A review copy of Tiny Epic Defenders and Tiny Epic Defenders: The Dark War were provided by Gamelyn Games. We would like to thank Gamelyn Games for supporting our blog. All thoughts, comments, and pictures herein are our own.
A few years back I was just getting into the solo gaming scene. I had played, and owned, plenty of games for more than one player, both cooperative and competitive, but I was looking for something that could hold me over between game nights. I did some research and found that solo gaming was a real thing. The rest of that story is pretty well documented here, but what is not are some of the games that got me here, my inaugural games, so to speak.
One of the first games that I found was Tiny Epic Defenders. The tiny and epic parts were an instant attraction to me, I immediately was onboard, grabbing the deluxe version as soon as I could. Although it had to be played two handed, it never felt like I was playing that way, and this was a big plus for me. When it arrived I immediately cracked into it, playing four consecutive games that afternoon. It remains one of my favorite games even today.
A few years later, last year to be exact, Gamelyn Games launched a sequel to TED, Tiny Epic Defenders : The Dark War. With this release they revamped the original TED. Artwork, mechanics, and other little changes were made to the game. I was unsure about the changes, but set out to find if they really made a difference, or if it was just a clever way to grab some extra cash. The Dark War was made compatible with the second edition of the game, not the first, so I’ll admit I was pretty skeptical, hey, I’m from New York, what do you expect?
First let me tell you what you need to know about TED. Tiny Epic Defenders was designed by Scott Almes, published by Gamelyn Games, with the new artwork by Ian Rosenthaler and Benjamin Shulman. It is a medieval fantasy area control game that has player trying to keep hordes of enemies at bay while protecting various areas of the world. The game can be played by 1-4 players in about half an hour. Now let’s continue with my thoughts on this…
When the new copy arrived the first thing I noticed was the artwork. The original seemed more gritty and darker. The new art seemed more in line with a lot of the other games Gamelyn was producing. It felt like more of the Tiny Epic family than it’s older sibling. All of the artwork was changed, it is almost a completely new game from that aspect. Another big change was to the meeples. Anyone who is familiar with what Gamelyn Games has been doing recently has heard of their ITEMeeples. Meeples that can actually hold items! Why has no one thought of this before? Meeples that can move around the board actually equipping their treasures, who can say no to that? The ITEMeeples were introduced in Tiny Epic Quest, and honestly was the main reason I picked that one up! Back on track though…
I played TED and was immediately reminded why I loved this game so much to begin with. The game play is quick and straightforward, but the choices make the game very tense, and very satisfying. If you can make it to the end to fight, and hopefully defeat, the Epic Boss. you really feel like you accomplished something.
Some of the changes were made to gameplay as well. The first change is made right out of the gate with the set up. To begin the game the first round of cards is set up with three enemy cards on top and all the player cards on the bottom. Many times I played the first edition of this game and had my player cards come out first. There was nothing for me to do but waste my turn and then wait for the enemies to beat up on me at the end of the round. With the change to the set up this has alleviated this problem, giving the players a bit of a chance to respond to the threats in the first round. Subsequent rounds are done as before, with the deck randomly shuffled.
Another setup change has all the regions starting at a threat level of zero as opposed to a threat level of one, as in the first edition rules. This too serves to give the players a bit of an even playing ground out of the gate. it was very rare, but there were times in the first edition where a region was completely destroyed before my characters got a chance to play!
Other changes include actions changes on the outer regions, making some interesting choices to be made with your action points. The Capital City now has a threat level of 7 as opposed to the previous 6. This gives you a little more wiggle room while making choices. One of the biggest changes, for me, was how the outer regions fall. Previously when a card caused an outer region to fall it did its damage, a card from the reserves was pulled and placed face down on the region to show it was destroyed. The card that caused the destruction was then placed in the discard pile and would show up again next round. This has been changed for, in my opinion, the better. Now, the card that caused the region to fall is used as the destruction marker, removing it from play, and giving the players a bit of breathing room in that region.
The new changes certainly make the game more fluid and certainly were worth picking up the new edition. The major reason for me though, was the new Tiny Epic Defenders: The Dark War. One play of this expansion made it clear that I would never play TED without it again. The Dark War adds so much to a game that I already loved. Aside from adding new heroes, treasures, foes, and new outer region cards, there is now a campaign mode, special powers for each region that can be good, or bad for your heroes. Heroes can now learn skills by earning experience points. Heroes must now escort caravans of innocent civilians to the Capital City as part of the win conditions, and can interact with 3D constructs within the outer regions.
There is so much more to explore in TED with the addition of The Dark War. TED was already a game with a lot of decision making, The Dark War adds so much more to consider with your choices. Playing solo these choices can be hard enough, add playing cooperatively with three other people and there is a lot of table discussion on how best to proceed.
How does it play solo? As I mentioned before, it plays two handed, but has never felt that way to me. I love to play solo, and have logged a ton of hours doing so. I love the small package, as advertised, and have brought it on overnight hotel trips with me. I did introduce this to my daughter, and since then have not been allowed to play it alone. She loves it so much that I almost thought of writing this up on her blog. It appeals to both of us, and really has us working together to keep everything under control, because believe me, things can go from zero to sixty in the blink if an eye!
The skeptical New Yorker in me is happy to admit that I was wrong. I am so glad that I took a look at this game, and am so happy that it is coming back to my table again! The game made serious changes that vastly improve the core game. These changes are more than worth the tiny price tag associated with picking up another copy. I am happy to add this to my (not so) Tiny Epic collection.
Gamelyn Game has just launched a new title in their Tiny Epic series, Tiny Epic Tactics. This new addition to the collection boasts a pretty cool looking solo game experience in a 3D environment! It was an instant back for me, I can’t wait to play it, and tell you all about it. In the meantime, if you’d like to check it out it is on Kickstarter until March 7, 2019.