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Subject: Small World: Underground 200-Word Review rss

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Josiah Fiscus
United States
Pittsburgh (Monroeville)
Pennsylvania
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This was a tough one to rate because I like Small World a lot. However, when rating a game based on how much you want to play it (as BGG encourages you to do), the existence of better alternatives is going to drop a game in the ratings. This one comes in at a 6, but would probably be up at least a couple points if it had come out earlier (I rate the original Small World a 9).

Small World has a great mechanical structure to it. I think some people don't like it because they feel there aren't a ton of choices to make when it comes to actually moving your dudes around the map (and that's at least partially true), but the real game is about deciding WHOM to attack, when to take your civilization into decline (you get a turn of very few points, but you get a new strong civilization next turn), and most importantly, which civilization you want to use. You have 5 choices of race/power combinations but they each cost different amounts of gold. Having the most gold is how you win the game, so taking anything except the first civilization in the queue is going to mean sacrificing points now with the hope of getting more points later. There are tons of great decisions packed into a short playing time, and the cartoony theme really makes this fun for gamers and non-gamers alike.

All that said, if you have to make the choice to play Small World Underground or Small World, it's no contest: Small World wins by a country mile. SW:U has a less interesting map (removes even more decisions from troop movement as it adds features to the topography that are restrictive), special powers that run for a couple paragraphs instead of sentence or two (like the ones in the original), and even a rulebook that contradicts the included player aids.

Rated simply as an expansion for Small World, it's decent (though integrating them does require some rule changes), but I would recommend simply getting Cursed, Grand Dames, and/or Be Not Afraid, all of which are much better anyway. I can only recommend this to hardcore Small World players who are need more variety than the base game and the three aforementioned expansions offer. Otherwise, stick with the original as this one is pretty much the definition of "bloated".
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Fernando Robert Yu
Philippines
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I just also tried SWU late last month, and while I agree with your review that if it comes to a decision between Small World and this, then SW wins out, I feel that the gap is not as wide as you have said.

SWU is NOT an expansion, but a stand alone game, and the relics and places DO add some value in controlling (and keeping control of) territories. In my game with my kids for example, the area needed to control the Balrog was hotly contested. The river in the map DOES tend to split your areas in half, and will pose a strategic challenge especially for powers and abilities which require you to stay close together or connected (ie flames).

SWU does give you with a whole bunch of new races and powers to play with (although some do duplicate the powers from SW, but instead of a racial ability it became power, and vice versa) The big issue here is that compatibility with the earlier expansions as well as SW itself needs you to select races and powers which do not screw up the previous ones (ie vanishing) but this is easily done and I have segregated the SWU pieces which are compatible and kept them together with the other pieces from Grand Dames, Cursed, etc. In this way it is easy for me to swing between both maps.

I rated SWU a full point lower than SW (SW is a 9, SWU is an 8), as it simply is still SW, but with a darker setting plus a few new rules.
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Daniel Halasz
Hungary
Szada
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happyjosiah wrote:
You have 5 choices of race/power combinations...


You have 6 choices just like in SW.
I think Underground is better then the SW, because relics make much more interaction. There are no peace underground.

Fisha
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Fernando Robert Yu
Philippines
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fisha wrote:
happyjosiah wrote:
You have 5 choices of race/power combinations...


You have 6 choices just like in SW.
I think Underground is better then the SW, because relics make much more interaction. There are no peace underground.

Fisha


???? Hehehe checked and you are right! We have been playing this wrong all along!!! (But it is a minor issue anyhow..)
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Daniel Halasz
Hungary
Szada
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freddieyu wrote:
[q="fisha"][q="happyjosiah"] You have 5 choices of
???? Hehehe checked and you are right! We have been playing this wrong all along!!! (But it is a minor issue anyhow..)


I think it is one of the three most often missed rules.
The other two:
- you can leave regions at the start of your turn, but you can't during redeployment
- you can redeploy your tokens right after the player's turn who attacked you.
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