Review – Tiny Epic Dungeons

Tiny Epic Dungeons box art depicting adventurers facing off against minions.

Tiny Epic Dungeons. Gamelyn Games, 2021. Scott Almes, Designer. Nikoletta Vaszi & Ian Rosenthaler, artists.

Scott Almes has been making the Tiny Epic series of games for Gamelyn Games since 2014’s Tiny Epic Kingdoms. In this time, he has tackled almost every game mechanic and theme, from the 4x fantasy of the aforementioned Kingdoms to worker placement in the old west with Tiny Epic Western, to even the dice-rolling action in outer space with Tiny Epic Galaxies. It’s kind of a surprise, then, that it has taken this long for him to make a dungeon crawler in the series, but with Tiny Epic Dungeons, you can finally explore the tiniest of epic dungeons.

What’s Going on Here?

The torch track.
The torch track. My torch has been snuffed out!

The kingdom is in peril. Monsters lurk in the dungeons below the Goblin Coast, preparing to rise up and wreak havoc on the lands above. Gather a party of 2-4 adventurers and delve into the depths, searching for treasures to help you along the way, while fighting off minions and goblins on your way to the boss’ lair.

Tiny Epic Dungeons is a fully-cooperative dungeon crawler for 1-4 players in which players build the dungeon as they traverse its many rooms. Each player has three stats (Strength, Agility, and Intellect), which determine how many 6-sided dice they can roll when performing an action. Each action has a target number, and a player chooses one die to apply to the check, adding any bonuses. Players have until the torch marker makes it to the end of the torch mat to grind through the dungeon, killing goblins before they overrun the dungeon, and finally reaching the boss lair for the final battle.

What’s Good Here?

Player card for the Half-Ork Barbarian.
I need a hero!

Well, first of all, the components are great. Keep in mind that I’m playing the Kickstarter Deluxe version, but all eight player characters come with minis, and each enemy has a wooden marker with its image painted on it. I know some purists would want minis for the enemies, too, but I like the wooden monsters. I love moving minis around a table, and this game gives me some of that.

The artwork is fantastic, as well. The heroes look heroic, the monsters, monstrous. Even though the tone of this game is a little darker than some of the other Tiny Epics, the character design is still consistent with, say, Tiny Epic Quest, and it’s less cartoony than Tiny Epic Tactics.

The basic rules of the game are fairly straightforward as well, with a lot of room for depth at strategy. Are you going to charge through rooms, hoping not to run into a minion who will end your turn and damage you? Or will you fall back, searching for items in rooms to try to prepare for the next big fight?

There’s a lot of variety in this little box, with a dungeon that changes every time you play, a variety of minions, 6 different bosses, and eight playable characters, lots of magic spells, plus a loot deck with random items and items that are parts of sets, with each piece increasing the power of all pieces of the set. It really puts the Epic in Tiny Epic.

What’s Not So Good?

Gorgon boss mat.
If I had ever met a boss, she would have looked like this.

Remember when I said the basic rules were straightforward? Well, there are lots of other little, room specific, character-specific, rules that, in order to make the game as language-independent as possible, have been reduced to some confusing iconography. Does “Shadow Walk” allow you to pass by enemies without fighting them, then damage you for 1 health? Or does it let you damage an enemy for 1 health? (It’s the latter, a search of Board Game Geek told me.) Which of these symbols means “in the same room” and which one means “line of sight?” (They look very similar.) Does Uliessa’s Heal ability take a Cast action, or does it trigger when she casts another spell? (Again, the latter, according to an easily-missed section of page 14 of the rules). The rules may be simple, but all of these abilities require careful study to decipher the symbology. (Gamelyn Games has released a digital appendix that does solve a lot of this problem.)

This game is also very difficult. That’s not a bad thing for me playing solo…I don’t mind losing. Some people I may want to introduce to the game may be put off by it’s difficulty. I’ve played 4 solo games, and I’ve lost all four without even finding the Boss. Still, that’s only 4 games, and I’m still trying out the characters, so I’m OK with this.

Finally, and this is my complaint with all Tiny Epic games, is that it is hard to fit everything back in the box. The packed this thing so tightly that once it’s open, it does not want to close again.

What do I think?

I really like this game. It’s small enough that set-up is pretty quick, and it’s a fast enough game that I played it twice in one night. The solo game is identical to the two-player game, so there aren’t extra rules to learn. It’s not necessarily my go-to dungeon crawler (That would be Star Wars: Imperial Assault), but if I’m by myself, and I have 45 minutes to kill, I’m breaking Tiny Epic Dungeons out.


An image of the minis for the Elven mage and the troglodyte square off.
Oooooh. Minis.

What do you think? Have you played Tiny Epic Dungeons? Have you won a game? What’s that even like? Let us know in the comments, or find us all over the internet!

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