Publisher: Gamelyn Games (2014)
Designer: Scott Almes
Number of Players: 2-5
Average Time: 30-45 minutes
Tiny Epic Kingdoms
A Review by James and Gillian
Tiny Epic Kingdom's... It would seem a contradiction in terms. How then does the game play? Let's take a look.
This game is for 2-4 players with a modest play time of about 30 minutes as tested with 2-3 players. Tiny Epic Kingdoms is a 4X game (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate). While the appearance of the game would lead the prospective player into believing it is a friendly, Euro-pacifist's dream, something more sinister lurks beneath this facade. It may be true that you can turtle-up, building up your little kingdom (tiny actually) in peace, though odds are your opponents will outgrow their territory, or have inflated ambitions, and start sizing you up for slaughter using this game's unique conflict mechanic. Tiny Epic Kingdoms may be false advertising... Hold on, hear me out... You see, Tiny Epic Kindoms doesn't deliver tiny fun. This game is very engaging and delivers on all four of those X's in an big (epic) way! The resource gathering will be very familiar to you if you have played Catan, while the worker placement is reminiscent of Lords of Waterdeep. Each region produces one type of resource, while the workers are placed in the territory to gather them. Only one player's units may be placed in the region without the resolution of war or peace which is accomplished with a unique resource-bid mechanic. This bidding system removes the element of random success so familiar in games of conquest (Risk) and makes the players think about how much they really want a given territory, or whether cohabitation and peace are a better alternative. Peace can be perilous though as both parties must select peace to prevent a battle. I love the tension and treachery this promotes. Playing on the edge of your seat... with a game that costs less than $20? Wow! Now I'm not saying this is the greatest kindom-building, area control, resource management, game of conquest ever made. I AM, however, saying that I think it is the best of all of these that I've run across that will fit in your pocket. Think of the other games I've mentioned in this review as comparison (Risk, Settlers of Catan, Lords of Waterdeep)... Not one of these games are tiny, and NONE of them cost less than $35! For the fun delivered, that $16 Kickstarter price tag is certainly modest. Tiny game, EPIC fun!
This game isn't an easy one for me to review. At first glance (on Kickstarter)...the artwork is gorgeous and whenever a game has beautiful artwork and amazing characters (love the new factions at the different goals)...I want to LOVE the game. Not only that...this game uses meeples/cubes...and looks like a Eurogame, which I love! However, when I sat down to read the rules...I didn't know anything about the game, really. I hadn't read the information on the Kickstarter page, I have to admit. Anyway...reading the rules I found this thing called "War"...AHHH...confrontation! Run away! Ha.
When I play competitive (non co-op) games...I like there to be little to no confrontation. For instance, Lords of Waterdeep...95% of the game (if not more) has no confrontation. Sure...someone might take the place I planned on going or give me a Mandatory quest...oh no!...but...seriously...no real confrontation. But in Tiny Epic Kingdoms...I can be minding my own business, building up my little kingdom, gaining levels, having fun....and someone comes along...fights me...wins...and sets me back MANY turns. And THAT is what bugs me...not so much that there's confrontation...but that that confrontation can set you back sooooooooooo far. AHHHHH. Yes...I realize part of a 4X game is eXterminate...but that doesn't mean I have to like it.
All that said, I had an enormous amount of fun earning the "cry baby" award and annoying my husband when I decided to reverse his turns when I didn't like what he decided to do. Yep...that's why I tend to stay away from confrontational games so...take my review for what it's worth. I think most of the game is fantastic! The mechanics work really well (even the War makes sense)! And I fully support the Kickstarter...just leave my resources ALONE! Thank you 🙂