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I was excited to see Small World Underground on the shelves of the local game shop yesterday, but neither the box nor the official web site seem to offer a succinct comparison with the original game. It's clear that the races and maps have changed, but what else?

Additionally, how well does Underground work when used as an expansion for the original game (or vice versa)? Some races have terrain-dependent powers, but at a glance, Underground doesn't appear to use any of the original terrain types. Similarly, which expansions for the original game work with Underground?

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There's a great "first look" at Small World Underground here. This section in particular caught my eye:

  • After you choose a map, do not use powers that depend on features that are not present.

  • The following features are considered equivalent concerning their interaction with powers: -- Black Mountains / Mountains -- Mudpools / Marshes -- Mushroom Forests / Forests -- Mines / Mine symbols -- Mystic Crystals / Magic Symbols -- Rivers / Seas & Lake

I would add that some of the special powers in SWU duplicate racial powers in SW, or vice versa. If they happened to get combined (Immortal Elves, for example), I would simply put them back in the bag and draw again. [Edit: Many such combos are OK, since they enhance each other -- e.g. Commando Ogres, Vampire Sorcerers -- just like Pillaging Orcs in SW.]

From the sound of it, there has been some effort to "integrate" the two different games so that they are not basically incompatible (i.e. making sure there are analogous terrain types), but this only goes so far. Some races may not work, and some races may get special powers that duplicate their racial powers. So it could prove a bit annoying making them work together, if you like things to be really neat and tidy...

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