by Lee Valentine
Small World: Be Not Afraid... A Mini-Expansion
Published by Days of Wonder
Designed by Philippe Keyaerts
Contents: 5 new Race banners and tokens, 5 new Special Power badges, 1 blank Race Banner, 1 blank Special Power Badge, 1 full-color reference sheet, and a plastic storage tray to store all expansions released to date.
Days of Wonder continues to provide great support for their
award-winning wargame Small World (hereinafter "SW").
This time around designer Philippe Keyaerts is back with a
mini-expansion called Be Not Afraid... (hereinafter
"BNA"). BNA has almost as many Races and Special Power badges
as Cursed! and Grande Dames of Small World combined for
the same price as both of those mini-expansions put together, but this
product also includes a special tray to hold all the SW
expansions released to date.
Playability is one place where SW shines, and BNA does not
disappoint here either. Five new Races and five new Special Powers add
to the diversity of the play environment. The new Races provided are
Barbarians, Homunculi, Leprechauns, Pixies, and Pygmies.
Barbarians come with lots of tokens, but they can't reinforce. This
tends to leave you spread a bit thin on your own turn, but this
disadvantage really hurts you during other players' turns. When they
attack you, your displaced Barbarians don't resettle other parts of the
board you control; they stay off the board, in your hand, until the
start of your next turn.
Homunculi are a race without an ongoing Racial power, and just an
average number of starting tokens. This makes it a Race that's likely
to get passed over. When you pass it over, though, you add not only a
Victory coin but an extra Homunculus token. Eventually, they just
become too tempting to pass up due to a combination of their sheer
numbers and the coins on them.
Leprechauns come with a large stash of "Pot of Gold" tokens. You can
put them on any or all of your controlled regions. If you still control
those regions on your next turn then you collect those Pots of Gold,
which are worth one Victory coin each. The problem is that people who
conquer your regions before your next turn get those Pots of Gold
instead. Maybe some game groups will enjoy this race. I would, but for
the rule that allows you to take all your troops into your hand and
re-enter the board on any edge. In general, if a Leprechaun player puts
down more than one of these Pots of Gold per turn he's going to get
victimized by all the other players on the board like vultures picking
at a carcass. The re-entering the board rule can assure this occurs
virtually wherever you currently are. This race wasn't for me, but
maybe you will like them.
Pixies come with even more tokens than Barbarians, but you can only
leave a single Pixie token in each region at the end of your turn. You
keep all the others off the board, in your hand. They are vicious at
attacking due to their numbers, but they get wiped out just as quickly
Pygmies are like a variant on Elves. Each time Pygmies lose a token,
there's a chance that they get back some of their tokens, infrequently
even ending up with more than they started with. On average, though,
the Pygmies don't tend to lose tokens when opponents invade their
regions, making them much like Elves. Unless you like a bit of chaos,
this Race doesn't add appreciably to the game in my opinion, because you
could just play Elves instead for much the same effect.
BNA has five new Special Power badges: Barricade, Catapult,
Corrupt, Imperial, and Mercenary. Barricade awards you Victory coins
for controlling four or fewer regions at the end of your turn.
Imperial, in contrast, gives you bonus coins for controlling four or
more regions at the end of the turn. Catapult allows you to fire over
adjacent regions, to attack non-adjacent regions. Mercenary allows you
to pay Victory coins to reduce the number of troops you need each time
The new Special Power "Corrupt" forces your opponents to pay you one
Victory coin for each region of yours that they invade. Combined with
Elves or Pygmies (neither of which typically lose troops when attacked),
Corrupt is particularly backbreaking. If you control this combination,
you have very little incentive to go into Decline. Unless someone has
no Victory coins to lose to you or all the players work together to
chase you off the map, there is a strong disincentive for them to attack
Corrupt Elves/Pygmies – the attacker loses money and the Corrupt player
makes money while losing no tokens. It is a Race/Power combination that
can trivially be kept all game even if you make relatively few tough
decisions. But for the fact that some other game combinations can
generate an occasional extra Victory coin per turn more than these
Corrupt combinations typically do, I would have said that this was an
absolute game breaker, even in a five-player game. In two-player play
the combo is even worse, and it can disrupt normal game play
sufficiently to be a turn off to the other player. This can potentially
result in playing a wargame where neither player attacks very often,
which is really boring. Corrupt is potentially more balanced outside of
this combo, and is probably a viable power to add to your game in most
Components & Packaging
Miguel Coimbra provides some fantastic art for this set. All of the
components are the same sturdy, full-color, fantastic-looking quality
that I have come to expect and love from SW and its expansions.
The packaging could have rated a solid "A" with a few minor changes.
There is a new black plastic tray to hold all of the expansion pieces.
It has a clear plastic lid that snaps on top lightly to hold everything
in place. The lid isn't 100% secure if the tray gets inverted, so you
really need something to hold the lid on or you'll give this tray a
grade of "F" in a heartbeat. The product comes wrapped in a cardboard
sleeve, big enough to hold the tray plus the punchboards of chits for
the Races and Special Powers. If you thoughtlessly throw these
punchboards away then the sleeve will be too large for the tray alone.
I was alert enough to keep the punchboards, tape them together, and
bundle them with the tray inside the sleeve. This problem could have
been avoided entirely had the punchboards been shrink-wrapped outside of
the sleeve, with a thin ad slick and UPC code slid behind them to form
the "back" of the product. As it is, if you keep the used punchboards,
it's totally functional.
I have a couple of other minor gripes about the tray which I won't
bother mentioning because it features one significant structural
improvement over the original token storage tray in the base game. The
tray in the core SW game tends to store tokens so tightly that if
they fall flat (instead of remaining upright, on their edges) you need
long fingernails or a toothpick to pry the tokens out of the box for use
in the game. In BNA the insert's token storage area has thumb
holes up front and a slightly curved bottom, allowing you to easily get
your fingers on tokens, which can never fall flush with the bottom of
The packaging could have been thought out a bit better, but my
complaints are really minor. By comparison, I have seen games require
you to use hundreds of tokens and offer you a single plastic bag to
store them all. BNA is not one of those products.
The rules sheet is full-color and double-sided. Most of the power
descriptions are clear, but one power, "Catapult", was vaguely worded
and I had to look it up online. I suspected a translation error and
looked at the French rules – which, translation aside, are actually
different than the English rules, so that didn't get me very far. Other
than that, the rules sheet is attractive and clear. My biggest
complaint about the rules sheet is that SW is a five-player game
(six-players with a new bonus expansion) and yet, as with the
mini-expansions before it, there is just one copy of the powers
reference sheet. Days of Wonder should have included extra copies of
this sheet. Thankfully a PDF is available online for printing.
One special note about this expansion is the Catapult power requires a
special token that was left out of BNA accidentally. Days of
Wonder has since printed this on a separate punchboard (that does not
come inside the package) along with "Leader" tokens for each of the new
BNA races (for use with the Leaders of Small World
expansion). Unless you order from Days of Wonder, however, either you
have to be mindful enough to ask your retailer for this extra punchboard
when you purchase BNA, or he has to be smart enough to provide it
without your having asked for it.
Overall, Be Not Afraid... is a very solid expansion for the
money. I felt that some of the innovations that Days of Wonder has made
with their storage tray show that they are really listening to fans. If
you own all the expansions to date, it would be worth getting this
product just to have a proper storage solution for the expansions'
tokens. However, the new Races and Special Powers were fun. Each one
(other than Pygmies, perhaps) makes you think differently about how you
are going to play the game than you would with other combos. At a price
of $20.00, if you are a Small World fan, Be Not Afraid...
is hard to pass up.
If SW products sell for you, then this is a no-brainer. You may
want to use your Cursed! and Grande Dames of Small World
sales as a guide for how many copies of BNA to order. The only
down side is remembering the existence of the extra Catapult punchboard,
which may frustrate some customers if they walk away without it.
Playability: B+ (solid, with one troublesome power combination, and one race which is just a minor variant)
Packaging: A- (if you kept your used punchboards and the sleeve the product came in; much lower otherwise)
Components: B+ (great quality tokens, but too few reference sheets for use during actual play)
Rules Clarity: B+ (mostly clear, with one vague power)
Retailer Salability: A-