1-4 players, Competitive, Tiny Strategic Puzzle
Designer: Scott Almes
Artwork: Miguel Coimbra
Publisher: Gamelyn Games
Overview of Gameplay
The Tiny Epic series has quite a few games out on the market already. I own two of them so far, this one and Tiny Epic Zombies and I have to say they are decently epic for their size. Suffice it to say the title does work well for what comes packed in the tiny box.
In Tiny Epic Quest players will be traversing the land in a variety of ways completing precious tiny quests to earn themselves some victory points. Whoever has the most vp’s at the end of round 5 is declared the winner! So to speak on the gameplay a bit more, each turn each player will pick a particular style of movement card to use such as by ship, horse, on foot etc. each player will get a shot at this picking one at a time and every OTHER player can also move according to what they picked. So this is a quick and easy way to get your three starting meeples moved around the map setting them up for success. After each movement there may be actions that are taken immediately by some players based on where they moved their meeple. Like those delish mushroom grottos usually have actions that you instantly take like moving another one of your meeples further along the temple they might be in. So there is a bit of strategy involved with the movement and where you place meeples. Most of the rest of the places however your meeples will stay put and not do anything till the DUM DUM DUM, night phase!
During the night phase a lot of these places on the map come alive with excitement. Temples can more fully be explored, causing you to roll these custom adventure dice to try and make progress. Spell Obelisks allow you to learn certain spells to aid you during future endeavors BUT only if the Magic token has moved a certain distance on the magic card WHICH only moves from rolling certain emblems from those adventure dice I was talking about. Again strategy on placement and timing. If you moved any meeples onto a Goblin portal spot you can then apply hits to those goblins from those same dice. However these dice also have sides for damage so if you happen to roll one of these dread sides that amount of damage is shared amongst all players. Each player will continue passing the dice around choosing to continue to adventure in the night until they decide to Rest by choice or exhaustion, which is basically from getting the beat down from the goblins. After all players have rested, the magic token resets, those goblins on the map become angry (so they attack if you move through their areas now), some of the Quest cards get cycled out and you move on to the next round!
I am super impressed overall with basically everything in this tiny box. The components are clever and very unique. The quest cards are high quality and the map cards that compose the land in which you play on are also high quality. The Meeple are very cool as they have included a bunch of little plastic weapon tokens that actually fit into tiny holes on the hand parts of the meeple so it actually looks like the meeple is holding a sword and shield or a bow and arrow. When those weapons are not attached to the meeples they are hanging out on a makeshift cardboard display stand that looks like something you would see in a blacksmiths shop. It’s really awesome looking.
The dice are also high quality and have unique custom emblems on each side. Speaking of the game board, since it’s made of oversized cards that are laid out each one has a reverse side that changes the map up quite a bit covering the land in this “Gloom”, also a very nice touch.
Such a precious little box, I’m talking tiniest of the tiny and everything fits in it perfectly! Also super impressed with this as I was expecting much less gameplay to be packed in here. Like a much simpler game but I was surprised when I found the GAME that was included. Never underestimate something based on its size.
Visual Appeal /Theme
A pretty standard fantasy theme here, nothing unique or surprising. Visually though the game cards are very well done, the artwork looks great and the colors are bright and vibrant. On the flip side of the cards you have much darker muted colors in accordance with the newly themed “Gloom” and this goes well with the harder difficulty I feel. The plastic items attached to the display rack is just incredible to look at on the table and my favorite overall part of the game to be honest. Such a nice touch.
I struggled with this rulebook however. For such a small game this rulebook is no joke. There is a lot to learn and the way the rulebook is setup makes it difficult to learn. The stuff you need to know when you are reading it is spread out in different places so I found myself constantly flipping around trying to find things that are referenced earlier to create a full thought cohesion. There are also quite a few rules that are kinda up in the air and not nearly as air tight as I would like, basically they are left up to the player to decide the best course of action.
Table Talk/Fun Factor
The game is a lot more strategic than I first thought it would be going in. The first time I played I just moved my meeples to random places thinking I was just going to take the actions and go on about my life. But nope, I quickly discovered that I needed to move my three meeples to specific spots to try and work them off each other with the actions whether I was trying to get a headstart in a temple with one or risking learning a new spell. This, for me, changed the game from a basic adventure game to more of a puzzle game. Now surprisingly enough this did NOT lessen my enjoyment of the game at all! I usually prefer adventure games over puzzle games but I found the puzzle in Tiny Epic Quest to be fulfilling and exciting. Perhaps it is the dice, I always like a good dice rolling to add to the tension.
Table talk is also good since you will be directly competing with other players on exploring temples and collecting those legendary items from said temples. Also there are always 3 quest cards on display that are anyone’s game which further enhance the table talk when players are inevitably moved to meet up and compete for those delicious treasures.
Optimal Player Count/Replayability
The map is always the same size regardless of the number of players so it kinda depends on how much freedom you want from other players. Playing solo is super fun with you running amok over the entire land and you just need to reach a certain number of victory points to win. Not my favorite victory condition in a solo game but the fact there is even a solo mode is great. Upping the player count from there adds more people to run into during your travels and with that interaction comes more fun and strategy. For example only 2 heroes total can be in a single temple at a time so once you get three to four players going it is possibly to get locked out of temples. Luckily there are quite a few to choose from and each player has slightly different characters cards of places to explore for their legendary gear.
Replayability is pretty decent. I mean the game map is basically shuffled every time you play although the castles are always in the same spots. So that mushroom grotto that was up to the right last time might be down to the left this time. Also the flip side of the cards adds another layer of replayability with the Gloom. A more difficult variant on the base game with new art and colors. Also the quest deck is pretty thick so it’s doubtful you will see all those cards in a single game which also adds some variety. BUT beyond all that variability you are basically doing the same stuff over and over again, moving around exploring temples, fighting goblins and the like. It’s fun for sure but I can see it getting samey after a few plays.
Positive Final Thoughts
I really, really like this game, it surprised me in more ways than one. The components are excellent and fun with an emphasis on presentation. The game board cards are variable and each character is slightly different as well although each plays the same. The way the turns are structured means there is basically zero downtime, everyone is always interacting and engaged. I mean I’ve only played two Tiny Epic games thus far but this is my favorite for sure. Don’t go in expecting an adventure game here, this is very much a strategic puzzler. Usually for me that is a downer but surprisingly enough I actually enjoy this one.
Negative Final Thoughts
The rule book needs quite a bit of work as it makes the game seem much more complex than it actually is. Also the game isn’t super deep so don’t go in expecting Mage Knight. It’s more a move, do a thing, rinse, repeat. This isn’t really a negative for me but for those expecting a deeper experience they may want to pass on this one.