Tiny Epic Kingdoms - Board Game Box Shot

Tiny Epic Kingdoms

| Published: 2014
87 10 3

In Tiny Epic Kingdoms you are a tiny kingdom with big ambition. You want to expand your population throughout the realms, learn powerful magic, build grand towers, and have your neighbors quiver at the mention of your name. The conflict? All of the other kingdoms want the same thing and there's not enough room for everyone to succeed...

Each player starts with a unique faction (which has a unique technology tree) and a small territory. Throughout the game, players collect resources, explore other territories, battle each other, research magic, and work to build a great tower to protect their realm.

User Reviews (4)

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I play black
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27 of 28 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Tiny Epic Kingdoms Review: Microscopic Majesty”

Can something tiny truly be epic? This postcard-sized box stakes a claim that yest it can. And boy, does it deliver on that promise. Scott Almes, the designer, managed to pull off a magic trick of his own, creating a game that lasts less than an hour, takes minimal table space, yet feels robust and involved, packs tactical depth and flexibility. After the dust settles and the victor is crowned – it is a very satisfying and complete experience in a familiar, well-rendered fantasy world.

How it works:

Each player represents a fantasy kingdom, populated by a race of creatures vying for supremacy in the region. Each fraction starts off on a terrain tile, containing five regions. Fraction’s population is represented by small (and therefore adorable) meeples placed in regions.

There are three resources – food, magic and iron – the amount of these you have is represented by kind of a slider mechanic where the location of a tiny (and therefore even more adorable) wooden token indicates how much of a resource you have.

Every turn, the active player may take one of the available six actions – you could either spend resources to grow your emprire, research magic, or build up a wondrous Tower, trade resources for one another or move your meeples around. The amazing thing about Tiny Epic Kingdoms is that each turn is shared by all players – the starting player only determines what kind of action is taken.

Other players may either do the same action or forego that opportunity to collect resources, receiving these from regions occupied by their meeples.

Movement of meeples can take them from one terrain card to another – when two meeple share a region, a war takes place. The ingenious battle mechanic sees two combatants secretly commit resources to the battle, indicating the amount using a die (dice are not actually rolled). The amounts are revealed and the victorious player gets to keep control of the region. Commit too little and you risk a defeat. Commit too many resources and your reserves are depleted, opening you up for a potential costly counter attack. Or, if you’re feeling diplomatic – forge an alliance so that both you and your opponent can collect the resources from any given region. Or, you know, pretend that you’re going for peace and fund a war effort anyways. You can always say it was independent militants and you had nothing to do with it.

Building a tower, growing your population and researching magic ultimately grant you victory points. Magic, in addition to victory points also introduces unique race-specific bonuses as you achieve arcane mastery. Once a player reaches a threshold in any of these three areas, the game is over and the player with the most victory points, shockingly, is crowned winner.

How it plays:

Once the tiny components are laid out and you place your tower and spellbook markers down on appropriate cards, the game commences. The fact that every player gets to do something on every turn minimizes down time and keeps everyone constantly engaged. It is practically always your turn, which feels great.

The game works with two to five players, excelling, as expected, at middle ranges of 3-4. The games last a little over the advertised 30-min duration, but never feel like dragging out. Increased comfort with the game’s rules and decision making also speeds things up.

The game offers an incredible flexibility, in the amount of conflict players want to have. It is perfectly possible to go through an entire game without a single battle as competitors are seeking to utilize resources most efficiently. On another hand, the combat mechanic is extremely smart and simple and not using it narrows the game experience somewhat. Those looking for a lot of confrontation can certainly find it, though funding frequent war efforts is not a cheap endeavor and this might set a fraction back.

The race that you play also makes every game that you play a little different, nudging you towards a strategy that would be most effective. The Dwarves, as expected, are master builders, while Orcs excel at warfare. Thirteen races included in the base edition of the game offer a good variety. The fact that there also many different terrain cards adds replayability. While the variety is excellent given the simple mechanics of the game, it is not endless and playing this game too much may stretch it beyond it’s impressive limits.

How it feels:

The game leaves you truly amazed at the scope of what it is able to represent with these tiny tokens and a few cards. You genuinely feel as if you are orchestrating a rise of a fantasy kingdom and seeing your meeples spread over the mountains, fields and forests is deeply satisfying.

The decision making is split between long-term planning and adapting to what your opponents are doing. The decision on when to collect resources is always a hard one as you are constantly weighting your ability to do things that score victory points with having enough resources to do so. On top of all that you are always on the look out for potential conflict, having to keep a reserve in case some of your neighbors get too uppity. That’s quite a lot to consider and to give you plenty of space to strategize.

The game rules are not complex, yet there is a lot going on and I would not recommend it as an introductory offering – its’ beauty is in its’ surprising depth. The Magic advancement also introduces quite a bit of factors to keep in mind, fleshing out a robust base system. Speaking of fractions, these feel slightly off balance as some of the fraction powers appear more or less powerful. I do not have large enough sample size to make conclusive assertions, but the feeling of precise balance is certainly absent.

The combat system, with its one-decision approach manages to be magnificent in how many factors go into that one single number you decide on. Really, I can’t say enough on how elegant and involved it is, you just need to experience it.

It is tricky to recommend a best way to play this game. On one hand it certainly lends itself well to multiple plays – it is relatively short, every game is different due to mix of races and terrain cards, you can try multiple strategies. However playing it too much can leave you burnt out and emerging patterns of play may expose the replayability limits.

Conclusion:

I would highly recommend Tiny Epic Kingdoms to intermediate and expert gamers who are looking for an affordable, compact, smart and varied game to supplement (but not lead) their game nights. Especially so if you are a fan of fantasy kingdom building games such as Master of Magic or Age of Wonders. Do not overplay this tiny gem and it will provide you lots of interactive, engaging entertainment.

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed this review. Please visit Altema Games website for more neat board game materials.

 
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20 of 21 gamers found this helpful
“Like the TARDIS, it's bigger on the inside than the outside”

A friend and I were looking for something to wrap up a local game day and, having heard of TEK, I thought we should give it a try. There was a little hesitation as neither of us had played it and we didn’t want to spend the rest of the night learning something new. Our concern was unjustified. After a quick read through the book, we both picked up the game with ease.

TEK is a simplified civ game that takes up a small footprint, but has a fair amount of depth for something so small. Each player has a race card with unique magical abilities. There’s also a small track used for tracking the three resources (food, mana, and ore), each of which has a marker for the track. Each player also has their own kingdom (with a few starting meeples), which is divided up into different regions and each region is a type land (e.g. forest, mountains, plains, etc). Rounding out the play area is the action selection board, the tower board, and a couple of 12-sided dice.

Players switch turns placing shield tokens on the action selection board and performing that action. The other players can then either also do that action or instead gather resources (1 for each territory they control, where the territory type determines the resource (i.e. forest = mana, mountain = ore, plains = food). Once an action is selected, it cannot be selected again until all shield tokens have been used. Actions include moving a meeple within your kingdom, moving a meeple between kingdom cards, converting resources, building on the tower, studying magic, and adding a meeple. Those last three require have a resource cost (ore, mana, food).

Tower: each level costs subsequently more ore, but is worth more victory points.

Magic: each level costs more mana to learn, but then allows your race to do something unique. Each race tends to have a flavor that builds upon itself and can get rather powerful. Also worth points.

The game consists of using these choices and resource balancing to acquire points as well as possibly go to war with others. War is essentially a blind bidding of resources to give yourself a war value which you place on the dice. Everyone pays the resources after the value is revealed. If the winner is the attacker, they remove the opponent’s meeple and thus gain another territory.

Game play continues this way until an end game condition is met and then all possible points are tallied.

PROS: reasonably fast game play for the content, character powers allow different strategies, vast replayability due to the large number of characters and kingdom cards, simple rules

CONS: kingdom cards are cheap cardstock, art is so-so, it is possible to not really war much, even though that’s a selling point of the game (at least in a 2-player), no player aid cards.

I certainly haven’t covered every single rule here, but hope to give an impression of the basics. Overall, I’m very glad I tried this one. It had a lot of fun, fast flavor and was a perfect little game to finish out the night. And yet, despite being easy to pick up and very small in physical size, it provided a very similar feel to some of it’s much larger cousins.

 
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Comic Book Fan
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9
19 of 20 gamers found this helpful
“A lot of game for a small box”

I was able to get my hands on this a while ago thanks to backing it on Kickstarter. I liked the look of it, and it sounded like there was a good amount of civilization building in that easily portable box. Turns out, that’s exactly what it is.

This is a game of resource collecting and territory control. On your turn, you chose an action, like move a meeple to an adjacent territory or other player’s land, trade your resources, or research new abilities. All other player’s then chose to copy your action, or just collect resources from the areas they control. Forests get you magic, fields get you food, mountains get you bricks. You spend these in war to take areas from your opponent when you move onto a territory they control, to research, and get victory points.

The game proceeds like that until someone has built or researched everything, and then victory points are tallied.

There’s even a 2 player variant that works really well, and is what I have played the most. A 3rd land is put down under control of NPCs. Whenever you move onto their areas to start a war, your opponent spends resources to support the poor meeples and stop you from gaining the territory.

The kingdom cards do feel a little low grade, but since all they do is sit on the table and have meeples placed on them, it doesn’t bother me. I really enjoy the art, because it makes it look like a very talented child did all of it, and that’s pretty adorable.

I recommend picking this one up and having in your collection. It deserves all of the table time you give it, and will be a solid mainstay for fans of civ building that are pressed for time.

 
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12 of 13 gamers found this helpful
“Awesome game packed into a tiny box!”

First of all, Tiny Epic really is tiny! The box is about the length of my hand. But don’t be deceived! There is a boatload of fun packed into this tiny little box. I consider this series the ultimate “travel” game series. Normally when we pack up games for a game night or just heading out to family’s house, we have several canvas bags stretched to their breaking point with just a few standard box size games. Not so with Tiny Epic! Our diaper bag alone could fit four or five of them. It’s the perfect “grab-and-go” game.

Now on to the game itself. Essentially, you play as one of many warring factions intent on impeding others from progressing while investing in your own kingdom’s expansion. It’s an exciting balancing act throughout the game. The starting player takes one of several actions (movement, progression, or trade). All subsequent players may take that same action or collect resources from their meeples throughout the kingdom.

Battles and alliances are awesome! When an occupied space is invaded, a battle ensues. Attacker and defender each have a dice with 1-11 and a white flag. Hidden behind their hands, they select an amount to invest in the battle. The higher number wins. The catch? Both winner and loser have to pay the amount they selected (blech!). The loser then pays food to retreat, or he dies if he can’t retreat. Now, the infamous white flag. If only one player selects the white flag, he loses but doesn’t have to pay a battle cost. If both players choose the white flag, an alliance is born. Both players stay and reap the benefits of that space. Now, if those two battle again and both select white flags, the alliance remains intact. However, if at any point one of the players selects a number higher than the other, the entire alliance is broken and that player then takes over all spaces they previously shared. So fun!

I love the physical game size. I love the game length (about 30 minutes). I love the game variety (i.e., many factions to play with, many ways to win, each game can be very different than any game before it, etc.) which lends itself to great replay value. I especially love the psychological aspect of the battles (what’s your opponent going to do?). I love the simplicity of the gameplay (takes no time at all to learn). Throw in the capital cities, crags, water, ruins (I love the ruins!), and the optional but awesome exploration tokens (included), and you’ve got a great game packed into a tiny box. Overall, I give it a solid 7.5.

 

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