The great thing about Small World is the variety of strategies that come up depending on what Race and Power combinations are available every game. This leads to tons of re-playability and constant challenge to your skills to evaluate the races and powers as they come up. Not every Race and Power is equal, some are definitely better than others. One thing to watch for is when a bad Race/Power combo is getting skipped constantly because the options above are so much better.
Eventually the amount of Victory Coins that pile up on that bad Race will compensate for the power level. Victory Coins are the win condition, and that's a neat way of making sure every Race will eventually see play.
Let's look at a few statistics of the Base Game to take in to consideration while evaluating the races:
I'll start with a look at a breakdown of how many tokens you get with the 14 races and X Special Powers:
- 1 Race with 3 tokens
- 6 Races with 5 tokens
- 6 Races with 6 tokens
- 1 Race with 8 tokens
- 1 Power with 2 tokens
- 1 Power with 3 tokens
- 8 Powers with 4 tokens
- 10 Powers with 5 tokens
So 5-6 is the average line for how many tokens a Race Tile will give you and 4-5 for the Power Tiles. Another thing to look at and consider are how the boards are broken up:
4 each of Farmlands, Forests, Hills, Mountains and Swamps.
4 each of Magic Symbols, Mining Symbols and Underworld Symbols.
5 each of Farmlands, Forests, Hills, and Swamps.
5 each of Magic Symbols, Mining Symbols and Underworld Symbols.
7 each of Farmlands, Forests, Hills, and Swamps.
7 each of Magic Symbols, Mining Symbols and Underworld Symbols.
9 each of Farmlands, Forests, Hills, Mountains and Swamps.
9 each of Magic Symbols, Mining Symbols and Underworld Symbols. 3 and 4 players will be a little more mountain heavy, while all else seems to scale relatively evenly. There's a little more room per player for a 2 player game, but the rest all sit close to 9 regions per player.
With that I'll start with the basic game's Races:
Oh you sweet, sweet, seductively dangerous beauties, you! You get 6 tokens, which is already at the top side of the average, but you also get an additional 4 tokens to use while attacking. These are removed after you're done attacking during your re-deployment step. You will get to snag more territories quicker and spread this army out thin faster than other races. Amazons burn brightly, but also burn out fast. This isn't a draw back in a game with a finite number of turns, in fact it just means you are going to get to your next race sooner. Amazons are basically turbo charged, grabbing more coins in less turns than other races.
They are one of the top races and I will buy them for a high price if I have to no matter what Powers they come with. They are especially good with aggresive powers like Berserk and Commando.
Dwarves really get the shaft in the base game. They are at the bottom of the token pool coming with only 3 on their Race tile. They will earn you more coin when on mining regions and their power is to keep earning you those extra coins even when they are in decline. The problem is that the mines are spread out with none adjacent to each other on the board, so they just don't have the reach with 7-8 tokens to get 3 of them very often.
You're more likely to get just 2 mines before they go into decline. When in decline though, you'll have to leave just one token behind to defend the mine and that's a big target when your opponents realize they are still earning 2 coins every turn. These will get taken only when a pile of Coins builds up on them in the auction- but this is counter to the in decline earning as that is late in the game. They may not even make it in to decline. More often than not, though, the advantages other races have are almost always better.
They are decent with other regional earn powers like Forest, Hill and Swamp if you can grab Mines on those regions. Of course when you go into decline you lose the extra powers anyway. Fortified is probably the best combo, because the fortification will stick around, even after you are in decline making your mine defenses higher. Mountain mines are probably your best bet as well.
Elves get 6 tokens and while the picture on their tile may make them look weak, their power is a very decent one. You'll want to plan on them being around quite a bit before going in to decline, especially against other aggressive players. If your opponents attack you quite often, you'll have the advantage in the battle of attrition as you'll get all the tokens back to retaliate with. They are the cockroaches of Small World in that they just don't go away. The more they get attacked will actually mean they last longer before they go in to decline because while they will lose regions they will go back to your hand for later retaliation. If you get attacked a lot, they can earn perpetually. It's good to goad your opponents into attacking you. In fact, your best bet when playing against them is to just not attack them, because you will make them stick around longer and you're just grinding your race down, while they stay strong.
These guys will take advantage of almost any Special Power, as their own power is so good on its own. It's probably easier to tell you which power they aren't so hot with, which is Diplomat. You want your opponents grinding down their forces against you. So while Diplomatic Elves look like a good combination in theme, you probably don't want to activate the Diplomatic power at all.
Ghouls have one of the powers that break an important rule in the game and let you keep all the tokens when you go in to decline and will still act like active race, able to attack before your actual active race. This means you'll want to go in to decline and get a second active race going ASAP; the second turn they are around is best. Doing double duty in a game with finite turns is good. You won't get to attack the turn they go in to decline, but next turn they will be attacking alongside your other active race.
Stout is the obvious power to look for, as you can attack and then go into decline immediately. If you can buy this combination, you'll get to attack, take some regions and go into decline. Spirit is another decent one allowing you to have two in decline races. Amazons aren't a good follow up to Ghouls, because they will go into decline fast, forcing you to remove the Ghouls sooner.
Giants love to grab mountains as their base of operations, easily coming off them to take all the surrounding regions. You'll notice from my breakdown above that there are more mountains on the 3 and 4 player boards. Giants aren't as good on a 2 player board because the mountains are spread out. I like to grab mountain regions that are adjacent to each other, as you will get the bonus after conquering the first. The 4 and 5 player boards have nice clusters of mountain regions that are close to each other as well. The 5 player board ratio of Mountains does drop back to normal, but there is a juicy clump of 3 Adjacent mountains right on the edge of the board. Also, given Mountains' inherent defensive postioning, they will last a long time in decline. Giants are a good race to get right before Elves, since the elves will stick around awhile before going in to decline. The opposite can be said about Amazons, you don't want to follow Giants with Amazons for the opposite reasons.
Again just about any Special Power will just make these guys better; Fortified is good as it will give your conquered regions adjacent to your mountain bases the same defensive advantage as the mountains themselves even in delcine. Bivouacking does the same thing also making your Mountain defenses just silly while active.
For being the smallest race in the base game, these guys are nasty like their picture hints. Great on the first turn in 4 and 5 player games because they can set up shop away from the other border invading races and have time to spread out before the wars begin. Making their first two conquests immune to powers and in-conquerable will frustrate your opponents. If they are Hill, Forest or Swamp halflings, you can take two of those adjacent spots as your first two spots, and earn your double Coins without fear of defending them, holding them with just one token each.
Another fun Power they can combo with is Underworld, letting you spread your first two holes apart from each other. You'll never lose those first two spots, so you'll have a nice tunnel system always at your disposal to mess with your opponents or take spots that are easy pickings. Get Heroic Halfilngs and you'll have 4 regions that are imune to attack.
Boring! I guess it's nice to earn a few extra bucks while farming, but I like action! They are at a bit of a disadvantage having 1 less token than some other more powerful races that get 6 tokens, but the extra earning power probably makes up for it. It's fun to get Mounted Humans, making it easier to get to and conquer those farmlands. Without many drawbacks, most powers are just going to add to the Humans playability. If anything, their boring nature will make them passed over and build up a lot of coins.
Orcs are probably my favorite race because they encourage a strategy counter to the norm. Usually when doing your attacks (after the first attack) you will pick up all your tokens leaving one behind to continue to earn. It's just more efficient; one token left behind is earning 1 coin, where it takes your 2 or 3 attacking tokens to also earn 1. Orcs' aggressive power makes them counter to that strategy. It's better to pick them all up and abandon the regions they are on and attack your opponents' occupied regions. This is great, because it not only earns you the coins to conquer instead of occupy, it also makes your opponents' lives miserable.
Another benefit is that you don't need to redeploy your troops and spread them thin, you can just leave the invading force of 3 or more tokens on the 3 or so spots you're able to take in defense. Your opponents want to retaliate, but your orcs are always 3-4 strong on every region they occupy. This can also make them last a little longer if your opponents don't retaliate to take down your numbers.
Orcs love to be paired up with aggressive powers like Berserk, Commando or Mounted making them able to take more regions than 3 or 4 spots with your usual 9 or 10 tokens. These guys are my favorite style-wise to play. Add Pillaging for some awesome redundancy.
If you watch It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, you may get this reference. Right about the time the episode aired with Charlie's play about Dayman/Nightman and the title song, "Dayman- Ah-ah-ahaaaaa", we were playing Small World and Diplomatic Ratmen came up. Immediately my friend Rob and I started singing it to the same tune, "Diplomatic Ratmen, Ah-ah-ahhhh!" True story, bro.
Anyway, Ratmen are awesome not just because of the song, but because there are obviously so many of them. Their power is just overwhelm the board with numbers. They can take more regions faster than anybody short of Amazons, and hold them as well. They are enhanced by just about any Special Power. Fun shenanigans ensue when you can make their numbers even greater with Hordes of, from the Cursed expamsion.
Skeletons are another favorite of mine and should be yours as well. As we saw with Ratmen, more tokens are more awesome, and while the Skeletons don't start out with but the above average number, if you play them aggressively, they will multiply. So, like Orcs, you want to be attacking occupied spots to make more skeletons. These aggressive races are the types that force even the mildest of players to throw all alliances out the window and attack. Like the Elves they stick around for a long time because they just keep tokens on the board so look to follow a race that will stick around earning Coins in their decline with Skeletons, because they'll be there for awhile.
Like Orcs, any Special Powers that favor an aggressive strategy are good when combo'd with them like Commando, Berserk and Mounted. When you combo them with Pillaging, now you have Orcs that multiply and only get stronger. Two great tastes that taste great together.
Sorcerers start out with 5 tokens on their race tile to counter thier powerful ability a bit. Like skeletons, they can multiply by using their power. Sorcerers are extra cool becasue they warp the way your opponents will play. They won't spread their tokens out thin leaving singles behind to defend regions, because the Sorcerer's effect is so powerful. You get to not only remove an opponent's token from the board (even an Elf is gone for good) you get to conquer a region with a token that didn't exist until that moment. Players need to watch the Auction line for when these guys are coming up, because if you don't you may find yourself vulnerable when an opponent buys sorcerers and takes advantage of your careless ways.
Again, their power doesn't really have any other interesting combonations with special powers; just about anything will do and Sorcerers will be worth it no matter what. Aggresive powers that help you in attacking are good, so you can break through reinforced lines to get to the regions held by single tokens.
Tritons, like Giants have a built in combat power that makes it easier for them to conquer certain regions; in this case coastal ones. On a 4-5 player board, there are 10 coastal regions that you can start in, so you may have a slight advantage on the 4 player board. On the 2 and 3 player boards, you get 6 coastal regions along the edge to start in. The 2 player board has a lot more of an advantage, though, as some of the edge coastal regions are adjacent to the lakeside regions. You can start on the East or West side and make it to the other conquering only regions that are to your advantage. On the bigger maps you'd have to conquer a couple none-waterside regions to expand out.
Flying and Underworld will help you to reach across the map to other coastal regions, but just about any Special Power is good with these already good guys.
Of all the Races available, Trolls are probably the most inherently powerful. Being able to hold on to your conquered regions is key to earning you lots of coins. Trolls will do this while active and in decline; their lairs really deter your opponents from attacking them, as it's just too costly and usually more efficient to attack easier prey. You should pick these guys very highly unless they are paired with a really debilitating Special Power like Cursed. They will stick around long when in decline, so you want to follow them up with a long lasting Active Race like Orcs, Ratmen or Gypsies.
They are great when combo'ed with just about anything. I'll save it for you to talk about your own Troll tales as they are always a memorable path to victory.
Wizards are kind of boring to me like Humans, but they don't even have the Humans' advantage of having some of the money regions adjacent to each other; the Magic regions are all spread out on every map. But at least they give you a decent number of tokens, unlike the Dwarves. Flying and sometimes Underwolrd are decent to get you transported to the Magic Regions. Otherwise, they are a pretty generic race.
I'll cover the Races from the expansions next; Cursed! and Grand Dames were released about the same time while Be Not Afraid came later. If you haven't picked them up yet, I would highly recommend them as they add a lot of cool Races and Powers to the mix. It's also fun to note that Cursed and Grand Dames were created using entries to a fan design contest. They are submissions from around the world that the developers judged and tested to see what cool ideas the fans could come up with.
1 Race with 6 tokens 1 Race with 11 tokens 1 Power with 0 tokens 2 Powers with 4 tokens 2 Powers with 5 tokens *the Hordes Of tile is essentially 7 tokens with its power Goblins, like Giants and Tritons, have a built in combat advantage but are opportunists. Their advantage comes against other In Decline races. They are great to start off in the early game when there are lots of Lost Boys on the board.
Later in the game it's tricky when to pick them up, as you'll need one of your opponents to have left some juicy targets for you. To get to them first, you'll need to be the first to go into decline, but you have to do it when someone will go in decline right after you. Otherwise, their power will be wasted.
There aren't any Powers that create interesting interactions with Goblins and most will just enhance them except for Ransacking, which requires you to attack Active Races. Avoid this unfortunate combination.
Kobolds everywhere! There are so many! The race tile will give you twice the number of tokens as the other race tiles, but note that the Special Tile numbers are not doubled as well, so their drawback that they need at least 2 tokens to conquer and occupy catches up with the sheer number of them. While they may not be able to spread out as far as other races, they do have an advantage in being able to gang up on regions that are better fortified.
This is your counter to Trolls and Giants if your opponents have utilized their high defensive areas. Therefor Kolbolds are best when attacking your opponents' strongest regions knocking down their numbers and their earning power. They also provide high defenses themselves while active and piled up at least 2 high.
Kolbolds will be good with just about anything, especially the aggressive powers.
Expansion: Grand Dames
- 1 Race with 2 tokens
- 1 Race with 4 tokens
- 1 Race with 6 tokens
- 1 Power with 4 tokens
- 1 Power with 5 tokens
Gypsies have a strategy like Orcs, in that you want to pick all of them up and abandon regions. Not only is this a blatantly more obvious a strategy than it is with Orcs, it's strictly better. The Orcs' earning power is conditional to conquering other races while the Gypsies' earning power is not conditional.
You'll just get the extra coins no matter what new regions you'll take. So with that they get all the same secondary benefits; you can aggressively cut down your opponents' number and earnings while holding regions with multiple tiles, never needing to thin your self out. This can make them a long lasting Active race that is a great follow up to Trolls or Ghouls.
You don't have to be aggressive with them, but it's better to hinder your opponents while keeping yourself healthy, so any of the same aggressive powers that are good with Orcs are good with these. Bivouacs are not only an obviously themed combination, they are a dream team with Gypsies. They are mobile defensive stations that make your traveling ways even harder to stop. With Bivouacking you can run the whole game with just one race and pick battles that will hold your oppoents back.
Priestesses represent another race that shines after they are in decline, forming a highly defended tower that earns coins like multiple regions. The trick is grabbing multiple regions before going in to decline, and that's not easy given their low race tile token number of 4. They are hard to pull off and need a Special Power that will help them overcome their low numbers to be effective. If you can get a decent tower going, you want to follow them up with a long lasting Race like Elves, Gypsies or Orcs. Aggressive Active Races will also help protect them by being able to attack threats and keep them away.
You'll need Special Powers to make them playable like Hordes Of, Marauding, Commando, Mounted, Dragon Master and other aggressive ones. Most of those make other races insane, but with Priestesses, they'll just make them a little more viable. A cute one is Seafaring, if you can build your tower on the Water, it'll stand and earn for a long time. But it'll be hard to pull off with more than 3 tokens.
Like the Priestesses, these have a powerful in decline ability but are really hindered by their super low token count. Once in decline though, they will be solid earners until the end of the game. You need to follow them up with long lasting Active Races again to really feel their potnetial. Stout is a good power for them, to get them in to decline faster, similar to Ghouls.
Be Not Afraid
1 Race with 5 tokens
2 Races with 6 tokens
1 Race with 9 tokens
1 Race with 11 tokens
5 Powers with 4 tokens Barbarians come with a lot of tokens, 1 more than Ratmen (Ah-ah-ahhhh!), but they also have a drawback in that you can't redeploy at the end of each turn. What you leave behind and what you conquer with will be the numbers that stay on those regions. They will spread out fast and you can be vulnerable to Sorcerers if you aggressively leave singles behind. They may not last long, but it's for the best as you'll need to be aggresive to take advantage of their numbers.
They are best paired with defensive Powers like Bivouacking and Fortified, so you don't need to worry about reinforcing single tokens that are left behind. Sometimes aggressive powers can be good too with just an all-in strategy. The ultimate combo is with Pillaging, turning them into Orcs that will want to abandon regions anyway and keep their numbers strong in ongoing attacks.
Homunculi can be great when they get their numbers up by being bypassed a lot. The tension builds as players press their luck by bypassing them and you'll have to play it right to pick them up at the right time. This is compounded by the fact that they are also gaining coins as they grow, making them doubly appealing. I wouldn't let them get out of control, picking them up if they have a decent power and 2 extra tokens on them. It's a tough one to generalize and you'll need to analyse them depending on the situation. There aren't any powers that take advantage of their Race ability, so any good one will do.
Leprechauns come with a great but very risky earning potential. You'll have to protect those pots of gold as they really become a lightning rod tempting your opponents into setting their sites on you. Because they are so risky, you may only look to get them if they come with a very potent Special Power and use the Pots of Gold sparingly when you can garantee holding on to them. If they come with a defensive power like Bivouacking or Fortified or you grab for the mountain regions, the risk becomes a little less.
So many pixies, but so easily picked off. This is a race that will burn bright when attacking, but will burn out quickly being so vulnerable leaving only 1 token behind. Obviously defensive powers are good here, but you'll want to still be aggressive and take down strong opponents like Trolls or other threats that need to be taken care of so they don't run away with the game.
Pygmies have a shot to be great, but only if you're lucky. Their beneficial power is reliant on rolling a 1, 2 or 3 on the reinforcement die and avoiding the 50% chance at nothing. It could make your opponents weary against attacking them as there is a slight chance they will come back stronger, but it's a very slight chance. They'll be dependant on the Special Power to be great, as by themselves they are just average with a 50 % chance at being good with a 1 in 6 of being insane.
Base Game Special Powers
Alchemist is a very straight forward power, earning 2 extra coins per turn. It's not bad at all, earning you the equivalent of 2 conquered regions per turn. That's basically like 4-6 tokens conquering a couple spots; since it gives you 4, one less than others that grant 5, it's like giving you 3-5 extra tokens a turn without any conditions or restrictions. Not much to say about what it's good with; it's decent on all races and obviously better on the best ones. It doesn't raise the power level of any racial powers to make a killer combo, but it doesn't counter any racial powers either.
Berserk is a great aggressive power that uses the reinforcement die to a little better effect than the Pygmy. Since you can roll first, then pick the region you are attacking, it opens up a lot of options. It'll allow you to spread out fast, burning most races out quickly, but that's OK to cover more ground in a game with finite turns. It really shines with races like Gypsies, Orcs, etc..
Bivouacking makes any race amazing. It's like 5 additional tokens to be used on defense anywhere you see fit. The fact that they can be stacked makes them insane. Almost any race becomes super playable with these, especially since it's at the top of the average giving you 5 tokens already. Buy high and buy often.
Commando is the ultimate attack enabler, making you able to attack any region with one less token. Attached to any Race, it makes them a powerhouse and you should buy these even at high prices. Gets even more overpowered with races that have a lot of tokens to spread out like Ratmen and Amazons.
Diplomat is a little more tricky to take advantage of and pretty situational. Sometimes who you pick won't matter, but it's especially good against aggressors like Orcs and Gypsies. How much you want to pay for depends on the game state, usually it will be at the bottom of the auction with a few tokens on it before it gets picked. As you and your group play more games and become aggressive it will become a little more powerful.
As with anything Dragons, this is a beast of a power that I might even rate higher than Commando for its defenisive ability in addition to it's powerful attacking. It can take down stacks of defenders and hardly any place is safe, unless they are also immune to powers. Again another Power to look for and pay highly for as it's better in your court than your opponents'.
Any power that breaks a rule of the game is good, and this frees you up to attack any region on the board. This is great with any race, and makes the ones that are looking for specific regions very playable as they are all now in reach. I'd say it's a decent pick, but not as high as Commando and Dragon Master. If it's on a powerful race, the value Flying adds is obviously going to multiply that power.
I've lumped Forest, Hill and Swamp in one group because they basically do the same thing. They are decent coin earners but they are conditional and only add 4 Tokens for their share of the army so these are just the baseline average for powers. Like Humans they aren't great on a 2 player baord as there are no instances of these regions being adjacent to like regions. On 3-4 player maps this situation improves, but is still conditional to who is already occupying the regions you want. I wouldn't go out of my way to pay too much for these as it's dependant on what race they are attached to and the game state when they are available.
Fortified is an awesome power because it gives you multiple benefits. You get to add to the defense of your most desirable region each turn and it even becomes a bigger coin earner while that race is active. The coin supply stops when you go into decline, but the defense sticks around so it's just a power that keeps on giving. I will shoot high for this power, especially if the Race it's attached to is above average.
Heroic is a great defensive power that combos well with fast expanding Races like Amazons and Skeletons. You can leave a couple regions held by 1 token along with the hero, giving you more time to take advantage of the fast burning races. It's also decent with just about any race, but not quite the power level of Dragon Master or Commando. I'd take it high if it's a great Race Match combo, and pay medium for just about anything else. It will just make most races better.
Merchant suffers from the same debilitating drawback that the Dwarves do, in adding so few tokens to your army. It's power is very good, but it's hard to get over the low token count. When combo'ed with Ratmen, you get the average amount of tokens and that will counter the drawback enough to make the double earning worth it. It's highly dependant on what Race it gets attached to and I'm not taking it high or even at all unless I can gain a ton of coins out of it or the race justifies it.
This is like a Comando that roughly makes taking around one third of the regions easier. It's no Commando, but it's decent, especially if paired with the very aggressive races. I look for it high, but not as high as the top powers. Giving you that 5th token is pretty good too.
Pillaging makes any race into Orcs and I dig it. My take on Orcs basically sums up how I feel about this power and I will always take it high. The little kid in me screams with glee when I can snag it on Orcs or Gypises. It's great on just about every race, especially ones with high token counts.
Seafaring opens up the 3 water regions to its attached race for the entire game, earning coins that can't be touched by other players even when in decline. That's pretty awesome, but the 3 bodies of water are spread out, so most of the time it's only opening up 1 or 2 regions within your reach. In a 2 player game this is the most powerful. Priestesses love to be seafaring as a tower on the sea is untouchable and the longer you can keep them in decline the longer they will earn. It's an average power on any race; don't let it be your deciding factor to buy high.
Spirit is best when you can get it with a race that wants to stick around for a long time after decline, like Ghouls, White Ladies and even Dwarves. It's an average power otherwise, maybe earning you a few extra coins, but in decline races don't stick around too long anyways. Not taking it high unless it has a race combo or game state that screams pick me.
Stout, Stout, let it all out. These are the races that bash on the way out, come on. I'm talking to you!
Silly song association aside, I like Stout as it's another power that let's you break a rule of the game. You basically get a whole free turn of attacking out of it that you normally wouldn't get. So your race goes into decline one turn earlier and your next race is smashing face on the next turn without missing a beat. It's another one I'll take high, but just under Dragon Master and Commando. If it's on Ghouls, I'd sell my grandmother to get it early.
Underworld gives you two great powers along with the top of the average 5 tokens. It's not as limited as Mounted in that it conveniently makes all the Underworld regions adjacent. I like it and will pay about middling for it with just about any race and higher if it combos well with a race's power.
Nothing wrong with the 1% here; any race looks better when it brings a chest of coins to the table. You do only get 4 tokens with it, but 7 coins can equate to an OK round of earning for no effort or condition. I won't take high, unless the race is ridiculous, but I won't let sit at the bottom of the Auction either.
I like this one because it messes with the game; obviously it's awful and you never want to take it until it's gathered enough coins to counteract its drawback of granting no tokens. It creates a neat tension in the game in that you have to make a race choice that will go out just in time for you to go ahead and take it when it's worth it. In other words, try to avoid paying in to it if you can unless it's the first turn and you have no choice. It's only going to be good for you if more of your opponents have paid into it than you have. Tricky, but adds a cool aspect to the game.
I like Ratmen and lots of tokens and this makes anyone a force to be contended with. All races can benefit from it, but the obviously aggresive ones like Orcs, Gypsies and others will be enhanced by having more tokens to dole out the punishment.
Did you ever play Time Walk in Magic, The Gathering? This reminds me of that but better because this game has a finite amount of turns and grabbing more regions more often earns more coins. It will burn the race out faster, but that's fine. I hate to sound like a broken record, but Orcs and Gypsies are again really good with this. No, let me correct myself, they break this power becasue they won't burn out by getting spread thin. In fact, I think Orcs and Gypsies with this might be the most powerful combination in the game. I will pay as much as need to get that combo, and I'd still pay highly when it's just about any other race.
You already know how much I love Orcs and Pillaging. Ransacking takes this concept too far in that you not only earn more coins for being aggressive, you steal them from your opponents. This is a huge swing in Victory Coin counts and can steal the game from the leader. I'm paying as dearly for this power as I do for Dragon Master, especially if it's on a very aggressive race.
Were- is a neat take on Commando, but is dependant on precise timing. You want the race to have more even numbered turns before going in to decline than odd obviously, so you have to plan this right. Also it's best to buy on an even turn, as your first is usually the most explosive. It's hard to valuate it outside of the game state, so you'll need to think about when to buy this one.
Grand Dames Powers
This one is again situational to timing. If picked up at the right time it will earn you decent coins, but you'll have to study the game state and anticpate when your opponents are going to go in to decline. This is also one thats power level scales to the number of players. It's more likely to score more in a 5 player game so always take that into consideration.
Peace Loving is hard to pull off, even with Goblins who are looking to exploit in decline races because you're just going to have to take on some active races when the board fills up. It's only good in the first and second turns, when the board is fairly empty. 4 tokens isn't helping the situation either. Not high on my list of wants, so I'll only take this if I have to or the Race power combos well with it.
Barricade encourages you to hold less regions by paying you you for it. It's a pretty straight forward trade off but it keeps you from spreading thin enough to go in to decline. If you're earning 9-10 Coins per turn total with your in decline race factored in it's worth it, so you don't want it as your first race.
Races that take advantage of this are the low token ones like Dwarves or White Ladies, but they'll go into decline too quickly anyways, but at least your not wasting turns keeping them around when they aren't earning with Barricade. Again, races that pick up camp every turn like Orcs and Gypsies take huge advantage of this extra earning power, as they will constantly just be holding 4 or less regions. That combo I'll take high, everything else is meh.
Catapult is fine with the with the ability to attack a region with 1 less token and the reach it gives is cool. Making one region immune to conquest and powers is a plus as well. It's not as ongoing as Commando but does draw some slight similarity to Dragon Master while not as strong. Dragon Master will trounce the region it hits no matter how many tokens are there and it gives you 5 tokens. So this one is decent, and I'll take middling if I can but not super high.
Corrupt is defensive in a cool way. Your opponents have to pay you to conquer you, which is very interesting. It basically negates the coin they'd earn on the spot you take. If they are Diplomatic, they can take advantage of this but that's a rare occasion. Paired with regional coin earners like Humans, Wizards etc. it has a synergistic effect. It will make any long living race even longer lived (ahem, Orcs and Gypsies are cool with it).
This set is hindered by the low token counts on these powers and Imperial seems to fight against itself in not giving you 5 tokens to take advantage of its own power. Obviously races that spread out quickly will benefit the most, but they tend to burn out quickly as well. It's not even as good as Humans who at least can start earning the coins as soon as they grab a farmland. It takes time to get to 5 regions, and when you do your time is short already. Not a fan of this one at all. It's OK with Ratmen to counteract its low token count.
I like the effect for personal flavor reasons because I like effects that spend alternate resources to work (like paying life in Magic). The effect of needing 2 less tokens is pretty good, but spending 1 coin to do it negates that region's first turn of earning. That's a dear price to pay and you'll have to work to counter it with a race power that can offset it. Another way to offset the drawback is to use those attacks to hinder your opponents even more. If you're tied in first place with someone, you can spend a few coins to devastate them if it will cost them more coins than you. So it's very situational to the game state if you want to take advantage of the power.
Well, that's it! I hope you learned a few things, or at least thought about some of the races and powers in a different light than you had before. As you can see, the amount of combinations are astronomical if you play with all the expansions. If you see anything I missed or disagree with anything, let us know in the forums. I'd love to hear from you!