You Put Meeples Into Mech Suits. End of Review.
Seriously, is that not enough? When I saw the idea for this game, I bought it without a second thought. I did not own any of the other Tiny Epic games and decided this had to be my first foray into the Tiny Epic World. These games go into double digits plus expansions and deluxe editions with Tiny Epic… Galaxy, Quest, Western and many more. If you don’t own any yet, strap in, prepare to feel like a giant and for a Tiny Epic World of Fun.
Small but Mighty
The box that this game comes in is not big. (I can’t quite think of the right word to describe it.) But don’t be fooled. There is a lot of game packed into this less than usual size chest of treats. The parts may seem to be of a reduced size than you are used to, but there is a lot of heart in Tiny Epic Mechs. Tiny! That was it!
Players are thrust into the year 3030. A technologically advanced world where entertainment comes from watching highly skilled Mechanized Entertainment Combat Hero’s, or M.E.C.H.s, fight it out in the arena.
To play, each mech pilot choses a character and takes their assigned character card and meeple. You start relatively unarmed with just one basic weapon, a plucky spirit but a huge desire for battle!
Mighty Morphin Power Mechs!
Set up the zone cards where your combat will take place. Then adjust your health, energy and credits to the pre-assigned levels and collect your mines, turrets and program cards. That’s it, you’re ready to go.
Players then secretly assign 4 program cards in the order they want to act them out. This will determine what they will do in this round no matter what their opponent does and before they know what 4 actions their opponent will do. This is called an action queue mechanic and if you haven’t tried it before, you are in for a treat.
In player order, each Mech pilot reveals one card at a time and performs that action. Either moving their meeple, deploying a mine or turret, purchasing a new weapon, collecting resources or powering up. Often you will move into a space previously deemed safe, but your opponent unwittingly to you, has just placed a turret there. This is the genius of action queue. If players ever move onto the same space, then battle ensues. This often happens when you don’t plan for it, and rarely when you do!
Players attack each other in turn with whatever weapons they currently have. You gain points from health blown away from opponents and can knock them out if you get it down to zero. There is no player elimination. Being knocked out forces players to retreat to their base and change their plans from their previous location and queued-up cards. This is also a way to force an opponent out of their mech suits, or even The Mighty Mech suit if they happen to be them. But they do then go into Ad hoc mode, where you can choose whatever cards you want for the remainder of the current round.
And this brings me on to the best bot of the game. The Mighty Mech suit! A one-inch powerhouse of battle armour that is as awesome as it sounds! When in a Mech suit if you manage to land on the same space as the Mighty Mech suit, you can then power up into this beast. A giant (relatively speaking) get-up, that gives your player more health and carrying capacity for advanced weapons. The first time you do this you will be very excited! Probably the subsequent 100 times too. It’s a meeple in a giant Might Mech suit. Come on! Imagine the carnage this could cause in Five Tribes!
Tiny Epic Area Control
The game takes place over 6 rounds with scoring at the end of rounds 2,4 and 6. Points are based upon tiles you control with either mines, turrets or your character. So as much as this looks and sounds like a battle game, it really is more area control. The action queue system controls the mechanics, but it is all about which tiles you have ownership of that wins you the game. If you have played Colt Express or How to Rob or Bank you will be familiar with this style of turn order but this game feels very different. I own all three, and each have a place in my permanent collection.
I like the randomness of the action queue mechanic. The joy comes from trying to predict your opponent’s moves, based on their current position and what you predict their goals to be. When you guess correctly and plan accordingly there is a real sense of achievement. When you get it wrong it is frustrating, but also very funny. Think punching mid-air in Colt Express or grabbing nothing in How to Rob a Bank. Either way, it adds a lot to the game and makes selecting what you do less about what you want, and more about what you think your opponent is after.
Tiny Epic Components
For a small box, low price game, the components are brilliant. There are 32 mini weapons you can upgrade your mechs with, that high levels of detailing considering the size. The weapons, meeples and mechs are plastic, and there are also 46 wooden pieces for the turrets, mines, scoring tokens and first player marker. The star of the show of course though is the Mighty Mech suit, which although being only a few centimetres tall, looks huge in comparison to the rest of the game. When upgraded with 4 advanced weapons, and your own meeple inside, there is a real sense of excitement. Moving your meeple around when inside the Mighty Mech is top-notch entertainment. It is hard to explain, but if this part doesn’t get you ready to hit purchase, this game is not for you. If it does, then I suggest you stop reading and go for it.
Tiny Epic Fun?
All things being said, there is a lot of gimmick in this game. The size, the upgradable components, the meeple in mech mechanic! Should you be wary of this? Probably, yes. The tiny thing has its merits, in that the box is small. But the game plays over an ample amount of space and has lots of small parts so it’s not like you can play it on a train or plane table or outside. The tiny part helps the theme I suppose. But let’s be honest. The “Tiny” part of this series of games is, no question, a gimmick. But, the games are good. So ultimately does that matter?
Meeples have a universal size now thanks to Carcassonne. If this were Giant Epic Mechs, and you were putting a giant meeple into a giant mech, that might seem odd. What I am saying is the components suit the industry standard for what we expect a meeple to looks like. The meeples are normal size, it’s just the mechs have been shrunk to suit them. That said, if they released a Giant Epic Mechs, I would probably buy that too! But that is just because I like the game, and of course, the thought of a giant mech!
Multiplayer Epic Fun
In two players, you are limited in how many times you can have a fight, although this is of course somewhat random. But in a 3 or 4 player game, there is a lot of fun to be had with the random encounters and battles that occur. There is also a solo mode, that works ok. Although I think the fun in an action queue games really does require other human players, but it’s there if you like solo games or want to hone your skills before you battle your friends and family again.
I would recommend this game to anyone with younger children or for anyone who gets as excited as me about the Mighty Mech part of the game. I play with my son a lot, he loves it. We had it since he was 6 and he picked it up quickly despite this being advertised for ages 14 and up. He really enjoys the “toy” part of the game. As in truth, do I. He ultimately just cares about getting into the Mighty Mech rather than good strategy. But then isn’t that what some games are about. Just getting into a giant mech suit, stomp around the board and have some fun.