I was lucky enough to be selected for a prototype copy of Tiny Epic Galaxies on the condition that I write a review about it. Unfortunately, I think I am a little late on getting my review in. But here we go!
Tiny Epic Galaxies is the latest game in the Tiny Epic line from Gamelyn Games. Of the Tiny Epic line, I have backed Tiny Epic Defenders and was lucky enough to snag a Kickstarter copy of Tiny Epic Kingdoms, despite missing the campaign. Currently, Tiny Epic Defenders is being made and I believe it is due out around March. I have played a few games of Tiny Epic Kingdoms since receiving it and I have definitely enjoyed it. The Tiny Epic line does a great job of giving the players the feeling of an epic game in a short play time. Most of the games I have played of TEK and TEG have been under 30 minutes, some even shorter. Both give you multiple paths to victory and meaningful choices throughout the game, as well as a decent amount of player interaction. TEK also comes with beautiful components and art on the race cards, box, and player mats. This first paragraph may seem more like a review for TEK, but I wanted to give a baseline of what makes up a Tiny Epic game from Gamelyn Games.
Tiny Epic Galaxies continues this trend of a fast game with an epic feel.
The prototype currently includes player boards for 4 players, the assorted component each player needs to play, and a deck of planet cards. As this is a prototype, these components are place holder and not anything near what the final components will look like. Each player is given 4 ships, 1 energy cube, 1 development hex, 1 culture disc, and 1 player mat. These components are simple wooden or plastic pieces. These are uniform and same across all players, other than color. The component that will vary and change up the game is what planet cards are currently in play and what is bought by which players. All the art is currently hand drawn rough sketches, but that is to be expected in a prototype. There are some interesting design decisions, such as the ability to slide the planet cards under your player board as you gain control of them. In theory this looks cool, keeps the table footprint down, and makes the board more intuitive to read. However, in practice, this tends to lead to the boards being jarred when trying to slide cards under it causing pieces to slide off of where they were on the resource and development tracks. All in all, it is hard to judge a prototype game by its components, as it is just that, a prototype.
This is a dice chucking game! Each turn you start off with between 4 and 7 dice, according to how far along your development track you. Each die has 6 unique sides that provide 6 different actions: movement, energy generation, culture generation, colonize money, colonize influence, and increase development or use an acquired planet’s power. You can use your dice in any order you choose. At any point in time during your turn you may reroll any/all dice you have not used yet. The first time is free and all subsequent times cost 1 energy per re-roll. The order in which you play your dice can matter greatly as you can use energy or culture generation before an increase development to be able to afford the next level of upgrade for your galaxy. Also, after every die you use, your opponents have a chance to follow you, spending 1 culture in the process. They can use the same action you just used. Any costs associated with the action would have to be paid by you in addition to the 1 culture spent to be able to follow. After you have used all your dice, play passes to the next person clockwise who then beings their turn by rolling all the dice.
There are two resources in TEG: energy and culture. As explained above, each has their own special ability (re-rolling and following). In addition to these, they can be used to purchase the upgrades on the development track or to utilize planet abilities. Both resources are gained by using a dice with the generate energy/culture symbol. When you spend a dice this way, you gain one energy per ship you have on a planet with the energy or culture symbol. Each planet will have one resource it generates. You are able to use multiple dice this way each turn. Each step of the development track can be paid for in energy or culture, but only with one at a time. Since each step costs more and more, you will need to build up quite a bit of one resource before you can upgrade to the top levels. In addition, your resources max out at 7 per resource. Energy and Culture are also sometimes used by Planet Card abilities, which will be explained below.
Movement Dice are used to move your ship to planets to utilize a planet ability or to the colonization track of a planet. When you move to the planet to utilize its ability, you can immediately do what the bottom of the card says. This can be anything from gaining energy, turning culture into colonization track boosts, removing your opponents ships from the colonization track of a planet, or blocking players from utilizing the follow action on your turn. Anyone can fly to a planet and utilize its ability and many people can be on the same planet at the same time. Once you colonize a planet, its ability will be added to your galaxy, where only you can utilize it with the (DOME DICE). The second type of move you can do is to the colonization track of the planet. Whoever reaches the top of the colonization track of a planet first, claims that planet, adding it to their galaxy and thereby gaining the associated victory points and the sole use of that planets ability.
The two colonization dice, influence and money, are both used on the planets of those respective types. Each time you spend a dice of this type, you can move your ship one step up the colonization track. Not much more to it than that.
The final dice is the one that allows you to upgrade your galaxy or utilize the planet powers of the planets you have claimed. When spending it to upgrade your galaxy, you then pay the amount of energy or culture required for the next step of the development track. Then you move up the token to that level and immediately gain any ships by placing them on your player mat planet. Any dice you gain do not take effect until your next turn. When you are using these dice to play planet abilities, you can immediately use the ability (paying an costs associated with using it). If opponents follow, they can utilize their own planets, but not yours.
The game is played until one player has 21 points. You are able to claim up to 8 by upgrading your galaxy, but then after that you have to start taking planets in order to win.
All in all I have enjoyed the game as a nice little filler. It feels like a much more focused game about smart programming and utilization of your resources, rather than a multiple paths to victory game. I do feel like expanding your galaxy is probably the most important and crucial path to follow, as you will only gain more actions. There are very few planets that tend to make me not pursue that route first and foremost. Due to having seen it a few times first hand, it might be nice to have some sort of built in, if you have no actions you gain 2 energy and 2 culture (assuming you spent none of your dice of course). However, I do enjoy the press your luck component of being able to come back from behind. It also is easy to teach and fast to play. Plus who doesn't like rolling dice! I would recommend this game if you are looking for a nice little space expansion filler! I know I already backed the Kickstarter!
Thanks for the review, Jake!