To Boldly Go--A Double-Take Review of Tiny Epic Galaxies

For today's review we're visiting another game in the Tiny Epic series from Gamelyn Games: Tiny Epic Galaxies. TEG follows Tiny Epic Kingdoms (see our review here) and Tiny Epic Defenders (see our review here). 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! Is Tiny Epic Galaxies out of this world, or should it be sent into a black hole? Let's take a look!

 

THE GAMEPLAY

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 the game's resources. Upgrading your Galaxy level gives you more dice to roll, more ships to send out to other planets, and more victory points, which is how you win the game.

Planet Cards each have a special power, either a Culture or Energy symbol, and a Colonizing track (with a Diplomacy or Investment symbol) that provides a certain number of VPs if you're the first to reach the end of the Colonizing track. 

To start you'll deal out Planet cards to the table--two more than the number of players playing--and players get 2 Energy and 1 Culture resource. 

A turn starts with the active player rolling a number of dice--determined by their Galaxy level. You do get one re-roll before you have to start spending Energy to re-roll--each Energy you spend gives you another re-roll, and you can do that as many times as you can afford. After, or during, all that rolling you can choose to "lock in" dice. Locking in a die activates the action on its face. Here's a quick rundown of the actions:

Move--Move a ship from your Home Planet to a Planet surface (and take that Planet's action) or to the Planet's Colonizing track--or move a ship back to your Home Planet.

 Free dice tray included in every box!

Free dice tray included in every box!

Harvest Energy--Gain an Energy for each ship on an Energy Planet--either on the surface or on the Colonizing track. There's an Energy symbol on your Home Planet, so you can always get at least one Energy with that roll. 

Harvest Culture--Works the same way as harvesting Energy, 'cept with Culture.

Advance Diplomacy--Move one of your ships on a Diplomacy Colonizing Track

Advance Investment--Move one of your ships on an Investment Colonizing Track

Colony Action--When you start the game the only Colony action available is to spend any combination of resources to upgrade your Galaxy; later on you'll gain more Colony actions as you Colonize Planets. 

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 rely somewhat on the 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. 

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. Then you check everyone's secret objective and add those points if they accomplished that objective, and the one with the most points wins!

THE VERDICT

Jeremiah--Tiny Epic Galaxies made my Top Ten games of 2015, for good reason. I'm becoming a Scott Almes fan in a big way. He's been prolific over the past few years and his games just keep getting better. Keep it up Scott!

Firestone--I wasn't sure how many Tiny Epic games we needed, but Tiny Epic Galaxies ended up being my favorite Tiny Epic game yet!

Jeremiah--I think the thing that really hit home for me is the engine building aspect. If you can manage to produce 2 culture, you can always spend one to gain two therefore keeping yourself in the game at all times because of your Culture machine!  

Firestone--Every game and engine will be different because you're going to see different Planet cards and Secret objective cards. That variability keeps it from getting stale. 

Jeremiah--This goes hand in hand with my previous comment, I LOVE all the player interaction and the fact that there isn't any downtime, everyone is dialed into the game at all times! It's outstanding!

Firestone--Yeah, that mechanism has been used before, but it works here, too. Being able to set up your turn on other people's turns is fun, and adds another level of depth to this.  

Jeremiah--I almost didn't include this because at this point it seems unnecessary, but the components are as always top notch! Gamelyn is know for quality bits, and this time they yet again nail it! 

Firestone--It's remarkable how much they can cram into that tiny box. And it's not like everything's so tiny you're squinting trying to see what everything is.

Jeremiah--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. 

Firestone--Yeah, from the description it probably seems like there's a bunch to keep track of on Planets, but it's actually very easy to see exactly what a Planet provides you. 

Jeremiah's Final Verdict--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 during both your turn and other players' turns! There's no down time, it plays quickly, and, most importantly, it's a whole lot of fun! I highly recommend Tiny Epic Galaxies!

Firestone's Final Verdict--Tiny Epic Galaxies is my favorite Tiny Epic game. And it's my kids' favorite, too. Fast, fun, and easy to get to the table as a meaty filler, or main game with the family. 

What's your favorite Tiny Epic game? Let us know in the comments! And thanks for reading!

Theology of Games would like to thank Gamelyn Games for sending us review copies of Tiny Epic Galaxies. This in no way affected our opinions of the game.