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

Grand Dames of Small World: Gender Equity on the Battlefield

Small World is an incredibly fun and highly addictive game whose appeal largely comes from the races available to play as. However, the producers of the game must have looked at those races and thought that the Amazons looked lonely. They were the only females in the entirety of this small world! They realized that there was simply too much testosterone which needed to be balanced out somewhere.
That’s where the Grand Dames expansion comes in, adding three new all-female races into the game. (How these single gender games are able to propagate their races, I don’t really know. Perhaps this is why they go into decline?!) So now the varied battle grounds are inhabited by the ghostly white ladies, the stern priestesses, and the wandering gypsies.
So now there are four female races to counter the… fifteen male races. Okay, we’re still not quite reaching our equality quota, but its a start. Also, like the Cursed expansion, these three races were actually chosen by the fans of the game, which is really neat. But how do they affect the game?

Additions

This is a small expansion which adds three new races (and the chits which go with them) and two new powers. The race consists of the gypsies, who actually get coins for abandoning regions, which show once again how great Small World is at connecting the game mechanics with the thematic qualities of the races. There are also priestesses who are able to group up into an “ivory tower” when they are in decline which is hard for other players to conquer. The white ladies are the third race whose power also works in decline, since they cannot be conquered at all once they are.
Two new special powers also come with the add-on. These are historian and peace-loving. Historian is a really neat power which gives you coins for any races that go into decline while you have it. Peace-loving is harder to manage since you actually get coins for not attacking other players. These aren’t powers which are going to wow anyone, but they do add some variety.

Critique

The Grand Dames and Cursed expansions were released at the same time but they other very different qualities to the game. While Cursed provided the game with very aggressive powers and races, Grand Dames’ contribution is much less aggressive and seems to reward staying out of people’s way. The peace-loving is the most obvious example here, but also in the way that two of the races only work when they decline.
They gypsies are a neat race and can really suit the style of some players who like to move all over the board. The other two races aren’t overly exciting because you simply put them in decline and leave them be. Historian is a neat race simply because its so different from the others, but the peace-loving can be more annoying than anything since you have that restriction of not attacking people.
Is this as good as Cursed? No, and I’m not saying that because I’m chauvinistic. The races do provide more variety, but they simply aren’t as interesting as they could be. But with Small World, more is better and diversity on the battlefield is always welcome.

Expansion –
Base Game –
Base Game & Expansion –

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