Review: Tiny Epic Defenders

I have played through a number of games lately so I figured, why not write my own reviews of some. I mean I love games, I love writing, it’s a great fit. So here is the first on a newly acquired game: Tiny Epic Defenders by Gamelyn Games.

What is it?

Tiny Epic Defenders (TED) is a cooperative area defense game. Players will craft a stack of monsters that come in to try and wreck their kingdom. Certain cards within the stack will also allow the heroes their own actions to move around the board, fortify locations, use abilities, and try and fight the epic foe once he is around. Players work together to defeat the epic foe, or fall with their capital city.

What’s cool?

TED is, like many of the Gamelyn Games, a big game packed into a tiny box. Playing through this a few times felt to me as deep with decisions as a game like Pandemic while fitting into about half the table, and box, space. The game creates a ‘board’ with a unique card rondel that puts some locations next to your capital city, and others just a space further away. With the slightly limited action points you can get in a round this space mechanic becomes very important and unforgiving of incorrect moves.

The board itself is comprised of the Captial City and 6 outer regions. Each outer region card is double-sided to increase replay value. The regions have added bonuses, or in some cases detriments, that can be passive or activated with your precious few action points. Of the six regions that are setup in a sort of circle around the Capital there are two that are considered adjacent to the Captial, and the other four  regions are adjacent to one of those two. All in all it makes movement feel like a very important decision each time because you want to have the best placement when you get to spend action points again.

Running even further with this “cram twice the game in half the box” mentality the game comes with a small stack of cards and a few larger player and epic foe cards. This may only sound mildly interesting until you open that small box and just keep pulling out cards. Somehow this box ends up feeling like a clown car of goodies. There are unique characters a plenty that players can choose from, or draw randomly if you like to live dangerously. Each seemed unique and well thought out to maintain a balance to the game.

What’s not?

A review isn’t really a review without a few negatives, right? So far I don’t have too many with this one. My primary complaint is rules. My first few plays were solo and incredibly difficult even on Easy, with only one dire enemy. I knew cooperative games like this are supposed to be difficult but I had to ask a few clarifying questions on Twitter about solo play that weren’t as well defined in the rules as I had hoped. In the end the people at Gamelyn suggested using multiple characters in a solo play through. This really wasn’t apparent in the rules and felt a little like a “play however you want” answer. I may be just a bit too much of a rules stickler for that.

That being said after a game or two the whole system becomes very apparent, so I can’t be to upset about a few printed rules issues. I mean you can’t please all the people all of the time and there was still a great deal of imagery and explanation in the rules. Overall I would say this one qualm would most certainly NOT stop me from picking up a copy of this.

What about the…?

Art? Components? Box? I know you were going to ask something along those lines. Top freakin’ notch is my answer to you. You can tell the high funding amounts that Gamelyn Games have earned on Kickstarter goes back into the product. All of the location and player cards are a thick sturdy feeling material.

The artwork is just absolutely fantastic all around. Even the box feels really solid and has the inside of the lid printed a full image. It’s the small touches that went into this product that really bring the idea of Gamelyn Games to fruition for me. You really get the quality and depth of a full-size game in a pocket size box and a terrific price.

Would you buy it?

Well, I mean I already did, but yes. I would. Of course you have to be a person that likes cooperative, players versus the system, type of games. If you don’t like those, you are going to have a bad time. If, however, you like cooperative games this one offers it to you with a lot of replay value and within a reasonable gaming time frame. So if you hate coop games or fun, maybe pass, otherwise seek out a copy of this game.

It shall be yours. Oh yes, it shall be yours.

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