"I am Groot."
-Guardians of the Galaxy
Today we get to take a look at the latest title in the Tiny Epic series: Tiny Epic Galaxies. TEG follows Tiny Epic Kingdoms (see our review here) and Tiny Epic Defenders (our review is coming!). And just like Kingdoms and Defenders, Galaxies is not just a re-theming/re-skinning of one basic game. Kingdoms is a 4X game, Defenders is a co-op, and Galaxies is.... a dice roller! Let's take a look!
I'll just come right out and say it, Tiny Epic Galaxies is now my favorite dice-rolling game. Tiny Epic Galaxies is more than just a pure press-your-luck dice-roller, and I think that's why I love it so much. Sure it's dice rolling but it has a lot more than than that going for it!
Note: Since this is a preview, the pictures, components, and possibly even some of the gameplay aren't yet final. There's a print-and-play version out there right now that's pretty much the same version Jeremiah reviewed. Again we're not sure how close to final this is (check it out here)!
The players begin with a home planet which is a player board with several trackers on it. Those trackers are: Energy, Culture, and your Galaxy level. Energy and Culture are your resources that can be spent for re-rolls or Culture Actions--more on that later--but upgrading your Galaxy will give you more dice to roll, more ships to send out to other planets, and more victory points, which is how you win the game. There are also planet cards that are dealt out onto the table--two more than the number of players playing--and players get 2 Energy and 1 Culture, and you're ready to start.
There's no given method for choosing a starting player, I think it should be the last person to be in outer space, or to have been abducted by aliens... but that's just my opinion.
A turn starts with the active player rolling a number of dice--determined by their Galaxy level--and... wait for it... rolling them! You do get one re-roll before you have to start spending energy to re-roll. After, or during, all that rolling you can choose to "lock in" dice. Locking in a die activates the action it is showing. Here's a quick rundown of the actions:
Move--Move a ship to/from your home planet to a planet surface or Colonizing Track
Harvest Energy--Gain an Energy for each ship on an Energy Planet.
Harvest Culture--I think you can guess how this works.
Advance Diplomacy--Move ONE of your ships on a Diplomacy planet's Colonizing Track--we'll talk about the Colonizing Track REALLY SOON, I promise!
Advance Investment--I'm banking on your deductive reasoning here.
Colony Action--When you start the game the only Colony action is to spend any combination of resources to upgrade your galaxy; later on you'll gain more Colony actions as you colonize planets.
Each planet has a resource type -Energy or Culture- and a colonizing track, as well as a Colony Action. If you lock in a Move die, you can move a ship to either the surface or the Colonizing Track of that planet. Moving it to the surface gives you the Colony Action right away, and you can also harvest its resource by locking in a Harvest die. If you land a ship on the Colonizing Track, you can advance it by locking in an Advance die, and once you've advanced onto the icon on the Colonizing Track you get to take that planet into your galaxy, gaining VP's as well as permanently gaining the Colony action.
At any point while you're locking in dice, taking actions etc. you can spend an Energy to re-roll any dice you haven't locked in yet.
Now. here's where the game gets REALLY interesting. While the active player is doing all of this rolling, harvesting, colonizing jazz, any other player in the game can choose to take the action of a die that has just been locked in by spending a Culture resource. Need to harvest energy or advance a ship on a Colonizing Track? Don't wait until your turn--jump in on that right now!
Many dice rollers have a "let's watch what's-his-face take his turn and in 10 minutes he'll be done rolling and I'll get to roll and lose my turn in one roll" factor to them. Being able to jump in and follow an action that was taken on someone else's turn provides a dice-rolling experience void of downtime. I love this about Tiny Epic Galaxies! While you do have to rely somewhat on some luck of the roll, the real strategy is when and when not to follow someone's action. The dice-rolling becomes a cog in a much larger strategic machine.
I think the one thing that slowed the learning curve down a bit for me was that planets will have two different icons--a resource and a colonization type--and there are plenty of combinations of them. I found myself possibly over thinking whether I should try to land on all Investment planets so I could just track one type. But about halfway into my first game I got it sorted out and it was smooth sailing.
Players continue taking turns, upgrading their galaxies, claiming planets, and so on until one player scores 21 points; then each other player gets one final turn and the one with the most points wins!
My Final Thoughts--I'll say it again: Tiny Epic Galaxies is my favorite dice-rolling game! There's a massive amount of gameplay in this very small...no, tiny package, and a ton of great strategic devices to employ both during your turn and other players' turns! No down time, plays quickly, and, most importantly, a whole lot of fun! I highly recommend Tiny Epic Galaxies!
We'd like to thank Gamelyn Games for sending out a prototype to me (Jeremiah); it has in no way shaped my opinion of the game.
You can find Tiny Epic Galaxies on Kickstarter right here!