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The Decline: The Definitive Small World 2 Guide
By cazaron and 1 collaborators
Small World 2 is a conquest board game published by Days of Wonder. Each game is intense and different, and if you've decided you want to know more about it or become better, then this is the guide for you.
Hello and welcome to the Definitive Small World 2 Guide.
The world may not be big enough for all of us, but this guide's more than large enough to accomodate you all. The guide's a collaboration of the experiences of both of us, along with advice and other help from some of the best minds in the community.
I hope new players are able to read this guide and become interested in playing Small World. I hope older players are able to read this guide and get new things out of it. I hope veteran players are able to contribute from their enormous wealth of Small World knowledge.
But more importantly than all that, I hope you all enjoy, love and discuss Small World 2. Thank you all for stumbling onto this guide. Thank you all if you decide to contribute to the guide, and remember...
It's a world of Slaughter, after all!
Thanks, and happy reading to you all,
Cazaron and Leeroy
Small World: An Introduction
Small World is a conquest-driven fantasy board game designed by Philippe Keyaerts and published by Days of Wonder in 2009. It is a highly successful boardgame and thanks to Small World 2, made the transfer to a digital format with great success late in 2013.
Small World plays in a way similar to Risk, with the aim of taking and holding territories or regions being paramount to the gameplay. However, Small World differs from Risk in multiple key areas, this being the fantasy setting, the race+power combos and a turn limit, as opposed to complete conquest. While in Risk, to win, you have to conquer the entire world, in Small World, the winner is the player with the most Victory coins at the end of the turn limit.
Playing Small World
At the beginning of the game, various Race+Power combos are laid out on the side of the board. To begin the game, the first player chooses a combo, pays 1 Victory coin per combo they 'skip over' and takes the combo they selected to be their 'Active Race'. That player then begins conquest. The player is given a number of tokens of that race, totalling the numbers on their Power and on their Race tile. For instance, Goblins (6) and Merchant (2) would give you 8 Goblin tokens to begin conquest.
Conquests in Small World
On the board initially, there are Lost Tribe tokens and Mountain tokens. Later in the game, there will be other enemy troops placed in regions.
Initially, you will only be able to begin conquest through a region on any side of the board. After that, you may conquer any adjacent region that you have enough troops for.
In order to claim a region, you require 2 tokens plus one token for every 'thing' in a region. For instance: If there is a mountain in a region, you would need 3 tokens to conquer it. If there are 2 orcs and a mountain in a region, you would need 5 tokens to conquer it.
Special Powers modify conquests!
Some powers, such as Were- or Commando allow you to conquer regions with fewer tokens than normal. Simply read the description to understand what these powers do. Some powers let you do really tricky things, so read them carefully and use these powers while you're conquering regions.
Final Conquest On your last conquest (and only your last conquest) of a turn, if you do not have the required amount of troops to take a region, you may roll the reinforcement die (a die consisting of 3 blank sides, a 1, 2 and 3 respectively). If the die comes up with a number equal to or greater than the number of troops you would need to conquer a region, you may conquer it for the number of troop tokens you have left.
For instance: If I have 2 troops and I want to take a region with a Lost Tribe token in it, I would need 3 troops. If it is on my last turn and I roll a 1, 2 or 3, I can take that region for only 2 troop tokens.
Once a turn is finished, you may redeploy your troops, moving them around to other regions you control to either defend key areas, fortify weaker areas or to stack near threats.
After redeployment, scoring is done before proceeding to the next player.
Scoring works as follows:
1 Victory coin per region occupied by an active or declined race you own. 1 extra Victory coin per region that satisfies your Race or Power (if their power is to get coins) An extra amount of Victory coins may also be added depending on your power. For instance, on the first turn of a Wealthy race, they get +7 Victory coins, but they only get it once.
The next player(s) then repeat what the first player did, taking a race, performing conquests and redeploying, followed by scoring.
Subsequent turns and going into Decline
For every Region conquered by another player, one defending token is discarded and any remaining tokens are given back to the defending player for redeployment at the end of the attacker's turn.
Because of this, you may start to notice that you're running out of troops to attack with. It is at this stage that you will want to decline. To decline, at the start of your turn, flip over any active race tokens you have and reduce the number of tokens in each region to one token. Declining costs you a turn, but allows you to pick a new Active race on your next turn.
Note: You may only have one declined race at a time (unless you have the Spirit power). In the event of declining an active race while you already have a declined race on the board, you must remove all declined tokens from the board before declining your active race.
Players continue conquering, declining and choosing new active races until the turn limit has been reached, when final scoring occurs.
Final Scoring Players flip over their Victory coins and the player with the most coins is declared the winner!
Small World takes some getting used to early on, but once you understand what is happening and what you have to do, a whole new world of strategy opens up to you. Each game is different, thanks to the Race+Power combos, and each game is incredibly fun, but the world's just not big enough for all of you, so get out there and kick other people off your Small World!
Understanding The Map
The Map is a core element to the entire aim of Small World 2. If you're not familiar with the layout, and how different races work best, you're going to have a more difficult time than people who understand the map well.
It is not crucial that you memorise where every region is on the map, no, as you can determine this at any time by looking. Nothing is unknown in Small World (except scores, but even those are able to be publicly known if you pay close attention).
I'm going to use the 3-Player map for all examples in this section. Everything said here is transferrable to the 2, 4 and 5 player maps respectively (by ideas, not locations)
The 3-Player layout is below:
Let's break down the map:
Hills, Magic Source
HIll Power, Mounted Power, Fireball Power, Wizards Race
Swamp Power, Behemoth Power, Dwarves Race
Forest Power, Underworld Power, Shrubmen Race
Mounted Power, Human Race
Underworld Power, Giants Race
Seafaring Power, Aquatic Power
Reasons why each region is beneficial to each race/power is explained in the Races and Powers sections respectively.
The following points will be critical for your victory in Small World.
1) If you're playing defensively, less is more.
If you get a race such as the Trolls, and you want to hold onto your regions rather than going for the one-turn crush, you want to have a few regions with a lot in them.
Mountain + Troll's Lair + 2 Trolls = 6 Tokens required to take that region.
Very few opponents are likely to waste that many units on one space. If they are, they're foolish or have things planned. Fewer regions + More units = Less likely to lose troops.
2) Get your race power combo out there.
If you're running the Hill Humans, and you're sitting on Swamps and Forests, you're doing it wrong. Get your units onto the regions that benefit you most, and stack those regions high so they won't be lost.
This one might ruffle a few feathers: Not gambling with the die and redeploying early is often better in the long run as you lose fewer tokens, allowing you to be active for longer with no disadvantage.
3) Don't spread yourself thin.
While early game, there are fewer units on the board and you might be able to grab 2 extra regions right away, you'll spread yourself across a large area. This makes you more likely to lose troops, forcing a quicker decline. Opponents claim regions close to them that benefit them most, and if you're on both sides of the map, you're the target of two players instead of one, or even, zero.
4) Racial Power the critical spaces.
If you get Forest Halflings, use your holes-in-the-ground on the two forest spaces right down the bottom of the map. 4 coins per turn, guaranteed, just because you did that. Same goes for Heroic Humans, put your heroes on the Farms. Put your catapult where it's needed most. Use your powers to hold the critical regions.
5) Start away from people but close to your best regions.
If the Forest Halflings have the three forest regions on the bottom of the map, start your new active race up the top. There is no need for you to start a fight and lose troops, unless you're a race like the Orcs, or you have Commando, Were- or another fierce attacking power. Picking on people is great in Small World, but it always comes back around to you, so pick fights carefully.
6) Mountains are your bank account.
Putting troops on mountains is an investment for longevity. Fewer coins, but you eventuate in more troops, as they're attacked less or at a greater investment from your opponents. As a result, if you're trying to stay around, claim mountains as they let you survive just a few turns longer.
7) If you see a hole, go for it.
Declined races often clear off the board when another active race declines, leaving empty regions on the board. Claim them as quickly as you can (this happens frequently on the left hand side of the 3-Player map, where the 2 swamps are), but make sure you're not spreading yourself thin!
8) If there's nothing you like, get out.
Abandoning regions can be more useful than staying in them, as you can attack somewhere else, move your troops to a safer location or claim other very beneficial regions. Note that if you abandon regions you're likely to have a lower score that turn than your previous, so consider that an investment. If there's absolutely nothing you like in a turn, decline and plan for the next turn.
9) Don't expect morality.
If you don't attack someone else, that does not mean they won't attack you. Make sure you fortify your borders, at all costs. Forcing other players to spend more troops breaking into your midst is the best way of ensuring the lowest casualties. Fortify along any vulnerable regions and defend those that are most important to you. Losing a farm is better than losing a swamp for your Swamp Kobolds, so fortify in the way that protects your swamps best.
The regions are deliberately spread out, with some vital regions next to each other, ie, Hills in the southeast, forests in the south, swamps in the west. The reason for this is that powers that want bonuses from specific regions are almost forced to play for those areas. If you hold farm regions and someone else has humans, consider yourself a target. Be ready for a fight as they try to scrap with you for Victory Coins. A lot of opponents will often spread themselves thin trying to claim important regions, forgetting that they've left themselves really vulnerable. Punish that. Get their active race off the board quickly.
The Maps of Small World are made to force fights, force decisions and ultimately, to generate coins at the expense of others. Every turn, you're forced to attack races, defend against other races and plan for the best way to get coins. It may well be capitalism at its finest, but it's the only way to win when the world's not big enough for all of you.
The Races of Small World 2: Base Game
Here lies the compendium of all the Races in Small World 2. This section includes no Expansion races, only the Base Game.
Base Game Races
Four additional Amazon tokens may be used for conquest only, not for defense. So you start your initial turn with 6+4=10 Aamzon tokens (plus any additional ones you may get from the Special Power associated with your Amazons, depending on your combo).
At the end of each of your Troop Redeployments, you must remove 4 Amazon tokens from the map, by dragging and dropping them back onto your tokens area. Make sure to leave at least 1 Amazon in each region, if possible. These 4 tokens become availble again, for Attack only, at the start of your next turn.
Each Mine region your Dwarves occupy is worth 1 bonus Victory coin, at the end of your turn. This power is kept even when the Dwarves are in Decline.
When the enemy conquers one of your Regions, you keep all your Elf tokens for redeployment at the end of the current player's turn, rather than losing 1 Elf token.
Note: If an Elf is converted by a Sorcerer, the Elf does lose his token.
Your Ghoul tokens all stay on the map when going into Decline, instead of the usual 1 token per Region.
In addition, unlike other Races, once In Decline your Ghouls can continue to conquer new Regions in the following turns, playing exactly as if they were still Active tokens.
These conquests must be done at the start of your turn, before any conquest by your Active race. And you may attack your own currently Active race with your In Decline Ghouls, if you wish.
Your Giants may conquer any Region adjacent to a Mountain Region they occupy at a cost of 1 less Giant token than normal. A minimum of 1 Giant token is still required.
Your Halfling tokens may enter the map through any Region of the map, not just border ones. A Hole-in-the-Ground will be placed in each of the first 2 Regions you conquer, making them immune to enemy conquests as well as racial and special powers.
Your Holes-in-the-Ground are removed (and you lose the protection they confer) when your Halflings go into Decline, or when you choose to abandon a Region containing a Hole-in-the-Ground.
Each Farmland Region your Humans occupy is worth 1 bonus Victory coin, at the end of your turn.
Each non-empty Region your Orcs conquered this turn is worth 1 bonus Victory coin, at the end of your turn.
No Race benefit; their sheer number is enough!
During your Troop Redeployment, you receive 1 new Skeleton token for every 2 non-empty Regions you conquered this turn. It's automatically added to the troops you redeploy at the end of your turn.
The number of Skeletons is limited to 20 tokens.
Once per turn per opponent, your Sorcerers can conquer a Region by substituting one of your opponent's Active tokens with one of your own. To do so, simply drag-and-drop the Wand icon from your hand onto the token you want to replace with a new Sorcerer.
The token your Sorcerers replaces must be the only race token in its Region and that Region must be one your Sorcerers are able to conquer. A single Troll token with its Troll's Lair is considered alone; likewise for a Race token in a Fortress or on a Mountain; these markers provide no protection to a lone Race token.
Your number of Sorcerers is limited to 18. If there are no more tokens, then you cannot conquer a new Region in this way. If an Elf is converted by a Sorcerer, the Elf does lose his token.
Your Tritons may conquer all Coastal Regions (Those bordering a Sea or Lake) at a cost of 1 less Triton token than normal. A minimum of 1 Triton token is still required.
Place a Troll's Lair in each of the Regions you occupy.
The Troll's lair augments your region's defense by 1 and stays in the Region even after your Trolls go into Decline. The Troll's Lair disappears if you abandon the Region or when an enemy conquers it.
Each Magic Region your Wizards occupy is worth 1 bonus Victory coin, at the end of your turn.
The Races of Small World 2: Expansions
This section includes the list of Small World 2 Races present in each of the expansions.
You may conquer any In Decline Region at a cost of 1 less Goblin token than normal. A minimum of 1 token is still required.
You may never occupy (nor conquer) a Region with less than 2 Kobold tokens. When going In Decline however, keep a single token in each Region, as normal.
Grand Dames Races
1 Victory coin is placed in each Region that you abandon at the beginning of your turn. You cannot conquer these Regions again this turn, but you receive the coins they hold as a bonus at turn's end.
When they go In Decline, all your In-Decline Priestesses stack together to form a single "Ivory Tower" pile in one of the Regions they occupy, abandoning all other regions. Each turn, you score 1 bonus Victory coin for each Priestess in the Ivory Tower, in lieu of your usual In Decline scoring.
Beware: Your Ivory Tower may still be conquered like any other Region (with enough Race tokens or a Dragon)! If your Priestesses were Fortified, their Ivory Tower can be built atop a single Fortress.
Once In Decline, your White Ladies become immune to your opponent's conquests and racial and special powers!
Be Not Afraid! Races
Your Barbarians cannot redeploy their troops, at the end of each turn. If your final conquest attempt fails, the unused Barbarians remain off the board until the start of your next turn.
Each time a Homunculi Race combo is bypassed, in addition to a Victory coin, a Homunculus token is automatically added to the combo. These tokens are added to those normally received when the Homunculi combo is finally picked, along with any Victory coins.
During Redeployment, you may drag 1 Pot of Gold in each region your Leprechauns occupy (but never more than 1 per Region). Each Pot of Gold still present at the start of your next turn goes into your Victory stash and is worth 1 coin.
If an opponent conquers one of these regions before your next turn, he gets the Pot of Gold instead. Any remaining Pots of Gold can be reused during subsequent redeployments, until they're all gone.
During your Troop Redeployment, all of your Pixies, except one per region they occupy, leave the board. They remain off the board until the start of your next turn.
Each time you lose a Pygmy token, the reinforcement die is rolled and you receive as many new Pygmies as there are pips on the die (up the the maximum number of Pygmies available). Deploy them on the board at the end of the current player's turn.
Kickstarter Backer Races
During Troop Redeployment, collect 1 new Race token for each active region you conquered this turn. Your victims also receive 1 new Race token for each of their regions you conquered.
You collect all Race tokens (Lost Tribes and all Player's race tokens, including your own) lost in conquests. At the beginning of your turn, these collected tokens spawn new Igor tokens, at a rate of 1 new Igor per set of collected tokens equal to the number of players in your game.
In a 4 player game, 4 collected tokens spawn 1 new Igor token; in a 2 player game, they'd spawn 2 new Igors; in a 3 player game, they'd spawn 1 new Igor, with 1 collected token left for later use. And in a 5 player game, you'd still need to collect 1 more token before spawning an Igor.
All Forest regions occupied by Shrubmen become immune to opponents' conquests, racial and special powers, even when in Decline.
Special Powers of Small World 2: Base Game
This is the list of special powers from the base game of Small World 2.
Collect 2 bonus Victory coins at the end of each turn your race hasn't yet gone into Decline.
You may use the Reinforcement die before each of your conquests, rather than just the last one. Roll the die first; select the Region you wish to conquer; the number of Race tokens required to conquer this region will automatically adjust, based on your die roll.
If you do not have enough tokens left, this is your final conquest attempt for the turn. As usual, a minimum of 1 token is still required to attempt any conquest.
Deploy the 5 Encampment tokens in any of your Regions, during your Troop Redeployment phase. Each Encampment counts as 1 Race token toward the defense of the Region in which it is placed (thereby protecting a single Race token with an Encampment from the Sorcerer's Racial power.
Multiple Encampments may be placed in the same Region to obtain a higher defense bonus.
You may conquer any Region with 1 less Race token than normal. A minimum of 1 token is still required.
At the end of your turn, before you click on Done, you may select one opponent whose Active race you did not attack this turn and choose to make peace with them.
That player is now at peace with you and cannot attack your active race during their turn. You may make peace with a different opponent each turn, or stay at peace with the same one.
Tokens in Decline are not impacted (so Ghouls in Decline are immune to this power and may still attack you)
Once per turn, you may conquer a Region using a single Race token, regardless of the number of enemy tokens defending it. To do so, simply drag-and-drop the Dragon from your hand onto the region you want to conquer. The conquered Region is now immune to enemy conquests and the their racial and special powers until your Dragon moves.
During each new turn, you may move your Dragon to a different Region you wish to conquer. Your Dragon disappears when you go into Decline.
You may conquer any Region of the map except Seas and Lakes. These Regions do not need to be adjacent or contiguous to ones you already occupy.
Collect 1 bonus Victory coin for each Forest Region you occupy at turn's end.
Once per turn, as long as your Fortified Race is active, you may place 1 Fortress in a Region you occupy. The Fortress is worth 1 bonus Victory coin at turn's end, unless you are In Decline. The Fortress also augments your Region's defense by 1, even if you are In Decline. The Fortress goes back in your hand if you abandon the Region or when an enemy conquers it. There can only ever be a maximum of 1 Fortress per Region and a maximum of 6 Fortresses on the map.
At the end of your turn, place each of your 2 Heroes in 2 different Regions you occupy. These 2 Regions are now immune to enemy conquests and to their racial and special powers, until your Heroes move.
The Heroes disappear when you go into Decline.
Collect 1 bonus Victory coin for each HIll Region you occupy at turn's end.
Collect 1 bonus Victory coin for any Region you occupy at turn's end.
You may conquer any Hill or Farmland Region with 1 less Race token than normal. A minimum of 1 token is still required.
Each non-empty Region you conquer this turn is worth 1 bonus Victory coin at turn's end.
As long as your Seafaring race is active, you may conquer the Seas and the Lake, considering them as 3 empty Regions.
You keep these Regions even once you go into Decline, and continue scoring for them for as long as you have tokens there.
Only Seafaring races may occupy the Seas and the Lake.
When the Race tokens associated with your Spirit Special Power go into Decline, they never count toward the limit regarding having a single In Decline race on the map at any given time.
You may thus end up with two different races In Decline on the map at the same time and score for them both. If a third race you control goes into Decline, your Spirits remain on the board, although the other race already In Decline disappears, as normal.
In other words, your In Decline Spirits never leave the map (except when taking losses from opponents' conquests), though other races sent In Decline may go away when a new race goes into Decline
You may go In Decline at the end of a regular turn of conquests, after scoring, instead of spending an entire turn going into Decline.
Collect 1 bonus Victory coin for each Swamp Region you occupy at turn's end.
You may conquer any Region with a Cavern with 1 less Race token than normal. A minimum of 1 token is still required. All Regions with a Cavern are also considered adjacent to each other for your conquest purposes.
Collect 7 bonus Victory coins, once only, at the end of your first turn.
Special Powers of Small World 2: Expansions
You must pay 3 Victory coins, not 1, to skip the Race that is Cursed when selecting a Race and Special Power combo. Cursed gives no additional Special Power.
You may use your 2 Hordes of tokens exactly as if they were additional active Race tokens of your own Race. They disappear when you go in Decline, however.
When the Marauder appears floating over your troops, excess troops from your first wave of conquests automatically go back in your hand, letting you play through a second wave of conquests - before your final conquest attempt, if any.
Each time you successfully conquer a Region containing an opponent's active Race token, you immediately receive 1 Victory coin from that player's Coins stash (unless they have no coins left).
You cannot ransack In-Decline Ghouls.
Each night (even numbered game turn), you may conquer all Regions with 2 less Race tokens than normal. A minimum of 1 token is still required.
Your Special Power has no effect during the day (odd numbered game turn).
Grand Dames Powers
Collect 1 bonus Victory coin for each Race in Decline at the time you select the Historians. While you're active, collect 1 bonus Victory coin each time another Race goes in Decline, and 1 final bonus coin when your own Historians go in Decline!
Collect 3 bonus Victory coins at the end of each turn during which you attacked no active Race.
You have no love for In Decline Ghouls though, and may attack them without forfeiting your Peace-Loving bonus.
Be Not Afraid! Powers
Collect 3 bonus coins each time your Barricade troops occupy 4 regions or less at the end of your turn.
Once per turn, you may place the Catapult in a region you occupy to conquer any region that is 1 region away (but not adjacent) at 1 less token than usual. The Catapult may be used to attack a region beyond the Lake, but not over Seas.
The region with the Catapult is immune to enemy conquests as well as their racial and special powers. The Catapult disappears when you go into Decline.
Collect 1 bonus coin from any opponent each time they successfullly conquer one of your active regions.
For each Region in excess of 3 which your Imperial troops occupy at the end of your turn, collect 1 bonus coin. (ie, if your Imperial troops occupy 5 regions at turn's end, you receive 2 bonus coins.)
Each time you conquer a region, you may spend 1 Victory coin to reduce the number of tokens you need to conquer the region by 2 tokens. To do so, simply drag-and-drop the sword icon from your hand onto the region you wish to conquer.
If you use Mercenary during your final conquest attempt, you may decide to do so after you roll your reinforcement die. A minimum of 1 token is still required to occupy the region.
Kickstarter Backer Powers
Collect 1 bonus Victory coin for each Coastal Region you occupy. Each non-Coastal region brings 1 less Victory coin than usual.
Your 2 Behemoths behave like stacks of tokens matching the number of Swamp regions you occupy, for attack AND for defense. The number of tokens in each Behemoth is adjusted each time you capture or lose a Swamp region.
A Behemoth must always be accompanied by at least one Race token. If the region it occupies is conquered, only the accompanying Race token is lost; redeploy your Behemoth at the end of your attacker's turn, as normal.
At the end of your turn, you receive 1 Fireball marker for each Magic Source you occupy. The Fireballs count as 2 Race tokens but may only be used during an attack in one of your following turns. They are discarded once used.
Several Fireballs may be used to conquer a single Region. You still need a minimum of 1 Race token to occupy the Region.
General Strategies: How to Play Different
Playing Small World isn't an easy task, as it requires not only strong knowledge of the races and powers, but how to best use them and when to select them. On top of that, board management and troop deployment makes each turn potentially daunting, but here are some general strategies for Small World that hopefully make things easier for you.
Let's begin, shall we?
1) Play your game.
You cannot improve at Small World unless you're playing what you want to play. Picking races 'because they're there' will almost always result in worse turns than picking races you want to pick. Take the regions you want to take, decline when you want to decline, and you'll find that you'll improve over time, and the decisions you make will become stronger.
2) Be attentive to the board.
This one's hard to pick up immediately, but over the course of games, you'll need to notice little things. If opposing troops need farm spaces and you would only get one or two units on said farms, it's probably better to leave the farms for them so you lose fewer troops. If opponents spread themselves over a large area and you notice that, you can force them to lose a lot of units by attacking them across the map. The more attention you pay to the map, the more informed your choices will be.
3) Pay general notice to the coin stash.
Some people will hate this, and I'm not saying have an idetic memory of what the scores are, but you need to know who's winning at what stage of the game to be best at Small World. If someone's scoring 15 points a turn and they're in the lead, you absolutely must attack them to force a decline. If someone's in last place and not producing enough to threaten you, leave them be and play the aggressor on someone who is a threat. By knowing the scores roughly, you can plan your next attack, who you need to defend against and what the best way of doing that is.
4) Press the Limits without breaking them.
Amazons start with 10 tokens plus their power's tokens. This gives you a possible 5 regions + at least 1 region from your power. If you can avoid stretching yourself thin over the board, you can claim critical regions and score a lot of points with those 5+ regions. You can use your 4 Amazons for attacking other races if you want, as they're coming back to your hand anyway. You need to know the limits of your races. The Dwarves have 3 tokens. The Pixies are only allowed one token per region. The Leprechauns can end up giving other races their Pots of Gold. You cannot afford to overextend with your races, as it will be punished, and your decline may come turns before you wanted it to.
5) Get out the second you see a problem.
If you're going to find that you're going to have 3 tokens left at the beginning of your next turn, while only scoring 5 coins, your head is probably shouting 'I should decline sometime soon.' Back that impulse. If there's going to be an issue that will affect your score negatively, decline, take the big coin hit and get a new Active race. If your Active race + Declined race is scoring 11+ points per turn and it's not being affected, consider not declining for the rest of the game, but as soon as there's a problem, get out. Decline, take the hit and get a new Active race.
6) Be careful with how many coins you throw away.
Races that aren't on top of the pile cost extra Victory coins. Don't throw away 5 Victory coins to get the really strong power on the bottom of the pile unless you're SURE you can make the coins back with that combo. Your Merchant Pixies may look appealing at first, but if you only end up getting 8 coins, spending 5 for it means you only technically gained 3 coins, which isn't very good. Make sure that the investment will pay off, if not immediately, very soon.
7) You will lose.
It is impossible to win every game, and you'll find situations where you can't win. Sometimes, going first with certain race combos behind you is the reason you'll lose. Sometimes it's bad play. The sooner you understand that you're going to lose, the better; as it forces you to learn how you lost and you'll examine your game to see if there was anything you could do better. Don't just ragequit, it's pointless and you gain nothing from it. Instead, learn what you did right, learn what you did wrong and learn what you need to do in future.
8) Attack with Attackers, Defend with Defenders
Commando, Were-, Berserk, Marauding, Mercenary, Mounted, Pillaging are all offensive powers. It's super critical that you don't waste turns with these powers and rather, you attack units to get the largest benefit. The beauty of Were- is that on an even turn, you can conquer Active races in one big rush, forcing a decline due to all the lost troops. If you can force someone else to decline thanks to one of your attacking races, then it's a victory for you on that turn. Inversely, Barricade, Bivouacking, Diplomat, Fortified, Heroic, Merchant, Peace Loving are all defensive powers. If you're going on a rampage with these powers, you're going to end up spreading yourself out over the map, which will mean your units will not last.
9) Make yourself unattackable while exploiting other that aren't.
This is the hardest to do, as you don't have 300 units per turn. The aim is to minimise casualties, while inflicting the highest number. Elves are perfect for this, as you don't lose them if they're attacked. Good redeployment is useful for survival, but to be most effective, you need to combine good defense with wise and powerful attacking. Pick opponents weak points and defend yourself so that you don't have any.
10) React to change.
If your opponents change their Active race, change their position on the board or start changing who they're attacking or where they choose to attack, you absolutely have to react to that. If the incoming attack is too much of a threat, decline, get a new Active race and start over. If your opponents decide to attack you and you can trade with them at no relative cost, trade with them on your turn. It is super important that you understand what's happening and how you can deal with it. If you find that you can't, get out quickly.
Two Man Power Trip: The Best Race-Power Combinations
Hey guys, my name is Leeroy. I'm not a prolific or well-known Small World 2 player, but that doesn't detract from my knowledge of the game. Much like any other strategic game, like my board game of expertise 'Ticket to Ride', you'll need to know the best combinations if you want the best chance of winning. Not to say that some combinations are terrible, but some are just more effective in the overall game than just particular sections. Before I start rambling on about some other crap, I'll get right into what I think are the best Race-Power combinations in Small World 2. (Note: These combinations feature races and powers from both the race game and all of the available DLC, minus the Kickstarter bonus. If you are unfamiliar with any of these races/powers, please read the sections of Races and Powers to learn more about them)
(I like to structure this like a staircase of headings, starting from Good combinations to the Amazing combinations)
STAGE 1: Not Amazing, But Certainly Not Bad
1. Flying Giants Great MS Paint skills by me This combination can pretty much set up a whole game of map control, or hinder your progress rather than help you. Normally, these will provide a world of good, as other opponents will HAVE to target you if their race is not going to expand rapidly. However, if they are, you'll have to be careful. The point of this race is to take mountains all over the map through the Flying power (which allows you to conquer any tile on the map, eliminating the restriction of only taking tiles next to an already-conquered one) and then, on the next turn, take the neighbouring territories for a cheapie. And if these regions are empty, these will only cost you one Giant unit. There is good news here: since mountain regions need 3 units to conquer it, and since you start with 11 units, the next turn you have will provide you with about 8 Giants! If there are In-Decline or empty tiles, you can go on a rampage and take lots of tiles on any side of the map, since the Giants have the bonus of using one less race token to take neighbouring tiles to occupied mountain tiles.
2. Heroic Dwarves You're going to notice a lot of bad MS Paint in here. Just be prepared This power-race combination is one of the most underrated combinations in the game. Dwarves have the special ability of gaining one point from every mine region they occupy, and the best thing about that is they get to KEEP GETTING IT IN DECLINE. So the whole point of this race is: get your Dwarves to the mine regions as quickly as possible, and place a Hero in those regions. The Hero is unique to the Heroic power: every turn, you can place up to a maximum of two heroes in any two territories, and they become immune to being conquered. If you time it right, you can gain a minumum of 4 Victory Coins a turn every turn while active, and they still gain that minimum every turn while In Decline. And this frees up your other race as well: they have to choose between your active race or the Scrooge-like Dwarves, and most of the time they will choose the Dwarves. So, while only being limited with 8 units to start off with, they can make a world of impact for the rest of the game.
STAGE 2: Amazing Early, But Not So Great Later On
3. Hordes Of Ratmen Enough to give you nightmares This one's fairly easy to figure out. You start off with 13 units. Ratmen provide no bonus, and Hordes Of provides the ability to add two tokens to a conquest. However, if you do use these Hordes Of tokens, you need to have at least one of your race tokens occupy the region. You need to get this early, and you can just go crazy. You can reach one side to another in basically one turn, and you can conquer almost half a board (in 2-3 player mode) in the next turn. However, this has major drawbacks: later on in the game, races like the Amazons, or anything with Pillaging/Commando can make mince meat of your army and get rewarded for it, so this is mainly for gaining board control and declining quickly.
4. Seafaring Tritons Arr... me hearties! Free coins for all of ye! These buggers are hard to counter, meaning picking them up first could mean the difference between winning a game, and losing it. Seafring ensures you have at least one tile that will generate you coins until they are replaced by another in decline race of yours. You want to get this race early, as this combo works very well for setting up map positioning. With the Tritons, you get to conquer tiles adjacent to a sea/lake tile for one less token than usual, and with Seafaring you are able to take sea/lake tiles (no other combination can), so if you can find a sea/lake tile, you can occupy it and then expand quickly due to the Triton's special power. This doesn't scale well into the game however, as you'll find that on normal land most other combinations will outscore you, but in any version of the map, you can control the middle of the map that divides both sides. This will help you early on, as you can fortify this region and force the remainding players to decide which side to occupy. When you see what they decide, quickly occupy as much as you can, go In Decline, and pick another race and sweep through anyone you choose with another powerful race.
STAGE 3: Amazing Mid-Game, But Not So Great Otherwise
5. Dragon Master Trolls Just what we needed, flying, fire-breathing massive thingies of doom My gawd, fear these guys.The jist with this combination is that you take some territories that you want, and place down some Troll's Lairs in each of these territories. The reason why they are so great mid game is because of three reasons: a) The Lairs give you +1 defense, so when units attack it, consider the lair as an additional unit in the tile, so the attacking team will need one more unit to take the territory. b) These Lairs give you the +1 defense in every territory, and still apply when you go In Decline (WTF!!!). c) Dragon Master destroys any hard-to-take tiles on the board. So, what you do with this combination is take whatever you want, go In Decline 1 or 2 turns later, take a populated/high unit race, and take the other side. The trolls are great road blocks for any player to counter, so usually they will leave them alone. This allows you to zerg rush them (for those who haven't played Starcraft, this means to attack the other players with a plethora of units) and gain coins from both the active and Declined race.
6. Diplomat White Ladies That thing in her hand is supposed to be a scroll... This seems like an odd combination, but holy crap does this work wonders. First off, you only have 7 units, so you won't be collecting many coins, so it is best to do this mid-game. Secondly, if you don't attack an active race, odds are you won't be losing ANY of these units EVER. As we all know, Diplomat's powers peter off as the number of players on the board increases, so this is really amazing in 2-3 player games, and also amazing in 4-5 player games if you're absolutely sure that your units won't attack. The entire aim of this combination is to get 2-3 tiles and decline, because for the rest of the game, those tiles are yours and no-one elses. It helps amazingly with map control, meaning you can stick either side of it and not be scared of being flanked by anyone. Combine this with a safe defensive race like Leprechauns or Trolls/Kobolds and you could soon be rolling in the Victory Coins.
It Takes Two To Tango: More Of The Best Race-Power Combinations
Don't worry folks, I wouldn't leave you hanging after pouring the character limit's worth of stuff in the previous section, because we still need more horrendous MS Paint! For those who skipped the last part and somehow decided they wanted to read the section entitled "More [..] Race-Power Combinations" over the previous section, my name's Leeroy, and I'm here to tell you about killer Race-Power Wombo Combos that can turn the tide of the game.
(For those who want to know the other combinations I talked about, the previous section dealt with combinations that were: 1) Good Overall, but not Great 2) Amazing Early Game, but not much else 3) Amazing Mid Game, but not much else So go check it out if you haven't already!)
STAGE 4: Amazing Late, But Not Great Any Other Time
7. Wealthy Leprechauns Moneymoneymoneymoneymoneymoneymoney This great combination is insanely powerful if you have secure map control. For one turn, you're almost guaranteed 15 Victory Coins. This race gives you 10 units to work with, so what you need to is either take 5 tiles, or take 4 tiles and build the defense around potential weak points. You'll want to have at least 2 Leprechauns on a tile, unless you're absolutely sure that the tile will not be taken, since the Leprechaun's power lives on defense. With the Leprechaun race, they are allowed to place a Pot of Gold on any of their active tiles, and if the tiles go through an entire round without being taken (i.e. when it reaches your turn), you get a Victory Coin for every tile you kept that had a Pot of Gold in it. However, this isn't all safe: if the enemy takes a tile with a Pot Of Gold on it, they get the Victory Coin instead, so it has to be safe from conquests (however, I trust you to determine when it wll be safe). Combine this with Wealthy, which gives you 7 Victory Coins on your first turn of play, and you could be a very rich man indeed. Designed for late game since Wealthy only works on your first turn, and Leprechauns aren't safe forever.
8. Corrupt Pixies Hohoho... the corrupt call of the most corrupt man ever: Santa You could make a case that this works better in the mid game, but most people are still trying to vie for one side of the map at that stage, so you will have to go through large armies and tough defenses. This combination is insane in the late game because you only have one Pixie on the board at one time, so if they decide to conquer the, your special power of Corrupt comes into play. Corrupt gives you 1 Victory Coin for each tile of yours that has been conquered, so they have to think twice about attacking you, and if they don't, you still have those tiles. And Pixies in general are strong (and will be mentioned in the next section), so you'll always have forces in hand to just take the tiles back and repeat. An underrated combination if only because Pixies are stronger with other combinations like...
STAGE 5: Amazing In General
9. Merchant Pixies The Pixies of Venice Oh geez, I've felt the many symptoms of ragequit syndrome in my time when I've encountered this ultimate WTF combo. Basically, whenever you see this race, pick it up. It gives you 13 units total, and the added bonus of Merchant being utterly broken with large armies means you're farming points my good man. Merchant's special power gives you +1 Victory Coin for how many regions you have control of that turn. So, having 5 tiles will give you 10 coins, 6 tiles will give you 12 etc etc. Pixies, however, withdraw all the additional pixies on a tile and place them in your unit pile, as there can never be more than one Pixie on a tile you own. This is bad for defense, but great for attacking. And with Merchant, attack is almost always better than defense, especially in this case.
10. Were Amazons They're climbin' in your tiles, snatching your victory up... Total Units in first turn: 14. On an even turn (or night turn), they can use 2 less units to conquer tiles. You've garrisoned a tile with only one unit? They take it with 1 unit. You've picked Leprechauns? Goodbye Pot Of Golds. You had map control? Not today! This race is determined to ruin everything you have, take everything you love, and sit there with a stupid grin on it's face. Were with any large army is broken, but with Amazons it's incredibly and stupendously broken. Not to say it can't be countered, but it's freaking hard to!
11. Commando Orcs Gruesome. But just wait until you see what they have in store for dinner... The total unit count for this race isn't much: at 9, it's scarce. You have to make good use with it. However, it's a great combination because Commando does more with less, as it reduces the amount of units needed to conquer a tile by 1. No restrictions, no turn requirements, none of that. Any garrisoned tile is almost guaranteed to be conquered, and that falls straight into the filthy Orc hands, as their special ability is that they gain 1 Victory Coin for every non-empty tile that they conquer that turn. In Decline, Lost Tribe, Active, doesn't matter. If you only have one garrisoned unit in a tile, the Orc will take it with only 2 needed (bar you being on a mountain, which will require 3), which means the Orcs can get up to 10 Victory Points on their first turn. It's not great for clearing off empty spaces of land, but it's great for punishing the enemies who lightly garrison their tiles. Like those Merchant Pixies for example. Great pocket combo that can turn games in one turn.
This will be my last one, guys. Sometimes, there's just too much to talk about, and this game is one of them. 12. Imperial Kobolds The guy on the far left won't have good time... Imperial is similar to Merchant, but with a slight change in the requirements, as you need to conquer at least 4 territories before you start earning Victory Coins. When you reach 4 territories, you get an extra 1 Victory Coin; if you have 5, you get 2 Victory Coins, if you have 6, that's 3 Victory Coins, and so on. Kobolds have a CRAPTONNE of units: 11. Combine that with Imperial? 15. 15 units on the first turn? That's an old-style whupping. However, Kobolds require at least 2 units in a tile at one time, so that will limit how far you expand. But with great rolls, you can conquer up to 8 tiles and gain 5 extra Victory Coins a turn from that, and you keep a great defense to boot. Merchant Kobolds are a similarly great power, but the Imperial power gives you 2 extra Kobolds to work with, which gives you an extra territory to work with. This is great for farming gold, solidifying map control, and declining with a lot of tiles at hand.
So, that's 12 of the best Race-Power Combinations in the game, in my opinion. I've had great success with all of these, but this doesn't mean they can't be beaten at all: it just means they have less weaknesses, and a higher upside, than some of the other combinations. How this list is perceived will depend on your play style, and I'm totally up for you guys to find and harness some more amazing combinations in-game.
Have a nice day, and raise that damn ELO. Leeroy.
Going into Decline: How to make the most out of the least
Declining is easily the most difficult part of Small World 2, and certainly the most interesting part, from an intellectual point. What Declining effectively does is heralds the imminent destruction of your Active race and harks the coming of your new empire.
You may only decline at the beginning of your turn, before any conquests, unless you are Stout, in which case, you may decline at the end of a turn, if you wish. To decline, click the orange Broken Pillar button near your unit cards. Your units will flip over, you will be scored for that round, leaving you to, next turn, take a new Active race.
New Active Race. It's that simple. If your old race has outlived its utility or overstayed its welcome, you need to get a new Active race to continue scoring points. However, Declining is a risk, and that's why you need to carefully consider when you decline.
What are the Risks?
- Previously Declined races you own are removed on Declining your Active race, with the exception of Spirit power. This causes you to score low in the event of you declining, along with leaving completely empty regions on the board for other races to take. - All troops bar 1 are removed from each region you own, with the exception of the Ghouls. This means that your regions aren't defended well, and you're likely to lose them later. - If there are no good race combos to choose in the pool, your Decline will be painful at best. Not only are you losing control of your Active race, you're gaining a combo that isn't particularly strong, or you're spending a lot of coins to get a good one. - You cannot control your Declined race, unless that race is the Ghouls.
Declining gives your opponents regions to attack, fewer defenses to worry about and security for that turn, but it comes at a price for them. After they've spread out claiming regions, you come in, ready to go with a brand new Active Race.
Pick the race that's best for the situation. The cheaper cost, the better, but claim the bottom race if you can determine it will pay itself off.
When should I Decline?
- When the threat of staying is too high. - When you're not scoring points, or won't score many points next turn. - When you have too few units left to conquer with. - When you have almost every unit you have out on the board. - Second last turn.
The general idea of Declining is that you want to decline for the highest points possible. If you have 8 regions owned by your active race, decline. The reason for this is that you'll score 8 coins this turn, and then 8 (if they all remain) + however many you get from your new active race.
If you don't have many units out on the board and you're being attacked, declining is a good idea, because your score is low, and the longer you hang around, the lower your score will remain. If you see an issue, get out quickly. It's been said a few times, and it's very important.
If it's the second last turn, unless you're going to score enough points to help you win the game by staying around, decline, just so you can use the final turn to launch attacks with a new Active race.
Keep in mind that it is sometimes better not to decline, even if these conditions are true. For instance, if you have 8 regions with your active Merchant Pixies, declining may be a bad idea, as you cut your total scoring output from 16 to 8.
Declining isn't easy to understand, and you will decline badly many times, but the more you do it, the more you will understand about the subtleties of when to decline, and more importantly, why.
Play Different: Why 2 Player Duels are Different to 5 Player Battles
Because of both the player numbers and the board layout, 2 Player duels are vastly different to 5 Player battles. The mechanics of the game are exactly the same, and yet, every game feels radically different from each other.
2 Player games are heavy on crippling the opponent, winning not by scoring high yourself, but by forcing a low score out of your opposition. 5 Player games, on the other hand, are won by keeping out of trouble, slowly but surely maximising your opportunities and scoring high over time.
While you technically have a higher possible score output on 2 Player games, the general cutthroat premise of these duels leads to low scores for one or often both players. You tend to attack a lot, leading high values towards race+power combos that attack well, but one key power that does a lot of work in 2 player is Diplomat. You can make the game very stale with Diplomat, and a lot of people think it's 'broken', but it is a high valued power if you can pick it up.
In 5 player games, powers that are able to stay around tend to work best. High scoring depends on a large declined race and a strategically placed active one, so survival is paramount to winning larger games.
Forcing other races to decline is the key to winning smaller games, while avoiding the need to decline is key to larger games.
Even though Small World is fundamentally the same, you will have to adapt to different strategies to win different games. If a 5-Player style isn't your speed, try a 2-Player and see if that is. The beauty of Small World is that you can play it in all different ways, and due to the random combos that come out each game, it has tremendous replay value.
Online Multiplayer: The World's Not as Small as You Think
A board game that goes digital should surely have an engaging and addictive online multiplayer, and that's exactly what Small World 2 has. Following the footsteps set by it's spiritual predecessor Ticket to Ride, the online multiplayer concept is the core part to the game's longevity and replayability. There are two ways to play online in Small World 2, and I will detail what each one means:
1. Online Quick Play After clicking 'Play' at the main screen, to the right of the screen should be a button detailed 'Online Quick Play'. Clicking on this should lead you to a screen of an hourglass with a rabbit running on the bottom of it, and a rabbit upside down reading a book on the top of it. When you reach this screen, you can do two things:
Click on the circle button to the bottom right of the hourglass: this will allow you to choose what DLC you want to play with, and also how many people you want to be playing in the map (so, if you want a 2 player map, click 2; if you want a 3 player map, click 3, etc etc)
Click 'Play' when you are sure that your criteria is what you want
After clicking play, between a couple seconds and a few minutes, the DoW online system will find you a match with other people searching with similar criteria. From then, you make sure you do whatever it takes to win.
2. Online with Buddies After clicking the self-named button below the 'Online Quick Play' button, you should be sent to a screen in which half of it has your buddies list, and the other half has your profile and a bunch of DLC above it that you need to choose if you want to play the game with those DLC (again, provided you have them). In this mode, you can invite players that you have on your DoW buddies list, or, if you click on 'Manage my Buddies', you can invite other players to become buddies by searching their name and adding them. From there, you can invite any of your buddies to a game, playing with familiar faces instead of strangers once you hit the 'Play' button. Note: if you go into Advanced Options, you can alter the match conditions, which include Automatic Redeployment, whether or not the game is Ranked (i.e. count towards your online score), and how long is needed before turns expire.
Now go out there and beat some strangers, or even your closest friends. Maybe you'll make a few other friends along the way.
Race Combos: The FAQs
With Berserk, can I roll before deciding whether I want to decline? If I decide not to roll the dice, why does it put me in decline?
No. If you decide not to roll the dice, what that is saying is that you do not wish to use your berserker power. In that case, you decline your berserkers.
If I have Amazons on the board and getting 4 back to my hand causes me to forfeit a region, may I keep that region?
No. You must return at least 4 Amazons to your hand during your redeployment stage. If this causes you to lose a region, then you must do so.
If I have the Berserk Sorcerers, am I allowed to roll, dislike the roll, use my Sorcerer power instead and reroll the die afterewards?
Yes. As the Sorcerer Flip is an action, you are allowed to roll again after using that power. (This presumes, of course, that you were able to legally use the power at the time)
Outroduction to the Guide
On behalf of the both of us, I'd like to wish you all a massive thank you for reading our Small World 2 Guide. It's a pleasure to have written it for the benefit of the community, most importantly any new players finding Days of Wonder's brilliant Small World 2.
We hope you found it easy to sort through our masses of content, but the sheer wealth of information about this game is a testament to the depth of this 'simple' strategy game. Both of us underwent heavy playtesting during the writing process, discussing strategies, combos and ideas that we could put forward to the guide. It may not cover everything there is in the game, but we discussed absolutely everything we thought best to tell you.
If you have anything at all you wish to add to the guide, simply send us a message via Steam and we'll add what we can and hopefully give credit where it's due.
The world may be too small for all of us, but may this guide- in all its mammoth quantity- be enough to sustain all players, great and small.
Thank you all, and to all, a good fight! Leeroy, and Cazaron.