Designed by Scott Almes. Published by Gamelyn Games. For 1-4 players.
The awesome people at Gamelyn Games (who make the awesome Tiny Epic Dungeons) very kindly sent me both Tiny Epic Pirates and Tiny Epic Zombies for review. This does not affect my opinions or views on the game but, you should keep this in mind when reading my review.
As a wonderful surprise, I was sent this game for review. Being a massive fan of pirate games I was super excited to get this and get it to the table. The Tiny Epic Games really pack a punch and this is maybe the beefiest one yet (that I have seen). There are pirate ships, map tiles, deck hand cards, merchant ships/cards, trading post cards, gold doubloons, stock cubes, and other pieces. There are even little sails that you have to attach to the ships.
The gameplay to start with is actually quite hard to get into. There are lots of fiddly rules and quite a bit of setup. This was especially tough on our first game. Thank god for Dized!! We used the app and it is super clear and easy to follow. Each player sets up their captains’ actions randomly on their ship board and there are 5 randomized actions and 1 action that is the same for all (the Hide Out action).
The main aim is to bury your 3 treasure chests before the other player/s can bury theirs. To do this you need to earn coins by selling plundered or stolen loot, searching for treasure, fighting the other players, or fighting the merchant ships. You can also increase your crew to help with battles and you must pay 12 or 13 doubloons to bury treasure where your max for holding doubloons is 13. This means you must reach your maximum 3 times before you can win the game. The flow of the game soon becomes apparent, then at the end you realize that you may need to adapt your strategy in order to stop one of your fellow pirates from winning. Then, it is time to chase down and battle those scallywags.
Choosing your captains’ orders and doing actions is a little bit fiddly. In my opinion, it is a little bit too fiddly. The location of your randomized actions does not really affect each player and things like this feel to me like they could have been streamlined a little to save time during set-up and to make gameplay a little smoother. Having said this, a lot of the game feels really fun and exciting. Fighting others, including the merchant ships, is never easy to win so when you do win it feels great. Increasing your stats and notoriety feels awesome and well earnt. Getting extra movement, attack or even battle dice can really improve your chances of winning. It is a very piratey adventure and it does not at all feel like a game coming from the tiny box size it comes in. This feels very much like a big box game.
The components in Tiny Epic Pirates are excellent and the pieces are all very thematic. Great boats, cool cannon pieces, boats with sails you have to insert, and really nice dice too. It all really helps to increase the quality of your gameplay experience. One thing that this game is sourly missing is a player aid or 4. There is a lot of symbology in this game and it can be pretty daunting trying to find your way through. There is a constant need for play to check symbols and the rule book needs to be close at hand. Especially for your first play-through. I downloaded one from BGG (link – https://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/223586/player-aid-tiny-epic-pirates-crimson-silver) and it is highly recommended!! Thanks to whoever made this.
My other issue with the game is that getting the loot onto the boats can be extremely fiddly and sometimes leads to ships falling over, cubes falling out and this can quickly become tedious.
Final Score: 8/10
Overview: “You can fight, steal, plunder, search and bury treasure. It is all you could want from a pirate game and then some. There are some small niggles that stop this from being higher rated by me but, I still love this game and I am very excited to try the expansion (Curse of Amdiak). Highly recommended if you want a fun pirate adventure that by some magic fits into a tiny box that won’t take up much space at all. Highly recommended!”
Your rum-drinking swashbuckling friend, DB. Click the image below to see more