As a relative newcomer to the gaming hobby, the Tiny Epic games series have always been a set of games nestling on the edge of my radar. There are SO many great games out there, and so many I am yet to experience. But hearing such positive things about this series, then it was only a matter of time before a Tiny Epic game found its way into the palm of my mountain hands, and finally, that day has come. Tiny Epic Galaxies Blast Off will have you butting heads with fellow galaxy commanders as you strive to colonise the most sought-after planets before the competition. This is presented to you in the form of a race to be the first to hit 21 points. Managing energy and culture on your quest for galactic domineering will be key to your success.
Does this tiny game pack an EPIC punch in my gaming library, or does it provide a massive hole in my expectations? Book a ticket on your first SpaceX's public space trip and join me in the cosmos to find out.
A Galactic Adventure Awaits
The premise of this game is that you are a supreme commander of a galaxy who controls a type III civilisation. I found this incredibly interesting as a premise, as, being a giant nerd and all, I was aware that this was not just game jargon. Type III civilisations are able to harness the energy of the entire galaxy they reside in. Currently, we are a type 0 civilisation for comparison.
In short, this game is about colonising planets and moving them into your galaxy before your rivals do the same. Being able to move planets is something that comes from a type II civilisation, which thematically makes sense. Our goal is to be the first to progress into the mythical type IV civilisation by being the first to hit 21 points. This does not make thematical sense as reaching this point consists of being able to harness the energy of the entire universe.
But hey, I am a space nerd, not everyone comes pre-loaded with this knowledge going into such a small game like this. I definitely enjoyed the theme though, as is probably obvious. Science is fun.
You are forgiven if you skipped my ramblings and jumped straight to this section. After all, you were here for details on the game, not a science lesson.
Blast Off! is a remarkably simple game to learn and teach. With nothing more than a small player card, a couple of components and shared dice and planet pool. The game gives you access to 6 different actions, which are represented by symbols on the dice you roll that are easy to remember. The actions are all simple and clean in design, from moving one of your ships, levelling up your galaxy to gaining resources etc.
Of course, only having access to 4 out of 6 dice and 2 out of 4 ships at the start limits your options. Especially if you manage to roll actions that you can't actually utilise. The great thing about this game is that you always have options. Energy can be spent to re-roll any dice that you have not placed, and culture can be spent on an opponent's turn to 'follow-up' one of their actions. This lets you mimic any of their first 3 action selections for yourself.
You also have the option to spend energy or culture to change an action into any other. But be wary of using this placement option, as it is also one that opponents can follow up on.
Luck Vs Tactics
I feel as though Tiny Epic Galaxies Blast Off really nails a great balance between these two. As mentioned previously, the dice rolls determine your available actions. But, so long as you have played tactically and kept your energy and culture at a nominal capacity, then you will always have options to tweak luck in your favour.
As well as dice placement for action selection, there is also the placement of ships. This is where most of your tactics will come into play. Planets have either life colonies on them or tech colonies, they also generate either energy resources or cultural resources. Placing your ship into orbit lets you work towards colonising it for its point value or landing on the planet instead triggers its ability.
Upgrading your galaxy will see you unlock more dice to use and ships to place. So, every action available to you, and every mechanic present in the game ties in so nicely with each other. I genuinely have nothing negative to say about this game.
The promise of a Tiny Epic game is to deliver a big game inside a small box. And even if this is my first of the games, Blast Off! certainly delivers on that promise. Such a well-designed game is packed into this little box. The box is even bigger than it needs to be, as it would have been just as easy to fit the game into a box more than half its size. Maybe there will be expansions to fill the space? I ask, stroking my beard and longingly staring up at the stars with a hopeful gleam.
The box itself is the best quality game box I have ever held. It is structurally sturdy and doubles as two dice trays. The dice are some of the best quality dice I have ever rolled. I love the white on orange simplicity of the dice, and they simply look and feel great. The iconography on the dice is even inlayed and not printed on. There was no expense spared with these at all. The ships, tokens, first player marker and galaxy level tracker are all also incredibly well made, with bold colours, simple iconography and are honestly a joy to handle. And to top it all off, the cards are all linen finished, and each planet card has a uniquely designed planet. This is a game that should set the bar for component quality. Simply outstanding.
A Black Hole Appears
Now, this is the inevitable part of the review where I tell you all my little gripes I have had with the game. If you have read any of my previous reviews, you will know, I am an absolute stickler for small details.
With that in mind, my biggest issue with this game is that moving 2 square resource tokens around a circular tracker feels a little off. And that is it! It isn't even an issue! I just have to write something here so that you do not start thinking that I am married to the designer or something. Tiny Epic Galaxies Blast Off sets out to do something, it does it flawlessly and is (as designed) much bigger than it actually is.
Is there even a point in adding this section? You must have already figured out by now that I adore this game. It wasn't like I was keeping it a secret.
Tiny Epic Galaxies Blast Off! is the ideal small game to play with new gamers, younger gamers, in between big games, or just for some casual fun. It is simple, clean, and so much fun. You can finish a game in as short as 10 minutes, which makes it very replayable. You can use it as a gateway into mechanics such as dice placement, action selection, dice manipulation, worker placement, resource management etc. it is so well put together, that I would recommend it as an essential game for a game collection!