With Days of Wonder no longer involved and a less ambitious format shedding two heats, Small World attendance declined by half. But the slimmer schedule still drew sufficiently to regain the Century following its 2015 penalty exile. After very competitive preliminaries with nearly half the games decided by one point or a tiebreaker, 17 of the 20 qualifiers arrived for the semifinals, allowing the three highest-ranked alternates present to play as well. The five semifinal winners took a few minutes to grab a snack and then gathered again to get down to business one last time.
Rick Kirchner won the draw for first seat which proved to be quite fortuitous. He passed over the Swamp Elves to start the Flying Ghouls. The other combinations available, in order, were Commando Orcs, Pillaging Giants, Heroic Ratmen and Berserk Humans. Next up was Eugene Yee, who selected the Swamp Elves. This would normally have been an excellent choice, but it was his lot that the next combination revealed was the Dragonmaster Sorcerers (otherwise known as the bane of the Elves). Had he known the Sorcerers would be in the mix so early he might have chosen differently, but he could not have known. Rounding out the turn, Woolly Farrow took the Commando Orcs, Erica Kirchner selected the Pillaging Giants and Joe Collinson contented himself with the Heroic Ratmen.
At the start of Turn 2, the combinations showing were: Berserk Humans, Bivouacking Skeletons, Dragonmaster Sorcerers, Hill Dwarves, Seafaring Trolls, and Stout Amazons in that order. Rick decided to take advantage of his first position to go into decline with the Ghouls, giving him first choice next round. No one else followed suit and not a single token was lost as the races spread to open territory and waited to see how the game developed before choosing adversaries.
Turn 3 dawned with Rick scoring big by selecting the Bivouacking Skeletons. In addition to having the ability to multiply, the Bivouacs protected against the Sorcerers. The other players quickly realized what a powerhouse he was becoming and plotted to stop him. Eugene and Woolly went into decline, but the Giants and Ratmen continued to expand their territories.
At this point, the group became divided as to whether the Skeletons or the Ratmen were the greater threat, since no one had yet attacked the swarm of Ratmen. Eugene and Woolly both made excellent selections, of Dragonmaster Sorcerers and Seafaring Trolls respectively, but without a concerted effort against the Bivouacking Skeletons, Rick would soon be unstoppable. Eugene hedged his bets by attacking each of the other players, while Woolly struck out mostly into what little neutral territory was left. Erica and Joe saw the writing on the wall and went into decline.
Turn 5 was standard jockeying for power with players urging Eugene to attack the Skeletons, but he declined since he could not go it alone against them without leaving himself more vulnerable. He continued his balanced approach applying his special power whenever possible. The other players battled amongst themselves and eliminated Eugene’s declined Elves in the process. Erica chose the Berserk Humans and Joe took the Wealthy Halflings.
With his Elves gone, Eugene elected to decline again in Turn 6, hoping to gain a more powerful combination for the endgame. Everyone else continued to battle, not sure who was the greatest threat given the multitudes of declined Ratmen still on board.
Eugene took the Stout Amazons in Turn 7, attacked the declined Ratmen, and went into decline himself thereafter. With the Trolls standing between the Skeletons and the Ratmen, it was too difficult for Eugene’s Amazons to take out both leaders. He calculated the best opportunity he had, but too much time had passed to catch the Skeletons. Everyone else followed suit into decline, realizing that the battle was now for second place.
Turn 8 was dedicated to the battle for second as Rick had been allowed far too much time to build his kingdom with his Skeletons and Ghouls (including one lone Ghoul who made it through the entire game). Eugene took the Hill Dwarves, Woolly took the Diplomat Wizards, Erica took the Mounted Tritons, and Joe passed over the Alchemist Elves to grab the Underworld Sorcerers. The combinations left on the table, in order, were Fortified Orcs, Spirit Giants, and Forest Ratmen.
When the mayhem ended, Rick (who declined only once, in Turn 2) had 79 points. The fight for the also rans was extremely close, with Woolly’s Diplomat Wizards and declined Seafaring Trolls finishing with 75, Joe’s Underworld Sorcerers and declined Halflings with 74, and Erica’s Mounted Tritons with declined Humans (at six tokens the largest declined race remaining) with 73 points. Eugene’s having to decline his Elves early to avoid the Sorcerer and then promptly losing them all turned out to be a disaster from which there was no return.
I want to thank all the players for a thoroughly enjoyable experience. I was nervous about my first GM gig, but I would now encourage others to step up and give it a try. The players are very forgiving and supportive and the entire adventure is well worth the time.
I want to mention some questions that arose during the course of the event. Many of these answers are in the rules, but since the questions were asked it seems worth repeating the answers. I am not an official Days of Wonder representative, so I acknowledge that some of my interpretations may not be according to Hoyle. That said, for tournament purposes the WBC rule that the GM is always right worked in my favor. If anyone has any corrections to these interpretations, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will explore the matter further before the next tournament.
- Ghouls in decline are immune to the Sorcerer.
- If a region with multiple Ghoul tokens is attacked successfully, only one token is eliminated. The remaining tokens are redeployed at the end of the current player’s turn.
- Ghouls cannot move the turn they go into decline.
- Neither the Sorcerer nor the Dragonmaster can use their special powers to attack a Diplomat who has named them as friendly.
- Bivouacs protect against the Sorcerer’s special power, but Troll lairs and fortifications do not.
- If a redeploying defender has tokens but no regions, the next turn is treated as a first conquest.