Tiny Epic Galaxies Single Player Board Game

Tiny Epic Galaxies Review & Board Game Guide (2019)

Tiny and epic? I dunno…

Just kidding, I actually do. Tiny Epic Galaxies brings all of the complexity and fun of a big box space opera and shoves it all into a package smaller than a box of Munchkin. That’s pretty dang impressive.

Tiny Epic Galaxies
  • Tiny Epic Galaxies is a fun strategy space exploration game...
  • 2015 Award Winning Solo Game of the Year by BoardGameGeek Play...
  • The Tiny Epic Series is one of the best small box board game...

A Brief Overview of Tiny Epic Galaxies

Tiny Epic Galaxies Board Game

Tiny Epic Galaxies is a dice-chucking-area-control-space-exploration board game. Players will be competing for victory points by upgrading their civilization and spreading their influence throughout the galaxy.

It’s been likened to a space-themed Yahtzee but I honestly don’t think the comparison does it justice. With Yahtzee, anybody with a handful of dice can start throwing and play. Tiny Epic Galaxies is well… epic in comparison. It’s a weird bastardization of 4x games, Yahtzee, and old school Alpha Centauri, while simultaneously being none of those.

Versions & Expansions

Tiny Epic Galaxies Board Game

Satellites & Super Weapons Mini-Expansion

There’s a mini-expansion for Galaxies called Satellites and Super Weapons that adds a press your luck gameplay mechanic and gives players super weapons that grant some impressive abilities. The super weapons can also be destroyed for victory points. Every good franchise needs a moon-sized laser, right?

Tiny Epic Galaxies: Beyond the Black

Your galaxies have expanded to the extent of known space. You overlap with your rivals and fight tooth and nail for fertile planets. Now it is time to extend the horizons. Now it is time to upgrade your ships to the limits of today’s technology, and ready them with the brave pilots. Now it is time to go beyond the deep blackness of space into the truly unknown universe…

Beyond the Black is an expansion for Tiny Epic Galaxies that adds new planets, new ships, specialized pilots for your new (upgraded) ships, and a press-your-luck mechanic to explore the far reaches of space. Out in deep space, players might encounter dwarf planets that offer victory points, new and rare resources, or possibly, cosmic threats like solar storms, black holes, and even supernovas. In this expansion, players will be rewarded for the exploratory tenacity with exploration badges that offer additional victory points at the end of the game.

Tiny Epic Galaxies: Beyond The Black
  • Tiny Epic Galaxies: Beyond the Black is a fun strategy space...
  • Beyond the Black is an expansion to the Award Winning Tiny Epic...
  • The Tiny Epic Series is one of the best small box board game...

Unboxing Tiny Epic Galaxies

Tiny Epic Galaxies Board Game

From a design standpoint, Tiny Epic accomplishes some incredible feats. It manages to present a small box game that gives a big box experience.

I’m extremely impressed with what they’ve managed to put together here.

Very often, companies will place a game that doesn’t require a lot of room in a much larger box with cardboard inserts so that it will have shelf presence in a retail store. It’s a marketing thing.

Bigger box = more eyes on your game.

I can’t really fault companies for doing that. They are, after all, a business and if we weren’t susceptible to the marketing technique, then they wouldn’t do it.

Tiny Epic breaks the mold here. They set out to make the biggest gaming experience in the tiniest package possible. That includes both the gaming and physical aspects as well.

Efficient Use of Space

The components in Tiny Epic come in a small package, but there’s really no wasted space here. I’ve bought big box games with less in the box than.

The primary board/playing area for Tiny Epic will take place on the galaxy mats. Each mat is well done, and I really enjoy all of the artwork on all of the components.

The additional components are all pretty standard wooden tokens, and the custom dice don’t look like they’re about to fall apart at any given time.

Overall Tiny Epic is a quality looking game with quality components.

How to Play Tiny Epic Galaxies

Tiny Epic Galaxies Board Game

Step 1: Roll dice.
Step 2: Assign dice.
Step 3: ???
Step 4: Profit.

Dice

Tiny Epic Galaxies comes with 7 custom six-sided dice.

Each die has a symbol that corresponds to a different action that can be taken and must be locked into the Control mat before you can perform the action. This just helps keep track of everything.

The 6 actions that can be taken are:

  • Move Ship
  • Energy
  • Culture
  • Diplomacy
  • Economy
  • Utilize a Colony

Ships

As you upgrade the colony, you’ll get access to more and more ships. Ships are used to visit other planets and extend your influence. They can be moved in 1 of 2 ways.

Each player starts with 2 ships. As the colony gets upgraded that number will gradually grow to a maximum of 4 ships.

If a player manages to upgrade mid-turn and receives an additional ship, that ship is 100% in service and can be used immediately if they have the dice to use it.

Land directly onto the planet in order to use its ability or orbit a planet. When a ship is orbiting a planet, you’ll instead have to spend resources to move your ship down the orbit track. The first ship that reaches the end of the track gains control of it and adds that planet to their side of the table. They’ll gain sole use of the planet’s ability and a handful of victory points. Naturally, the harder it is to gain control of a planet, the greater the rewards.

Be careful. There can be any number of players orbiting the same planet but only the first person to reach the end of the track gets the planet. Everyone else just wasted their time and resources.

Tiny Epic Galaxies
  • Tiny Epic Galaxies is a fun strategy space exploration game...
  • 2015 Award Winning Solo Game of the Year by BoardGameGeek Play...
  • The Tiny Epic Series is one of the best small box board game...

Regress

Remember those planet abilities?

Some of them can be downright mean. There are several planet abilities that allow players to “Regress” other ships. When a ship is hit with a Regress ability, that ship will move back on the orbit track. It’s particularly devastating when your ship is pushed back just before you gain control of a planet and have it snatched away from you.

Following

Lead, follow, or get out of the way.

It turns out that following is a valid strategy. There’s a built-in mechanic to Tiny Epic that can drastically affect your decision making. All players can follow any action dice locked in by spending culture.

“It’s ironic that the more we try and follow each other, the less culture we have.” —Mayim Bialik on Tabletop Season 4

Whenever any player locks-in their dice, any other player can spend culture points to “follow” them. Players will basically piggyback off the current player to perform bonus actions at the expense of culture. It’s incredibly powerful.

To be truly successful, players will need to be mindful of the entire board at all times. Sometimes you’ll lock-in a die only to realize that you inadvertently gave your opponent the advantage needed to squeak-by in points.

Energy & Culture

There are 2 major resources within the world of Tiny Epic. To expand your empire and reach the far end of the galaxy you’ll need to carefully manage energy and culture.

Both resources can be acquired by banking the corresponding dice but there are also planetary abilities that can help boost your reserves. Try and stock up: it’s the major currency used within the game.

Culture and Energy can be used to advance influence with planets or to perform additional actions using the “follow mechanic” (I’ll talk more about it later).

When a culture die is banked, the amount of culture received depends on the number of ships you have exploring planets. Each planet has a different symbol and if you have ships either orbiting or landed on the planet, you’ll receive 1 Culture for each ship on a culture planet.

The same thing happens for energy, but you’ll also receive an additional energy for every planet colonized by you.

Colony Level

The Galaxy board represents your empire. Part of that board holds your colony information.
The colony level determines the number of dice available each turn to roll, the number of ships available, and how many victory points the overall colony is worth.

Upgrading a Colony

Each level of the colony requires an increasing number of resources to upgrade, which is equal to the current colony level. Players can upgrade using either Energy or Culture. So, to upgrade from level 3 to 4, players will need to spend 4 culture or 4 energy. It can’t be split up between the two resources. It has to be all of the same resource.

Colonizing a Planet

Each planet produces a different resource indicated by the symbol on the planet. To use those resources, players will need to visit those planets and ultimately take control of the planet in order to gain victory points.

Each planet has a set number of victory points that are awarded when the completely colonized by a player.

To colonize the planet, players will need to send a spaceship into its orbit.

Converting Dice & Rerolls

Whenever I introduce games, there’s the inevitable player that complains about the inherent randomness of the dice. They’re usually the ones that forgot to make a sacrifice to the dice gods or buried a D20 at an abandoned crossroads to summon and make a deal with dice devils (it does work). Tiny Epic mitigates this issue for those players cursed by our polyhedral overlords in two ways.

The first are rerolls. At the beginning of every turn, players get 1 free reroll. They’re allowed to reroll any number of dice that haven’t been locked in. Players can then pay for additional re-rolls with energy.

The second mitigating factor for the dice is the conversion engine. Players can sacrifice 2 dice rolls (you get the dice back next turn) to change the third die to any side that you want.

Even the most hardcore dice heathens can still find success within Tiny Epic Galaxy.

Hidden Objectives

At the beginning of the game, every player will receive 2 Secret Mission cards. Players must choose one and discard the second. Make sure to keep this mission secret (and in the back of your mind). Secret Missions will only come into play during end game scoring. You’ll need to keep your mission in mind throughout the whole game. Some objectives only trigger when ships are in specific locations, etc.

A few point shift can be the difference between winning and losing.

Ending Criteria

21 is the magic number here. It’s divisible by 3 & 7, two distinct prime numbers. It’s the number chosen as the legal drinking age in the US and it’s the winning number in Blackjack. It’s a good number. I’m not superstitious at all.

The end game is triggered when a player hits 21 points. That doesn’t mean that getting to 21 magically wins you the game. Once a player hits 21, the endgame is triggered. Players will continue the regular turn order until the round is over. This gives players a chance to try and boost as many points as possible.

If you already took your turn in a round when the endgame is triggered, you won’t get another turn, so keep an eye on point values when you get close to the end.

Afterward, everyone can compare their Secret Missions and tally up the final score.

Tiny Epic Galaxies
  • Tiny Epic Galaxies is a fun strategy space exploration game...
  • 2015 Award Winning Solo Game of the Year by BoardGameGeek Play...
  • The Tiny Epic Series is one of the best small box board game...

Solo Play

Tiny Epic has a built-in solo mode and is one of the better examples of solo play available. It’s challenging without being unwinnable or a complete breeze.

Instead of another player, you’ll be playing against a Rogue Galaxy. Their mission is to eradicate all life in the universe. So you can thematically think of them as the Borg or even the Reapers (I prefer the Mass Effect setting in my head).

All of a player’s actions will be exactly the same. You can even use the follow mechanics on the Rogue Galaxies turn.

The Rogue Galaxy starts with zero culture and energy but starts with 4 ships. On the Rogue Galaxy’s turn, you’ll roll their dice for them one at a time and perform each action individually. If a roll is made that cannot be used, the die is discarded. You can also spend 1 culture and 1 energy to force the AI to reroll one of its dice.

There are a few minor rule changes to account for the AI.

When a move ship die is rolled, place one of the Rogue Galaxy’s ships in orbit to the leftmost planet.

When Diplomacy and Economy are rolled, all Rogue Galaxy ships orbiting those planets go up the track by 1.

Energy and Culture are produced by the Rogue Galaxy’s home planet. Any time one of the dice are locked in, move the Culture or Energy track up.

  • If energy is at max, upgrade the Empire and reset it back down to 0.
  • If culture is at max, the Rogue Galaxy will get an extra turn with some restrictions.

Lastly, if a colony die is rolled, the Rogue Galaxy will attack yours. The mat will have a list of different attacks based on the Empire level.

Solo Game Ending

The first player to 21 points will win but if the Rogue Galaxy upgrades its empire to the Skull symbol on its mat, it’s an instant game over.

Your First Game of Tiny Epic Galaxies

Tiny Epic Galaxies Board Game

Tiny Epic Galaxies isn’t the hardest game to figure out. They do a great job of keeping everything simple and easy to read.

To begin, everyone gets a Galaxy Mat and the Control Mat goes into an easy to reach spot for everyone to get to.

The Galaxy Mats make identifying all of the components and symbols very easy.

It holds your empire’s stats, keeps track of resources and how many victory points your empire is worth. Players will also need their color-coded pieces; 4 ships, and 3 tokens.

Everyone starts with 1 culture, 2 energy, and 2 ships.

Shuffle up the planet deck and draw 2 more cards than the number of players (i.e. 2 player game = 4 planets). The only exception to this is a 5-player game where a total of 6 cards are out.

Deal 2 Secret Missions to everyone and each player selects one.

Boom! You’re ready to start colonizing the galaxy and spreading your influence to infinity and beyond.

It’s pretty simple to pick up. Play around with strategies a bit. I can’t help you there because I always lose.

Pros & Cons of Tiny Epic Galaxies

Tiny Epic Galaxies Board Game

Pros:

  • Big Box feel in a small package
  • Excellent artwork
  • Multiple themed variants
  • Excellent solo play
  • Great replay value

How’s the replay?

A lot of the replay value comes in 2 forms. There are 40 planets in the deck. Each one is going to have a different point value, acquisition cost, and ability associated with it. You won’t see all of them in any one playthrough and the random combinations that come out will have a drastic effect on the experience in the game. If there are a ton of “Regress Ship” abilities, it’s going to be a brutal knockdown fight. You could also end up being the only one with direct attack abilities and could double down on that strategy. I could go on and on about the strategies involved (I’ll spare you) and I think that’s a testament to the game itself.

I have rarely seen a small box game that can pack in the strategy and value like Tiny Epic.

Cons:

  • Analysis Paralysis

Analysis paralysis in a tiny game?

It all depends. I’ve personally never experienced this. I may just need to be more conscious of my actions but I have read several other reviews and spoke with a few others who were basically overwhelmed by the “follow” mechanic. As I mentioned earlier, it’s pretty dang powerful. The min/max gamers (you know who you are) will try and get the most out of it. It can push the boundaries of the game and quickly get overwhelming trying to calculate every possible or potential value, especially when dice are involved.

As I said, it hasn’t been an issue for me but I still feel that it’s worth mentioning.

TL;DR

Big things come in small packages.

Tiny Epic is a lot of strategy and fan literally packed into a small box.

The designers took a minimalist approach, but all mechanics and components are so well done that it truly feels like an epic strategy game.

Everything about the game is tiny.

The World of Tiny Epic

The Tiny Epic franchise is far from tiny. Whatever kind of theme you’re into, chances are there’s a tiny epic box waiting for you to discover.

Tiny Epic Quest

If you’re into a more fantasy vibe there’s a Tiny Epic Quest. Lead your Elven adventurers to fight evil mushrooms and goblins.

Tiny Epic Quest
  • Tiny Epic Quest is a strategy game that is set in a classic...
  • Spend time away from a screen developing cognitive skills and...
  • The Tiny Epic Series is one of the best small box board game...

Tiny Epic Zombies

Need some zombies in your life? No surprise, there’s a zombie variant.

Tiny Epic Zombies
  • EASY TO LEARN AND QUICK SETUP; Just a few minutes to setup and 30...
  • MULTIPLAYER COOPERATION OR COMPETITIVE GAME WITH 5 PLAY MODES; An...
  • NEVER THE SAME GAME TWICE; Do you collect weapons; Do you kill...

Tiny Epic Western

Did you just Marathon WestWorld and can’t get enough of the western theme? Tiny Epic Western will scratch the itch.

Tiny Epic Western
  • Tiny Epic Western is a small box strategy game set in the Wild...
  • Spend time away from a screen developing cognitive skills and...
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Tiny Epic Kingdoms and Defenders

Do you need even more fantasy? The other versions Tiny Epic Kingdoms and Tiny Epic Defenders have you covered.

Are you feeling a super villain vibe?

COMING in 2019:

  • Tiny Epic Mechs
  • Tiny Epic Tactics

Conclusion

One of the first things that boardgamers realize once they find themselves in the hobby is the amount of space that board games actually take up. When I was growing up, there was always a random space in the linen closet with a handful of board games that came out on rainy days or special occasions.

Today, there is so much variety and complexity within board games and it’s easy to get addicted to collecting. Gamers are always on the lookout for another game to relive the excitement of a new game. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I quickly found my linen closet turning into a gaming closet which overflowed into one of those Ikea shelves.

Why the heck am I blabbering on about storage solutions?

Because there’s been plenty of times when I’ve picked up a big box game and once opened, about 80% of the box is cardboard filler.

I’m one of those weirdos that is really into box storage and part of the enjoyment of the game is the aesthetics of the box and components. It’s extremely refreshing to see a company focus value instead of throwing everything in a big box for shelf presence.

Marketing strategies aside, Tiny Epic Galaxies could very well fit into a big box, and be jammed full of random components and big ol’ spaceships. The thing is, it’s not necessary. Tiny Epic delivers on its ability to bring forth a huge game gaming experience within the confines of a small box.

Final Verdict

At the end of the day, I don’t always have the time or player group to bust out one of my favorite big box games. Any game in the Tiny Epic series is perfect for a quick game or even a game on the go. Tiny Epic Galaxies also pulls the double duty of being one of the best solo playing games out on the market today.

It’s small, it’s fun, and it won’t break the bank. That’s a serious trifecta that’s hard to beat.

Tiny Epic Galaxies
  • Tiny Epic Galaxies is a fun strategy space exploration game...
  • 2015 Award Winning Solo Game of the Year by BoardGameGeek Play...
  • The Tiny Epic Series is one of the best small box board game...

Have you played Tiny Epic Galaxies or any of the other versions? Drop a comment below and let us know what you think!

Stats at a glance

Players: 1-5

Ages: 14+

Medium

30-45 Mins

Publisher: Gamelyn Games

Published: 2015

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