I’m tickled technicolor to continue this one-of-a-kind summer series that will help you whether you are just interested in finding out about this new and exciting career opportunity, or ready to take your Supply Management career to the next level. Not only is it more fun than reading the latest study on the daily migration patterns of the three-toed sloth, but when you can grasp a lot of the basic concepts by playing the right mix of strategic (and sometimes tactical) board games with your friends, it’s three blasts and a half!
While we are still putting off the economic games (like Puerto Rico) that we are going to get to at some point, we’re going to make use of the fact that, thanks to unprecedented generosity of Wil Wheaton (@wilw) and Geek & Sundry, we have yet another fantastic TableTop episode where Wil Wheaton introduces us to the mechanics — and fun — of the game. Until we run out, we are going to take advantage of the priceless gifts that Mr. Wheaton has granted us with this spectacular educational series.
As with every other episode in the series, Wil Wheaton gives us a very succinct introduction to Small World in TableTop Episode 1, a classic victory-point game with near endless variations that give it exceptional replay value.
Small World combines the military strategy of risk with the delightful art and fantasy races of cosmic encounter. Whoever has the most points at the end of nine rounds wins the game. We earn points by conquering and ? territories. Empty territories cost two units to conquer. Every item in a territory costs one more unit to conquer. … At the beginning of every game, each player will choose a fantasy race, like Orcs, Elves, or Dwarves. Each race is combined with a unique special power like seafaring, flying, or heroic. These power and race combinations change every game, giving Small World tremendous replay value. No empire lasts forever, so don’t get too attached to your diplomatic skeletons. You will inevitably run out of units to conquer new territories. But don’t worry. When that happens, you simply put your active race into decline and choose a new one from the board and begin conquering all over again. It’s a very small world. And only one person can be the victor atop the bloody stinking heap of his vanquished opponents!
So what does this have to do to supply management? It introduces us to the intricacies of the markets that marketing and management expect us to indirectly support not only with products and services, but with market-entry advice (because, after all, we’re already sourcing from there so advising the organization on how to sell into there shouldn’t be that hard, right?). An alternate introduction to the game could be:
|Small World combines the military strategy of risk with the marketing strategies of an MBA program. Whoever has the most money at the end of year wins. We earn money by conquering and maintaining market territories. Empty, blue ocean, territories cost two units to conquer. Every competitor or obstacle in a territory costs one more unit to conquer. At the beginning of every game, each player will choose a primary market strategy, like brute advertising force, niche marketing, or price-undercutting, and combine it with a perceived marketing advantage such as a big war chest, coveted partnership, or new manufacturing process that allows production costs to be drastically slashed. The primary market strategy and perceived marketing advantages change every game, giving Small World tremendous replay value. No market lead lasts forever, so don’t get too attached to your past successes. You will inevitably run out of units to conquer new market territories. But don’t worry. When that happens, you simply put your current market strategy into decline and choose a new one from the board and begin conquering all over again. It’s a very small world. And only one company can be the victor atop the looted corporate carcasses of its vanquished opponents.
And the great thing about Small World is that victory points are measured in victory coins, for which a player gets one victory coin for each region his race tokens occupy. Whereas some games, like 7 Wonders, give you half a dozen ways to score victory points, scoring victory coins in Small World is straight forward. It’s simply a function of how many regions you occupy, and how many extra bonus coins you get as a result of race or special ability. Plus, conquests can be first (it’s a blue ocean market and you are the first entrant, having only to conquer obstacles such as resistance to foreigners or geographic distance to your target market), takeovers (where you use overpowering force to take over a market from another player), or a hail-mary conquest where a player knows he does not have enough resources to take over any more regions with certainty, but chooses to make one last attempt, literally betting everything on luck (that boils down to the roll of a die). Finally, when all is said and done, a player may redeploy his resources among the various markets he controls in an effort to either maintain them in the next round or move into adjacent markets.
The game is brilliant, and should definitely be in your organization’s lunch room. Forget about those boring seminars and brown-bag lunches. If you really want to push your Supply Management brain cells into overdrive, this is the way to do it!
It’s a small world
But it’s the only one we’ve got