An Interview With Tiny Epic Defenders Designer Scott Almes and Gamelyn Games' Michael Coe

Hey everyone! Today we're joined by a couple of Kickstarter pros. Michael Coe is the head honcho at Gamelyn Games, and Scott Almes is the designer of the popular Kickstarter-initiated game Tiny Epic Kingdoms--and the currently running campaign for Tiny Epic Defenders. 

Thanks for joining us, men!

Before we jump in and chat about Tiny Epic Defenders, can you fill us in on Tiny Epic Kingdoms: When do you expect it to start showing up at the doors of your backers?

Michael: I love having good news to a question like this! I’m proud to say that Tiny Epic Kingdoms is on track to hit its Kickstarter estimated delivery date of September. To be frank, a lot of the time delays occur during the shipping stages. This is mainly due to the customs approval process, but I’m optimistic about passing through without delay.

So let’s talk Defenders; tell us a little bit about the game and how it plays.

Scott: Tiny Epic Defenders is a cooperative microgame. In the game, an Epic Foe and its horde are descending upon your kingdom toward the Capital City, and their goal is ultimate destruction. Players are heroes of the kingdom, who are tasked with defending against the horde. They will use the powers of the kingdom's regions, their hero abilities, and brute force to protect the kingdom. If these regions ever fall, the enemy will have a path to the Capital City.  And, if the Capital City ever falls, the game is lost. Each round, the horde grows and you'll have defend against more and more enemies. You have to survive until the Epic Foe reveals itself. If you defeat the Epic Foe, then victory is yours.  

Michael: TED plays 1-4 players in about 30 minutes. It is addictively fun AND portable! A fast fantasy co-op that goes with you anywhere and offers solo play! What’s not to love!?

What makes TED different than most co-op board games?

Scott: The core mechanic of TED is the turn deck.  Every turn, the top card of the turn deck is flipped over.  This'll either show an enemy card, in which the horde attacks the outer regions, or a hero card, in which that player would take their turn. You go through this deck every round, and at the end of every round a new horde card is added to the deck--increasing the difficulty round after round. This creates an interesting turn dynamic, because it's a break from the "good guy action, bad guy action" that most cooperative games have. The "when" you get to take your turn is now a risk-management variable, and you have to really learn your deck to survive. The turn deck really gives the game a solid arc, keeps the game fresh, and really flips the traditional cooperative game structure on its head.

Michael: TED is different because it's small and fast! It is a co-op “on the go.” Little setup, fast-paced mechanics, strategic depth with a rinse-and-repeat label! Alright, I may not put the label on there, but you’ll still do it.

Just how tiny IS Tiny Epic Defenders?

Scott: It fits nicely in a small box, that's for sure, but thanks to our awesome backers it's getting a little less tiny every day.

Michael: Tiny Epic Defenders is a pocket-sized marvel. I literally walk around conventions with it in my pocket. Granted I do wear my fair share of cargos.

The campaign is doing really, really well and you’ve almost run out of stretch goals. Do you have more in the hopper once those are unlocked? Anything you care to share with our readers?

Scott: We just announced stretch goals up to $250k, with the big one being double-sided region cards. Changing the regions to double sided is particularly fun, because it means including these large fire tokens to show that the regions have fallen. It adds in a lot of variability, but the tokens give the game an epic visual feel during play. The $250k is very ambitious, but I think our backers can help get us there. 

Michael: I’m very happy with our current layout of stretch goals. Of course, if we surpass them, the imaginative team behind Gamelyn Games will rise to the occasion. =)

Have we seen the conclusion of the Tiny Epic saga, or are there plans to expand the franchise?

 Scott: We have very big plans for our Tiny Epic series of games. We're planning on exploring new genres, new mechanics, as well as expansion our existing games. There is little tiny about our epic plans.

Michael: We want to make “Tiny Epic” a way of gaming. An adjective that, when one hears it, they know exactly what to expect. A small-box-big-experience game! You aint seen nothing yet!

So what’s up next for Gamelyn Games?

Scott: More Tiny Epic games :)

Michael: More Tiny Epic games ;)

Gamelyn has enjoyed a lot of success on Kickstarter, do you foresee a time when you’ll bring games to market without going to Kickstarter for funding?

Scott: Michael will be able answer this one fully, but I do enjoy the community that we have behind us on Kickstarter. The most fun part of the campaign is interacting with our backers and just enjoying our hobby.

Michael: Kickstarter is more than just a funding platform, it is a community. One that I feel a big part of, one that I belong to. As a backer, as a project creator, as a community member, I love Kickstarter and I intend to remain an active part of it.

Time for our lightning round! You know how it works: We ask the question, and you answer it with one word (or a short phrase)!

Kirk or Picard?

Scott: Kirk.

Michael: Picard, for his diplomacy.

Dice-Building or Deck-Building?

Scott: Deck-building.

Michael: Kingdom-Building!

The square root of Pi is?

Scott: 1.77245... and so on and so on. Yay irrational numbers!

Michael: An infinite number.

Favorite fantasy novel/story?

Scott: Fantasy? American Gods, by Neil Gaiman.  Although, honestly, I'm more of a science fiction guy.

Michael: Dragonlance

Calvin or Hobbes?

Scott: Calvin. He's the dreamer.

Michael: Calvin!

Thanks for being here, fellas. Go check out the campaign. There's just over two weeks to go and they're already over $100,000!