In this Tiny Epic Galaxies Review find out whether the highly acclaimed title is the best of the series. Are the galaxies really that tiny and epic or is everything a myth?
Designer: Scott Almes
Players: 1-5, works best with 1-4
Playing time: 3o minutes
Price: Check Here
Tags: strategy, space, dice rolling, planet colonization
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Introduction to Tiny Epic Galaxies
Every now and then I browse local ads to see if there’s a board game worth buying. You can get near-mint condition board games for a significantly lower price than brand new. So I did not hesitate much when Tiny Epic Galaxies, the top-rated board game of the Tiny Epic Series became available in an ad.
The game arrived in an excellent state and the first thing I noticed is that they took the tiny part seriously. The box is smaller than usual. It doesn’t exactly fit in a pocket, but a jacket or a side pocket on a backpack could accommodate it easily.
There are not many components, but what is there, is of high quality. OK, the player boards and the wooden pieces could be a bit larger. They’re a bit clumsy to handle, especially for us that have larger hands. But it’s not a major issue, you just have to be a bit more careful when moving them around.
The custom dice with engraved symbols look stunning and are a joy to chuck around.
Space is not as lonely as you would have thought
Each of the players controls a galactic empire, which competes with others in colonizing new planets. While the theme is pretty generic, it is well-implemented. The things you do (fly rockets around, gain resources, use diplomacy or economy to colonize planets, activate planets’ special abilities) make thematic and gameplay sense.
Being a space game (you’d expect a lot of black color), the game actually has quite colorful artwork and looks pretty attractive. The player pieces are quite detailed, too.
Setup is quick
Your player (empire) board is what your game revolves around. There are two resource tracks on it (Energy and Culture) and your overall Empire rank, which directly determines how many dice and ships you can use and how many bonus points you receive at the end.
Upgrading your rank is definitely something that must be a high priority during the game. You can do it by spending the required amount of energy or culture.
A number of cards (number of players +2) will be displayed in the middle of the table. These represent planets available for colonization and are replenished as planets get colonized and moved to a player’s private possession underneath his board.
You’ll also receive two special mission cards, out of which you pick one. These side goals can yield extra points at the end of the game if you complete them.
How to play Tiny Epic Galaxies
Each turn begins with rolling your dice. You start with 4, but this can increase to 7, as you upgrade your empire. You can re-roll any number of dice for free once. Each subsequent re-roll costs 1 energy.
During or after the re-rolls you also resolve the dice you decide to activate. Let’s see what each of the six symbols does:
- You can move 1 rocket to a planet, orbit, or back home.
- You gain energy, depending on the number of rockets on or around energy planets and your home.
- You gain culture, depending on the number of rockets on or around cultural planets.
- You progress one of your ships on the planet with the Economy track.
- You progress one of your ships on the planet with the Diplomacy track.
- You can upgrade your empire (pay energy or culture) or use a special ability of a colonized planet.
Each of the colonized planets gives you victory points. Some take longer to colonize, but give more points, and vice-versa. You have to do a bit of basic maths, as the game ends when the first player reaches 21 points. It usually takes 3-4 planets to do so, combined with points from your empire rank.
After each of the players has played an equal number of turns, the game ends. Special mission cards are revealed and you can get a few more bonus points that way – if you achieved your goal, of course. The player with the highest score is the winner.
Things I like
- Rolling those dice around is exciting and satisfying. They’re just the right weight and the game suggests using the box as a dice tray (which works great). The sound they make when they hit the box is one of the reasons we play board games.
- There’s a decent level of strategy involved. In what order are you going to activate your dice? Which planets to go for, easy ones or hard ones? The ones that can yield culture or energy? When to follow and spend your hard-earned culture? Should you compete for that planet or cut your losses and go for the next one?
- Whenever an opponent activates a die, you can follow his action by paying one culture. This is a brilliant mechanic, that not only reduces the random element, but it also gives you something to do when it’s not your turn, keeping you involved for the duration of others’ turns – or at least until you run out of culture. Moreover, it adds another layer of strategy as it gives you more options, both on and off your turn.
- Special abilities on the planets are diverse, useful, and powerful. It’s definitely worth going for a planet with a “Progress one ship” or something equally strong. Abilities can help you, but a lot of them also mess with other players, making them lose progress, resources, etc.
- As is natural with dice, there is a certain element of luck involved. But with the possible re-rolls and follow mechanic, it’s less than what you would have expected. A good strategy will beat dice every time.
- The solo mode is great. AI requires very little fiddling, it’s fast, and allows you to try out different approaches. There are 5 difficulties, the higher ones being especially challenging. You need perfect play and a bit of luck to beat them. I actually beat them all, so maybe there could be one higher difficulty. 🙂
- The gameplay is fast and smooth. Even if you do get a bit unlucky, you can always play another game in half an hour.
- Overall, I consider the game to be of light/medium complexity. This is perfect for the playtime, footprint, price, and general scope of Tiny Epic Galaxies. But for everyone that is looking to deepen their experience, there’s an expansion, Beyond the Black. I’ve not played it yet, but from what I’ve seen it looks interesting.
- While there are ways to mitigate bad luck, good fortune can’t be. If someone gets a streak of good dice rolls, they’re gonna run away. When there are more players, this is not such a big deal – there are enough take-that planet abilities, that you’re able to gang up and stop them. But in games with 2 players, this can decide the outcome of the game.
- As said, the components are a bit on the tiny side. The main issue is that you could accidentally move your board and lose track of your resources. You know how it goes. “I’m pretty sure I had 5 energy.” “Oh really, I thought you were more around 3”.
This is especially problematic when you acquire a new planet and slide it (or at least try to) under your board.
Due to its small footprint, easy-to-understand rules, and engaging gameplay, Tiny Epic Galaxies has quickly become one of my go-to games when introducing new players to the hobby. I’ve also used it extensively as a quickie solo game – it offers quite a challenge and excitement in under 30 minutes.
And if you’re a bunch of experienced board gamers, Tiny epic Galaxies has you covered too. It may not be your main course for the evening, but it’s a great starter, offering many tactical approaches and ways to mess with your friends.
I can’t really resent the tinyness of the components much – after all, it’s in the name of the game. The game doesn’t have any significant shortcomings, and for the price they’re selling it, it should be in the repertoire of every board gamer.
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