It's quick and simple to learn but there are nuances to the races and classes that meant that it kept us thinking and coming back for more. The graphics are pretty and functional, the interface is seemless and helpful. I haven't played the board game but came to understand the rules during the first play through.
There are two 'mini-expansion packs' available to purchase from in the app which gives you some more races and classes. If I had to criticise I would say there were perhaps a little overpriced compared to the price of the game, BUT they did add some new dimensions to the game. It would lovely to see a different board layout as well, after our multiple play throughs that might have been nice.
Apparently it's a very good adaptation of the board game, I haven't played that but it looks like it is from the pictures. The UI means that you don't have to turn the iPad round (it reverses for the other player if you want it to) and although the instructions throw you in quite quickly we didn't find it a problem.
Small World gave us a very fun evenings play and I'll certainly come back to it. I very much hope they'll release some more of their games on the iPad and I'll pick up their other offering (Ticket to Ride) at some point and I will probably look at buying some of their board games too.
They have a great quote on their website which I think sums it up well, so I have reprinted it here:
"Digital board games have several advantages over cardboard: They're always with you, they save space, they take care of all the record-keeping and rules enforcement, and they're a lot cheaper. Small World hits all these marks."
Julian Murdoch for GameSpy