The idea of a Small World may have been around forever, but what really imprinted it in our collective subconscious was good old Walt Disney. For a theme park ride, he wanted a tune with words that could easily translate into any other language - and the Sherman brothers, his in-house composers, delivered. It's a comforting song, one meant to inspire thoughts of fraternity and far-off relatives. We're all in it together!
Small World's first impact is its vicious inversion of the title. Here the fact that everyone's not too far apart is the prelude to conquest, empires that rise and fall over the course of 10 minutes and a never-ending stream of battles. It's probably a bit closer to the truth.
The playing area is a world map divided into chunks, certain of which have characteristics: ocean can only be captured by seafaring races, mountains are easier to defend, and so on. At the start of the game these chunks are occupied, but any crazy natives are soon boshed out of the way in the name of progress and empire-building. Two players take turns to conquer certain regions, using a limited number of attacking tokens per turn, through combat that equates to higher number beating smaller number.