Small World for iPad is the two-player iOS adaptation of the popular European-style board game Small World, a whimsically designed, fast-playing game with a little bit of luck and a lot of strategy.
Small World for iPad looks and plays great, with the same board, artwork, and rules as the tabletop version. This exceptions-based game is relatively complex to learn: players compete to dominate the Small World map with randomly assigned combinations of races (for example, Trolls, Skeletons, or Amazons) and special powers (for example, Flying, Wealthy, or Alchemist). Each combination starts with a set number of tokens, which you use to invade and hold (you hope) regions on the map--but each of these races and special powers has an effect that breaks the rules of the game (for example, by giving you a bonus to defend certain territories, or more points for holding certain types of territories). So while learning the basics of the game can go quickly (the game includes a lengthy "Quick Rules" reference, as well as in-game help), the real challenge comes in learning and mastering all the different races and powers--and then correctly valuing them in light of what the other player has chosen, or might choose, and how they're faring and where. Add to that another big choice--when to send a race into "decline" during the game's ten turns and choose another one--and Small World is a devilishly challenging and satisfying game.
Small World for iPad's biggest shortcoming is that it only supports two-player games, although at least now it includes an AI for solo play. Pass-and-play multiplayer goes smoothly, with a board that flips for either face-to-face or side-by-side games. If Small World ever adds support for more than two players--or online multiplayer--this will be a truly great adaptation. As it stands, though, Small World is still quite good, and fans will love its faithfulness to the original and how speedy games go without the manual bookkeeping of the tabletop version.