I’ve played Small World a few dozen times with anywhere from 2 to 5 players. Most of the time I pick the special power and race combination to get me the most points or give my opponent the fewest. However, I do like to experiment with the other races just to see how they play out. Below is a list of some of the Races I find myself gravitating towards every time I play. Feel free to comment on my choices.
Ghouls (5) 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.
How can you not like these guys? If Ghouls are available in the early game I will choose them. Having two ‘active’ races on the board attacking each turn will help eliminate your opponents quickly. You don’t lose any tokens so they also have a good defensive bonus while in decline. If Ghouls get paired up with the Stout, Wealthy or Spirit special powers they can be deadly.
Skeletons (6) During your Troop Redeployment take 1 new Skeleton token from the storage tray for every 2 non-empty Regions you conquered this turn, and add it to the troops you redeploy at the end of your turn.
These sword-wielding cowboys start with a decent size and convert their conquered foes into an even bigger force. Skeletons are a lot of fun to play with and the fact that you can actually gain tokens each turn make them a worthy choice. I also think the Skeletons have the edge over the Sorcerers due to the defend-ability against the Sorcerers power. Commando or Marauding Skeletons can quickly multiply and eliminate opponents. While a Ransacking or Pillaging Skeleton can score big.
Goblins (6) 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.
The Clean-up Crew. Goblins are a good late-game pick when a good chunk of the board is occupied by what were once great civilizations. Look for the same special powers for Skeletons to make them even more effective.
Wizards (5) Each Magic Region your Wizards occupy is worth 1 bonus Victory coin, at the end of your turn.
Who knew magic could be so financially rewarding? Every game I play that the Wizards show up they seem to score a ton of points. Their ability is similar to the Humans but they seem to do a little better. They may not be able to conquer regions as well, but scoring coins is what is ultimately important. The bottom of the 2 player map is well-suited towards Swamp Wizards.
Kobolds (11) You may never occupy (nor conquer) a Region with less than two Kobold tokens. When going In Decline however, keep a single token in each Region, as normal.
You start with 11+ tokens… what more do I need to say?
Gypsies (6) Place 1 bonus Victory coin (taken from the Victory stash) in each Region you abandon. You cannot conquer these Regions again this turn, but you receive the coins they hold as a bonus at turn’s end.
I don’t know if they are really one of the best, but I think the Gypsies are my favorite race to play with. Abandoning regions each turn is usually a tough strategic move that must be considered with any other race: You get more tokens, but lose the region(s) and – more importantly – coin(s). Gypsies make that decision a lot easier. You get to make use of their little throwing knives by hopping around the board with reckless abandon. They can get paired with just about any special power to enhance their deadliness and coin generating ability. I’ve even played with Fortified Gypsies and had fun.
What races do you like to pick?