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Subject: A First Look at the Rulebook rss

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Bryan Stout
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Here is a brief overview of the Small World Underground rule book, from the point of view of someone familiar with the original Small World game.

The rule book layout is very similar, and in fact follows the same outline section by section, with the addition of a couple of sections for things new to SWU:

Components
Setting up the Game
Object of the Game
Starting the Game
I. The First Turn
II. Following Turns
End of the Game
Appendices
I. Organize the Storage Tray
II. The Races and Special Powers of Small World Underground
III. Righteous Relics and Popular Places

They helpfully have a special "SW New" icon to point out the differences between SWU and SW, and that is what I will focus on here.




The Map
As you can see, the map is similar in layout, but the colors are more intense and lurid. As with SW, most regions are identical except for how particular races respond to them, with a couple of interesting exceptions. The types of regions we have are:
- Abysmal Chasms: These are impassable and unconquerable -- by anyone!
- Black Mountains: They work just like SW Mountains, including a special token.
- Mines
- Mudpools
- Mushroom Forests
- Mystic Crystals
- Rivers: These have special conquest rules, described below.




Monsters
Instead of Lost Tribes, we have Monsters, with these differences:
- They have several pictures, but act identically, meaning that like LTs they sit and wait to be conquered.
- There are fewer locations for them than for Lost Tribes in SW, but they begin with 2 tokens per region.
- When you conquer a region with Monsters, you draw a random Relic or Place token and place it on the region you just conquered.





Righteous Relics and Popular Places
These are shuffled together at the start of the game, and appear when you slay the monsters guarding them. Each one gives you a different benefit during game play, whose use is always optional. The Places cannot be moved, but the Relics are moved to a new region when its ability is used there. In either case, they remain behind when the region is conquered or the owner goes into decline.



Conquest
There are two changes to conquest:

- The first conquest must be in a region adjacent to the edge of the board -- no sailing in to the shore a ways inland.

- Rivers only require 1 token to conquer, rather than 2. But, they must be evacuated during the Redeployment phase of the turn.



Compatibilty
They have a section discussing how you can combine both Small World games. The basic guidelines are:

- After you choose a map, do not use powers that depend on features that are not present.

- The following features are considered equivalent concerning their interaction with powers:
-- Black Mountains / Mountains
-- Mudpools / Marshes
-- Mushroom Forests / Forests
-- Mines / Mine symbols
-- Mystic Crystals / Magic Symbols
-- Rivers / Seas & Lake

- To use Monsters on the surface map, choose N+1 Lost Tribe regions (where N=number of players) and put 2 Monster tokens on each one, making sure no 2 Monster regions are adjacent. Then fill out the rest with Lost Tribes as normal.

I would add that some of the special powers in SWU duplicate racial powers in SW, or vice versa. If they happened to get combined (Immortal Elves, for example), I would simply put them back in the bag and draw again. [Edit: Many such combos are OK, since they enhance each other -- e.g. Commando Ogres, Vampire Sorcerers -- just like Pillaging Orcs in SW.]



The Races
Now for the funnest part. The numbers after each race are the starting/total number of tokens they have:

Cultists (5/10)
They put the Great Ancient (who looks like Cthulhu) on the first region they conquer. That region is immune, and regions next to it are conquered with 1 less token; it can be moved at the start of each turn. Kind of a variant of the Dragon.

Drow (4/9)
They get 1 Victory Coin for each controlled region that's not adjacent to any other race or Monster.

Flames (4/9)
The put a Volcano on a Chasm, and can conquer any region next to it, or connected to it by a chain of Flames, as if it is unoccupied.

Gnomes (6/11)
They are immune to other players' racial or special powers, and to their Relics and Places. They can still be conquered, though. [Edit: I said it too broadly. Gnomes are immune to powers and other effects used to conquer Gnomes, during others' turns. They are not immune to things during the Gnomes' turn itself.]

Iron Dwarves (7/12; 7 Hammers)
At the end of each turn they get a Silver Hammer for each Mine they occupy. Hammers act like offense-only tokens, like the 4 extra Amazons.

Krakens (5/10)
They stay in Rivers and score from them, even in decline.

Liches (5/10)
After they go in decline, they get a VC from any opponent who conquers one of their regions.

Lizardmen (7/12)
They may skip over Rivers to conquer a region on the other side, even if the river is occupied by Krakens.

Mudmen (5/12)
During Redeployment they get a new Mudmen token for each Mudpool they occupy.

Mummies (10/15)
They require 1 extra token per region to conquer it. No limit on redeployment, though.

Ogres (5/10)
They conquer any region with 1 less token than normal, like a Commando race. (Minimum 1, naturally.)

Shadow Mimes (7/12)
When you pick the Mimes, you may swap its Special Power with any of the other 5 powers available. (Don't swap the coins.)

Shrooms (5/10)
They get 1 VC per Mushroom Forest region occupied.

Spiderines (7/12)
They enter the board in any region adjacent to a Chasm, and consider all such regions adjacent to anything they occupy. A variant to the Underground special power.

Will-o-the-Wisps (6/11)
They may use the die any time they attack a Crystal region, or any region adjacent to a Crystal region they occupy.



Special Powers

Adventurous (5)
+1 VC for any Popular Place occupied.

Fisher (4)
+1 VC for each adjacent complete pair of regions controlled that border the River.

Flocking (5)
+2 VC if all occupied regions form a single adjacent group.

Frightened (4)
+1 VC for each region occupied with 3+ tokens.

Immortal (4)
No tokens are lost during conquest. The special power equivalent to Elves.

Magic (5)
The Bag-o-Many-Things token may be used like any Relic on the board. It can't be lost, but is taken back in hand if its region is conquered or abandoned.

Martyr (4)
+1 VC from the bank each time one of your regions is conquered.

Mining (4)
+1VC for each Mine occupied.

Muddy (3)
+1 VC for each Mudpool occupied, even in decline.

Mystic (4)
+1 VC for each Crystal region occupied.

Quarreling (3)
+1 VC for each separate group of adjacent regions occupied. The converse to Flocking.

Reborn (5)
When in decline, you may vacate 1-2 of Reborn regions and replace them with 1 token from the box each, from your active race.

Royal (5)
At the end of your turn a Queen token is placed in a region you control to make it immune. It remains in decline but may no longer be moved.

Shield (3; 8 Mushroom Armor)
At turn's end, for each Mushroom Forest you occupy, take a Mushroom Armor token from the box and place it on any region you occupy. They add 1 each to the defense, like Troll Lairs that can stack, and remain in decline.

Stone (4)
+1 VC for each Black Mountain occupied.

Thieving (4)
+1 VC from each player who has an active token adjacent to you at turn's end.

Tomb (5)
When going into decline, all tokens stay on the board and may be redeployed 1 more time. When conquered, only 1 token dies and the rest are redeployed on controlled regions, until no regions are left. Like Ghouls without the ability to conquer.

Vampire (5)
The special power equivalent to Sorcerers: you can replace singleton active tokens with one of yours from the box, once per turn per opponent.

Vanishing (5)
When going into decline, you get 2 VC per region, but all tokens are removed.

Vengeful (4)
+1 to attack any player who attacked you the previous turn (whether his active or declined race). Vengeance tokens (angry eyes) keep track of who attacked you.

Wise (4)
+2VC for each turn in decline while tokens still on the board.



Righteous Relics

Flying Doormat
Once per turn, use it to attack any region regardless of adjacency.

Froggy's Ring
Place it in a controlled region at turn's end to get 1 VC from each player with an active token adjacent to it.

Stinky Troll's Socks
Once per turn, conquer a region as if unoccupied; the previous occupant retrieves all tokens there.

Scepter of Avarice
At turn's end, place it in a region to double the income from that region. (Dwarves cannot place it in mines.)

Shiny Orb
Once per turn, may substitute a singleton active token, like Vampire or Sorcerers.

Sword of the Killer Rabbit
Once per turn, use this token to conquer a region with 2 fewer tokens.



Popular Places

Altar of Souls
At the end of the turn, discard one of your declined tokens for 3 VC.

Crypt of the Tomb Raider
At the end of your turn, place the Ghost (of Lara Croft) in one of your regions to make it immune. The Ghost still helps you if the Crypt occupants are in decline, but it cannot be moved.

Diamond Fields
+1VC for the Fields region, and for each other controlled region of the same type, even in decline.

Great Brass Pipe
All regions of the type containing the Pipe are considered adjacent to its occupying race.

Fountain of Youth
At turn's start, get an extra token for your active race, if any.

Keep on the Motherland
The occupant gets +1VC per turn, and +1 defense, like Forts, except both aspects work in decline.

Mine of the Lost Dwarf
+2 VC per turn, even if occupants are in decline. (The Scepter of Avarice doesn't work here.)

Stonehedge
Draw an unused Special Power that Stonehedge's occupant may use. (The token count on the Special Power badge is ignored.)

Wickedest Pentacle
The Balrog token is sent into an adjacent region, conquering it with a 2 token loss to its occupant. The Balrog is immune. No one gets VC for his region, but the Pentacle occupant may move him to an adjacent region once per turn.



Overall Impressions
The tongue-in-cheek feeling is higher here, as seen in the sometimes corny names, and the cultural references.

The races bring a nice new mix of abilities to the table. A few like Shrooms are bland, but the game does need a few straight-forward terrain-seeking races. Some are racial versions of SW special powers: (Ogres), while others are interesting variants of ideas we've seen before (Cultists, Iron Dwarves, Spiderines). The really new ones include the Drow, Flames, Gnomes, Shadow Mimes; the Gnomes look like the easiest to play of those, the Drow the hardest.

We also see the first races to break the unwritten rule that everything must be humanoid, namely the Spiderines and Will o the Wisps. [Edit: the Tritons may have already broken the rule, depending on whether their torsos end in scaly legs, or in tails only.]

A large number of the special powers are ways of earning more Victory Coins, about 13 of them, vs. 8 in SW. But the reasons for earning VCs are nicely varied -- not just for terrain types occupied, but also for stacking, flocking, scattering, thieving, and surviving in decline. Of the others, the most unique powers are Magic and Reborn.

The Relics and Places look very intriguing, and probably will make the biggest change to gameplay. There will be lots of reasons to fight over certain regions and/or objects, which adds to the factors involved in your tactical plans.

Game-play-wise, this is as good as, or actually even better, than all the previous expansions put together. It looks like I'll enjoy SWU just as much as the original. I'll probably play it by itself a few times, though, before experimenting with combining it with the expansions or the original set.
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Ian Redford

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Thanks a ton for writing this up!

I'm really happy that they addressed compatibility questions for those of us who would love to combine powers/races with the original game. Quick question:

Do "Fields" and "Underground" not have equivalents in SWU?



Also - any improvements to the token tray? It's not enough of a hassle to keep me from enjoying the game, but the token tray in the original is annoying to use.
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Lee Fisher
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Vadorojo wrote:


Also - any improvements to the token tray? It's not enough of a hassle to keep me from enjoying the game, but the token tray in the original is annoying to use.


Probably no one has seen the tray yet, but the rules are online.
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Felix Freitag
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Great summary, thanks for this. Looking forward to get this game as soon as possible.

One minor correction. I think the typing error regarding the Liches is on page 11 (same mistake in the german rules). On page 5 you can see the Race banner stating 5. That would add to a maximum of 10, like quoted on page 2 (and goes according to the tray image on page 9).
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Bryan Stout
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Ijumaa wrote:
One minor correction. I think the typing error regarding the Liches is on page 11 (same mistake in the german rules). On page 5 you can see the Race banner stating 5. That would add to a maximum of 10, like quoted on page 2 (and goes according to the tray image on page 9).

Thanks! Fixed.

lfisher wrote:
Vadorojo wrote:
Also - any improvements to the token tray? It's not enough of a hassle to keep me from enjoying the game, but the token tray in the original is annoying to use.

Probably no one has seen the tray yet, but the rules are online.

The token tray looks very similar to the one in the base game. People can start getting their helps ready -- labels, pull strips, small spoons, nerf darts, etc.
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Bryan Jensen
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Will O' The Wisps seem like they should get strength around swamps/muddy areas given the folklore. I guess they didn't want two races potentially competing for the same terrain when there are no clear fantasy races included that fit the crystal terrain.

Since the Will o'the Wisps will be affectionately called Zetarians by me anyhow, maybe I just need Horta or Tholians to be replacement races to capitalize on Crystal terrain.

Zetarians from Star Trek:



And Tholians and Horta:


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Richard Smeltzer
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Vadorojo wrote:
Do "Fields" and "Underground" not have equivalents in SWU?


Doesn't look like it. There's less board stuff to play with in SWU - the original SW has types of regions, then symbols on some of the regions (mine, cave, magic). Underground regions have a type, but no symbols. I guess they think things are complex enough with the Places and Relics.
 
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Eric Hautemont
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Vadorojo wrote:
Also - any improvements to the token tray? It's not enough of a hassle to keep me from enjoying the game, but the token tray in the original is annoying to use.


It's hard to tell looking at the photo in the rules, but the token tray has been improved and now has curved bottoms, so that the tokens are both easier to grab and tilted toward the exteriors of the tray, making them easier to identify.

Eric @ DoW
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Jeff Thornsen
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Barliman wrote:

Righteous Relics
Scepter of Avarice
At turn's end, place it in a region to double the income from that region. (Dwarves cannot place it in mines.)


Minor clarification, but the rules are easy to mis-interpret here. The restriction is on the specific Popular Place, Mine of the Lost Dwarf, and is NOT a restriction on the Race Dwarves, nor the Mine terrain type.

I'm fairly certain that if you were playing the base game, you could put the Scepter onto a region that Forest Dwarves Control, potentially earning 6VP for that region (if it was both a mine and Forest).
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Bryan Stout
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Faranim wrote:
Barliman wrote:

Righteous Relics
Scepter of Avarice
At turn's end, place it in a region to double the income from that region. (Dwarves cannot place it in mines.)


Minor clarification, but the rules are easy to mis-interpret here. The restriction is on the specific Popular Place, Mine of the Lost Dwarf, and is NOT a restriction on the Race Dwarves, nor the Mine terrain type.

I'm fairly certain that if you were playing the base game, you could put the Scepter onto a region that Forest Dwarves Control, potentially earning 6VP for that region (if it was both a mine and Forest).

Thanks. I'd read that as 2 different restrictions, not as the first being a set-up explanation for the second.
 
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MJ Clark
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Thanks for your post! Looks like it's a nice mod to the original. Looking forward to it.

The compatibility section is interesting. It appears we can use just about anything interchangeably that doesn't utterly conflict.

Also, Immortal Elves... sorry guys, but if that comes up, they're staying to collect gold for a bad combo in my game.
 
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Moisés Solé
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Vampire Sorcerers on the other hand... (those actually stack!)
 
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Bryan Stout
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Mangerine wrote:
Also, Immortal Elves... sorry guys, but if that comes up, they're staying to collect gold for a bad combo in my game.

Certainly a valid option. Some combos would be worse, clashing rather than being redundant, such as Vanishing Ghouls, Priestesses or White Ladies.
 
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Pere
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Barliman wrote:
Mangerine wrote:
Also, Immortal Elves... sorry guys, but if that comes up, they're staying to collect gold for a bad combo in my game.

Certainly a valid option. Some combos would be worse, clashing rather than being redundant, such as Vanishing Ghouls, Priestesses or White Ladies.

... or head-scratchingly good, like the Tomb Priestesses. How do they work?
As I read them, you can leave all your tokens (9!) on a single region, receiveing 1 VP per token.

Also, do will-o-the-wisps roll 2 dice when attacking a crystal region from another crystal region?
 
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Bryan Stout
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senseless wrote:
... or head-scratchingly good, like the Tomb Priestesses. How do they work?
As I read them, you can leave all your tokens (9!) on a single region, receiveing 1 VP per token.

That sounds like the best interpretation.

Quote:
Also, do will-o-the-wisps roll 2 dice when attacking a crystal region from another crystal region?

Nah:
Quote:
You may use the Reinforcement die
before any conquest of a Mystic Crystal
Region or any Region adjacent to a
Mystic Crystal Region your Will-o'-Wisps
occupy.

The sentence structure "You may do A if B or C" just doesn't lend itself to concluding "Do A twice if B and C."
 
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Felix Freitag
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Hmm... thought about how you would play with Berserk-Will-O-Wisps? Any ideas?
 
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Pere
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Ijumaa wrote:
Hmm... thought about how you would play with Berserk-Will-O-Wisps? Any ideas?

With care, else you end up with an sprained wrist from so much dice rolling.
 
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Bryan Stout
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Ijumaa wrote:
Hmm... thought about how you would play with Berserk-Will-O-Wisps? Any ideas?

My first thought is that the Berserk power completely subsumes the Will-o-Wisps power, rendering the latter redundant -- rolling the die for every region, before declaring which one to attack, rather than a subset of regions, after declaring.

My second thoughts were that perhaps they could combine, in this way: first, roll the die as a Berserk; second, declare which region to attack; third, if the type of region allows, roll the die again as Will-o-Wisps and add its result; fourth, add the number of tokens to make the conquest occur, 1 token at least.

Which interpretation is intended, is up to the publisher to clarify.
 
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Barliman wrote:
Ijumaa wrote:
Hmm... thought about how you would play with Berserk-Will-O-Wisps? Any ideas?

My first thought is that the Berserk power completely subsumes the Will-o-Wisps power, rendering the latter redundant -- rolling the die for every region, before declaring which one to attack, rather than a subset of regions, after declaring.

My second thoughts were that perhaps they could combine, in this way: first, roll the die as a Berserk; second, declare which region to attack; third, if the type of region allows, roll the die again as Will-o-Wisps and add its result; fourth, add the number of tokens to make the conquest occur, 1 token at least.

Which interpretation is intended, is up to the publisher to clarify.

The two rolls surely add. It's the same as commando tritons. Berserk gives you a roll before choosing where to attack, and wows give you a roll after you declare attack on some regions. Result: +2d attack power.
 
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David K.
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Quote:
Drow (4/9)
They get 1 Victory Coin for each controlled region that's not adjacent to any other race or Monster.


It should be noted that the 1 victory coin is an additional/bonus/exta coin they get over and above the normally scored victory coins.
 
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Bryan Stout
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Shadowen wrote:
Quote:
Drow (4/9)
They get 1 Victory Coin for each controlled region that's not adjacent to any other race or Monster.


It should be noted that the 1 victory coin is an additional/bonus/exta coin they get over and above the normally scored victory coins.

Well, that goes without saying for all of them: Shrooms, Frightened, Muddy, Mystic, etc. I wrote this for those familiar with the base game, after all, who know how it works for Humans, Forest, Hill, Swamp, etc.
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David K.
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Barliman wrote:
Shadowen wrote:
Quote:
Drow (4/9)
They get 1 Victory Coin for each controlled region that's not adjacent to any other race or Monster.


It should be noted that the 1 victory coin is an additional/bonus/exta coin they get over and above the normally scored victory coins.

Well, that goes without saying for all of them: Shrooms, Frightened, Muddy, Mystic, etc. I wrote this for those familiar with the base game, after all, who know how it works for Humans, Forest, Hill, Swamp, etc.


I blame my technical writing skills for not ever letting me write documentation that has something that "goes without saying". I'm cursed like that, my co-workers hate that part about me.

Nice work on the overview. Very good read!
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Richard Morgan
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Is this actually a review or did you just read the rules?
 
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Dan Patriss
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Now they can get to work coding that new ipad app/ Expansion
 
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Bryan Stout
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richiebabes wrote:
Is this actually a review or did you just read the rules?

I haven't played the game, if that's what you mean.

It's exactly what it claims to be: a review of the rulebook, meant to distill out the new things for those familiar with the base game, so they can more quickly see what's in it. I added some general observations, but I thought the biggest value, at this time, would be in its summary.

Whether that counts as a "real" review is a question perhaps best discussed elsewhere. All I know is that if the Review Mods had turned it down, I'd have resubmitted it under "General".
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