Last night was supposed to be our third D&D session of 2019, but alas, it was cancelled due to a player or two being sick. So instead, the healthy among us busted out a couple of small box board games.
The first one we pulled out was called "Play Me". It's an Alice-in-Wonderland-themed dice-rolling game that starts competitive and then (probably) becomes cooperative.
The basic mechanic is that you're trying to be the first to roll a 1-6 straight on six dice, only keeping one die per roll. You can "block" the other players to slow them down, and each of the characters you're playing (Alice, the Cheshire Cat, The Mad Hatter, etc) starts out with a unique ability that aids them in this endeavor. However, once you've won a round, your card flips to the "Madness" side: you lose your special ability and gain a pretty serious detriment. The design consideration seems to be that it should be possible for someone to win with their detriment in play, but it should be unlikely.
If you do pull off a Madness win, you win and the game is over - but if no one manages this before all players have flipped to the Madness side, then the game changes: the last person to win loses their character - and becomes the Jabberwocky. Everyone else flips their cards back over to the advantageous (aka "Wonder") side, and they, collectively, must now win multiple rounds before the Jabberwocky can drive them all Mad.
Overall this was a simple but fun game. Not one I could play for hours, but it has an interesting flavor and is definitely fast-paced. The competitive/cooperative dynamic is also interesting. I think our game took about 20 minutes, and that seemed like the "right" amount of time to spend on it. The artwork is really cool, and the dice are pretty. Also, I love Alice in Wonderland, so that's a plus for me. (Sidenote: In case you're wondering, this is the best movie version.)
Tiny Epic Quest
We started to play Tiny Epic Quest some weeks ago, but really only managed to get it set up, sort of figure out the rules, and stumble through a couple of turns. (Note: learning the game takes some effort.) I was just starting to really get into it when we had to quit for the night. Last night, we cracked it open again.
For being so Tiny, this game is pretty complex - or, at least it has a lot of components and aspects. And a lot of fiddly bits.
Basically, the game works like this:
The game is played over 5 rounds, each of which has a Day phase and a Night phase. During the Day phase, you move your three heroes to different locations on the island kingdom - usually to complete "movement quests", to get boosts from "Mushroom Grottos", and/or to set yourself up for the Night phase. During the Night phase you "Adventure". Here players take turns rolling the Adventuring Dice, which will damage them, give them Power to help aid their efforts, increase the world's magic level (so they can learn Spells), and allow them to progress through temples and attack goblins. Some symbols rolled will benefit everyone, others only affect some players based on who rolled them, the relative seating positions of those at the table, and the number of symbols rolled. Adventuring continues until all players have said they've had enough and declared that they're going to "Rest" - at which point the Night Phase resolves and the game progresses to the next Day.
Objectives for earning victory points in Tiny Epic Quest include learning Spells, completing Quests/Temples, and fighting Goblins. Learning Spells increases your magic power, defeating Goblins increases your health/toughness, and completing Quests gives you some boon to aid in your adventures.
Scoring at the end of the 5th round works something like games such as Agricola: you get points for Quests, for defeating Goblins, and for learning Spells. The more of one thing you do, the more points you get - but ignoring one of those aspects actually costs you points as well, so you'll want to keep that in mind. You also get bonus points for each Legendary Item you recover (which you do by completing certain Temples according to your hero card). In only 5 rounds, you probably won't get "everything", so you'll want to plan where you're going to focus without getting too specialized.
We played this one for an hour and a half or so before we had to call it. I think we made it into round 4, so we didn't have a lot more to go. I found this one to be a lot of fun, and I look forward to playing it again. While it is complex, once you get your head around the different aspects, it's actually pretty straight-forward - and since everyone's movement choices and die rolls offer opportunities to all of the players, you don't get too bored during other players' turns.
Production value on the game is pretty high - which is what we tend to expect these days. All of the components are well designed and produced, and the implementation of meeples that can actually hold items is highly amusing as well.