Most games give you some clue as what they’re about. Diplomacy, Civilization, Merchants and Marauders. Small World not so much.
Small World is a popular cartoony remake of the game Vinci which sees you and up to four chums raising and spreading out their mix and match empires across the board. Scoring points each turn for how much territory they control, getting overrun, declining and restarting with a different mixes, like slow flashes and retinal after images.
Players start by picking a race and an ability from a random spread. So it might be flying dwarfs, hill vampires or heroic ratmen. You then start with a predetermined stack of dudes and spread them out over the map, a conquering as you go. It’s like pouring out Minecraft water and your guys gets slowed down by mountains and other empires. Different abilities negate terrain or increases scoring if you control different terrain types, help you defend, help you attack and so on. There’s variety in there and although it’s not completely balanced (I’m looking at you trolls) it’s fun and it could be anyone’s game when it starts. Games tend to be close and it’s easy for new gamers to pick up the rules
Games are quick both in setup and execution. The rules are simple and younger gamers will love the art and theme. (Personally I preferred the more somber and real life Vinci) There’s a ton of variety in here. A dozen or so races and around twenty abilities sees wild and wonderful combos. There’s also several mini expansions that add a bit more variety and a few extra rules.
All in all, it’s a fine game that sits comfortably beside peers like Ticket to Ride, Power Grid or Carcassonne. I particularly recommend it for older children and various types of big kids.