Tiny Epic Quest is the game I’ve been waiting for Gamelyn to make.
I’m a fan of Tiny Epic Kingdom’s foray into 4X (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXfoliate) and Galaxies' space-themed jaunt into area control, but Quest feels like the promise of the Tiny Epic universe fulfilled.
This is what fantasy games often aspire to be – a callback to classic NES RPG/adventure games such as Final Fantasy and The Legend of Zelda. You send your faction of three heroes out into the world to explore dungeons, learn magic, gain new and powerful artifacts, and complete quests. All in the hopes of earning enough victory points to be named the greatest heroes in the world.
The “quest” part of the title references both the focus on exploration and actual quests laid out for anyone to complete at any time. These quests have clear conditions – like, have all three of your heroes at least three spaces away from your kingdom. And many have two parts to them. One part, often as simple as what I described above, earns you the quest card from the global pool and then the second part becomes something only you can complete. You might have to traverse a specific type of dungeon or learn a type of spell.
Completing quests earns you victory points and sometimes other bonuses.
The game plays out in two phases. The first player activates one of five move actions. These are different ways of traversing the modular board to explore the world. Go on foot (move to any one adjacent card), gryphon (any distance as long as it’s diagonal), or even by boat (moving around the edges of the world by sea). All other players can follow that move. Then the next player chooses from one of the remaining move actions and so on.
Once four of the five move actions have been taken, things go to phase two – where you start to explore dungeons.
See, every card you move to has two sections. One either has a goblin to fight or relates to a spell that you can unlock if the magic pool reaches that level. I won’t dive into the nitty gritty on magic here, but it’s a more intricate and global take on the Tiny Epic Kingdoms magic book, with an emphasis on victory points instead of functionality (you won’t unlock abilities as you earn these). Expect more details on this in the future, but for now, it's just important to understand that magic is one piece of what you want to earn to finish certain quests and score victory points.
The other half of each area is either going to give you some instant use ability – like advancing a hero through a dungeon – or will start you at the entrance of a dungeon. There are a bunch of different dungeons like a fire dungeon, an ice dungeon, etc. All have a path that is either marked with torches or backpacks. You’ll need to travel this path to its end to complete the dungeon and earn victory points (and more!).
This is where the second phase of play comes into, well, play. It’s all about press-your-luck dice rolling. You’ll roll a set of diceat night time in the game. You might take damage, earn some energy, do damage to any goblins, or progress further through either a torch or backpack dungeon path.
Here’s the interesting catch to all of this. The dice can impact everyone at the table. Exploration rolls can be used by anyone. If I roll two torches, the person next to me can also progress on a torch-lit dungeon their hero is on. If I do damage to goblins, anyone can do damage to a goblin they are encountering. And if I roll, say, two wound die, I take one damage and the player next to me takes the other. Sounds weird on paper, but in practice it creates a sense of a living world we’re all experiencing at the same moment.
We each get a roll, passing the dice along. But instead of rolling, you can rest, tapping out for the night phase. You can’t take advantage of any future die rolls, but also won’t take any damage. But you can keep rolling, risking injury, to try and finish a dungeon or beat down a goblin.
So why beat goblins? Victory points! And, also, goblins are bad. Why finish dungeons? Oh, this is what makes Tiny Epic Quest feel so special.
Everyone has a set of items they can unlock that give them permanent abilities. To unlock them, you must complete two specific dungeon types (which vary based on the faction card you chose to start the game). Think of it like a Zelda game, traversing through dungeons to find your way to a new item, which forever impacts your gameplay.
Of course, once night ends things move to another day phase and you keep going until someone earns the requisite number of victory points.
Tiny Epic Quest is still in prototype and likely about a year away from release, with a Kickstarter planned for October. But the makings of a brilliant game of competitive exploration is clearly there. This is the most excited I’ve ever been for a Tiny Epic game and I can’t wait for another chance to play it.