It’s high noon. Some of a rival posse’s thugs are hanging around your waterin’ hole. Looks like it’s time to teach them a lesson they won’t soon forget. You step down main-street determined to leave the saloon dead or alive. Your foot falls in time with the beating of your heart, leaving a cloud of dust with every thud. A tumbleweed dances across the road leaving a snake-like trail behind and everything slows to a crawl. Your ears ring as the sun beats down on your brow, a drop of sweat slowly crawling its way down your left temple. From the front door of the saloon a lean, middle-aged gaunt man steps out and turns to face you. He knew you were coming. In his eyes you see nothing but the cold, calculating stare of a man sizing up a target. You can tell he’s done this before. “That’s alright” you think to yourself…I’ve given the same look to many a man. Two souls….hands outstretched stiff like a board next to their side…one person breathing his last few breaths. As quick as lighting both hands reach for their holsters and pull out their trusty….DICE?!
That’s right everyone it’s time for another feature review of a new game that I’m very excited about: Tiny Epic Western! Tiny Epic Western is a dice rolling, worker placement, poker playing, rip’ roaring good time for 1-4 players that takes about 30-45 minutes to play.
If you’ve never heard of the Tiny Epic Series you are missing out. Gamelyn Games approaches different mechanics in unique ways to create rich gaming experiences focusing on certain gameplay aspects. Mechanics like Area Control, Dice Rolling, Co-op play, Action Selection and Variable Player Powers are all approached in a wonderfully concise and portable way. All Tiny Epic games come in a small box for a reasonable price but provide surprisingly deep play for the size of the package.
The newest installment: Tiny Epic Western is Gamelyn Games’ shot (pun intended) at Worker Placement. Worker Placement is my favorite mechanic and so my ears always perk up when I hear a new idea involving it. Tiny Epic Western really made me sit up and say “oooo” because they have combined worker placement with poker. When I saw the Kickstarter page listing this I thought that thematically this was a very cool choice, and that the choice to include poker was a good decision because it also creates a sense of chance. This makes a seemingly simpler mechanic like worker placement seem much more interesting because you aren’t always simply benefiting right away from a spot when your worker is placed, sometimes you’re gambling for it.
Although this is a worker placement game it doesn’t utilize one of the most common worker placement traditions where you can block a spot by assigning there. Quite the opposite, you are encouraged to go to locations where other players already reside. When you want to place a worker on a location where an opponent’s worker has been placed, you start a duel that will end in one person becoming wounded and the other person becoming the winning posse member at this location. When you win a duel you get the “Wanted” card. This card will benefit you with influence (the game’s form of currency) and victory points at the end of the game.
Tiny Epic Western pits players as leaders of posse’s that roam a western town increasing influence and gaining reputation as they duel and gamble their way through the different locations around the map. Players will begin the game by choosing a character that will give each person a special ability that will be helpful throughout the game. You will pick a color and this color will give you a location within the town that is associated with you. The goal of the game is to have the most victory points and they are acquired through buildings that you can buy as well as shares in an industry track that you can manipulate throughout the six rounds of play.
This game has so much interaction because of the dueling mechanic and the locations that players will come to that you have purchased. Even when it’s not your turn you are always engaged and I find this to be hard to achieve and a goal that many tabletop games fall short of.
Overall this game is hard to beat. It’s a Tiny Epic game which means a couple of things. First, it will be in a box that can easily fit in a purse, backpack, briefcase, or if you are a person who wears cargo shorts, your pockets. Second, it will be reasonably priced (usually around $25) so the game won’t break the bank. Due to the size of the box and price point of the game many game stores will put this game with their filler section and micro games but please don’t be fooled by this categorization. There is no filler in this box. This is a deep strategic experience filled with player interaction and “take that”. I love a good western theme and the mechanics that were designed into this experience fit perfectly and help achieve a gunslinging good time.
I backed this game on Kickstarter because I loved the idea of what the designer and publisher were going for. I backed the game at the deluxe level which will get me a more polished product and I’m very excited about that. I was able to access a premium print and play file because of my backing status so I have been able to play the game early and I am loving that option. I can’t speak to the quality of the final components because I am using my print and play files but if previous Tiny Epic games are any indication the quality of the bits and cardboard in the box will be excellent. The artwork is incredible and creates a wonderful old west feel in the players around the table.
Overall this game is a wonderful experience and one you should look for at your friendly local gaming store when it releases later this year around October. You can also pledge late to the Kickstarter by going here: https://gamelyn.pledgemanager.com/projects/tiny-epic-western/join/.
I’m amazed by the work that Gamelyn Games is doing and think you should support this game and any other Tiny Epic games you can find in stock. Also be on the lookout for Heroes of Land, Air and Sea which will Kickstart some time early 2017. I’m very excited about what’s in the works for this company and you should be too. If you want more in-depth knowledge about how the game plays and looks on the table I have posted a how to play video at the bottom of this article. I hope you enjoy the video and until next time I’ll see you at the table.