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Subject: Tiny Epic Galaxies vs Harbour (i.e. Tiny Epic Le Havre) rss

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David B
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Prior to Tiny Epic Galaxies, my only exposure to the Tiny Epic series was Harbour, which really is a member of the series and shares much of the same framework as Tiny Epic Galaxies. Both games involve a take on the worker placement genre and involve building a small tableau and using the abilities of cards that may or may not be purchased.

I ended up giving Harbour away as I found it to be quite lackluster. There were several things in the game that led me to this. For one, the abilities on most of the building cards were boring. Several of them involved trading in x of one good for y of another resulting in a net gain of one good. This was further dulled by the fact that all four goods were essentially the same. The only difference was their relative positions on the market track at a particular point in time which affected potential values of a sale. But the market was quite volatile and somewhat chaotic, hence those abilities that allowed you to convert one good to another were difficult to judge. There was also a top-hat mechanic that I was not fond of. If you had at least one top hat in your tableau, you could use an opponents purchased building free of charge. However, there were too many top hats in the deck and it was not unusual for everyone to have one. This took away much of the advantage to actually purchasing a building. Sure, I still get the points. But I did all that work and you still get to use it anyway? All of this made Harbour a game I did not care to keep around.

Tiny Epic Galaxies fixed all of these issues for me. Turns are much more interesting in this game. Instead of moving a single worker on your turn, you get to roll a number of dice based on the size of your empire. The dice depict different actions and the dice are activated one at a time in any order. There are two resources in the game: energy and culture. These resources have very different uses and hence the "planet" cards that allow you to convert one into the other actually have much more strategic implications than the conversions in Harbour. Energy has two uses: rerolls and fuel to upgrade your empire. You are afforded one free reroll per turn, but energy can be spent for additional rerolls. Culture also has two uses: following an opponents actions and also providing fuel to upgrade your empire. If you have a stash of culture saved up, you can spend a culture to follow an action of your opponent which can be extremely useful. Upgrading your empire provides access to more ships (workers) and more dice available per turn. In addition, your empire is worth points depending on its size at the end of the game.

I also prefer the end game condition in Galaxies over Harbour. Harbour ended with a player constructing their fourth building. Galaxies' endgame is triggered when a player reaches 21 points. I prefer this because Galaxies has more avenues for scoring. When a player uses a die to "move" a ship, they can move the ship to a planets surface to use the action of that planet, or they can move the ship to the orbit track with the intention of eventually colonizing that planet and adding to their tableau. These planets are worth points depending on the length of their orbit track. So a player can quickly colonize a lot of small planets or go for the larger value planets. This, plus the score based on empire, gives players a bit more flexibility in pursuing a game end condition. One additional source of a few points is the "secret mission" a player chooses at the start. These are essentially hidden goals and a player chooses one of two that are randomly dealt to him/her. They are worth 2 to 3 points and can decide the outcome as games are often close.

One issue I have with Galaxies, however, does come up when the game is close to the end. There are two types of orbit tracks in the game: economy and diplomacy. Each requires a different die face in order to advance on the planet's orbit track. If you are down, say 16 to 18 or 19, you have maxed out your empire, and all planets on offer are of the same type, you cannot advance on an orbit track without also allowing your opponent to also advance provided they have the necessary culture to follow. Hence, you cannot score points without giving points and the game is essentially over. I would prefer, even in that situation, to be able to find something I could do without also assisting my opponent. There are some planets in the deck that allow you to steal culture or move back an opponent's ship, but if those cards are not available, the above situation may not be possible to navigate. The "Super Weapons" expansion, which is included in the kickstarter edition and is also available in the BGG store, offers players one more option for scoring and can easily avoid the situation I just described. I recommend the expansion for this very reason.

To sum up, Tiny Epic Galaxies is an interesting game that has been fun so far, though I can see after some repeated plays you could end up simply feeling like you are moving wooden bits up and down tracks. I will also add I have enjoyed the solo game. It is not a solo game in which you beat your high score; there are several levels of a "robot" opponent which you are competing against. The challenge of the robot seems to be almost completely determined by how much energy it rolls; if it rolls a lot of energy, especially early, it will rapidly upgrade its empire and could easily run away with a win. If the robot does not roll a lot of energy, it seems fairly easy to beat. The solo option is nowhere near as good as the robot player in Race for the Galaxy, but for the footprint and portability it does the job. I have also enjoyed the game as a 2 player game. I have not tried with 3 yet, but with 4 or 5 the downtime could become an issue since players roll several dice, must determine the order, and activate one die at a time. But with a large stash of culture, you can follow actions and stay involved. But as a solo and 2 player game, you can't do much better given the size of the box and the room required to play.

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Rick Teverbaugh
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Anderson
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There is a planet to remove and replace unoccupied planets too.
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Jimmy Hensel
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Nice review and comparison. I've played both games, TEG (12 plays) more than Harbour (2 plays). I pretty much agree with the assessments except that I apparently see a bit more luster in Harbour than David, probably due to the few number of plays.
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Mike Hostetler
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I've been thinking the same thing -- that Harbour fits in the Tiny Epic line, especially with Tiny Epic Galaxies. I actually think they started on the same idea but Scott Almes took them in different directions.

I really like Harbour though. I do agree that the 4-Building end game is a bit lame, but moving it to 5 works great. And everyone else can get one more turn. But the changing market, the interaction, building combos.... it's good stuff, imho.

On the TEG side: the Follow mechanic is also great, as is the planning and the scrambling for resources.

There is room for both -- I'll still play them.
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David McMillan
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pfctsqr wrote:
If you are down, say 16 to 18 or 19, you have maxed out your empire, and all planets on offer are of the same type, you cannot advance on an orbit track without also allowing your opponent to also advance provided they have the necessary culture to follow. Hence, you cannot score points without giving points and the game is essentially over.


I noticed this also. The only real recourse you have in that situation is to either use the converter to create an action that IS useful for you or to simply not take the economy/diplomacy action at all and just hope that something better emerges OR try to create actions that you believe they will be likely to follow to try and drain their culture supply. While none of them are exactly appealing options, they are options nonetheless. But, that's the nature of the beast. I think if I found myself in a similar situation, I would concentrate my efforts on gathering a lot of culture in the hopes that other peoples' turns might give me an opportunity to get an edge on them.
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Michael Coe
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Also, depending on the kind of planets you own, you could be using the Utilize Colony action to be advancing Influence and your opponent would have to follow that and not nesserrarily be able to advance influence themselves. Giving you that edge ahead for the win.
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