Small World: Cursed!
is one of two mini-expansions released late in 2009 for the Small World
board game. Although it went out of print from the publisher almost immediately, you may still be able to find it at your friendly local game store.
This review shares some elements in common with my review of the similar product, Grand Dames of Small World
Small World: Cursed! contains two new races (including both a race badge and the race tokens) and five new special powers (designated by new special power badges).
All of these badges and tokens are colorful and well-produced, exactly up to the standards of the original Small World game. I also find that the expansion has a good cost-to-content ratio, for the expansion market, and so I've given it a full "5" out of "5" for Style.
(The one deficit of the expansion is that it won't easily fit in the beautifully designed Small World box, but you can't have everything, I guess.)
I'm going to briefly talk about each of the races and powers included in this expansion, noting not only what they do, but also my thoughts on them after two games worth of play--during which most of these new elements came up.
Goblins (Race). Goblins conquer in-decline regions with one less token than normal. Seems OK, and kind of fun to scavenge those "dead" areas.
Kobolds (Race). These guys come with a jaw-dropping "11" tokens, but they always have to stay in groups of two to take or hold a region (until they go into decline). I saw players think these guys were more powerful than they actually were in the two games I played. Personally, I love how colorful they are (thematically), as you watch those poor, fearful kobolds huddling together.
Cursed (Special Power). This power does nothing, gives you 0 extra armies and takes 3 coins to skip. That's pretty much the definition of terrible, but I find that it introduces an excellent tactical decision into the game, since it very quickly becomes very valuable, thanks to the 3 coins/person that skipped it. As a result, though I didn't think of much of this power when I saw it, I loved it in play.
Ransacking (Special Power). When you sack an active region, you take 1VP from that player. I haven't gotten to see this one in play, but it sounds very painful--and like a huge target as a result.
Hordes of (Special Power). You get two special "Hordes of" tokens which act like two extra tokens of your race. I don't particularly like this one, as it's a dull power and it's very gamey, having to use these two special tokens to represent race tokens. However, it could be interesting if used with some of the particularly small or large armies.
Were- (Special Power). Gains -2 bonus to attack on even turns. A bit too fourth-wall-breaking for me, but you can set up some nice tactics if you make sure that your first turn (which is usually only somewhat useful) is an even turn.
Marauding (Special Power). After you've finished your conquests, pick up all your troops, except one per region, and make a second set of conquests. These guys can move across the map fast, and if you haven't seen Marauding Amazons (which I got to play in my second game with this new expansion), you don't want to. Ouch!
Relationships to Other Games
Small World: Cursed! is a mini-expansion to Small World. You can find leaders for the expansion's races in Leaders of Small World. Another similar expansion, Grand Dames of Small World was released simultaneously, and contains another three races and two special powers.
The Game Design
I already listed my comments on the individual powers in the "Gameplay" section of this review. Overall, the new races seem well-designed and well-balanced in relation to the original game.
One of the problems that I had with the original release of Small World was often having to reuse races just as the game came to an end, when played with five players. I'm very happy that this expansion largely resolves that problem.
Overall, this is a fine expansion to the Small World game and earns a "4" out of "5" for Substance.
Small World: Cursed!
adds some excellent variety to the Small World
game. If you like Small World
and can still get a copy at this at your FLGS, I suggest you do so immediately.