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Subject: The Guide to Races - vote on your favourite rss

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István Madarász
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In this article I'm sharing my thoughts on the various races and special powers of Small World. I focus on general usage. Of course in specific cases, other rules may apply. But don't panic, here's your Guide to Races.

You can find the Guide to Special Powers here:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/3350246

reference sheet

RACES

Trolls
The ultimate fantasy estate agents. Everybody loves to live in a troll cave in this game. It's spacious, simplistic and considered trendy at that time. Did I mention the defense bonus? This is usually enough for the enemy to lose interest in these areas. What a mistake! I have seen many games won by 6-8 declined trolls daydreaming in their caves preferably located in mountains. Nobody wanted waste the extra attack force on them and they gave their master a huge amount of points every round. Always consider evicting trolls!!!

combos:
- Berserk / Commando - spread fast and enjoy the protection of the caves
- Fortified - Double the defense bonus even in decline, the extra victory point with good defense

Halflings
Masters of fierce hiding in the ground. Their main advantage is accessing any land. In the beginning they can dominate the middle parts uninterrupted while the others struggle with the coasts. Or you can block a whole seashore for strategic reasons (not on the 3 player map). Remember to leave only one guy on the holes.

combos:
- Forest / Hill / Swamp - you can easily access and defend two of these territories
- Heroic - 4 unattackable areas

Humans, Wizards, Dwarves
These are the choosy races. They just have special needs about their living space and they can really appreciate it with some shiny gold. Unfortunately these territories are often far away from each other. Always check for target zones and route of conquest before you choose any of them. Only pick these races if you can surely secure at least two of these areas. If you can control three, consider yourself lucky, if you have four then you are the man! You should plan for defensive play instead of spreading pointlessly.

Humans are in the best situation because there is two adjacent farmland (+one very close) in the 4-5 player map. Go for it.

In my opinion, dwarfs are just lame. They have the lowest number of all races. This means you will control 1 or 2 regions less compared to a race having healthy reproductive habits. You will have to compensate this during their declined period while defending with a single unit. Good luck with that. I would only choose dwarfs if they can fly but I'm sure there would be another more tempting option.

combos:
- Flying - reaching desired territories is essential
- Bivouacking / Fortified / Heroic - protect your valuable land
- Dragon Master - defend and take back any important area

Ghouls
The rotten undead with a neverending hunger for brains. Send them to decline after their first attack. There should be a strong, specific reason to do otherwise. Belive me, they can do their conquest a round later while waiting stacked with a huge defense. They are only valuable in the first half of the game. Later on I would avoid them.

combos:
- Stout - for a fast and painless decline
- Wealthy - a good choice for a race with a short active period

Amazons
This huge force of sexiness will surely take the board by storm. The massive number of troops ensures a fast takeover of any land. On the contrary you will have territories with low defense. So be ready to be consumed by the enemy. Beauty just doesn't last long. You will probably push them into decline after two turns. A great choice to start the game with.

combos:
- Merchant - your opponents won't belive the score you will receive

Elves
Noble and immortal creatures with ambiguous sexual preferences. Play with the elves and the game will turn into a strange tug of war. Prepare for 3-5 turns with them. I wouldn't chose them to be my first race though. If selected as your second force they might be active until the end of the play. They can be used for various purposes but I still rate them average.

combos:

- Merchant - because your army lasts even in small numbers
- Fortified - because you have all the time and defense
- Alchemist - because you are planning for several turns
- Forest / Hill / Swamp - because you can always take back your valuable land

Giants, Tritons
The guys with offense bonus. Big and fishy. They can easily dominate their favored land. Try to maximize the access to these parts. Look for the double mountain with the giants and the lake with the tritons. They spread easily, thus won't last long.

combos:
- Berserk / Commando / Underworld - for a hiperfast conquest
- for Tritons: Seafaring - access all the coastal regions

Orcs, Skeletons
The not so sophisticated races with only one aim: Kill as many as you can. You might think that these two races are totally different but they require the same strategy. Only the bonus differs at the end. Of course the skeletons are cooler because of the breading ability. Remember: empty regions do not count.

combos:
- Berserk / Commando - maximize the conquered regions
- Flying - access the weakest parts of the map
- Pillaging - for double bonus

Sorcerers
The borgs of this land. Their usability grows with the player number. Forget them if you only have one opponent but it's a must-have in a five player game. If everything goes fine they reproduce faster than skeletons. It can be really irritating when you are only surrounded by declined units. Remember: one assimilation per player per turn.

combos:
- Flying - charm from every player with a low price each turn

Ratmen
Strength in numbers with the power of cheese. A bit boring but the crowd of rats really works. Choose them if you can steamroll a huge area. A good race to begin with.

combos:
- Merchant - the low number on this power won't be a problem

Poll
What is your favourite race in Small World?
Amazons
Dwarfs
Elves
Ghouls
Giants
Halflings
Humans
Orcs
Ratmen
Skeletons
Sorcerers
Tritons
Trolls
Wizards
      434 answers
Poll created by MrNecro
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clarence
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Re: The Guide to Races and Special Powers - part I.
Dragon master for orc and skeleton is good.
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Jan B.
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Re: The Guide to Races and Special Powers - part I.
Dragon Master is good for any race

@István

Thanks for breaking down the races. I enjoyed the article. Some valuable combinations aren't in there, but the basic usefullness of the races was covered really good and I would enjoy your assessment of the Special Powers.

I was a little bit surprised to see the Trolls first. Do you think those are useful in every situation? I think Trolls are a very slow race. If you are starting player and if they have an attack bonus power, than it's a sure thing. Otherwise, esp. with no offensive bonus I usually find something more useful available. But they are indeed one of the best passive races (besides Ratmen and Amazons). After declining the Trolls I like point scoring race combinations. Yesterday I won a game as a starting player with Commando Trolls and Bivouacking Humans as a 2nd race. Even though my last turn sucked (because the other two players beat me up together) I could squeeze out a win with only two chosen races.

Sorcerers: They are useful in nearly every situation. Basically you have to chose them to not fall victim to their passive effect: I often recognized how their opponents retreated and tried to get on distance when the Sorcerers roll onto the map. They are scary for everyone and because of this a pretty quick race. Two turns with two added Sorcerer tokens and you can go into a decline with roughly seven regions. Like the Witch in Dominion the Sorcerers are dominating the game. If they come up, you've got to try to get them, before they are annoying yourself.

Dwarfs: Agree totally, they suck I've had only one occasion where the winning player chose dwarfs as his second race (he had three overall). The Dwarfs were combinated with Fortified, came out early and accumulated six coins on them. He played them two turns, declined and got a good chunk of points out of them, conquered three regions (two mines, two forts). I would say Dwarfs should only be taken if they have a lot of points on them and if you can chose them in the middle of the game.
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István Madarász
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Re: The Guide to Races and Special Powers - part I.
kent_bro wrote:
I was a little bit surprised to see the Trolls first. Do you think those are useful in every situation? I think Trolls are a very slow race. If you are starting player and if they have an attack bonus power, than it's a sure thing. Otherwise, esp. with no offensive bonus I usually find something more useful available. But they are indeed one of the best passive races (besides Ratmen and Amazons). After declining the Trolls I like point scoring race combinations. Yesterday I won a game as a starting player with Commando Trolls and Bivouacking Humans as a 2nd race. Even though my last turn sucked (because the other two players beat me up together) I could squeeze out a win with only two chosen races.

Trolls are my present favourite race. They are slow, yes. But usually they get avoided and not attacked by the enemy. Most players overlook them, and I have found this their real advantage. It's real sneaky to have 5-6 declined trolls barricaded in their caves. Usually nobody bothers with them and they are a fine, undisturbed source of victory points. A good opponent never lets this happen.

I have experianced the same. With trolls, two races might be enough for the whole game.
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Ben Bateson
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Re: The Guide to Races and Special Powers - part I. - Vote on your favourite race
A really useful article - thanks.

It's helped us get an overview of strategy before even starting, thus making our first game more worthwhile.I drew Merchant Amazons, paid 4 coins for them and wiped half the board in the first four turns. Runaway leader problem? Maybe. New favourite race? Definitely!
 
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I juggle cats.
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Re: The Guide to Races and Special Powers - part I. - Vote on your favourite race
I like the Amazons, for their inoffensive portrayal of women.
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Jan B.
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Re: The Guide to Races and Special Powers - part I. - Vote on your favourite race
I voted Sorcerers, as they pretty much ruled the games I already played. Amazons are pretty close though. Third might be Skeletons, especially if it's guaranteed to get two additional tokens with the first turn.

Basically I like race combinations with a lot of tokens and/or attack bonus for the first run to get a strong declined race. If I'm the starting player I try to get more defensive races, as I usually get beat up directly being in this position.

For the second run the correct race could be pretty much anything. From midgame on I look more for direct scoring opportunities, while that's only low priority for the start.

 
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Fabrizio Fraja
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yeah dwarves really suck! but they're also good because in the last turns the have always plenty of money on them!!!

Why don't use this rule with dwarves:

when going into decline they leave 2 tiles on mines and 1 as usual on the other regions.

What do you think?
 
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Mark Llewellyn
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my vote is for Commando Tritons for the first few rounds to take over mountains and they then remain in a good defensive position when in decline.
 
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Simon Crowe
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MrNecro wrote:
Sorcerers[/b]
The borgs of this land. Their usability grows with the player number. Forget them if you only have one opponent but it's a must-have in a five player game. If everything goes fine they reproduce faster than skeletons. It can be really irritating when you are only surrounded by declined units. Remember: one assimilation per player per turn.

combos:
- Flying - charm from every player with a low price each turn



Sorcerers can only use their power on adjacent areas that they could conquer, but Flying does not make areas adjacent. I'm not sure if this was what you were suggesting, but if it was then I'm not sure it works.

Sorcerers do have a very nice combo with Underworld, as it makes all Cavern locations adjacent. This came up in a game we had and was particularly powerful.

I'm also not sure about your point of being surrounded by declined units. Sorcerers are best after the first round of declines since declined units are generally only 1 per area. Active civilisations are generally stacked 2 per area, so early on the Sorcerer ability can have no targets (especially as it doesn't work on the neutral tribe tokens).
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Jan B.
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I'm not sure I understand your point totally. But if you use the Sorcerer's ability on declined races, you're playing it wrong. It only works on active tokens, who are alone and not hidden in a bivouac.

Additionally it is stated in the rules, that you can use the ability instead of conquering a region. That means you don't need a token to attack and you absolutely can "flyingly" attack (or curse, however you would like to describe it) a non-adjacent region (unless it's not a sea, lake or hero/dragon/hobbit-cave protected).

But Underworld Sorcerers are pretty evil, too. That's right. Nearly every Sorcerer combination is borderline evil. Love-hate relationship for me.
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H-B-G
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The Sorcerer's special ability does say that it can only be used against adjacent areas, so my first thought was that Flying should not make a difference to this.

However it is confirmed in this thread http://www.daysofwonder.com/en/msg/?th=16839&start=0 at DoW that you can indeed use the sorcerer's power against any active unit on the board, if you have Flying, subject to the other limitations.
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Matt
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Elves are the best race by far with their ability to not take defensive casualtys they are enduring beyond measure.

Our first game featured berserker Elves and they never stopped rolling.

About the only way to defeat them is to take all of their areas (very hard) or force the player to put them in decline by wiping out their other decline race.

They are just as tough with commando, or any of the secondary's that give bonus points.

The defensive ability's are the weakest with them, who cares if someone takes your area you will attack again with all of your units every turn.
 
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Janusz Księżopolski
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Metalmass wrote:
yeah dwarves really suck! but they're also good because in the last turns the have always plenty of money on them!!!

Why don't use this rule with dwarves:

when going into decline they leave 2 tiles on mines and 1 as usual on the other regions.

What do you think?


For me it is the best idea presented. Dwarves are few, as are quick. Instead of making them fight better (as Active), let's make them sustain longer (as Declinig).
 
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Jfkoski
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I was surprised to find Sorcerers so high up. But then I haven't played that many 4 and 5 player games. I would think people would be on the defense against them, by bunching up or going into decline. Then everyone would gang-up against them on their spread-out turns so they'd be forced to decline soon.
 
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JJ Belyeu
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Sandal_Thong wrote:
I was surprised to find Sorcerers so high up. But then I haven't played that many 4 and 5 player games. I would think people would be on the defense against them, by bunching up or going into decline. Then everyone would gang-up against them on their spread-out turns so they'd be forced to decline soon.


I agree completely. I dont see Sorcerers as such a powerful race. They come into play with a bullseye on their head, and YES, they have an AMAZING racial ability (I would rename them Vampires though). But they only see lots of action against inexperienced players. Seasoned vets will either use an offensive race/ability and corner the Sorcerers, or start declining any nearby races.

My vote was for Trolls. Grab a corner of 4-5 spaces, decline, and let your new active race next turn defend them from attack. Trolls combo well with Halflings, Elves, Amazons, and any race with Bivouacking, Heroic, or Fortified.
 
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Jesse Carroll
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I have only played three 4 player games so far and my best race was Bezerk Halflings. I took a bunch of territories including four mountains as the first player. The holes and mountains kept the other players away and when I went into decline I collected an average of 5 for several turns. So the halfings are currently my favorite.
I guess you could call me Gsndalf.
 
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