Smallworld Races: Elves – Part 1

Well, here I am. Back again. It feels kind of strange to be writing this at the moment due to the fact that I started this post almost immediately after I posted that I need to take more time and wouldn’t be posting everyday. I almost feel like I could finish this again and throw a new post up. But I will refrain and work tirelessly to perfect this one as well as I can within a week. Although I think a week should suffice.

This week, I will be going into a bit of detail and strategy on the use of Elves in the game of Smallworld. There are 14 different races in Smallworld, all of which are trying to maintain control of the land that is available on the board. (I’m aware the description of this game is vague, but that’s the way she goes sometimes.) I picked Elves mainly because they were the first race that I happened to look at and thought it was a good start at doing a proper post.


The Card

The cards show a couple different pieces of reference information. The race is written on the card so you know what race you are choosing. There is also a number in the bottom right corner which represents how many race tokens you get when you choose your race. When you choose your race, there is also a special power that your race has for the game. The special power changes from game to game as there is a second piece of your race which gets matched up at random when drawing new races to fill the visible six race options in line at any time you choose during the game. The card also gives a visual reminder as to what the ability of the race you’ve chosen is.

Elves Ability

The ability for Elves is defined on the reference sheet that you have during the game is as follows:

When conquered, you suffer no loss; withdraw all your tokens from the region.

This means that if you are attacked while in a region, rather than losing one of your race tokens as is standard in the game, you get to take back all tokens as the Elves ability. Smallworld attacking rules state that when an enemy region is lost in a conquest, that enemy puts one race token back into the storage tray (included with game). This doesn’t apply for Elves. Now that I’ve hopefully cleared up all questions about what the ability Elves have, let’s discuss why it is advantageous in any way.


There is one fairly big advantage to have Elves during a game. That is when you are being attacked turn after turn, you aren’t losing any of your tokens and whittling the size of your army. This can be a good race to choose at most points in the game in my opinion. When you are playing and the Elf race is an option at or near the start of a game, it is a better option if you are not the first person playing their turn. This gives you the advantage of being able to attack your opponent. Why would you want to do this so early might you ask? Well, thank goodness I’m here to give you my opinion on the matter! If you have Elves, you have a bit of an advantage on being slightly more aggressive on your first few turns. This is mainly due to the fact, that in the back of your mind, you know if someone tries to get back at you, you’re just going to be getting your Elves back in the same numbers for your next turn. That means, You won’t have to worry about spending money on a new race quite as early,and you can avoid going into decline. This means that you won’t have a lost turn until you really have a chance to spread out your race (which is an advantage, because while in decline, your race will still gain you points and the more you can spread, the better, and more points you’ll earn). During the middle of the game, Elves don’t really have a distinct advantage to them necessarily, but can be somewhat useful in extending a race a little longer, which can lead to a last turn race choice and conquer. Which can be helpful if you find yourself thinking that you may fall short in points against your opponent.

Coming to the final turn and finding yourself with an option to pick a final race and build up your points is always a good strategy to employ. Picking that final character can sometimes be a challenge. You generally want to ignore abilities that have effects that don’t immediately give you rewards. This makes Elves a bad choice as they don’t have the ability to give you any sort of point bonus upon taking over any lands. Having said that, let me go against what I literally just stated, and say there is always an option to use Elves, if their special ability for that game is sufficient to help you gain your final round of points. Rather than going into literally every combination of special ability with Elves, I’m going to go into brief detail on when the ability helps the Elves most, and do my top three favorite combinations, my bottom three combinations, and three “sleeper” options that may not have obvious advantages, but in the right circumstance, could be the TSN turning point. Please note that this is based on my personal opinion and I’m sure that with a different style of play would end with a completely different top 3. Also, my strategy is generally to make money fast, stretch out as fast/thin as I can manage and go into decline.


With every character in Smallworld, there are also disadvantages for the abilities they have. Elves are no different whatsoever. They each have different powers in one aspect, weather it be an extra coin for being on a specific type of land, or having a classified space that you land on, (magic land for wizards for example), these are all types of advantages. With Elves, they have a system of staying alive even after they are defeated in the regions that they are in. This helps them because their numbers don’t dwindle as they are taken over. This is a cool thing to have. However, this leaves them out of the loop when they are scoring points at the end of a turn, like many races have. It is sort of a decision you have to make and figure out if you’d like to take more money on slightly less regions, or less money on more regions to keep pace in the game. Needing more regions to keep pace with your opponents income in this game isn’t really a great thing. Needing more land will put a strain on your army of tokens because you just don’t have enough tokens per region to defend yourself effectively. Which you may think isn’t a huge deal because you’ll just get your guys all back, but now you’ve got to compete against races that have better defenses than your Elves. which cost more tokens, and in turn leading to less regions conquered.

So, this has been a run down of what the Elves in Smallworld are capable of. There is a rundown of advantages and disadvantages that I think is a bit more in depth to help understand this character and possibly when to choose it during the game. There are of course many aspects that will affect the decision making process, such as the special ability that changes from game to game, and the type of game you’re trying to play (aggressiveness, map size etc.)  There will eventually be more of these run downs based on characters of Smallworld (only the base game), however, I’m not going to do every race in Smallworld all at once and go overboard with only Smallworld coverage through the entire summer. I’ll be doing my best to space things out and keep games outside of a month as to not seem quite as repetitive. I may change that if I get asked for something specifically, but until I get to that point, I’ll just do what I do and hope you all enjoy it. Thanks!

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