Review: Small World [iPad]

Before we get into this review, I should tell you that you should first play or own the original Small World board game by Philippe Kenarets and published by Days of Wonder. So go to your favorite local game store (you have one now, right?) and do that. Go on. I’ll be here when you’re back.

Back? Ok! So Small World on the iPad. I’m pretty awful at reviewing games I don’t like, because this is another ‘buy’ game. I’m sorry, I’ll try to review something I hate next week. until then bear with me as I gush all about how great this game is, or skip down to the bottom for the bullet points. Anyway, what makes Small World on the iPad so good?

First let’s talk about portability. If you’re traveling by plane, boat, or Amish dairy cart, you probably don’t have a lot of space to set up even a two player game of Small World, what with all its bits and pieces. And have you ever tried to get an Amish dairy farmer to stop the cart on a count of a lost die? Yeah, that’s not going to happen. The iPad, being the sexy little wundertablet it is, is amazingly portable, and requires no extra pieces. All the in-game pieces you need are logically laid out and you have access to them when you need them. Speaking of access when you need it, the rules are available whenever you want to browse through them, right from the game’s UI. There’s no exiting the game to load up a webpage, it’s all there and ready for you.

The game also plays by the rules. The biggest issue that makes me think twice about buying a game on the iPad is how well it’s programmed. There’s a lot of crap in the App Store, so read those negative reviews before you buy a new game. Thankfully, Days of Wonder did a great job with the Small World app, and not only does it work, but it works well. I’ve never had the game crash on me. The dice rolling appears to be truly random regardless of difficulty. And you probably won’t come across a strange case of ‘why is the CPU cheating’ like with other iPad versions of board game (I’m looking at you, RISK).

Let’s talk price. The game is a steal at $6.99, but it occasionally goes on sale for cheaper. If you want to wait to enjoy this game when it’s cheaper then by all means please do so. Keep an eye on the Games category page of the App Center and pounce when it’s in your price range.

Sadly, it’s not all gumdrops and berserker hill giants. There are a few negatives. Firstly, the game only supports 2 players. Small World is a game that excels when played with a group of 3 or more. It’s a laugh riot and surprisingly competitive. Being limited to two players is kind of a bummer. Next, the expansions. There are 2 base games and 6 expansions in the Small World game line, and only 2 expansions can be purchased in-game. Boo! I want more! Finally, there’s the occasional glitch. I know this goes against my ‘but it works well’ praise. It wasn’t a game ending scenario and after the first time it happened it was easy to avoid. Just be sure you put down your heroes, fortresses, and other such things in your Redeployment phase, otherwise they might come off the board and vanish. Silly I know, but it’s there.

PROS:

  • Great digital version of a great board game
  • Cheap
  • Just as fun as the original

CONS:

  • Only 2 expansions can be purchased for the game
  • The game only (currently) supports 2 plays
  • The occasional hero, fortress, what-have-you placement glitch

VERDICT:

  • This is a fun game with no free demo available. It’s cheap at $6.99 and it occasionally goes on sale. If you have your iPad with you and you’re looking for something to enjoyably kill 30 minutes alone or with a friend, then I suggest you give the Small World iPad app a go!

   BUY (this and the board game too)

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