Tiny Epic Quest
Teaching Time: 15 mins
Playing Time: 30-60 mins
Setup Time: 10 mins
Value For Money: Mid
Solo Play Review
Either I’m clicking in to Scott Almes’ design patterns or its pure luck but Quest is absolutely my favorite Tiny Epic so far. Mechanically I’m not sure it’s the best but it does have just the right level of theme to carry it over which possibly the other Tiny Epics that I’ve played so far didn’t have.
Gameplay is a mix of push your luck and worker placement used to clock up victory points by completing various tasks. A modular board is placed representing a range of locations, each of which has a task associated requiring dice results to be spent for completion. Players then select from a set of cards to move their meeples around the board, the main chunk of player utility comes in here with smart co-ordination of movement being needed to both claim movement-based quest cards but also to maximize dice utility during the push your luck section of the game. Since this is the main part of control you have over the game, notching up a good chunk of movement-based quests here can really help your chances of victory and is easy enough to plan for since in solo mode you get the chance to at least select from all the available cards. For example, a quest may need players to get their meeples (they get three) in a row, so they need to choose between claiming the quest and placing their meeples on the right range of spaces to claim the most VP or make the best use of dice results. The second half of a turn involves rolling a set of five dice for results that help or hinder you (one result doing one at first but the other if you push it too far), with players deciding to keep rolling and possibly completing more tasks while trying to avoid being knocked out by the potential bad results. There isn’t a massive range of control here, there is a manner of protecting against some of the possible bad results, it’s just about enough but there are no re-rolls or dice shifts. There are five rounds and after which you score for the most tasks completed or in the solo mode against a set scoring.
The solo mode here is the simplest by a long shot of all the Tiny Epics I’ve played, essentially just a score mode on the multiplayer version, but it works just fine. It is, again like all the Tiny Epic games I’ve played so far, a bit easy but unlike the others I’ve played it has just enough theme to cover over that. Also, the simplicity of a scoring mode means difficulty can be based on beating your own original score rather than beating the game in ‘hard’ mode, so homemade difficulty upgrading is extremely simple. The only rather odd miss here is that scoring tops out before the theoretical limit of what could be attained in both quests and goblin killing (two of the available tasks) so that the theoretically perfect game wouldn’t score more than a simply extremely good one. The theme itself is heavily Zelda inspired, which will offer a set of nice references to fans of that franchise but, in my opinion, without putting off those who don’t like it. To extend gameplay there is a second game mode initiated by flipping the board tiles during set-up, interestingly the second board mode is tougher but has distinctly more powerful hero triggered effects on it, making it more of an expert mode than a hard mode, which personally I prefer as rather than ratcheting what I’ve already done it offers me new choices and tactics.
As always, the production value is extremely high, the ITEMeeples make an appearance (meeples that you can click little plastic equipment upgrades directly onto) and since this time each player controls three meeples all with potentially different equipment they serve a real purpose this time around (although looking cool is a purpose). I only have minor quibbles on the components, first is the damn weapon rack. Items and upgrades in the game are provided as cards with matching little plastic versions that can be slotted in or out of meeples, but the idea is that at the start of the game they should be racked up on a wooden weapon rack. It serves no gameplay purpose other than looking nice, now I paint miniatures, I’ve got steady hands and good eyes, but I could not get those weapons to stay on that rack no matter how I tried. Does it matter? Not really. Did it make me hugely frustrated before I even began the game? Yes, it certainly did. The other issue is the iconography for the spells on the board. Generally, the board is very clear and neat, but the symbols identifying the locations for learning certain spells are genuinely tricky to spot and I have pretty good eyes. The spell locations are all themed to those symbols, but it takes a few plays to be comfortable relying on that, its particularly annoying since the spell locations are the only ones where several options are sensible to be taken at any given time, so you want to be able to identify them all quickly from a distance.
In short, Tiny Epic Quest is a fun game. It really feels like playing through a little tabletop Zelda. The solo mode works well, it’s a little pricey for solo mode alone but its not an insanely self-indulgent price so might get you to treat yourself, if you’re a regular or mainly solo player that occasionally games in groups this would be my recommend of the Tiny Epics and a very solid choice overall.