Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tiny Epic Kingdoms - An Explorative Review

Hi everybody!

I am doing a new review today! I know, finally! I am starting this early because I want to talk about Tiny Epic Kingdoms by Scott Almes. I have a feeling this review is going to take a bit of time to write because the small box and name are deceptive. The game, much like the Tardis, is much bigger on the inside. Without any more delay, let us get right into the world of Tiny Epic Kingdoms.
Tiny Epic Box
Tiny Epic Kingdoms is a 4x game for 2-5 players that takes only about 30 minutes to play. That is a huge undertaking for the kind of game that it is. I've been playing Sid Meier's Beyond Earth for 20 hours and I still haven't finished my first game, so a 30 minute 4x is super quick. Anyway, let me continue. The game is packed full of different races to choose from and each one is very unique. The races have their own spell tome (basically a tech tree) that contains special abilities unique to them, so picking one to play as is a big choice right out the gate. After that the players pick their starting resource amounts. Food, ore, and mana must total up to 6 on the board to be viable, but how that number is divided among the resources is up to the player. The best part of this is the rules have a standard to use with 1 ore, 2 mana, and 3 food.
The Beginning of the Undead

The setup is very essential, as players also pick 1 area to make their home territory and place 2 of their meeples on one of the spaces. There are a lot of land choices to make and placement is very important. Most races can't bodies of water and black mountains so instead they must move around them. Placement also dictates what resources the player will harvest when the time comes to gather. The game setup is full of important decisions to make and some bad placement can really set the tone and pace of your game.

Once setup is complete the players can jump right into the gameplay. Players take turns and simultaneous actions making it so there is virtually no down time. There is an action sheet with 6 separate actions on it, but only 5 shield markers which means that every round there will be an unpicked action. The active player picks an action such as Trade Resources, Patrol, Quest, Research, Build, etc and performs it on the stop. Going clockwise from the active player the other players make a decision to either perform the same action, such as patrol, or gather resources from their controlled regions. Once everyone either acts or gathers resources the next player becomes the active player and play continues in the same fashion until all shield markers are used. When all shield markers are used the first player token is passed on and the next player chooses first.
Pick An Action, Any Action.

I am not going to get into the rest of the details because explaining the game to its absolute fullest can turn into my dissertation for my board gaming doctorate...or at least a long form essay.

Anyway, the game has 3 ways in which it can end. The End phase is triggered when a player either completes construction of their tower (from the build action), researches all 5 levels of their magic tree, or has all of their meeples in play. When the end game is triggered the players play out the remaining actions of the round, if there are any left, and then calculate their final victory points. Victory points come from the tower, controlling territory, certain magic tree abilities, etc. The player with the most wins.

Now let me start by saying that the game is wonderful to look at. I love the art style, but the Kickstarter stretch goals really made this game fantastic and over the top. The first big upgrade was making individual meeples for the resources and workers instead of cubes, then came the magic books and towers, followed by the shields. These perks bring good life to the game and give me a sense of actually performing these actions rather than pushing cubes. The real icing on the Tiny Epic Cake is the HUGE first player tower marker and the individual player 12-sided dice with white flag marker and in player colors. These bonuses are so cool to look at and use. They really make the game feel special.
All The Bits in Such a Tiny Box

Now let us talk of three things that really make me happy. First on the list is that the territory cards are double-sided and both sides are unique! It is double-sided done right. I can take a card and then pick which of the two I want to use and this brings me to the next point on the list. The second point is the game packs a ton of variety. Between the double-sided territory cards and all of the different races you will be hard pressed to play exactly the same game twice. Which is fantastic, the amount of combinations and choices really makes the replay value skyrocket. Lastly thanks to the highly successful campaign a mini expansion came boxed with it. The mini expansion, although a bonus, adds 4 gameplay variants that help shake the game up and add even more variety to an already explosive game. There is also a bonus to this list, and basically a personal preference, but they used black as one of the player colors. I only play black (when it is available in a game) as you can tell from my BGG microbadge.

Now let's get serious for a bit. The has good quality to the components and the artwork. The game, despite the size, fits nicely and neatly into the small box. Tiny Epic Kingdoms also keeps its promise of delivering a full 4x game in 30 or so minutes. All and all the game is a Tiny Epic Success and it is a game I am totally glad I jumped on when I did.
Playing the Orange


I highly recommend this game. I can't recommend it enough. It really is a wonderful game and a lot of fun. When I want a 4x board game and I don't want to spend 3ish hours on Civilization, I can grab Tiny Epic Kingdoms and have a boat load of fun with the possibilities of multiple games instead of one and done.

Also, if you are into pimping out your games, Meeple Source helps by offering a full compliment of race meeples (although very expensive I feel) for Tiny Epic Kingdoms and the upcoming Tiny Epic Defenders. Of Course all of those meeples won't fit in the box, but the game will look twice as stunning when played.

Thank you all again for reading Daemonic Teutonic. As always, I hope you enjoyed the review.

Cheers,
Phil

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