The Tiny Epic games are the small box games that promise an epic experience. Tiny Epic Defenders is no exception to the rule. In the Second Edition of the game there is revamped gameplay, all new art and the (now standard) tiny epic ITEMeeples.
The theme and story stay the same and follows on from the Great War in Tiny Epic Kingdoms. The world of Aughmoore is now in ruins, the Capital City and surrounding regions are in danger. The evil and darkness has spread to every region. Arise fellow Heroes, band together and fight off the incoming horde of Enemies, Dire Enemies and Epic Foes to make the land of Aughmoore and the Capital City safe once again.
Tiny Epic Defenders, designed by Scott Almes, is a 1-4 player action point selection, co-operative game, packed in to a small box with a quick play time and easy rule set.
The Capital City is placed in the middle of the table. Two of the Outer Regions are placed adjacent to the left and right of the Capital City. The remaining four Outer Regions are placed around the Capital City to form a circle, two above and two below. A threat token is placed on each region (and Capital city) in the zero spot.
Each player takes a Hero card (randomly or selected), an ITEMeeple (placed in the Capital City) and a hit point token of their respective colour. The artefact cards are shuffled, and an Epic foe is selected at random and kept face down.
The Turn Order Deck is created by randomly selecting three enemy cards. Each player takes their matching Defenders Turn Card and an “All Defenders” card (depending on the number of players) and shuffles them. The Enemy Cards are added on top of the shuffled Defender cards. This forms the Turn Order Deck.
The Horde Deck is created by randomly drawing three more Enemy Cards. The Dire Enemies are shuffled and added to the Horde Deck (Number of Dire Enemies dependant on player count and difficulty). The Horde Deck is then shuffled and placed on top of the Epic Foe.
Tiny Epic Defenders is played over a series of rounds until the players are victorious by defeating the Epic Foe or the Capital City is destroyed (Threat level reaches the highest level) and the players are defeated.
Players draw and resolve the Turn Order Deck one card at a time. When the Turn Order deck runs out a card is added from the Horde Deck and the Turn Order deck is shuffled, and the round starts again. Once there are no more cards left in the Horde Deck the Epic Foe appears. The Defenders must then defeat the Epic Foe to win the game, paying attention to the special ability of the Epic Foe and the region that it appears in.
When a regular enemy card is drawn it attacks two regions (as shown on the card) and the corresponding Regions Threat Level will increase by one, unless defended by a Hero (see below). When a Dire Enemy card is drawn it will only attack one region. However, if a Hero does not defend against the Dire Enemy, then a further effect is triggered as shown on the Dire Enemy card.
When a player's Defender card is drawn, they may perform up to three actions or four actions if a region is destroyed (For one wound an additional action may be performed). Actions include:
- Moving to an adjacent region (note: that only two regions are directly adjacent to the capital city).
- Secure a region by reducing the Threat Level of the region the Defender is in. Each level of Threat reduced costs one action. If a region is destroyed it cannot be Secured. The Capital city can also not be Secured.
- Each Defender and region has a special ability. Some of these cost 1 action to use and can be activated on a Defenders turn (unless otherwise stated).
- Some Artefacts also cost one action to use.
When a region is attacked by a regular enemy or Dire Enemy that contains a Defender, the Defender can choose to Defend the region to stop the Threat Level increasing. The Defender reduces their health by one for a regular Enemy or two for a Dire Enemy. Defending against a Dire Enemy prevents the effect from triggering. The Defender also gains an Artefact.
If a regions Threat Level ever reaches the top level it is classed as Destroyed. The Enemy that destroys the region is placed face-down on top of the region. The ability of that region cannot be used any more. Any further attacks on a destroyed region that are not defended, attack the Capital City. If the Capital City Threat ever reaches the Top Threat level the Defenders have been defeated.
Tiny, But Epic? Final Thoughts on Tiny Epic Defenders
I am going to start off by saying that I love small box games that pack a lot of gameplay. So, it is no surprise that I love Tiny Epic Defenders. For anyone that read the What We’ve Been Playing and Game of the Month features for July, you'll already know that I like this game.
I backed this game on Kickstarter for the Deluxe Version, which (with the stretch goals) contains extra Defenders, Artefacts, Epic Foes and Dire Enemies. The combination of Defenders, Dire Enemies and Epic Foes is super high. There are so many Epic Foes that I have not even seen them all yet, there are loads of Defenders that I haven’t played with and I love the fact that I can play this game over and over again, with different combinations, to have a different experience every time. It makes me want to keep coming back to the game to play it again.
The difficulty can also be increased by adding more Dire Enemies in to the Horde Deck (Although I am not brave enough to try this yet). The Dire Enemies all have different effects and abilities that challenge the way they are fought. The Defenders all have different special abilities, some of them are passive and some require an action to trigger. The Outer Regions and the Capital City are all double sided with different abilities on each side, offering yet even more replay-ability to the game.
I really enjoy this. It is a quick playing game, I can have this set-up and played in around 30 minutes. It plays well solo (player controls two Heroes) and with other players. Tiny Epic Defenders is going to be staying in my collection for a long time and I can see this hitting the table again and again.
The Dark War is an expansion to Tiny Epic Defenders and I have not mentioned the extra gameplay and content that this expansion adds to the base game. There was just too much, it warrants a separate article to cover it fully. But for a bit of a spoiler, it is fantastic. Keep your eyes out for The Dark War Expansion article to see what else has been added that elevates this game up another level.