Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I'll Tell You a Tale... (a mini-review of Small World: Tales & Legends)

Tales and Legends is yet another mini-expansion for Small World, but this time instead of new races and special powers, you get a deck of Event Cards.  Like the others, Tales is definitely mini - about the size of a deck of cards, so look carefully when you're at the gaming store - and it comes at a low price.  This time it's $15, a little bit more than Cursed! and Grand Dames.  Is it worth it?

 Tales and Legends is a great expansion.  It adds a slew of event cards that pop up each round, creating a new condition for the whole world (in the game, not the entire... real... world.  Sheesh).  Events range from very simple (Swamps are worth 1 extra point!) to zany medium-level modifiers (use this catapult to skip a region and invade one a bit farther away!  Pay coins to hire mercenaries to help you invade!) to foundation-shaking game changers (Discard ALL in-decline races! Everyone pass their race to the left!)

Other effects may include blocking off certain types of regions from invasion, or even auctioning off an extra ability or special power to the highest bidder.

Fortunately, events only take effect one at a time; and conveniently, the event for NEXT round is publicly available so you can base your current activities on what's going to happen - this saves a lot of frustration.  Who would want to go into decline only to find out that all in-decline races are discarded?

I think that Tales adds a lot of excitement and even more zaniness to the game.  It definitely offers the most change to the gameplay experience of all the expansions so far, and the events are widely varied and well designed.  Occasionally someone gets kicked in the pants but usually there is a way to recover; and generally, if you pay attention to the upcoming event, you can plan accordingly.

I haven't seen any events that are stupid or pointlessly annoying, but they do upend strategies and force re-thinking each turn.  As such, this is recommended for experienced players - newbies might not see the implications of certain events right away and become frustrated.

I've said it once, and I'll say it again; Tales and Legends is a great expansion.  The low cost is a big draw, as this thing carries a big punch.  It doesn't turn Small World into a new game, but it does add an extra element of zaniness and fun.  If you only get 1 Small World expansion, this is the one to get.

Adds an excellent mechanism to Small World
Makes the game even more zany and exciting
Low cost
Lots of fun and unique events

It's not made of solid gold


  1. Thanks for your thoughts! This has been the one expansion to Small World that I've had an eye on - and indeed one of the very few expansions to ANY game I've considered. Zany, light, easy to incorporate, and adds a real and fresh twist to the standard gameplay - sounds fun! And I've seen it for $10. Hope it's still sitting around on a virtual shelf somewhere when I go to make my next bulk purchase... :-)

  2. Yeah if you get 1 Small World expansion, this is the one to get for sure.

  3. Each turn? Wow. I though something like this would have been each round. It doesn't feel like to much change on every turn?

  4. Sorry for the confusion... when I said "turn" I meant round. Just before the 1st player takes their turn each round is when the card is activated. Thanks for asking, I'll fix it in the post.


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