March 20, 2017

Game Profiles of Small World and Mystery of the Abbey

Not Your Parents’ Board Games
By David Means

Small World
Small World is an area-control game. Players vie for conquest and control of a world that is simply too small to accommodate them all. SmallWorld is inhabited by a zany cast of characters such as dwarves, wizards, amazons, giants, orcs, and even humans, who use their troops to occupy territory and conquer adjacent lands in order to push the other races off the face of the earth.

The base game has 14 different fantasy races and 20 unique special powers, which are randomly paired each game. Players use their special abilities to expand their empires -- often at the expense of weaker neighbors. Yet they must also know when to push their own over-extended civilization into decline and ride a new one to victory.

Each race has a set number of population markers which players use to conquer adjacent territories. Once those markers are used up, you give up on your race, letting it go “into decline.” At the end of your turn, you score one point (coin) for each territory your races occupy.

Small World is one of the few games that has a double-sided board; the number of players determines which side of the board is used. There are also two variants and nine expansions, each of which adds three to five new races and an equal number of new powers.

You might like this tutorial:

Mystery of the Abbey 
Mystery of the Abbey is a whodunit game with a twist. If you are a fan of the Brother Cadfael books by Ellis Peters, the PBS series, or the book and/or movie The Name of the Rose, you would probably enjoy Mystery of the Abbey.

The premise is that someone has pushed poor Brother Adelmo off the roof of the abbey onto the rocks far below. You are one of several monks tasked by the Abbott with finding out who the murderer is. 

The suspects are twenty-four monks of three different orders (Templar, Franciscan, Benedictine), and are either fat or thin, tall or short, bearded or clean-shaven, and hooded or not. 

By examining the suspect cards in the other players’ hands you need to deduce who the culprit is by process of elimination (the actual suspect card is placed under the board before play, like Clue). The game is a combination of the mechanics of Clue and Who Am I?

The game's publisher, Days of Wonder, has provided a short video overview:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR AND SERIES: In January 2016, KaCSFFS member and notable board game collector David Means gave a presentation to the club about his collection. It was so interesting, I asked for permission to reprint it as a series of posts on this blog. He graciously agreed, and supplied me with his script. I have divided it into several posts and added the illustrations, hyperlinks, embedded videos, etc. as seemed appropriate. --Jan S. Gephardt 

IMAGES: Many thanks to Board Game Geek for the photo of the Small World game cover and the photo of game pieces, to Amazon for the photo of the Small World game board with some of the pieces, and to Clever Move Quick Play for the three-minute tutorial. Many thanks to Board Game Family for the photo of the Mystery of the Abbey cover, to Thirsty Meeples for the photo of the board and some of the pieces, and to Days of Wonder for the short introduction to the game.

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