When videogames try to return to their ancestral routes, it doesn’t always go well. There are exceptions (hello, XCOM), but you often wind up with overwrought slogfests (hello, Dark Souls). I’m confident that the upcoming Small World Of Warcraft will buck that trend, because it’s basically Small World wearing a World Of Warcraft coat with new ideas stuffed in its pockets.
Small World is pretty good! It’s about stitching complementary abilities together, then choosing the right moment to plunge your chosen people into extinction.
It’s a territory control game, where you’re competing for (small) world domination against up to four other people. You’re trying to clobber your way into different areas and extract points from them, using special abilities that help you beat back your opponents and make certain spaces more lucrative. So in the example above, you can see the “Fishing” part of those Orcs gives them more points for controlling territory that’s next to water. I can’t quite tell what the Orc’s special deal is, but I imagine it involves smashing.
The twist is that you only have a certain number of tokens, so at a certain point it makes sense to send your race into decline. That’s when you flip over all the tokens you’ve placed on the board, and get to start charging around the map with a new race of Exuberant Kobolds, or something. It’s clever, that. You never want to push the death button too late or too early.
The press release mentions “Portal Mage Pandarens” and “Herbalist Goblins”, which both sound snazzy. It also talks about how “players will occupy legendary terrains and seek control of powerful artifacts”. They sound like rebranded versions of the “Righteous Relics and Popular Places” from a standalone game called Small World Underground, which is fine by me. I’ve only played that a couple of times, but giving players extra-good territory to squabble over definitely added to things.
Publishers Days of Wonder say it’s “expected to be available in summer 2020”, and will cost £57/$60/€60. More info can be found on Days Of Wonder’s website.