Gamelyn Games is one of my favorite board game publishers. They are known primarily for their Tiny Epic line of games, and I am the proud owner of all of them. Today, I would like to tell you about one of them called Tiny Epic Quest, but before I do that let’s talk about what makes a game Tiny and Epic. They come in a small box (7″ x 4.75″ x 1.5″), have simple rules, offer high levels of strategy, and come packed with amazing components. Each of them is also designed by Scott Almes and contain a theme and game play unlike other Tiny Epic games.
Tiny Epic Quest is a game for 1 to 4 players, ages 14+. It takes approximately one hour to play and retails for $30. The game takes place in the Mushroom Realm, where you and your fellow adventurers are embarking on quests to save this world that is being torn asunder by evil Goblins from the underworld. You will accomplish this by 1. defeating the goblins, 2. learning magical spells, 3. exploring temples, and 4. completing quests! The game plays over five rounds and whoever earns the most victory points from the four objectives is the winner.
The game area is arranged in a similar manner every time. There are four castle cards on the map, which are put in the corners of a 3 x 3 grid. Regular map cards then fill in the cross of that grid, and two cards are put on each side of the grid to form the coast of the map. After this, each player is given three ordinary meeples to place in their castle with not a weapon or spell to their name.
The game is then played over five rounds with each round broken into two phases — day and night. During the day phase, there are four turns of movement which will give you the option of moving an individual meeple or keeping them idle. The five different types of movement are by foot, by horse, by raft, by gryphon, and by ship. Each moves you in a certain pattern and can only be played once per round. After these four movements, night falls and the real action begins. Players take turn rolling five dice which allow them to explore temples, attack goblins, or learn spells. Be aware, these goblins will be trying to hit you as well. After you have rolled the dice and resolved the actions, the dice move to the next player, and you can choose to rest or keep adventuring. Successfully completing quests and exploring temples earn you points as well as items, which can be equipped to your meeples!
1. Theme and Artwork: Any child of the ’90s will have a flashback when seeing this game. If you are a fan of Nintendo video games, like I was, just looking at the box makes you think of The Legend of Zelda and long for the 8-bit days of collecting the Triforce and defeating Ganondorf.
2. Components: As with all of their Tiny Epic games, the components are top notch. The cardboard is thick, and the wood is beautifully painted. The dice (usually my favorite component of a Tiny Epic game) are beautifully marbled, but there are new items that eclipse all of these components … the ITEMeeple and their attachments. These aren’t your traditional meeples, but instead are a hard plastic with holes bored into them to attach swords and shields, bombs and boomerangs! Were these ITEMeeples necessary? Of course not, but they were revolutionary and something Gamelyn has implemented into the next two Tiny Epic games: Tiny Epic Defenders and Tiny Epic Zombies.
3. Replay Value: The game play itself is best described as a sandbox adventure. Yes, you have objectives you are trying to complete and there are specific ways to score points, but you decide which path of victory you are going to pursue. The replay value in this game is very high due, because the map changes every time you play and if you flip the map cards over, you can play a more difficult variant called GloomFall. In this variant, the goblins are more aggressive and the temples are tougher to explore. Apart from the adventuring that occurs, my favorite aspect of the game is the push your luck element that the dice offer you in the night phase. The dice can be your best friend or your worst enemy in this game, and it can change from round to round.
Footprint: For coming in such a tiny box, this game is a bit of a table-space hog when you set up the map. If you aren’t aware of that when you pick up the box, you will quickly find yourself wondering if you picked the right side of the table to play on.
Teaching: It takes a couple of rounds playing this game for the game to click with people when playing it the first time. There are some nuances in the travel and resting, flipping over aggressive goblins or spending energy to pass them. You definitely want to play this game two times in a row with a new group, because by the time they get it, the game will be over.
I generally ask myself three questions after playing a game and before recommending it to people:
1. Will this game stay in my collection? Absolutely!
2. Will I play this game anytime I am asked? Of course!
3. How does this compare to other games by the same designer or same genre/mechanic? I am going to tweak question three and say, Where does this rank among Tiny Epic games? The answer to this one is that it is currently my second favorite among their Tiny Epic line. First for me is still Tiny Epic Galaxies, but Tiny Epic Quest might fall to #3 once I get a chance to play the new Tiny Epic Defenders!
Overall, Scott Almes and Gamelyn Games packed a lot of game play and material into this Tiny Epic game. It was short, fun, and left me wishing I could have done more once the game ended, thus making me want to play it again immediately. These are signs of a great game to me!
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Copyright 2018 Stuart Dunn