I gave my sister a copy of Small World for Christmas. For those who are not aware, I am pretty serious about my board games. If you are interested in game design, as I am, there’s often a lot more meat in a board game than in a computer game. So yeah. I guess you could call this “research”.
Premise of the game:
Someone took the “Rise and Fall” Civ 4 mod and made it a board game. In “Rise and Fall”, you control a civ during it’s golden age, then you cycle to controlling a new one. You often end up sacking the civs you have built up in the past.
So the real genius in this game is threefold:
First, the civilizations you play each game are randomly generated from a stack of “adjective” tiles and a stack of “race” tiles. Like so:
The adjectives and races each have their own special powers, so when you combine them, you get a ton of replayability. It’s like Cosmic Encounter when you play with more than one alien power at a time.
Second, these adj/race combos are sorted in a priority order, so that each player effectively “bids” on the combo that they want. To skip over a combo in the order, you need to place 1 VP on it. Unloved combos accumulate VPs until someone snatches it up.
Third, unlike “Rise and Fall”, the player is in control of when to put their race into decline and pick up a new one. Picking up a new race is nice, because new races come with a vital stack of tokens, which allows you to do more on your turn. Old races tire and eventually run out of tokens, but you score points for every territory they hold. Choosing when to throw in the towel with your current race is often a difficult decision.
In any case, Small World is fun, and if you like to play board games you should pick up a copy. It’s the best new game I’ve played since Dominion.