Answering the Call - an Interview with Michael Coe and Scott Almes

Well, the gaming world was rocked by another bomb dropped by the Arizona-based publisher Gamelyn Games, as they announced an expansion to last year’s smash hit Tiny Epic Kingdoms. Joining us today are Michael Coe, founder and big cheese of Gamelyn, and Scott Almes, designer extraordinaire, to chat with us about the new expansion, and all things Gamelyn and Tiny… and epic…

Fellas, thanks for taking a few minute to chat!

So, before we get into Heroes’ Call, Michael, can you give us an update on Tiny Epic Galaxies? 

Coe: It’s out of this universe! It just keeps getting better and production is right on schedule. I’ve arranged with Rodney of Watch It Played to have an instructional video shot and produced prior to the release of the game. The front of the rule book will display a QR code link to this video!  

Tiny Epic Kingdoms was my (Jeremiah) game of the year for 2014, so when I heard about the expansion I was cautiously excited about it (as I am with any expansion). What can you tell us about the expansion?

Almes: Tiny Epic Kingdoms Heroes’ Call is designed to bring players more of what they love about Tiny Epic Kingdoms and introduce a few simple but impactful variants. So players can expect a whole slew of additional factions and additional territories including NEW region types. It will also introduce a 4th resource to acquire and manage, silver! Players will now have Heroes to command, level up and potentially retire. Additionally, players will be keeping track of their kingdom progress every time they perform a build action by placing tower blocks in regions they control. The tower blocks can be destroyed in war, and if so, progress on the tower card is reduced!

Scott as a designer, do you design with the thought of expansion in mind, or do you take a finished game and think “How can I make this better?”

Almes: I hesitate to say the thought is “How can I make this better” as much as “How can I explore this game system even more?”  Some games don’t need expansions.  It’s unlikely you’ll ever see an expansion for my game Bigfoot.  But, the Tiny Epic games are designed to be opened ended from the start.  There are always opportunities for more factions, planets, foes, etc.  Having different avenues for expansion via the kickstarter or later on is key for the series.  We really like cramming a lot of variability in the game.So, I guess to answer your question, I normally have a good feeling whether or not the game will have expansions while developing the game.  That said, after a game is on the market for 5-6 years, it’s hard not to tinker a bit…  Designers are tinkerers at heart, after all.

Scott, you had five games release in 2014, and by the Geek’s count you have 15 coming out this year--and that just the ones that have been announced! Did you have all of these games in your pocket, waiting to get your opportunity? Did you just hit a creative stride?

Almes: Haha, well it’s not fifteen, but it is a pretty ambitious year.  Some of them have been designed in the last year or two, other games have been in the works for 6-7 years.  In many ways, it’s a bit of a perfect storm.  I’ve learned a lot in the last couple years, so revamping some of the old designs that weren’t quite there is easy.  I can see the final flaws that were holding them back, and I have an easier time seeing how to fix the problem.  And some games just take a while to find the perfect publisher.  That said, my output has definitely increased as well – I’m devoting more of my time to game design.  It’s a very busy time, but I’m enjoying it immensely.  The work, the industry and the community is just amazing.  It’s very fulfilling work.  I get to see pictures of strangers enjoying my games with their friends and family, and I love that I had a part in making that happen.

New Factions and regions for the game seem a pretty logical way to expand the game, how did you make the decision to throw new mechanics into the game?

Coe: An expansion is an opportunity to explore some mechanics that were too complicated for the base game.  Or too expensive to put in.  So, for instance, we have Heroes in this expansion (hence the name).  The Heroes are extra powerful meeples that have special abilities, which is really fun… but too overwhelming to include in our base game.  To be honest, Tiny Epic is such a fun sandbox to play it that we just have tons and tons of factions, mechanics, and more to explore.This expansion is designed for fans of the series.  For those that really enjoyed the base game, this is going to be a wonderful next step to explore.  And, it’s modular.  You might just want to get your feet wet with more factions.  Then the new regions.  Then explore the heroes and the war towers.  You can spice it to your particular taste.

Will the expansion fit inside the original box with the base game? Or will we have to fill two pockets to contain all of the tiny epicness?

Coe: Tiny Epic Kingdoms Heroes’ Call is larger than life and larger than the volume of one tiny epic box. TEK HC is a full expansion of TEK and will bring with it a lot of awesome cards and bits. We have been exploring ideas of how to assist gamers in carrying both boxes at once. ;)

So what’s the future of the Tiny Epic line? Will we see more expansions? more full-blown titles?

Almes:Yes :)
Coe: YES! :D

When will the Kickstarter for Heroes’ Call go live, and are there PnP files available anywhere?

Coe: We’re planning to launch Tiny Epic Kingdoms Heroes’ Call on Kickstarter this summer. Possibly June. The PnP files have not been made public YET, you know me, I love sharing. 

Lightning Round!!!

If you could play a character in a Star Wars movie, who would it be?

Almes: It has to be Han Solo.
Coe: YODA!!

Favorite Tiny Epic Kingdoms Faction?

Almes: Shapeshifters.
Coe: Humans!

Alien or Predator?

Almes: Alien.
Coe: Aliens.

Favorite game that’s at least 10 years old?

Almes: Roborally!
Coe: Carcassonne.

Favorite burger topping?

Almes: Chipotle Mayo.

We'd like to thanks Michael and Scott for taking time from their busy schedules to chat with us today, you can follow Gamelyn on Twitter @Gamelyn_Games and Scott is over at @Scott_Almes, to keep up with all the great games they're producing!