Year Published: 2015
Publisher: Gamelyn Games
Designer: Scott Almes
Playtime: 30 minutes – 1 1/2 hours
It has been a little while now since we published our preview article of Gamelyn Games’s Tiny Epic Galaxies, and I’m happy to report that the game delivered successfully, and that we’re now ready to give you our impressions of the game’s final game components and offer some thoughts on the Satellites & Super Weapons expansion. If you’re interested in reading our review of Tiny Epic Galaxies’s mechanics you can do so by clicking the “preview article” link above- all of our original points about the game stand, including the unresolved issues surrounding the use of culture, as well as the game almost always taking longer than advertised. That said, I think it remains the most solid entry in the Tiny Epic series thusfar, and the addition of secret mission cards and a fifth player to the published product adds an extra element of focus for players as they decide how to conquer the galaxy. Players will also be happy to note that Gamelyn Games added solo play, so if you’re looking for some interstellar fun but don’t have enough aliens close by, you can play against the game.
Like with previous entries in the series, Tiny Epic Galaxies leaves a great impression components-wise right after picking up the box. It uses very solid cardboard with a linen finish, and the inside of the box has a nice piece of star art that doubles as a dice tray, as well as some helpful clarifications for various planet actions. Upon opening the box it’s nice to find that everything comes in baggies to make setup more organized, and everything fits very nicely back into the box without having to try and solve a complex puzzle to get the lid to fit right again.
The player pieces all turned out very well: the little wooden ships look outstanding and fit well on all their designated spaces on the cards, as do the culture, energy, and empire level trackers. Dice are similarly well made, with the symbols on each side all clearly differentiated and engraved into the face of each dice. Cardstock quality on the cards and player boards is also very good, so the cards are easy to shuffle and should stand up to a good deal of play.
Although I’ve enjoyed the art style of the previous Tiny Epic games, I have to say I’m blown away by the graphic design and art on both the player boards, and on the planet cards. The player boards are all wonderfully laid out, depicting a lot of information while never looking “busy,” and not suffering from issues of different components getting in each others’ way. The graphic design on the planet cards similarly turned out extraordinarily well: they’re easy to read, and the symbology is very easy to see and understand. The colonization trackers around the outside of planets can get a little crowded if more than two players are going after the same planet, but I don’t think there’s really any way around this and the game really encourages people to cut their losses and go somewhere else after a turn or two of competition if it’s looking like there’s a chance their efforts may be wasted.
The art is, in my opinion, stunningly good. Maybe it’s just the fact that space lends itself so well to beautifully vibrant and imaginative artwork, but the planetary art really is spectacular, and I’ll let it speak for itself.
Finally, I’m glad to report the production rule book is well laid out, and the game is very easy to learn and teach as a result.
Now, on to the Satellites & Super Weapons expansion. This is a small expansion, consisting of some satellite tokens and some super weapons cards. One super weapon card is drawn at the beginning of the game and placed face up with the planets, and each player places three satellite tokens apiece on the corresponding tracker on their player boards. As players up their empire level they’ll unlock these satellites, which are immediately placed on an uncolonized planet of their choosing. If a planet with satellites is colonized, the colonizer takes any satellites in orbit and places them on his/her player sheet to count as one victory point each, though not towards the count of victory points which triggers the final turns.
A player may choose, however, to forego the one victory point per satellite and place a satellite on the active super weapon card to activate its effect. These effects are generally quite powerful, so they’re definitely worth considering vs. the victory point advantage satellites would normally give. Super weapon cards also have a tracker which players may move ships to, and just like with colonizing planets may work towards the end of the tracker. If a player reaches the end of the super weapon’s tracker, the weapon is destroyed and the destroying player gets to add two victory points to their total, plus they get one energy for every satellite orbiting the super weapon.
COG Takeaway: The production version of Tiny Epic Galaxies is of excellent component quality, and the addition of solo play, a fifth player, and secret missions enhance what was already the best entry in the Tiny Epic series. The Satellites & Super Weapons expansion, while not a game-changer, adds a small extra mechanic to the game which introduces some additional choices for player to make, which is generally not a bad thing. I can’t say I’d miss the expansion playing without it, but I also don’t mind if it’s added in. The effects on the super weapons are pretty powerful, so it adds some additional incentive to leveling up one’s empire and making smart choices on timing of those levels so players can make sure to place their satellites on planets they’re likely to colonize. All-in-all a nice little addition to shake things up once in a while.