Well that was a very interesting game of small world we had last night. I didn't take notes, so what follows below may not be entirely accurate but won't be too far off.
To start with we were setting up for four players using "The Gods are Crazy" from Tales and Legends and Cursed, Grand Dames & Be Not Afraid, but then a 5th player joined us. We unfortunately forgot to flip the board so we were somewhat cramped which led to a very aggressive game of diplomacy!
I started off with the free stack of 6 Hill White Ladies, and an upcoming Malediction event (abandon a region unless declin(ed)ing, so I put them into the bottom right corner netting 5 points. Not bad for a first turn, and my plan was was put them immediately into decline on my second turn to have three untouchable declined counters on the board, and avoid the effect of the Malediction card. Next in came the Hordes of Priestesses who took over a nice little area in the top left of the board, followed by stout gypsies at the top right. Then it all went horribly wrong for me. Ransacking Sorcerers came out next and they decided it would be a good idea to use the ransacking on the White Ladies before they could become untouchable, so suddenly I just had a stack of four, only one space occupied and had to hand over two coins. Finally in came the Forest Halflings from the left.
Turn two was where it got interesting. Maledition came into effect (with Tremor (conquest costs 1 more) coming up) so I either had to abandon my 1 region and play with 4 White Ladies or go into decline and have to pay extra to conquer with my new race. I declined, claiming a sum total of 1 coin. The Preistesses spread a bit and the Gypsies then realised they could come off the board completely placing coins to claim and come back from the other side of the board (in this case across the bottom) and score rather a lot of points. The sorcerers then thought well if the Gypsies can do it ... and came in and wiped out a load of priestesses. The halflings spread a bit across the middle.
Turn three, Tremor in effect and Flooded (Swamps, seas and lakes unconquerable) upcoming, so I took the pile of Swamp Leprechauns, hoping the pots of gold would bulk my flagging score up a bit. The priestesses went into decline leaving a tower of three. The gypsies left the board again and came on elsewhere. After a large amount of debate the sorcerers did the same and attacked me again; the pots of gold being too much of a target. They actually scored one less point than if they had just expanded, due to an unfortuate dice roll, as I tried to point out would be the case, but it stopped me getting the extra coins and took some more off me due to the ransacking ability. The halflings spread a bit more to the right.
Turn four and swamps seas and lakes became safe, which happened to include one of my leprechaun sites. Hooray! The upcoming event was A gift from the sky. I spread the Leprechauns out a bit placing some more pots of gold, the Preistesses were superceded by Imperial Homunculi (with one extra token due to bypass) and they came in from the top left again. The gypsies once again came off and back on again and made a bee line for some of my pots of gold. The sorcerers settled and started spreading, converting a halfling (I think) to their cause. The halflings spread some more.
Turn five and due to the Gift From The Sky we all get to place a token somewhere to increase the value of a region for the rest of the game. My Leprechauns went into decline, being totally ineffective and having targets painted on their backs. I put the extra score token in one of their regions. The Homunculi spread a bit and an extra score token went onto the declined preistess space. The gypsies were somewhat cornered in the bottom right, but placed a token on one of their spaces, withdrew into one region and spread best they could. The sorcerers went after the in decline Leprechauns, and added a token to the space already with one, making it worth 3 points! The halflings went into decline.
Turn six brought out the great curse and all special abilities became useless. Next turn would bring out the White Queen allowing a declined race to become invunerable. I replaced the Leprechauns with a huge stack of 16 Heroic Kobolds and waded through some gypsies to take out the big stack of sorcerers to claim the 3 point region along with a couple more spaces. The heroic was useless so I made sure to strongly defend that space. The Homunculi spread a bit more as did the Gypsies, and Sorcerers went into decline. The Halflings were replaced by Alchemist Amazons who spread over quite a lot of the bottom of the map.
Turn seven and the Sorcerers gained immunity via the white queen and we had an upcoming War Is Sexy making conquests pay out extra. I started by wiping a few gypsies off the map and spreading my Kobolds as far as I could, with the heroic invunerability now in effect on the 3 point region. The homunculi stayed still, claiming lots of points being quite spread out and having the Imperial ability. The gypsies finally went into decline, the Sorcerors were replaced with (I think) the Mounted Giants who took a few mountains fields and hills! The Amazons spread out a bit more.
Turn eight gave us Sexy War and more points for conquering with a final event of the Ungodly Bride coming up where we would either have to hand over race tokens or points. I collected up all my Kobolds except for the 3 point region and conquered a load of new land to get double points. The Homunculi couldn't do much so declined. The Gypsies were replaced with Seafaring Tritons who took the NW sea and cut a swathe through the declined sorcerers and Homunculi to get to the lake in the middle. The Mounted Giants and Amazons spread themselves a bit more thinly conquering where they could for extra points.
Final turn and due to the Ungodly Bride we all either had to pay 3 coins or discard two race tokens. I didn't want to sacrifice points at this stage and couldn't really do much so sacrificed two tokens and did nothing. The Homunculi were replaced by the stack of 5 (reduced to 3 by the Ungodly Bride) Dwarves who now had a pool of 5 coins on them. I think the tritons sacrificed a couple of race tokens and did very little, the giants paid and spread a bit and the Amazons sacrificed two tokens and did nothing.
This a very vicious game, but somehow the halflings and amazons got left out of most of the fighting and thus managed to rack up a high score with nobody noticing.
This was the first game I've played with Tales and Legends and it definitely improves the game. Yes it makes it more random, but because you can see the upcoming event it also adds to the strategy and challenge of the game.
The final tally was:
Forest Halflings, Alchemist Amazons - 82 Points
Hordes of Priestesses, Imperial Homunculi, Marchant Dwarves - 75 Points
Ransacking Sorcerers, Hill Giants - 67 Points
Stout Gypsies, Seafaring Tritons - 59 Points
Hill White Ladies, Swamp Leprechauns, Heroic Kobolds - 57 Points