Small World Designer Edition

Small World Designer Edition

6/3/15 UPDATE: I just got an email from Small World announcing that this will be available to order on their site June 9th, 2015 for $450.  Here’s a nifty link for you.  Be aware, these are limited and to my knowledge, once they are gone that’s it.

YOU GUYS!  IT CAME!  My Designer Edition of Small World arrived last weekend!  It’s so cool and exquisitely made; I had to share it with you.  Plus, it was an excuse to take a ton of pictures, and I just couldn’t help myself.   First of all, let me say that I’m not affiliated with Small World  or Days of Wonder in any way.  To them, I’m just one of the people who happened to buy the designer edition.


Now, before I get into the pictures, a bit of information for those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about.  Small World is a fun game that’s a very little bit like Risk, in that you’re trying to take over different parts of the world.  Only, it’s an imaginary world.  And you can discard your army and get a new one if you don’t like it.  Plus, the armies all have special abilities.  In fact, there are both races and abilities, and these are drawn separately.  This means that each time you play, you’ll have a whole new set of armies that you can purchase.  I don’t want to get too much into the details, but if you’re interested in learning more, I suggest watching Wil Wheaton play the game on Tabletop.

In April of 2013, Small World held a Kickstarter to help with their iPad app and to put out a designer edition.  Earl and I talked about it, put some money aside, and backed the project.  I’m glad that they did it this way – we probably wouldn’t have gotten the designer edition otherwise.  Mostly because we would have seen it in the store (if we saw it at all) and put it off until after it sold out.  As of right now, only backers of the project have received theirs.  I know they made a few extras, but I don’t know how many, when they’ll be for sale, or how you’d go about getting one.  You could check eBay – but I couldn’t tell you any more than that.

So, if you can’t buy it anywhere right now, why would I want to show it to you here?  Well – because it’s cool!  And I want to show you the craftsmanship they put into their product.  Plus, even if you can’t get your hands on the designer edition, it’s a game you should have in your arsenal of games.  (You do have an arsenal of games, right?)  Finally, I’ll probably be painting the resin miniatures that came with the game at some point, and so this will give you a reference to where they came from.

Ok, with all that out of the way – let’s get to the pictures already!!!

The designer edition comes in a wooden box that opens from the top and the front.  The box is massive -measuring about 21″x16″x10″.  I had to put it on the floor to take pictures.  We won’t be able to put it on our gaming bookshelf – it’s going to have to find a home of its own.  There are 4 hinges in the back and 2 clasps in the front.


Opening the box up gives you access to the 4 trays.



If we get a quick close up of the plate, you’ll see that we’re number 473 out of 524.  I’m pretty sure we’re so late because we took forever to fill out what we wanted engraved.  In the end, we decided to go with “Alea iacta est”.  It’s a Latin phrase that translates to “The die is cast” and is attributed to Ceaser just before he began the civil war between Rome and Pompey.  We decided to go with this phrase for a few reasons:  both of us have learned Latin at some point in our lives; we both have an appreciation for early history (and pre-history); we felt it was appropriate to gaming and to this game particularly.  At the end of your turn, you get to roll a die for reinforcements, and we felt it appropriate to the gameplay.  I found out afterwards through the forums that at least one other person chose this inscription, which I think is pretty cool.


Ok, onto the trays!  The top tray is the miniatures


Each miniature is a grey resin mini.  The detail on these is gorgeous.  They went back and forth on whether they would be painted, but in the ended decided to go with a higher quality resin mini that wasn’t painted.  I’m completely ok with this decision – especially since the budget was determined ahead of time.  I’ve also seen what low-quality paint jobs look like, and I’d much rather no paint job than a bad paint job.  They are great as is, would be nice with a base coat and a simple sepia wash, or with a more detailed paint job.  I’ll probably opt for a more detailed paint job, but am also tempted to work with the sepia tones – they’re so pretty!


Next up are all the army tokens from the original game.


Just below that sit the armies from the current expansions, plus the lost tribes.  I’ve heard they’re coming out with a new expansion, which makes me a little sad.  I highly doubt they will produce a run of those in the designer edition format, but I’d rather them continue to expand the game than stop making expansions just because they came out with the Designer Edition.


Each army comes in its own cardboard box (the same quality of a regular game box), with a set of flocked plastic wells for the tokens.  The depth of the wells depends on how many tokens each army has.  They fit the tokens perfectly.  The tokens are made out of wood, and the image is printed on the wood (not a sticker) – so I expect them to hold up well.


I have to admit, this is one place where I was a little bit disappointed.  In order to remove the tokens, I have to dump all the pieces.  My hand isn’t quite big enough to catch all of them either.  I understand that they went back and forth in finding a method that they could produce and would keep the tokens in place.  However, I wish I could remove the tokens without having to make a bit of a mess.  One forum member at Days of Wonder suggested adding a ribbon that runs down into the wells so you could lift them up that way.  I think I might try this.  While I wish that they would have found a better option, it is my only real complaint – and I’m ok with that since it’s nit picky.

Ok – onto the final tray!  This tray is where all the boards, races, powers, coins, the reinforcement die, and the turn tracker reside.


The boards are slightly larger than the original game.  Included is a board for 2,3,4,5, and 6 players.  You can buy the 6 player board on Amazon right now (here’s an affiliate link), but it’s rather expensive.  We have another one to go with our original game, and the way it was packaged indicated that they might be selling these in the future at some point to game stores.  What I particularly like about the boards is that the odd and even numbers show whether it’s day or night.  This matters for some of the powers (like lycanthropy).


The races and powers are a slightly thicker wood than the army tokens.


Just under the play boards, you can find the Encyclopedia, reinforcement die, turn tracker, coins, and pouches.


The Encyclopedia is a pretty cool resource that they published as part of the Kickstarter.  Again, I wouldn’t be surprised if it made it’s way into a regular printing for game stores to sell.  Included in the pocket encyclopedia is a bit about each of the races.  The rules are also printed in the beginning of the book.  It’s a nice, small hardcover – a little bigger than a moleskin.


The reinforcement die is a little bit on the bigger size, and the turn tracker is a beautiful metal coin with some coloring and gems.


And finally, we come to the coins.  Oh… the coins.  The fantastic, metal, heavy coins.  I am in love with these coins guys!  I’m always a fan of something in my hand that has a little heft to it.  And let me tell you  – these have heft.  It doesn’t show so well in my pictures (because there is no scale), but there is a size difference between them all as well as a color difference.  Swoon, I tell you, swooon.


“But wait!”  you say, “How are we supposed to hide how many points we have with these gorgeous coins?  Won’t it be obvious who’s winning?”

Well, Days of Wonder has you covered.  Included in the box are 6 bags to hold your coins.


So, there you have it – my review of the Small World Designer Edition.  Overall, I’m really happy with the product.  The biggest gripe I have is the difficulty of removing the tokens without making a mess – but  I can probably just add a ribbon and have it work ok.  And even with that gripe, I don’t feel ripped off at all.  In fact, I feel like Days of Wonder made a fantastic product.

There are 2 other changes I’ll probably make.  The coins are each in plastic bags per denomination.  I’ll probably make some bags for those.  I’d like them to be in fabric bags, and I know we’ll use the bags there when we play.  Plus, I know we’ll play with 6 people, and I’ll want to keep the coins separated during game play.

I’ll also paint the minis in some way, as I indicated above.  Probably actually painting them, but maybe just sepia wash.  We’ll see what time and effort say in the end.

And with that, I can only end this post on one note.


Gee Brain, what do you want to do tonight?

The same thing we do every night, Pinky – try to take over the world!

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2 Responses to Small World Designer Edition

  1. Sorry to tell you that ceasar’s sentence was :

    ALAE JACTA EST with a “J”, not a “i”… 😉

    • Hi Thierry! Thanks for your comment!

      Ah, the old i vs. j. I choose to go with the i as there is no j in Latin. If you get a chance, open up a copy of the Oxford Latin Dictionary (your local library or large book store should have it). You’ll notice that it goes from I directly to K, which in itself only has about a dozen entries. The introduction of the j came later when medieval manuscripts were written and replaced many ‘i’s at the beginning of words to create a consonant letter beginning. In terms of current spellings, the choice of i vs. j is left up to the editor. For example, Merriam-Webster uses the j alongside many others.

      The word order and even language can also be argued. In his description of events, Suetonius uses the phrase “Iacta alea est,” noting that Caeser used Greek and not Latin (also reported by Plutarch). The change to alea iacta est is for grammatical reasons.

      For another example of Caeser speaking Greek, we can look to the famous phrase “Et tu Brute?”. It was more likely to have been “καὶ σὺ, τέκνον” (kai su, teknon), translated to “You too, child?”. Again, this is reported by Suetonius.

      Also up for discussion is whether the words were actually spoken or if they were written to dramatize the events.

      Long story short, I’m content with my use of “Alea iacta est”, though recognize that jacta is also a valid spelling. I may have even gone with the Greek, but given that the Latin is better known and they were probably using a font that didn’t support Greek characters, the Latin was probably better in the long run.

      While I generally prefer peer reviewed articles and academic journals as citations, I’ve popped a few online resources below to check out in addition to getting your hands on a copy of the OLD.

      Lastly, I’ll just say that etymology is fun!

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