My (Jeremiah's) game of the year for 2014 was Tiny Epic Kingdoms, the first in the Tiny Epic line from Gamelyn games. TEK is a 4X micro game that packs a ton of gameplay into a small package. If you don't know how to play TEK, and/or want to see our thoughts on the base game, you can read our full review right here.
Heroes' Call is the first expansion in the Tiny Epic universe, which doesn't necessarily mean there will be expansions for each of the Tiny Epic games, as was explained to us in this interview.
But enough with links and other introductory statements, let's kick the tires and find out what Tiny Epic Kingdoms Heroes' Call is all about!
The Tundra - This is a new region type that will give you any of the base types of resources of your choosing when you gather resources. The catch is, when the patrol or quest action is selected, you've gotta keep it moving and move your meeple out of there--and this could mean you're going in to hostile territory!
Winter Peaks - These are yet another region type. The Winter Peaks act as a standard region type, but the resource that you gather there is silver, OH! By the way, there's a new resource!
Silver - Silver is the new resource added in the expansion. It's a wild resource that can be used for anything with the exception of using it in wars. So you can mix and match silver in with other resources if you're short on any particular one.
War Towers - These are cool little castle-looking meeple pieces, that go into play when you choose the Build action. Instead of just going up on the Tower track you also must build a war tower in a region in which you have a meeple. If you lose a war within that region, you lose that tower, and also come down on the Tower track as well!
Heroes! - Heroes are represented in the game by a regular-sized meeple--which is larger than the tiny meeples that come in the base game--and you'll start the game with a Hero in play. You'll also be dealt two Hero cards and get to choose one to keep as your Hero's identity. Each Hero has a set of unique abilities, and can be leveled up. Leveling up is different for each Hero; they'll have to spend the denoted amount and type of resources on the card to level up. The second time you level up, the Hero retires, which is a double-edge sword. It's bad because you'll have to pull your Hero off the board, but you'll gain three VP's at the end of the game. Also, the next time you expand you'll bring a new Hero back into the game--again drawing two cards and choosing one to use.
There are also a bunch of new Factions, and some new maps to accommodate the new region types.
Other than that, the game plays the same, with the same end game conditions, along with the addition of three retired Heroes triggering game end.
I'm always cautiously optimistic when an expansion to a game I really like comes out. Sometimes they seem unnecessary, or they completely change the feel and the way the game plays without improving the overall experience. Heroes' Call adds some nice flexibility to the game, but you never feel like you're playing a different game. Silver gives you the ability to not fall behind if you're in a bad situation with the regions you're collecting resources from.
One thing I've noticed is with having the Hero abilities, I often don't even pay too much attention to the magic track. It's almost like there are too many abilities going on. But in fairness I'm not much of a magic track player; I'm usually trying to expand or build my way to victory.
I can't comment too much on the components as I played with a prototype, but Gamelyn's track record for great-looking components speaks for itself. I have no reason to believe they would fall short on this one.
The Tundra spaces made for some interesting movement choices. We saw a lot of players moving in and out of the Tundra in order to not only snag some needed resources, but also avoid--and sometimes jump into--a confrontation. It definitely added some fun tension to the game when we saw someone slide on into the Tundra!
Jeremiah's Final Verdict
All in all, the measure of a good expansion is whether or not you find any reason to never play without it again. And as far as I can tell there is no reason to play Tiny Epic Kingdoms without this expansion. The new Silver resource adds balance and helps keep players in the game, and it also adds some great confrontation because of its value! The Heroes are fun, and add just one more way to score points and drive the game to its end. Heroes' Call definitely adds some polish to an already great game!
You can check out the Kickstartern for Heroes' Call right here!
We'd like to thank Gamelyn Games for sending Jeremiah a prototype of Tiny Epic Kingdoms Heroes' Call. This in no way affected his opinion of the game.
You can watch some great video gameplay of the new expansion on our YouTube Channel; we've embedded them below! (It's shot vertical because Periscope doesn't support landscape yet!)