Kickstarter Update – 1/11/2016

Gamelyn Games and Scott Almes have been cranking out games in the Tiny Epic series, and we finally have the next installment with Tiny Epic Western:

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tewIn Tiny Epic Western, you are the boss! And upon your boss card, you will keep track of your posse and your influence.
You’ll be sending your posse members around town to play poker, gain influence, and purchase buildings.

Each location offers compelling options of where to place your posse members. Like using a building there, gaining instant influence, or doubling down for extra influence at the risk of not getting any.

You will play a poker hand at EACH location you send a posse member to.

Winning will get you the “poker pot” and any extra influence from a “double down” spot. You will need this influence for acquiring buildings later on in the round.

The Sheriff’s Office is a unique location offering players the ability to change the value or suit of their poker card. It also offers a way to acquire an extra building each round and even activate your 3rd posse member!
BEWARE! If you’re standing in the way of your opponent, they can send their posse member in for a duel and possibly take your spot!

Fighting doesn’t go unnoticed around here, or unrewarded for that matter, it is the wild west after all. The winner of the last duel always takes the wanted card.

After the locations have been resolved, and players have gained influence for their winning poker hands, a buying phase occurs. Players can now use their influence to acquire one building from a location where they have a posse member. Remember, hitting up the Sheriff’s Office can get you an extra buy during this phase; that can be a real game changer!

Buildings offer you victory points, access to their abilities, and industry influence.

At the end of each round, the player who had the best poker hand at the Town Hall advances one of three industries forward in their rank.

At the end of six rounds,or as many bullets as a revolver can hold, the game is over. The industries have now been ranked 1st through 3rd and the majority share holders (players with the most industry influence) will be paid bonus victory points respectively. Players add that to the sum of their victory points gained from acquired buildings, with the wanted player gaining an extra 2, and the player who has the most victory points is the winner!
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Polish up your spurs and check this one out…but hurry! It’s only around until February 6th! [link]


 

Eagle Gryphon Games has been bringing a lot of titles to Kickstarter lately, and the quality of the output has been amazing. Next up from them is a reprint of the 2013 game Continental Divide:

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cdivideThe Civil War is over! America strives to tame the American Continent and the key will be to connect sea to shining sea with iron horses and steel rails– thus opening the vast untamed lands to millions of adventuresome citizens weary of war. This strategic railroad game extends from the muddy Mississippi to the coast of California.

Each player founds railroads, determines share distributions and capitalization, invests in various companies they and others have founded, expands the companies across the country, and competes for the most victory points (not net worth) at the end of the game. Railroads are built across the river valleys, plains, deserts and ultimately, over the great Continental Divide!

Released as part of the Winsome Games’ Essen Collection 2013, Continental Divide is not a game of luck or chance, but a competitive struggle of wits, savvy and guile. Many decisions await the creators of these railroads, including what routes to build, how to capitalize, and what goals to set — both short and long term. This modern classic has all the challenges faced by the empire building capitalists that created a modern superpower.

In the middle of the 19th century America felt the pull of the Pacific. Those that dreamed of wealth and adventure traveled west, across the roughest terrain and harshest environs. For the Eastern railroad companies this meant new opportunities, and for those that dared to cross the treacherous Continental Divide fame and fortune awaited. It’s up to you, the railroads’ major stockholders, to control the actions of not just one, but of up to 8 railroads attempting to connect the Mississippi River to the bustling port cities of the Pacific Coast.

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Check this one out on Kickstarter before it rolls out of town on January 27th. Well, it’s the 28th…but it’s at midnight. So, yeah. [link]


Finally we’ve got a game for those of you that like to fly solo once in a while. Victory Point Games has a stunningly beautiful game for us with the second edition of Nemo’s War:

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nemoSet in the year 1870 of Jules Verne’s classic novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas, assume the role and motive of Captain Nemo and set sail in his amazing electric-powered submarine, the Nautilus.

Nemo’s War: Second Edition is a single-player board game of underwater exploration and combat. You will search the oceans, combat vessels of all nations, brave the hazards of the seas, find mysterious treasures, behold and chronicle amazing wonders, and travel around the world in your quest for knowledge and vengeance.

This second edition of Victory Point Games’ popular solitaire game from designer Chris Taylor is a greatly enhanced offering, featuring mass-production printing and amazing Ian O’Toole art and graphics throughout.

  • Decision-rich, narrative-enhanced solitaire gameplay
  • Four Nemo “Motive” objectives, three levels of difficulty, plus other gameplay options
  • Channel your “inner-Nemo” in an immersive strategy role-playing experience
  • Great references and quotations from 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas by Jules Verne throughout

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Nemo’s War will be on Kickstarter until January 28th and is blowing through stretch goals. Head over there today! [link]

 

Review: Tiny Epic Galaxies

A couple years ago, when I first heard of Tiny Epic Kingdoms, I was intrigued. The idea of a small box with big gameplay was one that I was willing to check out. And it came through for me and many others, as it’s a great game. Designer Scott Almes really has a knack for taking a game and distilling it down to make a small, yet potent package.

I’ve enjoyed the entire Tiny Epic series so much that when I saw Tiny Epic Galaxies go up on Kickstarter it was a no-brainer. I was jumping all over this game. The premise sounded cool, the art looked great, and his other games have been quite entertaining. Finally the long wait was over and this one arrived at my door. Did it live up to my expectations? Well, read on…

Tiny Epic Galaxies is a space exploration game for 1-5 players which will take around 30-45 minutes to complete. Each player receives a galaxy mat, ships, and tokens in the color of their choosing and two secret mission cards. After looking at those cards, each player will choose one and place it under their galaxy mat, discarding the other. The deck of planet cards is now shuffled and two more planets than there are players are dealt out in the middle of the table. If you are playing with five players, only use six cards. The dice, control mat, and planet deck are also placed in the middle.

The galaxy mat is going to be the center of your universe (pun intended) for this game, so let’s focus on those for a minute. Curving along the left side of the mat is the resource track. You will place your energy and culture tokens along this track, moving them up and down as your resources increase and decrease throughout the game. The resource track curves around the center of your galaxy, and this is where your available ships will live when they aren’t out colonizing a planet.

On the right side of the mat you will a large track which has three smaller tracks inset to the left. The large track is your empire track, and you’ll place your empire token on here to track your progress. The three other tracks are reference tracks which will tell you how many ships you should have in play, how many dice you can roll, and how many base victory points your empire is worth.

IMG_3797Gameplay proceeds as follows: on your turn, look at your empire track and take the number of dice shown on your dice track. Roll the dice and take the actions depicted one at a time. If you would like to reroll any number of your unspent dice, you may do so once for free. Additional rerolls are allowed, but will you cost you one energy per reroll. Once you’ve either used all of your dice or decided to not use the rest, play continues to the next player.

Each die has six faces which allow you to take one of four basic actions:

  • Move a ship – Move one of your ships to a planet, or from a planet back to your galaxy mat. When you move to a planet you can choose to either land on the planet and take the action listed, or orbit the planet in an attempt to colonize and claim it for your own. You may have two ships on the same planet as long as one is in orbit and the other is on the surface. When moving a ship which is already on a planet, it must move to a new planet…it’s can’t move from the surface to orbit or vice-versa.
  • Acquire resources – Each planet is capable of producing a resource (either energy or culture) and you can move up the resource track for each ship that is on a planet of that type. So if you rolled an energy symbol, and you’ve got two ships on planets with the energy icon, you would gain two energy. It’s worth noting that your galaxy mat has the energy icon, so you can gain energy while your ships are there as well.
  • Advance colonization – Along with a resource symbol, each planet has a symbol at the end of the orbital track signifying what it will take for you to successfully colonize the planet. Each symbol (either diplomacy or economy) allows you to move your orbiting ship one space closer to the end of the track. Once you hit the end, all ships are removed and returned to their home galaxies and the card is placed underneath the colony symbol on your galaxy mat.
  • Utilize a colony – This action will allow you to perform the empire upgrade found on your galaxy mat or any of the actions which are found on the planets you’ve successfully colonized. If performing the upgrade found on the mat, you may pay in either energy or culture, but not a combination of the two.

As you are taking your turn and activating each die, your opponents will have the opportunity to spend one culture to “follow” your action. This will allow, for example, your opponents to move ships when it isn’t their turn. If there are ever timing questions, you should evaluate each follow clockwise from the active player.

IMG_3798Each planet will have a number of victory points at the bottom, and as planets are colonized players will announce their new score. The end of the game is triggered once a player has 21 or more points, and play continues until every player has had the same number of turns. At this point the secret missions are evaluated, points are totaled, and a winner is decided!

You’re going to pick up the flow of this game in a heartbeat. Nothing’s overly complicated, and the basic premise behind most of the actions are ones that we’ve all seen before. But the package itself is nicely presented and makes everything flow nicely. From the follow mechanic to the dice activation, it’s just a complete package.

It’s pretty interesting that a simple thing like the follow mechanic can make such a huge difference in a game. Without that, this would have been a neat game that I would play once and forget about. But being able to follow someone’s action does quite a few things to improve gameplay.

First of all, it reduces downtime. Sure, there will be moments where you’re just out of culture and can’t follow someone even if you wanted…but careful planning will keep those from becoming frequent. For the most part, when it isn’t your turn you are still keeping on eye on what other players are rolling. You never know when your opponents will roll something that’ll set you up on your next turn.

Secondly, it makes activating your dice a little more challenging. Sure, I’d love to advance diplomacy because I’ve got a planet I’m working towards colonizing…but BOTH of my opponents do as well and they will get their colonies before I do at this rate. So is there another way to approach this turn?

IMG_3796Finally, it makes you choose to land on planets you normally wouldn’t. Because after that first time that you run out of culture and you really want to follow someone? Well, you won’t make that mistake twice. I’ve hopped onto planets I have no desire to get near just to have a chance at grabbing some culture.

There’s a lot to like here. You get some player interaction, lots of replayability, a compact footprint, and meaningful decisions. Basically everything that the Tiny Epic games are known for. And the components and art are top notch, which is fast becoming the hallmark of anything put out by Gamelyn Games. This is well deserving of a spot on any gamer’s shelf.

 

Game News – Gamelyn, Magic Meeple, Ares, & Pandasaurus Releases in 2016

It seems like every time we turn around lately there’s another tidbit of news about Gamelyn Games. This week marked the end of their Kickstarter campaign for Tiny Epic Kingdom Heroes’ Call, and they celebrated by announcing the next in their Tiny Epic line of games from designer Scott Almes: Tiny Epic West.

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Tiny Epic WestThe West is growing day by day, and you’re looking to stake your claim. To win, you have to gamble your relationships with the most powerful figures in town to win influence. This influence comes in many forms: Law, Money and Power. If you’re clever enough, you’ll be able to take claim over the buildings in the evergrowing boomtowns and gain powerful abilities. At the end of the day, the cowpoke who has the best combination of wit and bluff will become the most powerful figure in the Wild Wild West.

The game is played in a series of rounds. Each round, poker cards are dealt between the locations, which are laid out in a circle. Players place their cowboys on these location cards, which will both give an action and count as a bid for the location’s valuable resources. Players also get a poker card of their own (and more as their powers increase) which uses the two adjacent cards to form a three-card hand. This creates a clever mix of modern worker placement and poker that drives the game. In addition, players must manage their resources of Law, Money and Force, as well as track their progress becoming the best gunslinger in the game.

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This will be coming to Kickstarter on January 11th, so mark your calendars!


So not only do we have another Tiny Epic Game to look forward to, but the folks at Gamelyn Games have teamed up with Magic Meeple Games to bring Darkrock Ventures to Kickstarter.

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Darkrock VenturesMagic Meeple Games and Gamelyn Games have partnered to co-publish their highly-anticipated project, Darkrock Ventures, which has launched on KickStarter earlier today. The campaign will run for 28 days in hopes of reaching their funding and stretch goals to improve this already well-received and highly-thematic euro-style board game.

Darkrock Ventures is a worker-placement game set in deep space of the distant future; for 2-5 players, Ages 14+, and around 30-45 minutes to play, depending on the options used. The goal of the game is to mine Iron, Cobalt, and Platinum out of a massive asteroid and export it for as much money as possible before the asteroid is depleted…all while being relentlessly harassed and attacked by alien space pirates called the Therion Marauders. Darkrock Ventures was designed by Michael Eskue, whose previous work was featured on Geek & Sundry’s popular Youtube show TableTop. The game offers many different options of play with special features including the introduction of variable player abilities, for players that desire more replayability.

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The Kickstarter campaign can be found here and runs until August 11th!


Designer Kevin Wilson, who brought us such titles as Descent and Arkham Horror, will take us into the sewers for a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game! Partnering with Pandasaurus, Wilson’s TMNT game will focus on the comic version of the heroes in a half shell:

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Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shadows of the Past is a scenario-driven campaign game that features story content from the IDW TMNT comic. Taking the role of their favorite Turtle or the ultimate villain Shredder, players battle their way through a series of 60-90 minute missions in which they develop their characters’ strengths, fighting styles, and equipment along the way to create a lasting story arc. Fan-favorite characters like Casey Jones and Alopex appear throughout the missions as the Turtles call on their closest allies for help in battling their deadliest foes.
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Finally, Ares Games will ring in the 60th publication anniversary of The Return of the King by releasing an anniversary edition of the 2nd edition of War of the Ring.

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wotrThis new edition of the game will feature a set of 205 figures, hand painted in a high quality style; a hot-foil stamped game board, about 20% larger than the board included in Second Edition; a unique hardcover strategy guide, the War of the Ring Companion, written by Kristofer Bengttson and featuring beautiful artwork by John Howe. The game board, cards and rules will be updated to reflect all the changes introduced by the Second Edition and to incorporate the latest rulings and frequently asked questions.

The Anniversary Release of War of the Ring Second Edition is scheduled to release in Spring, 2016, with a print run of 2000 copies in its English version. Due to the limited print run, it will be sold by preorder only, at a price of $369.00 (about €330) plus postage and packing. Preorders will open on the Ares Games web site on July, 20th 2015 and will be serviced on a first come-first served basis, with a strict limit of one copy per customer’s address.

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That sound you just heard was the sound of wallets emptying all over Middle Earth!

Review: Tiny Epic Kingdoms Heroes’ Call

If you look at almost any board game, you will see that releasing an expansion can be a tricky business. With any expansion, you walk a fine line between enhancing the base game and flat out changing it to the point where it feels completely different from the original. And if you’ve got a game that was pretty damn good to begin with? Well, the task of expanding can be even more daunting.

When I heard that Gamelyn Games was releasing an expansion for Tiny Epic Kingdoms, I was cautiously optimistic. If you’ve read my review of the base game, you know that I really enjoyed how this little package delivered that “big game” feeling. And if you haven’t read it…well, it’s right over here. Go ahead. We’ll wait.

Okay…so where were we? Oh, right. Tiny Epic Kingdom Heroes’ Call. When this title was announced, I thought we would see more of the same from the TEK universe – some new factions, new territory cards, and maybe a small tweak here and there. I would have been happy with that, but there’s a lot more inside this box.

Keep in mind that this was a print-and-play version of the expansion, but let’s take a look at what it comes with and the changes we’ll see:

  • Five new factions
  • Five new territories
  • Fifteen hero cards
  • Five hero meeples
  • Five hero tokens
  • Thirty war towers
  • Five silver cubes

New factions are a must in a game with variable player powers. With the expansion factions and the ones from the base game, there’s literally tens of thousands of combinations of factions that can occur for a five player game. Replayability anyone? The fantasy theme is great here with Pigfolk, Birdfolk, Draconian, Polarkin, and Lionfolk all joining the fray.

TEK Heroes' Call

The new territories are the “Frozen Territories” and feature two new region types: Peaks and Tundra. The Tundra is similar to the Ruins from the base game – you get to choose a resource of your choice when collecting resources – however, if a Patrol or Quest action is available you MUST move out of the Tundra, even if it causes war. One caveat on the Tundra is that only one meeple can be present there at a time…so alliances and wars cannot occur in the Tundra.

Peaks will provide you with a new resource type: Silver. Silver is essentially a wildcard resource, which may be used in place of any other resource when building, expanding, or researching. It has no value in war, and you cannot Trade for it, but it can be gained from the Tundra or Ruins.

War Towers come in each player color and are used when a player takes the Build action. Along with moving their token up on the Tower board, the player will now take a War Tower and place it in a territory they occupy. This becomes a physical manifestation of their progress on the Tower track, and will provide that player with a bonus during war. Of course, as they are actually on the territory cards now, they may also be destroyed, which will send the player back down the tower track.

And as the expansion is titled Heroes’ Call, there better be some heroes. Each player is dealt two hero cards at the start of the game and chooses one to start with. This becomes their initial hero and their large hero meeple is placed in their starting territory.

TEK Heroes' CallEach hero card will have two special abilities on it, and the hero markers will keep track of the level each hero has achieved, up to retirement. Heroes can be leveled up in one of four ways, and once they are retired you switch their large meeple out with a normal one and place the corresponding hero card off to the side. New heroes can be recruited when you take the Expand action after having retired (or having lost in battle) your previous hero.

Along with the physical changes, we have a couple of new rules as well. First, the game’s end can be triggered when a player retires their third hero. Second? Retreating. If you’ve lost a war you choose to pay food equal to the number of meeples you have in play to bug out into an adjacent region, as long as that wouldn’t trigger another war.

So now that you know what’s in the box, let’s talk about what this expansion means for the base game.

The heroes are a massive addition to the game, and I think they’ve been integrated masterfully. From the onset, each hero is going to add another layer to the game based on the powers that they possess. It’s all well and good to want to move in on an opponent, but if their hero is packing a war bonus you’ll think twice about attacking them. Perhaps a hero is netting your opponent resources when the action card is cleared…so you scrap your original plans and move to dispatch them.

Along with that, the heroes also change your decision tree when it comes to taking actions. Remember how I said that you can level up your hero? Well, there are four ways of doing so, and three of them are taken in place of the Expand, Research, and Build actions. This throws a third option into what was a binary decision. It’s another player’s turn, and you know you can’t Build, but do you take resources or advance your hero? Or maybe you CAN Build…which makes the choice even harder. Do you want to try to retire your hero to get a new one, or is the current one too valuable to retire? Are you willing to let go of the 3 victory points you’ll get for retiring them?

TEK Heroes' CallSpeaking of the Build action, the War Towers are a great addition. Since the towers give you a benefit when defending it makes locking down a specific region a little easier…so go ahead and pop a tower down to defend your hold on the Capital. Of course, it cuts both ways – if you’re light on resources and someone decides to attack you that tower might fall, which knocks you back down the tower track. At game end you’re going to get some bonus points if you outnumber other towers on territory cards (other than your own) so there’s a lot to fight for here.

Of course, the new region types are sure to mix things up as well. I was never eager to go into the Ruins when playing TEK, as spending two actions just to move one meeple out was a lot to sacrifice. I think the Tundra region is a way to provide the same benefit with a less harsh penalty – you’re choosing a resource, but you’ve got to leave when you are able. And those Peaks? Well, if you want to see a hotly contested area take a look at the Peaks…Silver is way too valuable to let someone hog it all.

Perhaps my favorite thing about the new territory cards is that mixing them in with the original set has the potential for some sweet setups. Imagine how a game would play out if there were only two Peaks regions in a five player game? Every player is going to be trying to hold onto one of them and it’s bound to turn into a blood bath. The changing dynamic of each game is something I’m really looking forward to with Heroes’ Call.

So have you figured out the biggest change yet? Have you read between the lines? No? Well, I’ll tell you what it is. In Tiny Epic Kingdoms Heroes’ Call…

War matters.

Look, I’m not saying war was totally glossed over in the base game, because it most certainly was not. If someone was tossing too many resources towards Research, it was time to take them down a meeple or two as a response. If someone was holding a Capital? At least one person was bound to take a shot at it eventually.

But I also saw the games where people avoided war altogether. The resource cost was perceived to be too great and the reward was often not worth the risk. Even the factions with war bonuses would be hesitant to get in the trenches and slug it out with the others.

Now? Well now you’re going to need to get in there and get your hands dirty. I’ve talked about three of the four ways that you can level up a hero – and the fourth is by winning a war. If you’ve got a hero that needs to win a battle to level up, you better get in there and hit someone so you can retire that hero. Those points are hard to pass up at the end of the game.

The heroes are going to push you towards war. The regions will push you towards war. The factions will push you towards war.

No wonder they’ve added rules for retreating.

And all of these new decisions you’ve got? The increased conflict? The region setup? It all makes the resources a hell of a lot tighter. So you better diversify…there’s almost no path to victory that will let you neglect one of the many ways to score points.

For all that it adds to the game, Heroes’ Call still maintains the feel of the original. It’s a fine balancing act to change things up and add things while still holding true to the base game, but this one is a smashing success. But remember: there will be war. Oh yes. There will be war. You have been warned.

In the pantheon of board games, there are certain expansions which have elevated themselves past the point where they are simply a nice addition to the base game. These few expansions are looked at as being so well done that people don’t want to play without them.

Tiny Epic Kingdoms Heroes’ Call will be joining that list.

[well]Tiny Epic Kingdoms Heroes’ Call is now on Kickstarter! Head on over there and get yourself in line for a copy today…or at least before July 14th! (link)[/well]

Reprints Abound in 2015

Much to the chagrin of resellers everywhere, a couple of much sought after games are getting reprints later this year.

Ora & LaboraFirst up we have a reprint of Ora & Labora, by Uwe Rosenberg. This one has been out of print for a few years now, which is surprising given how well it was received. Printing will handled by Lookout Games, with Z-Man Games taking care of the English version. This news came straight from Uwe Rosenberg himself, and it looks like the flimsy think cardstock boards will be getting upgrades in this new version. Look for this one sometime in the third quarter of this year.

Another heavyweight title seeing the light of day once more is Luna by Stefan Feld. Since the explosion of Castles of Burgundy, Feld’s older catalog has been in high demand with several of his games falling out of print. Rumors have been swirling about Tasty Minstrel Games picking this one up, and finally this tweet confirmed it all:

Looks like a third quarter release for this one as well, with a confirmed MSRP of $60.

 

Mission: Red PlanetFantasy Flight Games, who could probably just churn out LCG content and ignore the cardboard, also gets in on the reprint game in 2015. They recently released a reprint of Tigris & Euphrates and will also bring forth a reprint of Mission: Red Planet by Bruno Cathala and Bruno Faidutti. Apart from the usual Fantasy Flight treatment where the components get a massive upgrade, it looks like the gameplay is getting tweaked as well:

[well]In Mission: Red Planet, two to six players compete to control as much of Mars and its priceless natural resources as they possibly can. This edition maintains the core mechanics of this fast-paced game while incorporating updates by the original designers. Astronauts can land in a new zone, the moon Phobos, and the Soldier can convey astronauts from Phobos to anywhere on Mars. Missions and Discoveries have been fine-tuned, and new Action Cards join the Event deck. The game can now handle six players, with rules for a two-player variant also included. What’s more, the Victorian steampunk aesthetic has been refreshed with all-new graphic design for a more contemporary look.[/well]

Tiny Epic KingdomsFinally we’ve got a comparatively new game getting a reprint and a new version in Tiny Epic Kingdoms. Gamelyn Games announced that the Scott Almes title will see a reprint with a few minor tweaks to the ruleset and some component changes as well. Nothing but good news for a great game! No firm date on this one yet, but with a Kickstarter for the expansion launching in June I would guess no sooner than the end of this year.

Review: Tiny Epic Kingdoms

When I was growing up it was hard to turn on the television and not see at least one Miller Lite commercial. At some point in the 1970’s, the “Tastes Great – Less Filling” ad campaign started and it ran for the better part of 30 years. While these commercials were entertaining, the message behind them was clear: while most people think that you can have either a great tasting beer or a less filling one, Miller Lite actually gives you both of these things.

Now, while they are dead wrong about their beer (Miller Lite is far from great tasting), the spirit of that ad campaign is an interesting one. Sometimes you will have two things that seem to be opposed to one another, but can end up coming together in the same product. In board games, for example, you might think that there are games that will play quickly, and those that will provide you with a fulfilling gaming experience…but not one that does both.

Tiny Epic KingdomsWell friends, prepare for the “Tastes Great – Less Filling” of the board game world. Tiny Epic Kingdoms is designed by Scott Almes, published by Gamelyn Games, and plays from 2 to 5 players. The average game will take about 30 minutes to complete, which is amazing – for this is a 4x game. What’s that? You aren’t familiar with the 4x genre? Well…

A 4x game will consist of four categories of gameplay: exploring, expanding, exploiting, and exterminating. Players are going to use their turns to discover new areas, claim those territories, harvest resources from them, and eliminate their rivals. Why are these called “4x” games and not “4e” games? Because, phonetics. Most 4x games are going to swallow most of your table and take hours upon hours to play.

But not this one. The “Tiny” in the title? Well, the box only measures 4″x6″, and the table footprint is quite small, even with a full contingent of five players. Each player has a faction board and a territory card in front of them, and then there’s the action selection card and the tower card. So there’s not a lot on the table…is there a lot of game here?

Most certainly.

Tiny Epic KingdomsThe game is played over a series of turns. During each turn the active player will look at the action card and choose one of the available actions to perform: patrol, quest, build, research, expand, or trade. Then each subsequent player will either take the same action or collect resources from areas they control until it gets back to the active player. Then the start player token moves to the left and the next player will select one of the remaining actions on the action card. Once the action card is filled, it gets cleared and all of the actions are available to choose from once more.

Play proceeds as normal until one of the victory conditions are met: a player has all 7 of their meeples in play, a player builds the 6th level of the tower, or a player has mastered all 5 levels of magic. At that point, the endgame has been triggered and play continues until all actions on the action card have been taken. Scoring will happen in a number of ways, and some factions will score bonus points based on their magic. It’s a fairly simple concept, but the game will surprise you with its depth.

From a variability standpoint, you’ve got a ton to go through here. Each territory has slightly different terrain types and placement, and there are 16 to choose from. Well…sorta. I mean, there are 16 unique territories, but the cards are double sided. So there are certain combinations that just can’t occur. But that’s just splitting hairs. Point is that there’s enough here to keep things fresh for a while. These territories, and their placement on the table, are really going to drive your strategy in many ways. Most of the territories will produce resources, so what you’re easily able to claim will help determine your path…at least in the early stages.

Along with the territories, Tiny Epic Kingdoms will change based on which factions you choose. Each faction card has an area to track your three resources, mana, food, and ore, as well as a magic track. While the resource tracks are the same,each faction will have a different type of magic available to them. Magic will provide various benefits which range from bonuses while occupying certain terrain to offering you bonuses when you go to war. Much like the territories, your strategy will change depending on which faction you play. Magic bonuses are going to lead you in a certain direction, and this makes each play quite unique.

Tiny Epic KingdomsThe variable factions and territories are just a part of the depth you’ll find here. Because there are three ways to trigger the end of the game, you’ll have to keep on eye on your opponents to prevent them from taking that last step. If they have a lot of meeples out? Time for war to reduce their population. Someone jumping out to a lead on the tower or on their magic? Take away the meeples that provide their ore and mana supply so this becomes out of the question. There’s a very Newtonian action and reaction feel to the game.

You can’t just hide in the shadows and expect to sneak to victory. These games aren’t called “2-or-3-of-4x games”. If you don’t take advantage of all the available actions at one point or another, you will fall behind, and you will lose. That’s not to say that you need to be taking each one every time it comes up…that’s just not possible as you will run out of resources. But unlike some games where victory can be achieved in one of a few ways, you need to use all of them effectively at one point or another to hit any of the endgame goals.

Player interaction is the name of the game here. Your resources will help you go to war with other factions and seize the land you need…or simply take it away from someone who has started to pull away. Or maybe you form an alliance with someone to help stave off the advance of a third party, or simply because you both see the need for a mutual occupation of a territory. Which is great, until they decide you’re no longer useful. The wars themselves are simple and decided by how many resources you’re willing to commit to the fight. It’s brutal, but war tends to be that way.

Last, but certainly not least, the production value of this game is stellar. The art is top notch. The territory cards are vibrant and unique, and each faction is a gorgeous representation of that race. There’s even a full size art piece on the back of each faction. And the pieces are well crafted, tiny little meeples and towers. Little ears of corn. It’s cute and awesome all at the same time. Physical components aside, this game was available for print-and-play long before it ever saw retail production, which is perhaps the best thing that can happen to a game. The kinks have been ironed out and the Tiny Epic Kingdoms community is very active.

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “good things come in small packages” before, and in this case it is more than just an idiom for the vertically challenged. Scott Almes seems to have a knack for packing quite a punch into a small box. I took a look at Harbor a while back and said that it scratched an itch that would normally take a large box game to scratch. The same can easily be said about Tiny Epic Kingdoms. If you want that 4x experience in an eighth of the time, this one is for you.

Tiny Epic-er Kingdoms

TEK Heroes CallGamelyn Games released some news this week that world of Tiny Epic Kingdoms was about to get a little less tiny. Larger. Still small, but…more. I don’t know. These size adjectives trip me up every time.

Set to hit Kickstarter this summer, Tiny Epic Kingdoms Heroes’ Call will include new factions, new regions, and rumor has it that there will be new rules to help enhance the two-player experience, among other things. Designer Scott Almes will most assuredly have more to pack into this as the Kickstarter campaign takes off.

I expect this to be a monster hit as the Tiny Epic franchise has delivered nothing but quality games since coming onto the scene a couple years ago.  I guess I really should review this one…