Heroes of Land, Optimization & Chaos
My grandfather once told me that a good idea is about catching a spark, but good execution is about putting in the years. And while it’s possible this attitude is why ole granddad only accomplished two things in his entire life, I’m inclined to believe he was onto something. After all, there’s Heroes of Land, Air & Sea, which has a tremendous idea — a cardboard version of an old-school real-time strategy (RTS) game, complete with base-building, exploration, and heroes leading armies into battle! — it also so happens that it was executed… well, like this.
Fully Epic, Too Tiny
Wow. Can we just take a moment to marvel at the fact that Tiny Epic Quest is the fifth entry in this series of small-yet-usually-pretty-good games? From warring kingdoms to defending kingdoms, from outer space to the Wild West. All in a little more than three years. Scott Almes is nothing if not prolific.
Anyway, this is probably the best the Tiny Epic series has ever been. Though that might be because it’s just so dang photogenic.
From Dud to Dude
If we’ve learned any one thing about Scott Almes and Gamelyn Games’ Tiny Epic series now that we’ve reached the fourth entry — the previous ones being Kingdoms, Defenders, and Galaxies — it’s that they’ve got a lot of heart. Maybe even more heart than bite, sometimes, maybe.
It isn’t that they aren’t tiny, because sure, on a particular scale they’re downright microscopic. And it isn’t that they aren’t epic; when a word has lost all meaning, there’s no reason to keep championing it. Rather, it’s that they live up to their pitch. They’re portable, functional, and for being so compact and workmanlike they’re also decently good times when you don’t have a whole evening to burn.
The problem with that theory is that Tiny Epic Western is actually the sort of game I might play as a non-filler.
Tiny Epic Review
The audacity of the Tiny Epic series has never been more pronounced. First they were proclaiming a kingdom both tiny and epic, then a battle. Now it’s the whole damn galaxy. Plural galaxies, even.
Then again, the upside is that Tiny Epic Galaxies is the best thing we’ve seen yet from Gamelyn Games, so maybe we’ll give those oxymorons a pass this once. This once.
Sometimes “Tiny” Ain’t a Compliment
“Tiny” and “Epic” very rarely go together — usually only during my annual checkup. However, Gamelyn Games has been carving out a niche for themselves with the diminutive and monumental, and their previous game, Tiny Epic Kingdoms, was a pleasant little experience perfectly suited for casual fare between the main courses of a game night. Its spiritual sequel, either a solo or cooperative game this time, is better suited for a lonely night on the tundra. If you’ve brought a match, at least you’ll have a way to keep warm.
Tiny Epic Something-or-Other
Maybe because of the unspoken nerd prestige that accompanies 4X games (explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate, for the uninitiated), or perhaps because the previous two titles from Gamelyn Games, Dungeon Heroes and Fantasy Frontier, both ranked alright-to-okay on Space-Biff!’s Universal Objective Scale of Personal Preference, Tiny Epic Kingdoms really wants you to think of it as a 4X game.
But that’s somewhat misleading, because Tiny Epic Kingdoms isn’t really a 4X game. It’s more of a 3X game, which is just a 4X game minus an X — in this case, exploration, because there is absolutely no exploration in TEK. Unless laying a map tile on the table at the start of the game counts as “exploration,” in which case nearly every game is about exploration.
Not that it matters one dang bit, because Tiny Epic Kingdoms is easily the best title we’ve seen so far from Gamelyn Games.
Fantasy Frontier, or Regular?
If there are two things everybody fantasizes about, it’s the exploration of virgin lands and captaining an airship as it unloads its cannons at another airship. I’d also settle for captaining the Starship Enterprise.
Fantasy Frontier makes both dreams a reality (provided you count a board game as a legitimate version of reality, that is), and that’s still only half the story.
The SaltCon Diaries, 2014 Edition
Dragon’s Tiles! Dice Towers! Mayhem RPG! A ton of publishers, like Crash Games, Red Raven Games, and Gamelyn Games! War
Command Haven! Ryan Laukat, Michael Coe, and other designers whose names we can’t remember! That’s how many there are!
All this and more, at SaltCon 2014! So come along, as Space-Biff! investigates exactly what it is that makes this board game convention the third-best in the Mountain West.
Dungeon Heroes vs. the Pit of Asymmetry
One of the things I love most about Kickstarter is that it helps bring weird little games like Dungeon Heroes into the world. Why call it “weird” and “little,” you ask? Well, the second adjective is easier: it is rather little, which is a point in its favor considering how crowded my shelves are these days. As for the other, its Kickstarter pitch described it as a “lunch break dungeon crawl,” which seemingly not only misses the epic-length point of dungeon crawls, but takes a detour through an entirely different town than the one the point is living in. Weirder yet, it’s so asymmetrical that the dungeon master is playing a totally different game than the one the adventurer is playing. But does it work? Let’s take a look!