Type: Worker Movement / Euro

Time to play: 50-60 minutes (Teaching: 10 minutes)

Best played with: 4 Player (2 – 4 Players)

Is it a tiny box?! Is it an epic game?! Yes!

I really cannot fault the name here – it feels somewhat akin to playing Zelda in less than an hour from start to finish and so I think that Gamelyn Games’ Tiny Epic Quest is a really interesting game to post a short review of, and certainly a game that deserves more note!

What’s in it then? Take three little meeples and move them across a randomly generated map through 5 days & nights. Each day consists of 4 of 5 possible movement actions being triggered and then played by all players. Each night contains a push your luck mechanic where your opponents decisions matter and effect how long you can keep questing! It’s really as simple as that.

In the day, you will take a simple choose-follow action – taking a movement card (and there are 5) and then allowing all players to move one piece under that movement rule. After four cards have been chosen the first day ends. The more players the less choices you will make and the more you will be reliant on the other players (hence better at higher player counts).

Then at night, you roll five dice – they might injure you, but otherwise they can help you learn magic, defeat goblins or explore tombs. Of course the dice can only help you achieve what you set up in the Day phase – if your not on the quest, then you cannot benefit! Also, your dice hurt you (and players going clockwise from you) but help all players. You can piggy back off other good rolls, but can also suffer from the player before you taking lots of damage – because only the first one hits them and the rest are passed around the circle in clockwise order. This passing of damage, and co-operating with the good roles, means that you want more players to keep rolling – the more players adventuring the more you can gain. Of course, they are gaining the same advantage from you!

What makes this push your luck even more interesting is that as the night phase goes on, the magic level will typically rise. Firstly this chokes off the benefit of some of the dice, but eventually this increases the damage done by the goblins! Given only a small amount of health this means that the swing from one bad roll (by your or even the player before you!) is meaningful.

However, this game is then also very clever because every spell you learn helps you defend yourself (using power) and every goblin you kill increases your health and hence how long you can keep gambling. This mechanism allows the game to build through the 5 day/night turns to some spectacular risk taking in a bid to get enough points in the end.

Okay, the downside of all this is that the game ends through a very simple points salad – four major conditions for gaining points where diversity is broadly encourage but excellence in one area is heavily rewarded. Gamble on goblins or focus on steady spell development – you will need to work out the risk you should take based on the other player’s actions and the layout of the map.

There is one last mechanism that needs a mention here – quests. Three quests are present at any one time and utilising the quests will meaningfully improve your chances of winning – they are worth points at the end and they give you in game benefits. Not doing these is not an option. However, the combination of movement based quests and exploration quests makes for tough decisions during the game and little races between players to achieve short term goals. The quests add short term tactics to strategies that run over the whole game.

So it’s got a mix of tactics and strategy, it’s got multiple paths to victory and it’s got a bucket load of random inputs which will make each game different (some random outputs but the game gives you ways to mitigate these!). I normally hate randomness, but this game does a good job of being both short and given you real mechanisms to control, mitigate or bounce back – include full health if you exhaust yourself in a prior round.

It’s a simple game, but a highly enjoyable one, and I think this makes for a great game at the start or end, or perhaps as a next step game for new players.

Last notes;

  • If you like a short, fast paced game with lots of choice and a different outcome every time – this is a treat!
  • If you hate rolling dice, then don’t even pick up the box (it’s core)!
  • If you win, then try again with a new set up