownership issue by tossing some colored markers/blocks/disks into the game, signifying your civilizations? You just put a little block on each space you own. Yes it adds another element to the player's turn/board, but helps clearly denote where the players are gaining points.

Well, this shows how first impressions can mislead.

Yes, SW is not quite as clear as Vinci in presenting each player's position on the board, however the race rules are cleaner, which means you have the attention to spend on this issue, In other words, this would have been a problem with Vinci's additional workload dealing with odd rules, however SW's rules have been simplified enough that it is not really a problem. It's mostly enough to remember what's yours and what's not-yours. This is a little more difficult because the tiles are not highly distinctive, but not prohibitively difficult.

I should note that by simplifying rules I do not mean they have been "dumbed down" but only that they are presented in a more elegant manner (in the mathematical sense--the "equations" have been simplified).

Almost the strongest endorsement I give any game is buying it, and I have bought Small World. My money (and more important, space and weight in my games bags) has been spent on Small World, Given the number of good games that have come out recently (Dominion et al. for some), I have not suggested SW as much as I might have--the only stronger endorsement.

While I think the racial "branding" in SW is poor, I don't think the problem is serious enough to add an additional element to the game. If I were suggesting refinements in a reprinting, I would suggest that race colors take a cue from heraldry and national flags or naval jacks (battle flags) and be brighter and more distinctive.
 
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