Never judge a game by its box size
Ever since the first game in their series, Tiny Epic Games have continued to prove that a board game should never be judged by the size of its box. They have been challenging the premise that microgames need to sacrifice gameplay depth and complexity in favour of simple mechanics and a small footprint. The latest addition to the series, Tiny Epic Tactics easily surpasses expectations of how much gameplay, and how many components, can fit in a single tiny box.
As the name suggests, this game focuses entirely on tactical combat and area control, streamlining both to make them accessible. Yet, that does not mean that the game is simple or small. The four classes in the Tiny Epic Tactics – warrior, rogue, wizard and beast – play very differently and have a collection of characters, all with their own unique powers, strengths and weaknesses, ensuring that players will have plenty to discover and master for many games. The rolled-out cloth mat contains several terrains that give various tactical advantages and disadvantages for the units present on it. Finally, the game utilises several smaller boxes to create an impressive 3D landscape and adds elevation to battlefield.
Many other board games that strive for the same gameplay depth as Tiny Epic Tactics come with a multitude of tokens, board pieces, trackers and figurines to support it. The designers have managed to utilise every single component in the game to its full potential to ensure that it is both compact and functional. For example, the boxes that act as the elevated ground can be turned over to reveal a dungeon inside, which is used for cooperative and solo modes.
Tiny Epic Tactics is a game for those who enjoy tight, every-turn-matters mechanisms. Fans of turn-based video games, such as Final Fantasy Tactics will also feel very much at home with this game.
As the core mechanics are designed to fit all different modes, some of them feel more successful than others. Cooperative mode can become a bit over-prolonged if the enemies, through the sheer lack of the random draw, keep spawning on top of the same box, requiring players to either clear them or push them off before they can explore the last dungeon. Competitive mode is more fun with three or four players, although it also makes it easier to gang up on one opponent.
Despite these relatively small short-comings, Tiny Epic Tactics comes through on all its promises. It packs a lot of replayable, ambitious gameplay in a small box, utilising every mechanism and component to the fullest potential. It rewards players that think well, tactically and consider their surroundings and assets carefully. While asking for thoughtfulness from the players, Tiny Epic Tactics demands no less from itself, resulting in the game that is a delight to both look at and play.
PLAY IT? YES
Packing an impressive, punchy amount of gameplay, Tiny Epic Tactics is another great instalment in the series, proving once again that it can tackle big board game themes in a tiny box.
TRY THIS IF YOU LIKED… TINY EPIC KINGDOMS
If you are familiar with any games from Tiny Epic Games, then this new instalment should really be a no-brainer! Although every game in the series tackles a different big theme, the size of the boxes remain pleasantly tiny but the gameplay no less epic.
Designer: Scott Almes
Artist: Nikoletta Vaszi, Naomi Robinson, Benjamin Shulman
Time: 30-60 minutes
What’s in the box?
- Map scroll
- 6 Map boxes
- 16 Unit tokens
- 32 Unit cards
- 16 Tactical cards
- 3 Action dice
- Control card
- 3 Control tokens
- 10 Weakened tokes
- 32 Tracker tokens
- 9 Solo enemy cards
- 6 Solo crystal cards
This review originally appeared in the March 2020 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
Sometimes we may include links to online retailers, from which we might receive a commission if you make a purchase. Affiliate links do not influence editorial coverage and will only be used when covering relevant products