An Interview With Michael Coe: Tiny Epic Kingdoms, Dungeon Heroes, and More

TinyEpicJoining us once again is Gamelyn Games guy, Michael Coe. Today we get to have a little chat about some exciting news as Gamelyn has launched a Kickstarter Campaign for Tiny Epic Kingdoms!

Michael, thanks again for joining us; we appreciate your time!

So before we get started on Tiny Epic Kingdoms: Last time we chatted we were discussing Dungeon Heroes. We can only assume most of your efforts recently have been directed toward Tiny Epic Kingdoms, but has there been anything new in the works for Dungeon Heroes? Expansions? Multiplayer mechanics?

Both actually, Dungeon Heroes offers a rich canvas in which to paint multiple expansions and variants. I’m currently working hard on putting together a 4-player Dungeon Heroes. Likely, a new game altogether but keeping true to the original concept and engine of Dungeon Heroes. Along those lines, I’m excited to announce that Dungeon Heroes will be coming to iOS this summer!!

If yes, do you have any estimate for a timetable that these plans will be unveiled?

I’d really like to have something ready to show this summer. I plan to release Dungeon Heroes on iOS at Origins this year. I hope to have a new DH to demo there are well.

You recently posted photos of a hard copy of Fantasy Frontiers over on Kickstarter; How soon will Fantasy Frontier show up in the mail for backers, and on the shelves at our FLGS?

Fantasy Frontier is on schedule for an estimated delivery to KS backers in May. It will be released to general distribution at Origins 2014 in June.

Describe the feeling of actually holding, and opening a copy of your game after so much time and effort has gone into it. Is there anything you would have done differently with Fantasy Frontier? Or any lesson you learned that will be applied to the Tiny Epic Kingdoms campaign and production?

Assuming you played with LEGOs as a child, do you remember the feeling of completing a large set? Setting that last brick into place… taking a step back and looking over your masterpiece? There was an intangible and magical experience that went along with that. An experience that is difficult to capture as an adult. That is how it feels to open a copy of a game you made!

So far, the conception through production of Fantasy Frontier has been a dream project. The plan I set forth has been both enjoyable and successful. The only thing I would have changed, and will not likely do in the future, are the GIANT Meeples. Yes, they were their own project as well but I offered some with Fantasy Frontier too. They look great! But ultimately they are too heavy and I end up losing too much money on them.

Hold me closer, tiny gooooblins...

Okay, let’s talk about Tiny Epic Kingdoms! So...It’s a game about kingdoms that are both tiny AND epic… Give us, if you would, a quick overview of the game—its style and mechanics!

Tiny Epic Kingdoms is the biggest game you will ever play in a small box. It is a quest and conquer game. Players will use a community action selection system to eXpand, eXplore, eXploit and eXterminate. TEK manages to deliver a rich 4x experience in a short and small package. Something that has not been done this well in the past.

How did Gamelyn Games end up with this title?

Scott caught wind that I was taking submissions for small games and gave me a holler. I looked it over, played it, and told him, “You let me publish this game and I will do wonders with it!” The rest is history in the making.

What has been different about preparing to publish a game that you haven’t designed?

Getting to know the game inside and out. Getting the game to the table enough to be accused of eating, sleeping, and breathing Tiny Epic Kingdoms. As a publisher, it’s important to have a second-nature relationship with the game you're creating. This occurs naturally as the designer but takes some special attention when not.

What can you tell us about any stretch goals that you have planned for the campaign?

Stretch goals of all sorts have been unlocked. This includes many material upgrades, extra factions, extra maps and even a mini-expansion is on the horizon if we can reach 200k.

If all goes as planned, when will we see Tiny Epic Kingdoms hit the shelves?

The game is scheduled for an estimated delivery to the KS backers by September 2014. I would like to release into general distribution at this year’s BGG.CON in November.

Okay...time for a TINY and EPIC Lightning Round!

Favorite Smurf?

uh… papa!

The theme to 2001: A Space Odyssey or Flight of the Valkyries?  

Space Odyssey

billy-bartyBilly Barty or Kenny Baker?

ooO both legendary and both in movies I love. I’m going Billy Barty on this one!

Favorite short story?

The Neverending Story! That’s short right!? ;)

Great Wall of China or the Grand Canyon?

Not fair; I live near the Grand Canyon so I may suffer from a case of “the grass is always greener”... nah, I don’t! Grand Canyon!

Thanks so much, Michael, for joining us today. And head on over to the Kickstarter campaign and get your very own copy of Tiny Epic Kingdoms. They're CRUSHING it, and have already knocked off 17 stretch goals.

Thanks for reading!

Michael Coe Founder of Gamelyn Games - an Interview

20130903-084442.jpgWe’re very excited today to have a chat with Michael Coe, founder of Gamelyn Games, and designer of Dungeon Heroes, about the newest title scheduled for release from Gamelyn Games, Fantasy Frontier!

Michael, thanks for chatting with us!

So, tell us a little of the Gamelyn Games story; how did you arrive on the gaming scene?

Gamelyn Games is a rapidly growing games and toys company based out of Arizona. My wife Brittany and I started Gamelyn Games shorty after I transitioned out of Crash Games, the publishing company I had previously founded with Patrick Nickell. Brittany and I are both family focused individuals and we actually just started a family of our own! We truly share a passion for providing families and friends with awesome games and toys. We both grew up as gamers and little inventors and I’ve had a burning passion all my life to create games and share my ancient ideas… yes, I’m getting old, so we set out to make our dreams come true!

We’ve started to hear the buzz coming out of Gencon about Fantasy Frontier, but for those who don’t know the game, can you give us a quick overview?

Absolutely! Fantasy Frontier is a 2-4 player euro game that delivers an epic airship experience! Players compete for victory points by creating geographic patterns, building settlements and through aerial combat. The game boasts a synergetic package of tile placement, pattern recognition, worker placement and resource gathering.

What inspired the creation and design of Fantasy Frontier?

It all started when I was about 5 years old with The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin! I say that jokingly but maybe there is some truth to it. I did absolutely love the airship toy and I had the whole crew! I’d be lying if I didn’t say that ever since then I had an affinity for airships. It seems every time one showed up in a new video game that game quickly became my favorite; Mario Bros. 3, Final Fantasy 2, Chrono Trigger, Warcraft 2 and many others.

In addition to my love for airships, I love map making. I began playing D&D at eleven and once I had a turn at being the DM I was hooked. I would create my own worlds vast with adventure. I’d spend hours creating maps of the worlds and their key areas and then bring them to the table for players to explore.

Fantasy Frontier is a product of my dreams to create a game of airships and cartography!

What is the “hook” for Fantasy Frontier? That is to say, what one thing about the game sets it apart from other games?

The emphasis on map making from atop a fantastic airship sets Fantasy Frontier apart! Also, the theme; as much as people have been calling it steampunk (and I take no offense to that) it is actually high-fantasy. Naomi Robinson has done a magnificent job capturing that theme.

Lastly, the integration and execution of a euro game with optional take-that elements.

Like so many indie (and established) game publishers, you’re funding this title through Kickstarter; you’ve also had plenty of success in the past bringing games to market through crowd funding. What bit of advice would you give an up-and-comer looking to kickstart a project?

Create a complete project plan that includes a pre-production schedule, marketing strategies, a production schedule, and a post-production plan. Do your research about Kickstarter, taxes, production and shipping costs, marketing costs etc. Sound overwhelming? It can be, but remember a wall is built one brick at a time.


Your BGG bio says you’re also a professional actor! Whoah! Do you still act, or are you just making games for a living?

I haven’t acted in some time, but I still love it! I plan to return to acting once I am able to make games full time. I work an average of 80-100 hours a week between my day job and Gamelyn Games. Once I can cut out my day job, I’d love to return to acting.

Hypothetically speaking, if you were trying to impress someone at a party or social gathering while talking about your acting career, whose name would you drop when listing off folks you’ve worked with?

Kathy Bates, Kate Mara, Gregory Smith, Chris Pratt… I’ve been very blessed to have worked with some really awesome and really talented people in the acting industry.

What are some of your favorite games to play right now? and why?

Board Games: Chess, Carcassonne, and Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small. I really enjoy many others but these are recent visitors to the game table. Chess for the epitome in strategy and tactics that it is, Carcassonne for capturing medieval landlording in an approachable package, and Agricola All Creatures… for the breeding…lol =D

Video Games: Legend of Zelda (NES), Adventures of Link (NES) and Pilot Wings (SNES)… why? Because it they make me feel like a kid again alright, you want the truth? There it is!

Word on the street has it that Eric Vale, of Dragon Ball Z fame, will be doing (or has done by now) the voice work for the Kickstarter video of Fantasy Frontier. Any other cool surprises you can tell us about coming during the campaign?

The coolness of Eric Vale doing Fantasy Frontier is a hard act to follow. I am working on some fun ideas for the campaign stretch goals but can’t let the cat out of the bag quite yet.

20130903-085047.jpg We’ve had some conversations offline about the review we wrote for Dungeon Heroes. We wanted again to thank you for understanding our point of view. We’re also very curious if there are any plans for the future of Dungeon Heroes? Dungeon Heroes has a very bright future! The game has been received tremendously and the stores can’t keep it on the shelf. This is all fuel for the 4 player version I am currently working on. I’m also exploring additional expansions to the current 2 player system. So, lots of good stuff in development. Dungeon Heroes lends itself well to expandability and my well of creativity for it is deep.

So what does “down time” look like for the Coe family? Or do you get much of that? I make time for “down time” because that is the time I get with my wife and daughter, the two most meaningful aspects of my life. We spend time going to the park, the mall, going out for dinner and even sometimes the arcade, Jolene (my daughter, 10 months old) loves going out and meeting other kids and seeing the wonderful world we live in. We also spend good quality time at home just relaxing and playing with Jolene, teaching her new things. She just took her first two steps the other day! Good times!

Okay...5 Questions/5 Words (or very short phrases) to answer them! Aaaand GO!

• Favorite dirigible? Ooo… that’s tough… I’m going to cop out and say that I love them all equally. They are all my babies after all. =)

• Favorite urban legend you wish was actually true? LOL! I don’t wish any were true! That’s just macabre! There are lots of fairy tales I wish were true though.

• Best part of an Oreo—Cookie or Stuffing? The 10 year old me would have said the stuffing, but the current me has grown an appreciation for the synergy that the stuffing and cookie have together.

• Favorite toy when you were a kid? Wow, that’s a hard question. I was big into toys as a kid, but I think I loved my Ninja Turtles and Jurassic Park collections the most.

• Name of your first RPG character? Jolene, a Paladin in D&D advanced 2nd edition. Also, the name of my mother and now my daughter. ROFL… wow I’m a geek, bad!

Michael, thanks so much for taking some time for us, and congratulations on all of your success so far!

For more information on Fantasy Frontier you can follow this link RIGHT HERE to the Kickstarter campaign, or visit

Thanks for reading, and don't forget to look for us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube AND now on our very own podcast!

Dungeon Heroes—A Double-Take Review

dungeonheroesThe light coming from your flickering torch is getting dimmer and dimmer, but you move forward anyway, stepping over the corpse of the Ogre. As you approach the next room, you see a chest. This is it. What you came for. The treasure! From your left, beyond the nearly extinguished light, you hear the distinct sound of bones rattling...

Dungeon Heroes calls itself a tile-placement dungeon crawl. Does it succeed at either of those claims? Let's find out!


The Components

1 Game board

4 dice to track the Heroes' health: a d10, d8, d6, and d4

4 Hero Boards, which tell you about each Hero's special ability, and are a place to keep the health die

47 Dungeon Tiles, which show the traps, treasure, and monsters of the game

14 wooden meeples. But calling these meeples is an injustice. These are seriously cool wooden figures, with different sculpts for each hero and each type of monster. They look terrific.

The Setup

One person is the Dungeon Lord and the other person plays the Heroes. The Dungeon player puts the tiles near him. These include traps, monsters, treasure, and artifacts. The Hero sets up his Heroes in any way he wants on the starting row.

The Gameplay

The game is split into two different phases, the passive phase and the aggressive phase. These phases refer to the actions available to the dungeon player.

Passive Phase—During the passive phase the Dungeon player must take 4 tiles (chosen randomly) from the available tiles, look at them and then devise a placement scheme. He can place them anywhere on the board and they are placed face down, so it helps to remember where you placed them!


The player turn for the Hero player is the same throughout the game. They receive four actions per turn. An action can be spent to move any of the four heroes, or use the Wizard's ability—turn up a face down tile—or the Cleric's ability—heal a hero in an adjacent square. Each of the heroes can only perform 2 actions per turn before they exhaust and must wait until next turn to be given an action. The Warrior and Rogue special abilities are free actions, if the Warrior steps on a tile that reveals a monster—or has already been revealed as a monster—he slays the monster. If the Rogue steps on a trap tile he disarms it. If the Hero player reveals/finds artifacts the hero character that moved onto that tile gains that item and can use it, or give it to another hero character in an adjacent square

Aggressive Phase—Once all the tiles have been pulled and placed by the Dungeon player, the passive phase is over and the AGGRESSIVE PHASE begins. Any monster tiles that have been revealed on the board are replaced with the corresponding monster. The Dungeon player now has 4 actions, which include moving a monster one tile, or revealing a tile. If you reveal a tile, you replace it with a monster. Then the monsters get to attack any adjacent Hero or any Hero the monster moved onto.

This back-and-fort continues until either the Hero has found three of the treasures, or all of the Heroes are dead.

The Verdict and Recommendations

Firestone—Well, first of all, this doesn't really feel like a dungeon crawl to me. It's really more of an abstract. And that's fine—there have been some great dungeon-themed abstracts, such as Dungeon Twister. Calling it a dungeon crawl just seems to be a bit of a stretch.

Jeremiah - I'm okay with calling this a dungeon crawl, if only because of the abilities the Hero player has to manage in the search for the treasure. Maybe it's a dungeon crawl that uses a few abstract mechanics. But at the end of the day you are searching a dungeon for treasure...

Firestone—I played games against an opponent and a few solo games. I actually preferred the solo games. It seemed that the strategy for the Dungeon player was to keep traps and so forth in the front, monsters in the back, and then once the monsters are out, go after the Warrior hard. Since he's the only once who can kill monsters (other than another Hero grabbing a one-time-use artifact), once you kill him, it's pretty much just cleaning up. This might change after a few plays, or by playing with a different opponent. The benefit of the solo game is that things come out randomly in the dungeon, so it actually felt more like a dungeon crawl where anything could pop up anywhere.

Jeremiah—I think both have merits. I think I prefer the two player version with the bluffing aspect. I found that after playing the same player a few times as the Dungeon player you had to change up your strategy because they would figure it out and send the Rogue in to disarm traps, and the the warrior would clean up the monster tiles before the monsters even made it on the board. If there was one tweak I would make is to put the Holy Grail into every setup, this gives the hero player a fighting chance if the Warrior does get taken out early on.

Firestone—The components are top-notch. The meeples are unique and intricate and really add some great flavor to the game. The tiles are thick and great quality. I like the artwork a lot. And the dice you use to track damage are a nice touch.

Jeremiah— I totally agree, the tactile-ish nature of this game is great! These are the most intricate and still very sturdy meeples EVER! The look of the game is great as well, the art, on the tiles and the board really create a great environment for the game!

Firestone—I feel like we should mention a couple of aspects that might put some readers off. (We are a blog written by two Christians, after all...) First is the artwork on the Damsel. She's another character included in the expansion (The Dragon & The Damsel), and if you rescue her, she joins the party and becomes a playable character. Apparently it's really warm in that dank dungeon, because she's wearing only a bikini-type wrap thing up top (the only part of her you can actually see), and the top and bottom of her breasts are visible. I'm not a fan of hypersexualizing women—my two boys are going to get enough of that as they grow up, and it will be a constant battle for me to teach them to ignore the world's view of women and show them that they're daughters of the King, and not just "a great rack..." So I don't need my games contributing to that battle on the side of the opposition. Yep, I can absolutely choose not to play with her in the game. I just want to make you aware it's there.

DungeonHeroesBoardJeremiah—Yeah, I've actually played the base game with my 7-year old. There isn't anything overly intimidating about it. It's a fun adventure type game. But both expansions stay well hidden and won't make their way onto the table much in my house. The other expansion that is included with the first (which is a great value, by the way!) is The Lords of the Undead. Functionally what this expansion brings to the game is great. Two more monster types, a necromancer that can bring back slain monsters. And the White Lady (a ghost)) who possesses a hero character giving the dungeon player control of that hero and thus allowing them to force the character into a trap, over to a monster etc. This is really cool for game play, but creeps me out. Possession isn't something to mess around with in my opinion. Most "dungeony" games walk a pretty fine line with me, and in this instance the line is crossed. Again, I don't have to play with that expansion, and I'm certainly not bashing Gamelyn and Michael Coe for putting it out there!! It's a simple case of my choice regarding this expansion, and I feel folks who are sensitive to this type of thing should know about it.

Firestone Final Verdict—This game was fine for me...but merely fine. I like my abstracts to be abstracts, and my monster-killing to be more...bashy? Total props on the components and the custom meeples and the artwork (other than Chesty La Rue) and making it play well as a solo. I just don't think I'll be reaching for this very often. Leave it on the shelf...

Jeremiah Final Verdict—Expansions aside, I really enjoy the base game; it seems like I'm in a season of life where the 90+ minute big board games are harder to get on the table. We still do, but it takes some effort to make it happen. This plays quick, offers many different strategic choices for both players, and has a lot of things I look for in a game: good synergy between components, bluffing, and sweet components! I say put this one on the table!

Thanks so much for reading! Please connect with us on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!

TOG Visual - Michael Coe and Dungeon Heroes!

DungeonHeroesBox4_zps46bd4d57One of our first stops at Origins was the Gamelyn Games booth, where we had a little chat with Michael Coe, founder of Gamelyn Games and designer of Dungeon Heroes, a fun little 2-player dungeon crawl with outstanding components.

We'll be writing a full-out Double-Take Review of Dungeon Heroes very soon, but until we do you can get a good feel of the game from watching the video. [youtube=] We'd like to thank Michael for sharing some time with us, and look forward to reviewing Dungeon Heroes soon!

Thanks for reading and watching!

Don't forget to subscribe to the blog for a chance to win free stuff!

And don't forget all the internetie things you can do to keep up with TOG! Facebook! Twitter! Instagram! YouTube!

A Look Back on Origins—Part 1

photo (20)- by Jeremiah, with contributions from A.J. and Sepos. Last Friday we made our way down to Columbus and the Origins Game Fair, to cover the con as best we could for the blog—in just one day.

The con featured everything you'd expect from an event of this caliber: tons of seminars, officially supported tournaments and game play, an Unpub gathering, and of course, the exhibit hall featuring hundreds of vendors, publishers, and more.

photo (19)We made our way through, and shot nearly two hours of video content, featuring interviews with Paul Peterson, Jason Tagmire, Kevin Sorbo, and many more!

The Games

As you would expect at a large-scale gaming convention there were a ton of great games, as far as the eye could see; we'll highlight some of the games we thought were of note over the next couple days.

The DukeAn Origins-released game, convention-goers were among the first to demo and purchase The Duke from Catalyst Game Labs. The Duke is a tile placement/tile moving, chess-like strategy game for 2 players. Each tile represents a different troop defending your Duke: Move a tile and flip it to show the different movement now available to that tile. The game plays fast but has massive replay value as it is tough to master, and different every time!

Council of VeronaCrash Games is currently Kickstarting this title as the flagship to their Pub Series of games. Council of Verona is a card-based strategy game with a very strong bluffing component. The Pub Series is a catalog of games that are compact enough to play anywhere, but still offer great depth in their gameplay. You can get in on the Kickstarter until July 3rd, and it's only $12 to get a copy delivered to your door!

Dice Hate Me lineupLast year Dice Hate Me Games had a booth that pretty much consisted of one game: Carnival. This year they're celebrating a successful release of The Great Heartland Hauling Co., as well as VivaJava, and they're looking forward to the upcoming release of Compounded, VivaJava Dice, and Belle of the Ball. Chris Kirkman has been putting together a great lineup of titles using a stable of unknown/first-time designers to bring great and well-designed/developed games to market. We're excited to see what's coming from them next!

Dungeon HeroesThis exciting game brings you the full experience of a dungeon crawl in a quick-play style. This vs. game pits your heroes against a dungeon player who will try and thwart your efforts to collect hidden treasures. The game board is grid-based with miniature meeples as your characters, who move, attack, and defend based on character abilities. Most importantly, the game can be played in 15 to 30 minutes, giving a busy gamer an opportunity to participate in a fast-paced dungeon crawl. The game is completely expandable and will hopefully offer a multi-player aspect to the game as well as larger game boards. This game looks fantastic and has done great on Kickstarter. We'll be keeping an eye on its future.

We'll be sharing more about Origins over the next few days, not too mention all of our awesome video coverage! For more about Origins, and some good old fashioned social-media fun, look for TOG on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Don't miss a single TOG post! Subscribe via email over on the right!

Thanks for reading!