Ian's Movie Reviews
Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff

Small World – Cursed!: A Nasty Bit of Fun

Board game expansions are tricky. The whole point of them is to add new freshness to the game and give a richer experience. However, if this ends up changing the game too much, the original experience of the game can seem muddied and enthusiasm can quickly be drenched. Yet some games seem to be tailor-made for expansions, and Small World is one of those games.
Small World’s race and power combinations are one of the biggest draws the the game and the game publishers ingeniously chose to build upon this aspect for its expansions. Why is this such a good idea? Because adding new races and powers is a great way to keep the game fresh and add new possibilities without muddying the game. It is also a great resource to tap into, since there doesn’t necessarily have to be any limit to the amount of races and powers in the game.
The cool thing about the first expansions is that the race and power ideas were actually suggested by fans of the game rather than the designer. What a great way to build on your fan following! I was actually playing this one night with a friend of mine who recognized the name of one of the fans who contributed, as he was a part of his other gaming group. Neat!
Anyways, onto the actual Cursed expansion. Cursed is a small add-on which adds two new races, Goblins and Kobolds, and five new powers. There’s not a lot here but its just enough to add a little extra hot-and-spicy flavour to boost interest. Cursed seems to inject more aggressiveness into the game which heightens the alertness and emotions of the players which creates more competitiveness and interaction. Excellent….

Additions

Cursed adds two new elements to the game, new races and new powers. The two new races are goblins and kobolds, nasty little critters which can cause a lot of trouble. The goblins can be used to easily attack in decline races, creating a “no one’s safe” attitude to the game. The kobolds gather a lot of buzz simply because of their pure numbers. They come with 11 armies plus the extra armies from whatever power they are joined with. That’s pretty huge and it seems like they would be a devastating race. However, they come with a restriction that they can never have one army alone in a region, which reduces their power quite a lot. Don’t believe rumours of the kobold’s power; they are not as strong as they seem.
The real meat of the Cursed expansion however comes not from the races, but from the five new special powers which come with the game. These really ramp up the aggressive nature of the game, whether its Marauding which gives you two attacks in one turn, Ransacking which allows you to steal coins from players you defeat, and Hordes of- which gives you two additional armies. One of the neatest powers is Were-, which not only invokes hilarious images of giants and skeletons turning into wolf form, but gives you a -2 when attacking for every even-numbered turn.
The fifth power is the titular Cursed, provides something different entirely. It i actually a negative power, giving you no extra armies. However, if you plan to pass it over for another race, you must give up three coins. A neat little twist.

Critique

Small World: Cursed may be a small add-on, but it provides quite a lot more variability to a great game. Goblins and Kobolds are two neat new races, though Kobolds is a little over-rated, and the five new powers are really cool. The best of the new powers is Were-, since timing becomes a big factor in when you choose the races and when you decline, and Hordes of- which allows any race to get new armies, which they are otherwise locked into with the restricted number of armies.
Personally, I love how thematic all of these extra add-ons are. Both races and all five powers seem to fit the Cursed theme of nasty, aggressive nature. The special abilities of the powers and races also make sense in relation to the theme. For example, Were- only working every other turn, with the turns representing night and day, and ransacking actually allowing you to ransack other players. Its this dedication to theme which I love about Small World.

Expansion –
Base Game –
Base Game & Expansion –

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