Asaf Fabbi
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Snap Summary
1-5 players
90 minutes play time
Space yahtzee area control game.

The Tweet
A space exploration game where players collect planets and build their galactic empires through dice rolls and good tactical choices.

Introduction
For those of you who have only recently become aware of the not so small "tiny" trend of games being produced by Gamelyn Games, Tiny Epic Galaxies is the most recent successfully kickstarted and rolled out board game that comes in a box smaller than the new Z-Man Games, Inc. card game boxes. In fact, if you have cargo pants with biggish pockets or a backpack, this game could be carried along with you to a friends house for some gaming. As the name suggests, the theme of Tiny Epic Galaxies is a space opera where you compete with other burgeoning galactic empires sending their fleets into the void to claim new worlds using their economic and political influence. The first empire to hit 21 victory points through this means is crowned the king of the multiverse! Sitting on their throne, with their crown of planets resting like gems on their furrowed brow.

When I backed this game it was for a couple basic reasons. I played Tiny Epic Kingdoms with a friend and liked it so I wanted to get a copy but figured it would be better to get a different version and theme since I could always play kingdoms with my friend. The second was I like space/science fiction themes and this looked pretty cool. But how was it upon arrival? Was it the big game in a little box that delivered or so much fluffery? How did it compare to its other variants? Lets break things down starting with the components and find out.
Components

Components List:
d10-1 5 Galaxy Player Mats
d10-2 1 Control Mat
d10-3 40 Planet Cards
d10-4 12 Secret Mission Cards
d10-5 7 Action Dice
d10-6 20 Ships
d10-7 5 Empire Tokens
d10-8 5 Energy Tokens
d10-9 5 Culture Tokens
d10-0 Box & Rule book

Galaxy Player Mat
The player mat is the primary component driving the game. Think of it as a personal game board for each player that serves to both track their galaxies progress in the game and serve as a reference for what they can do and how well they can do it. The quality of the mats is very good. I do not think they will ware easily. Each mat depicts the players galaxy in their color (red, blue, etc) so if you like the idea that you are a sith lord, go with the purple one .

The player mats are more than pretty colored galaxies to park ships in. The galaxies are circled by a resource track that serves as a real time meter showing the current culture and energy scores of a players galactic empire. To the right of this galaxy and meter is a series of tracks:

1 The dice pool track. This track shows how many dice a player gets to roll on their turn.

2 The fleet track. This track indicates the size of a players fleet.

3 The empire level track. This track keeps a record of your galactic empire's level. Both the dice pool and fleet tracks are positively correlated to the empire level track so as your empires level ascends, the other two tracks reflect this progression with larger dice pools and fleets. The track also shows how many victory points a player earns with each new galactic level as it is achieved.

The mats also show how to advance a players galactic level (by spending x amount of culture OR energy indicated on the next target level of the empire level track and what the galaxy produces in the top right corner (energy as indicated by the lightning bolt in brackets []).

Control Mat
The control mat is the same size as the regular player mats. It consists of three elements:

1 Activation bay. This simple sequential track numbered 1-7 is used to program chosen actions for the round. A player places their dice actions on each of the bays in the numerical order that they wish the actions to trigger during play.

2 Converter. The converter allows a player to put two dice into it in order to convert a third of their dice into any action they choose.

3 Summary of actions. Briefly describes each of the 6 possible actions a player can take on their turn.

I also found that the control mat served the useful function of indicating when a players turn was over as they would pass it to the next player in order when they were done taking their actions.

Planet Cards
Planet cards are the real estate the players compete to exploit and or add to their empires. Their anatomy is straight forward and easy to intuit. The top right corner indicates whether the planet produces culture (Roman I Column) or energy (lightning bolt). The numbered track rimming the planet indicates how much political OR Economic influence it would take to obtain the planet. Text that describes what the planet does when it is triggered is located below the planet image and is easily understood. During play, a trigger is when a planet is landed on by a ship in the common area or when it is activated by the "Utilize a Colony" action once it is part of a players empire. The name is in the top left corner of the the planet cards and finally, the number of victory points a card is worth is illustrated by the number in the vortex of the bottom right corner.

Secret Mission Cards
These cards are straight forward. A player is awarded a number of points indicated on the secret mission card for achieving the described goal.

Action Dice
Typical quality custom six sided dice. They are smooth, shiny, and get the job done. Each side represents a action that can be drafted by the player that rolled it. The white icons are illustrated well on the glossy charcoal finish of the smooth acrylic dice.

Ships
Pretty standard wooden components. Though I will give props to the designers for making them the shape of classical rocket ships instead of just bland cubes you have to imagine are rocket ships. They come in five colors: black, red, green, yellow, and blue.

Empire Level Tokens
Also wooden and in five colors. Though they are hexagonal in shape and have their associated icon (a white star) stamped on top in white ink. A nice touch repeated in the other tokens.

Energy Tokens
Pretty standard wooden cubes colored in the same five colors as the ships and Empire Level components with white lightning bolts stamped on them.

Culture Tokens
Rounded cylindrical wooden bits also in the same five colors as the other components and with a roman column stamped on them in white ink.

Box and Rules
As I mentioned before, the box is tiny. It's kind of the company's thing. The quality is top notch and the size lends itself well to easy transportation and reduces the footprint on your game shelf. The rule book, keeping with the theme, is only 11 pages long, 2 of which are for solo play. It is well written and illustrated on what appears to be decent quality glossy paper.

Game Play

Set-up
d10-1 Each player is given 4 ships, 1 culture token, 1 energy token, and 1 empire token and a player galaxy mat in the same color.

d10-2 Each player places 2 ships to the side (not used yet) and two in play on their galaxy mat directly on top of the galaxy graphic in the center of the mat.

d10-3 Each player puts their culture token on the first space of the resource track on the far right to indicate that they start the game with 1 culture.

d10-4 Each player places their energy token two spaces two the left of the resource track of their player galaxy mat to show that they begin the game with 2 energy.

d10-5 Each player places their empire level token at the bottom of their empire level track (the part marked with the star) to indicate that they are the galactic equivalent of nobodies at the moment. Its all up from here!

d10-6 Shuffle the Secret Mission Cards and deal two to each player. Each player looks at both, selects one and slides it under their Galaxy Mat, then discards the other. These cards are kept secret from other players until the end of the game. Put any remaining Secret Mission cards back into the box face down.

d10-7 Flop a number of planet cards equal to the number of players in the game + 2 but no more than 6 maximum.

d10-8 Determine the first player either by asking who the youngest person playing is or in whatever other sick way your group likes to do it and begin to play. Important note here, remember who was the start player!

Flow of play
Space yahtzee! You roll your dice, you take your actions. You don't have to take all your actions but as you do so you place the dice you use in sequential order on the control mat. You are permitted one re-roll of as many dice (that are not on the control mat) as you wish. After that, it costs you an energy to do so. There are six possible actions to take and they are based on what symbol you roll.

Dice Actions:

1 Move A Ship
Move one of your ships. Rules for movement are pretty simple. You can move a ship from your galaxy to any of the flopped planets OR their colonize tracks in orbit (the tracks rimming the planet). Ships can be moved from planet to planet, but not from planet to the same planets colonize track or vise versa. Only one ship from each player can occupy the same planet or planet colonize track. Ships cannot invade other players galaxies... sadly. But players can return as many of their ships to their home galaxy as they wish. When a ship lands on a planet, the player triggers the planets action and it does whatever it describes itself as being able to do such as gain a resource, convert a resource to a different resource etc. If a player Chooses to move to the colonize track, it puts them on the path to potentially claiming the planet as a colony of their empire.

2 Acquire Energy
The player gains one energy (lightning bolt) for every planet they currently have a ship landed on or in orbit that shows a energy icon in the top right and also for every ship that occupies the players home galaxy. Note that if a player has a ship in orbit on the colony track and also landed on the planet, they would earn 2 energy (one for each ship).

3 Acquire Culture
This works the same way as if a player used the acquire energy action except that it relates to the roman column icon. Keep in mind that a players home galaxy only produces energy. It is a cultural wasteland. Much like Nebraska.

4 Diplomacy
Each planets colony track has either a Diplomacy icon or a economic icon. This represents the way the planets host population would like to be subjugated by their new overlords. A player is able to move a ship on the colonize track one space towards to diplomacy icon for every like icon they roll until they achieve complete political influence over the colony and are able to add it to their empire. In this way we know that the game is fiction since it represents a world where politics actually accomplish something. In any case, when a player successfully gains a planet, they take it from the flop and tuck it under their galaxy mat until only the special rule of the planet is exposed under the player mat where it describes the upgrade power of the galaxy. This planets special power is now part of the galactic empire and an action that can be triggered by the owning player.

5 Economic
Exactly the same as diplomacy except with the economics icon instead.

6 Utilize A Colony
As my friends refer to this die, the, "Space Snow Globe" icon allows a player to trigger one of their empires special powers. In the beginning of the game, the only power a players galaxy has is the one that allows them to upgrade their galaxy and raise their level to create a larger dice pool, fleet, and victory point score.

As choices are made players can choose to re-roll any non programmed dice using their free re-roll. If they still aren't happy and wish to roll again, they may spend an energy to do so. One energy equals the ability to re-roll as many dice not already used/programmed into the control mat as the player chooses.

The game also utilizes a follow mechanic reminiscent of Glory to Rome and every subsequent iteration by Carl Chudyk or Eminent Domain. The trick here is that it costs one culture to do so. For those unfamiliar with what I am talking about, the way it works is after a player uses a die to trigger an action, every player in clockwise order announces whether or not they wish to, "follow" that action. If they do so, they must spend one culture. They can then use that die action. Note that the action is identical but not always the outcome. e.g., one player acquires a number of resources but the following player may have a different number of ships on a different set of planets so they would get a different amount of resources. This is most important to understand when considering the Utilize a Colony die action because following doesn't mean a following player gets to use the same special action triggered by the die. They get to use the rolled action to utilize one of their colony actions not the one their opponent just used.

This is a important mechanic for many reasons in the game. Which brings me to the next section of this review, Strategy.

Strategy
trade Culture is Key: If you don't keep your culture score up, you cannot follow. If you cannot follow other players actions, you will fall behind and probably lose. Culture is key. Without it you are relegated to only taking one turn every round. Each culture you gain provides you with one more potential action you can take on someone elses turn. So do your best to keep it up. Try spending energy to upgrade your empire and save Culture for following your opponents actions.

trade Don't turtle up: You may be tempted to just sit back and upgrade your empire. After all, you get more dice, more ships, and more vp so what is the downside? Losing the chance to colonize and add empires to your empire is the opportunity cost you pay. You will want at least a couple colonies. Especially when they grant you powers like generate culture or energy or steal culture or energy etc. I found that as a rule, upgrading is important but balancing it with acquisition is more important. I found that when I went for my final level instead of shifting my focus to acquiring a few planets it cost me the game by a turn.

trade Pay attention to the flop! This isn't a navel gasing multi player solitair situation. Moving ships on to planets or into orbit has the potential to mess with your opponents through either taking a planet they are going for or triggering a power that directly impacts their play. Don't focus so much on optimizing your empire that you aren't paying attention to the killer engine your opponents will build if you don't go out of your way to block them or interfere.

Review

The good stuff

thumbsup Smooth design: This was, in my opinion, a far better game than Tiny Epic Kingdoms. Learning the game was pretty easy. Play was smooth. The game has few wrinkles and you get the feeling that there were many many play tests.

thumbsup Re-playability: Even though the game took on average 3 times as long as it was supposed to every time I played it. I still wanted to keep playing it and bringing it to the table. I think that I will get a lot of plays out of this game.

thumbsup Player interaction: There is plenty of ways to mess with your opponents in the game. You can compete to claim/colonize the same planet. You can trigger a power on a flopped planet or one of your colonies that impacts their play. A well timed, "I steal one energy/culture" from you can really draw out your opponents expletives as you throw a wrench in their engine at just the wrong time. In sum, TEG isn't a straight Euro played in isolation.

thumbsup The components: The producers went above and beyond with the components. Simply stamping each wooden counter with its symbol really made the pieces pop. The choice of wooden rockets instead of a cheap plastic version also was very appreciated. The way the player mats are organized is well schemed. From the way the tracks are laid out to the references and iconography, the mats are intuitively understood and comprehensive. The control mat is also well designed. The way players are asked to program their dice in order is a nice touch as it keeps things organized and you can tell exactly what you can or cannot do. Such as which dice you can still re-roll and if you have enough dice left to convert. It also tips your opponents off as to what the next action is that can be followed. The art is also very good. I enjoy the look of the planets I am attempting to conquer.

thumbsup Size: I really appreciate that this game takes up so little space and is still a high quality product in terms of design and components. The game is small enough to fit in my backpack/cargo pants pockets and still big enough to feel like more than just a card game. It is meaty and a bigger game than some others that try for the same thing and are in much larger boxes. Also, as someone with more games than shelf space lately, the smaller footprint on my game shelves is helpful. Heck, it often ends up in my game bag on the way to game night just because...it fits in that little crevice thats left!

thumbsup Limited impact from secret goals: I really liked that you get two secret missions and choose one. This affords just the right amount of flexibility to end game strategy choices early and reduces high secret vp scores at the end of play. The chjoice to limit the end game missions to 2 victory points was well conceived as well in my opinion. It stops the behavior of someone just stacking up more and more goals and then exploding in VP at the end of the game with a "big bang" of VPs. This keeps the scores close. It also adds a little tension as these points don't count towards the 21 VP to end the game condition. So someone could conceivably hit 21 points but because they miss their end game mission still lose.

The bad stuff

thumbsdown Game length: While the game is tiny it is also epic... in the long sense not the heroic sense. The box indicates a play time of 30 minutes. The box lies. So far, I have played at the 4 and the 5 player level so perhaps at lower player counts this is true but the shortest game I have played so far was 90 minutes with 4 players. Now, I never considered the game to outstay its welcome. It was fun the whole time. Just don't expect it to be as short as it indicates.

thumbsdown Downtime: If you end up without any culture and thus no way to follow other player actions, you can't do anything until your next turn. This becomes a downtime situation. I am not a big fan of having to much downtime in a game. I've usually thought of my primary next action and a couple contingencies pretty quickly after my turn and after that watching other people take their turns and being unable to interact with the game or their play can feel like a looooong time. Avoid this by not running out of culture. The game stays dynamic this way.

thumbsdown Potential clusterf%4ks: Make sure that follows are declared cockwise from the initiating player or you may find yourself in a "I follow I folllow I follow I follow!" pile up where a bunch of players all fire off a series of actions and then you have to back up and resolve order properly to make sure something didn't occur that made something else not possible and so on. Make sure people understand that ahead of time and this shouldn't happen too often.

thumbsdown Components: While there was a lot to like about the components, I do have a couple nitpicks. The boards/mats could have been just a wee bit larger. Sometimes the cubes and bits felt a little too big for the mats. The other nitpick was black wooden bits and a purple galaxy. I think that purple bits would have been a better choice. The black ones blend in with their backgrounds a little too much and the purple would have matched the purple galxy better.

thumbsdown Keeping track of the player that started the game: Who started the game matters for when the end game condition of 21 VPs is met. However, there was not a easy way to remember this. Our group modified a Chewbacca miniature to hold one of the TEG dice and used that.

Conclusion
This is worth adding to your collection. Not only does the game take up less space than the average board game, it also packs a meaty punch. There is good player interaction so you don't feel like you are playing in isolation, the components are excellent, and there's just a lot of replay value in TEG. If you like space themes, don't mind the longer than advertised play time, and make sure you take steps to mitigate the very real downtime issues the game can sometimes have, than this is the right choice for you. In my opinion, it is the best of the, "Tiny" line of games so far and definitely put Gamelyn and Scott Almes on my radar. Tiny Epic Galaxies, the final frontier...until Tiny Epic Western. Which is also a frontier...so yeah, more like the, "next frontier that comes before the next one..."


Other reviews by me. or the blog, "Cult of The New"
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Wojciech Piwowarczyk
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Thanks for the review, really enjoyed it.

However, I'd like to note that I think you got the Secret Missions wrong.

Quote:
d10-6 Deal each player two secret mission cards. They will keep them both until the end of the game when they must choose one, and only one, to cash in as an achievement for points.
However the manual states that
Quote:
Shuffle the Secret Mission Cards and deal two to each player. Each player looks at both, selects one and slides it under their Galaxy Mat, then discards the other. These cards are kept secret from other players until the end of the game. Put any remaining Secret Mission cards back into the box face down.
As of the game length I didn't encounter your problem. Every game I played was relatively short, about 30-45 minutes.
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Marty McFly
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AFABBI wrote:
The other nitpick was black wooden bits and a purple galaxy. I think that purple bits would have been a better choice. The black ones blend in with their backgrounds a little too much and the purple would have matched the purple galxy better.
IIRC, there was discussion about this during the Kickstarter campaign. Black was chosen over purple because it is more colorblind-friendly.

Awesome review, BTW! thumbsup
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Chris Bailey
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Thanks for the review! I played a friend's copy and ordered my own the next day. This is a really fun fun filler.
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Victor Freire
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Great review!! Really enjoyed. The "title" was my first thought when I played for the first time. You see the "tiny" box and might think that this game is not worth of your attention, but no! When you play it you see that it's much more complex than you think. I played one day and bought the game on the next day, and I don't regret.

The great part is that normally a game for 5 players work better with 3-4 players, however I had the same amount of fun in a 2 player game, the same complexity is there.
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Asaf Fabbi
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ignus wrote:
Thanks for the review, really enjoyed it.

However, I'd like to note that I think you got the Secret Missions wrong.

Quote:
d10-6 Deal each player two secret mission cards. They will keep them both until the end of the game when they must choose one, and only one, to cash in as an achievement for points.
However the manual states that
Quote:
Shuffle the Secret Mission Cards and deal two to each player. Each player looks at both, selects one and slides it under their Galaxy Mat, then discards the other. These cards are kept secret from other players until the end of the game. Put any remaining Secret Mission cards back into the box face down.
As of the game length I didn't encounter your problem. Every game I played was relatively short, about 30-45 minutes.
Good catch. Bummer! I liked the holding them until the end thing. I'll update the review later tonight after work. Thanks for pointing that out so I can fix it.
 
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Asaf Fabbi
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martidem wrote:
AFABBI wrote:
The other nitpick was black wooden bits and a purple galaxy. I think that purple bits would have been a better choice. The black ones blend in with their backgrounds a little too much and the purple would have matched the purple galxy better.
IIRC, there was discussion about this during the Kickstarter campaign. Black was chosen over purple because it is more colorblind-friendly.

Awesome review, BTW! thumbsup
This is why I should have paid more attention to the kickstarter forums Yay Purple!
 
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ixnay66 wrote:
Thanks for the review! I played a friend's copy and ordered my own the next day. This is a really fun fun filler.
You are welcome! Thanks for the feedback.
 
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victorwfreire wrote:
Great review!! Really enjoyed. The "title" was my first thought when I played for the first time. You see the "tiny" box and might think that this game is not worth of your attention, but no! When you play it you see that it's much more complex than you think. I played one day and bought the game on the next day, and I don't regret.

The great part is that normally a game for 5 players work better with 3-4 players, however I had the same amount of fun in a 2 player game, the same complexity is there.
It's not the size of the game its how you play with it!
 
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I enjoyed this game at first but sold it as it got repetitive rather quickly. I cannot imagine a game of this lasting 90 minutes; there just is not enough there to warrant 90 minutes. In the end, I just could not shake the feeling that all I was doing was moving tokens up and down tracks. Some of the planets had interesting abilities and overall I found the abilities more interesting than the cards in Harbour. But I also felt that top to bottom, the planets were a bit lackluster. I am not sure how I would have changed them, though. Perhaps so much focus was put into making the game compact that there was little room left for some pizazz. I have so many games in my collection already that have about the same footprint that I find more compelling.
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pfctsqr wrote:
I enjoyed this game at first but sold it as it got repetitive rather quickly. I cannot imagine a game of this lasting 90 minutes; there just is not enough there to warrant 90 minutes. In the end, I just could not shake the feeling that all I was doing was moving tokens up and down tracks. Some of the planets had interesting abilities and overall I found the abilities more interesting than the cards in Harbour. But I also felt that top to bottom, the planets were a bit lackluster. I am not sure how I would have changed them, though. Perhaps so much focus was put into making the game compact that there was little room left for some pizazz. I have so many games in my collection already that have about the same footprint that I find more compelling.
Sorry to hear that man. I guess it isn't for everybody. I liked it a lot
 
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Sorry to hear that man. I guess it isn't for everybody. I liked it a lot
 
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Chris Sjoholm
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Quote:
Every game I played was relatively short, about 30-45 minutes.
Agreed - every game I've played has been comfortably within my lunch hour at work.
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Chris Sjoholm wrote:
Quote:
Every game I played was relatively short, about 30-45 minutes.
Agreed - every game I've played has been comfortably within my lunch hour at work.
It's entirely possible after more plays it'll shorten for me as well. My plays were with 4-5 people though. Were the shorter games you played with less? Just curious.
 
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Chris Sjoholm
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I've played with 2-4.
 
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Kevin McGillivray
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AFABBI wrote:
Our group modified a Chewbacca miniature to hold one of the TEG dice and used that.
Yet, somehow, you didn't feel the need to include a photo with your review?!?!
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mcgillivray wrote:
AFABBI wrote:
Our group modified a Chewbacca miniature to hold one of the TEG dice and used that.
Yet, somehow, you didn't feel the need to include a photo with your review?!?!
I've been digging through my photos for it because I really did and couldn't find it! Don't worry though, it'll get attached/updated at some point the next time we play and I take another pic
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This game bears little resemblance to Yahtzee other than that they both involve dice. A strange way to keep describing it.

Other than that, good review!
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dzudz wrote:
This game bears little resemblance to Yahtzee other than that they both involve dice. A strange way to keep describing it.

Other than that, good review!
Thanks for the compliment! The core mechanic, where you roll the dice up to three times in search of certain combinations, is derived from Yahtzee. Which is where that comparison in the review came from Same thing in King of Tokyo e.g., roll the dice three times trying to get a set etc.

Sure there is more to this game than that, but the connection to that specific mechanic is in my opinion pretty clear.
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But you don't re-roll three times, you can re-roll once for free and then any number of times thereafter at a cost of 1 energy each. And you're not assembling sets, you're after specific individual die results to take individual actions. The actions you're aiming for are defined by the game state (ie I'd really like at least 2 flight actions this turn) rather than being set patterns.

KoT is more Yahtzee-like in that you have the two set re-rolls per turn (special abilities notwithstanding), but again the main similarity is that you're rolling a bunch of dice.

I can see where you're coming from but I'm not sure it's an apt comparison for TEG in giving a sense of how it plays. Anyway I don't want to be too negative, I thought your review was good but this was the one part that felt a bit jarring, so rather than harp on about the one negative I'll just give you a thumbs-up
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Asaf Fabbi
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Fair enough. Glad you enjoyed it for the most part
 
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