Kickstarter has really sent a shockwave through the board gaming hobby. Would-be game designers can now see their ideas come to life. Game companies can take chances on new designs and concepts because they know exactly how many people are interested in a game. We’ve seen board and miniature games become some of the highest funded projects on Kickstarter, and while some will grumble at established game publishers using it to fund their new games or at people who treat it like a pre-order system rather than a crowd funding service, there’s no denying Kickstarter has definitely changed the gaming landscape.
And tonight’s game night proved that, as three of us showed up with our brand new copies of the exact same Kickstarter game, Tiny Epic Galaxies. Gamelyn Games hit it big with their pocket game Tiny Epic Kingdoms two years ago, another Kickstarter success story, and have parlayed it into a string of tiny, epic games that take big game concepts and boil them down to small packages. Kingdoms was part action selection, part area control with orcs and goblins and such, Tiny Epic Defenders was a co-op with all the classic fantasy character classes, and the upcoming Tiny Epic West adds poker into the mix. But for now, they’ve taken their act into space.
Tiny Epic Galaxies uses a dice rolling mechanic to determine actions a player takes on their turn, with a neat twist where other players can spend resources to follow that action. You’re exploring planets, which serve two functions: you can land one of your ships on them in order to collect their resources using the appropriate action, or you can go into orbit around them to eventually colonize them and claim them for their victory points. They also provide actions of their own, and that’s where the depth of this game comes in. There are so many decisions to be made, be it how best to use a planet, whether or not to copy another player’s action, when to improve your empire so you can get more ships and roll more dice, what resources to go after, which planets to try to colonize… It’s an awful lot in a tiny box. Play continues until someone gets to 21 victory points, anyone who hasn’t had their final turn gets one, and then everyone adds up their points to see who won. Which isn’t necessarily the person who got to 21; everyone gets a secret mission that awards bonus points for things like most of a certain resource or having all your ships in one location. In fact, it was a secret mission that knocked the player who seemed to be in the lead most of the game down to third when someone nabbed what seemed like some meaningless resources on their final turn, only to reveal a mission that gave them three points for having the most of that resource. It ain’t over ’til it’s over.
We had three separate games of this running at once and the consensus was that everyone enjoyed it. Even me, who did my usual, “This is a new game and I have no idea what I’m doing oh look I might be winning oh no, no I’m in last place” routine. I’ve had pretty good success with Kickstarter, at least in actually getting what I’ve backed in some kind of timely manner. And some of the games — like Compounded and Eons and especially Euphoria — have been real winners. I feel pretty comfortable adding this one to that list, even after just one play. A good thing in a small package.