Every Night Is Game Night: Tiny Epic Galaxies 2

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I’m playing a board game every day this month and blogging about it (I did a similar challenge last year)Feel free to join me during my Every Night Is Game Night: My Daily Play & Blog Challenge. And tweet me with what you’re playing these days!


I’ve already written about Tiny Epic Galaxies this month, but today was a special day: it was the last Tabletop Tuesday game club I hosted at a local high school.

I’d never done anything like this before and I’m glad that I did; it’s easy sharing my hobby with my non-gaming friends and family, but to do this with high school students was a welcome challenge. In fact, it wasn’t a challenge at all.

From our first meeting to our last, each hour that I spent teaching, facilitating, and playing games with the group was a good time. There were a few teenager-attitude moments, but they were minor bumps on an otherwise smooth-sailing school year.

We met a total of 28 times since October and coincidentally played exactly 28 different games this year. After showing them new games for the first five or six meetings, the students began requesting games they’d played before. I happily obliged while making sure I brought something new every week just in case they were curious.

Two of the regulars were into Magic: The Gathering and they loved Dominion and Ascension. One week we traded places and they taught me the basics of Magic and we played a game.

We had a total of eight regulars, with four semi-regulars. They were all great young people and I’ll miss playing games with them every Tuesday afternoon. I told each of them that I hope they continue to find games that interest and challenge them.

Today the group played games they all enjoyed from previous meetings: Lotus, Indigo, and Tiny Epic Galaxies. I played in a four-player game of TEG and held the lead late in the game before one of the students came roaring back with a final colonized planet that also completed his secret mission, beating the rest of us by four points.

It was a great way to end our year of gaming. This student was our only senior, so if I’m fortunate enough to do this again, he won’t be back next year.

I wished him good luck with his future, which I learned was going to involve a stint in the military.

“Thanks,” he said, shaking my hand. “You know, I never knew that board games could be so much fun.”

It was the perfect thing to say to end our final Tabletop Tuesday.

Games We Played:

  • Ascension
  • Carcassonne
  • Dominion
  • For Sale
  • Get Bit!
  • Hocus
  • Imhotep
  • Indigo
  • Karuba
  • King of Tokyo
  • Lanterns: The Harvest Festival
  • Love Letter
  • Magic: The Gathering
  • Nexus Ops
  • Pandemic
  • Paris Connection
  • Qwirkle
  • Qwixx Deluxe
  • Red 7
  • Rolling America
  • Splendor
  • Takenoko
  • Settlers of Catan
  • Smash Up
  • Sushi Go!
  • Patchwork
  • Tiny Epic Galaxies
  • Wits & Wagers: Party Edition

Every Night Is Game Night: Harbour

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I’m playing a board game every day this month and blogging about it (I did a similar challenge last year)Feel free to join me during my Every Night Is Game Night: My Daily Play & Blog Challenge. And tweet me with what you’re playing these days!


Two months ago I got Harbour off my Shelf of Shame and it’s a cool little worker placement game. Here’s what I wrote after I started playing it:

Players race to buy four buildings from a common pool first. Each building has a cost payable by one or more goods from the current player. On their turn, a player will send their worker meeple to a building and perform the action(s) listed on it; often, it’s to trade for more goods, which can then be used to buy a building. Players have a home base that they can return to for more actions, as well as travel to an opponent’s buildings to perform their actions (although this costs one good).

What makes Harbour so much fun is the economic mechanism in the game. Whenever a player buys a building, they must “ship” enough goods to pay for it. So, if the player has 5 fish and 3 lumber and the current market has fish at $5 and lumber at $3, then the player can ship those goods for $8 and buy any building up to $8. Then, after the purchase has been completed, the market shifts, with the fish and lumber being worth less, while livestock and stone go up in value.

It’s a neat part of the game, trying to time your purchase just right so that you get the most money for your goods. More often than not, an opponent will buy something and change the value of your goods. Thankfully, there are buildings with powers that allow you to adjust the market to something more to your liking.

After a dozen plays (mostly solo), I still enjoy Harbour. Tonight I played the 20-move solo variant and scored 32 points, which is on the low end of what I usually get. There’s an official solo variant included with the game, but I haven’t played it yet since it seems fiddly: you have to keep track of a dummy player.

It only takes 15-20 minutes to play this variant and just like the regular game, you’re trying to optimize the amount of goods you receive that turn. With the 20-move limit, you need to get those goods ASAP in order to buy buildings. I typically end up with four buildings at or near my 20th move and score somewhere in the 30-point range.

Harbour would be a good introduction to the worker placement mechanism for new gamers and I’d recommend it to more serious gamers as a worker placement filler.

Tiny Epic Kingdoms

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I recently crossed off another game on my Shelf of Shame: Tiny Epic Kingdoms, a 4X game from Gamelyn Games. I’m a huge fan of Tiny Epic Galaxies, so when I came across Kingdoms on sale last year, I couldn’t resist. I was excited to see if it was as good as Galaxies and it joined my stack of unplayed games. I brought it to my weekly game night a few times, but there was always something else to play so I started to look for solo variants in order to get it played.

Thankfully, my buddy Daryl said he’d be down to try it with me. Like Galaxies, Kingdoms packs a lot of game into a small box. I usually agree with Tom Vasel’s game reviews, but this time I felt like he focused too much on the “Tiny” and not enough on the “Epic” of this game. He isn’t enamored with the “tiny” part of this game series; he’d prefer these games in normal-sized boxes with normal-sized components.

Tom’s reasoning, though, is exactly why I love the Tiny Epic series: the game play far exceeds its price point. Most of us can’t afford every game we want and Gamelyn’s Tiny Epic series is an outstanding way to add solid games to our collections at reasonable and affordable prices (to be fair, at the end of his review Tom does point out the excellent value of TEK).

Tiny Epic Kingdoms is a solid 4X (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate) game that plays within a half hour. The 4X mechanism is typically found in longer, meatier games so it was nice to have it in such a compact format. During our first play it took some extra time to grok the rules, but it was pretty smooth sailing after a few turns.

Each player controls a faction with its own unique characteristics and abilities. They also start on their own territory card.

The active player chooses one of several actions:

  • Patrol: Move from one region to another on your territory card.
  • Quest: Move from one territory card to another territory card.
  • Build: Spend resources to increase the size of your tower.
  • Research: Spend resources to increase your magic knowledge.
  • Expand: Add one of your meeples to your territory.
  • Trade: Trade one of your resources for another.

After a player has chosen an action they place the shield token on the corresponding spot on the action mat. This signifies that the action cannot be taken again during this round.

The active player executes the action and the other players may follow and do the same action OR they may collect resources from their meeples on the various regions. Note: the active player MUST do the action. They cannot collect resources on their turn.

Meeples produce resources based on the regions they are located on:

  • Plains: Food
  • Forests: Mana
  • Mountains: Ore
  • Ruins: Player’s choice

After the active player has completed their action, the next player chooses from the remaining actions. Play continues until all actions have been taken, then the action mat is reset and all actions are available again.

As the game progresses, players will build their tower, increase their magic knowledge, and control regions. Each of these factors will earn Victory Points. The game ends when a player places his final meeple on a region or builds the final section of his tower. The player with the most Victory Points wins.

The most interactive part of the game comes during war, when a player moves into a region controlled by another player. Each region can only be controlled by one player, so at this point each player takes a 12-sided die and secretly allocates the number of resources they are willing to commit to war. The dice are revealed simultaneously and the highest number wins the region. Both players, win or lose, pay the amount of resources shown on their dice.

Another option during war is the flag symbol on the dice. If both players set their dice to this flag, then they form an alliance, which means they will both earn resources from this region. Peace is beneficial to both players, but that peace may not last as they try to gain control of the region for the final tally of Victory Points.

I liked the two-player game; there’s a third territory added to the game called the Lost Kingdom (basically a random territory card) that both players can fight over, but it seems that Tiny Epic Kingdoms will be better with three or four players as more opportunities for wars and alliances are possible. While there isn’t an official solo game, the Heroes’ Call expansion adds one and the base game is good enough that I’ll probably buy it at some point.

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UPDATE: After I wrote this, I played a three-player game with Daryl and our other gaming buddy Graham. We also included the Search for the Crown of Valor variant, which added random tokens to regions in our home territories: treasure icon for resources, bandit icon for losing resources, and the crown icon for an additional two VPs at the end of the game. The three-player game moved quickly and there were two battles before the game was over, so I preferred it to the two-player version.

I’ve now played 5 of the 49 games on my Shelf of Shame!

Shelf of Shame 2017

  1. Agricola
  2. Amerigo
  3. Cheaty Mages!
  4. Chrononauts
  5. Cypher
  6. Dice City: By Royal Decree
  7. Dice City: Crossroads
  8. Doomtown: Reloaded
  9. Dungeon Fighter
  10. Eminent Domain: Microcosm
  11. Epic Card Game
  12. Formula D
  13. Get Bit! Sharkspansion
  14. Guildhall
  15. Guildhall: Job Faire
  16. Hanafuda
  17. Harbour
  18. Imperial Settlers
  19. Lost Legacy: Flying Garden
  20. Machi Koro: Harbor
  21. Marvel Dice Masters: Age of Ultron
  22. Mottainai
  23. Munchkin Legends: Guest Artist Edition
  24. Munchkin Zombies Deluxe
  25. NBA Interactive Card Game
  26. Ophidian 2350
  27. Pack of Heroes
  28. Pandemic: On The Brink
  29. Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords Base Set + Expansions
  30. Pingo Pingo
  31. Portobello Market
  32. Quiddler Mini Round
  33. Rampage
  34. Sail to India
  35. Sans Allies
  36. Santorini: Golden Fleece
  37. Seventh Hero (Doomtown edition)
  38. Space Base Mutiny
  39. Steam Torpedo: First Contact
  40. Suburbia
  41. Sun Tzu
  42. Tiny Epic Kingdoms
  43. Travel Blog
  44. Valley of the Kings: Last Rites
  45. Viceroy
  46. Vikings on Board
  47. Viticulture Essential Edition
  48. Wok Star
  49. Yahtzee: The Walking Dead Collector’s Edition