The game requires the preparation of a deck of tiles that will make up our board, which varies between games. During the course of the game, players will start on the stairs at the entrance of said dungeon and will have to investigate the adjacent cells, originally hidden, until they complete their objectives.
Each player will take on the role of a character, ranging from the classic warrior to wizards, spell experts, or archers who shoot from a distance. Each character not only has a unique ability, but during the game, they must explore the dungeon to get “loot”, or what is the same, equipment that improves their attributes.
The adventure is divided into two chapters, whose time is delimited by a torch that will go down turn after turn, so the level of said torch depends on the number of players. In the first chapter, players will search the entire dungeon for boxes with magic circles, in which we will also find enemies to defeat and the entrance to the final boss room, which will be defeated during the second chapter.
On each turn, players can perform several common actions and a single special action. While moving or interacting with some rooms is considered a common action, attacking or resting is unique and will thus trigger the end of your turn.
As actions, players can move around the dungeon in search of the aforementioned items. As usual in dungeon games, the map will be hidden, placing cards face down in any of the doors of the already-known terrain. It will be as soon as we enter said room that we will know its content, risking deadly traps or encounters with enemies. To counteract this, players can activate an ability that allows rooms adjacent to our position to be revealed in exchange for lowering the torch, thereby reducing the time remaining in the game.
In the rooms we will find common elements in this type of game: we can find portals that transport us to other locations, places to acquire more objects or some spell, or the least desired in the form of traps that require us to pass dice rolls.
Trapped locations, as well as any confrontation, require skill checks. In Little Big Dungeons, attribute checks are very simple since players only have three characteristics: strength, agility, and intellect. Each of these three attributes ranges from one to three, as it determines the number of dice rolled, which can never exceed three.
The rolls required in the different rooms or the combats are carried out in an opposed way with a threshold and a simple but original system of dice. Although we can usually roll more than one die, the active player must select a single die from the resulting ones. To this die, you can only add dice values that show +1 or +2. Faces with values between 3 and 5 do not contain a plus symbol, so they cannot be combined. Players always have a target to match or beat, either with the natural value of their roll, with the addition of other +1 or +2 dice, or with the benefits of certain items. Whether or not we pass the roll, any unused die will give us benefits in the form of concentration points (those with the lowest value) or a life (with the value 6). How could it be otherwise? These rolls can be modified by investing 2 concentration points for the value +/- 1 that we want to change. It is not allowed to go from 6 to 1 or vice versa.
And it is that the players, in addition to their attributes, have values of life and concentration that depend on their character. While a player who loses all of his life will be unconscious and regain vitality on his next round, forcing him to use “rest” as his only action, concentration not only allows you to modify dice, but also allows you to cast spells or do other special attacks.
After each turn the torch will decrease and activate the squares it passes through. It is the marker of the torch that limits the duration of the game and activates two important events: the appearance of goblins and the attacks of enemies.
Unlike other dungeon games, we do not have a long line of enemies to face, but what is more frequent is to see how the little goblins make their appearance. Such enemies always spawn at the dungeon entrance square. The limiting factor of the goblins is not so much their strength, since they are not complex to defeat, but rather the number that can be simultaneously in the game. If at any time a fifth goblin were to enter, the players would be defeated. In this way, facing them is almost a necessity.
Any of the squares with a seal on its floor will not only spawn an enemy but will also matter in the second chapter. Depending on the number of players, they must find a number of magic circles and defeat the enemies that appear there in order to enter the final boss room. Defeating the enemies, how could it be otherwise, will give us the possibility of acquiring equipment or spell cards, with improvements for our character.
If the players manage to defeat the enemies and find the boss room before their time runs out, the second chapter of our adventure will take place.
In the second part of the game, the level of the torch will be restored, giving the heroes more time to fight the greatest evil. During this phase, the rules don’t change, but players have already explored and just need to enter the boss room and defeat the boss.
The final boss has a tile of its own that represents a large room with squares that players can move through. Entering this tile allows us to attack the boss with melee or ranged attacks, but the fight will never end in this room. The life of said enemy, which is multiplied by the number of players and is made up of several tracks marked with multiple hearts that will have to be reduced, may have one or more points where we will not be able to continue damaging the enemy if we do not attract him to a magic circle The players will have in this half of the game an ability to attract the boss, in order to bring it closer to our location. Through this action we want the boss to pass through the squares with a magic seal, assigning said seal to his character card and being able, now, to continue damaging the enemy.
If the players defeat the final boss, without dying or without their time consuming, they will have managed to win the game.
In this small title, we find all the medieval fantastic cooperative dungeon crawling experiences that such a small box can contain. Surprisingly, something usual in Scott Almes, he surprises us with the variability and the original elements that he includes in his games, such as the dice management of this title.
The Tiny Epic series has been under its belt for years now and forms the main item in Gamelyn’s catalogue, which continues to enjoy excellent support from the community. This saga is based on small boxes with sufficient depth and trying to give a fresh air to an already known theme or mechanics. This format, also used by the 19XX series of Looping Games (a review here), seems like a challenge and a declaration of intent that reminds us that it is not necessary to go to 30×30 boxes to have real great games.
In this installment it is intended to start from the base of the best known dungeon games. It offers us a room-by-room investigation with encounters with enemies that hinder our advance to the final boss. Something that will sound familiar to all of you, but even in that premise it is allowed to give original touches to the expected mechanics.
One of the original and central elements of the experience is the use of dice. Dice can’t be missing in a good dungeon crawler game, but Big Little Dungeons use dice in an original way. Although we are faced with six-sided dice, they are modified and allow us to manage damage based on their values, which range from the classic 1 to 6, but also modify them and obtain benefits from unused dice. In this way, although no one is surprised to modify dice to shape their values, being able to reserve unused dice to gain concentration or life points offers us a very interesting added point.
The other original element that this title presents us with is the confrontation against the final boss. Although he meets the standards of being an enemy with more life and more strength than the others, his battle has original elements that are worth highlighting. The encounter itself puts us in a supposed room through which the players can advance. This advance is associated with different modifiers, positive or negative, in the face of the confrontation itself. In addition to that, we will not be able to enter the room and defeat him directly, but his life will be locked at certain levels from which it will not drop if we do not attract the enemy to the dungeon squares that contain a magic circle. In this way, it is not about going and defeating him, but about having to have space and attract him to specific places to be able to defeat him definitively.
The rest of the elements most typical of these games are met with ease in Little Big Dungeons. We have a good string of characters with different characteristics and unique abilities. Two draw decks that contain more than enough items and spells to give you variety, but without going overboard. In this way, in terms of equipment, it allows the introduction of a collection of sets that rewards players who manage to collect different armor parts of the same type to obtain additional passive benefits.
As for the confrontations, it is surprising that it is not a walk full of monsters but an incursion in which our most frequent threat will be the goblins, which we will also have to keep at bay so as not to end the game prematurely. As for enemies, before fighting the final boss, only a few will appear in each game, depending on the number of players. This makes the game become a race to discover all the rooms in the dungeon, looking for the circles magic and the door to the final boss room, while we defeat the multiple goblins that will appear and, less frequently but more risky, we face the two or three enemies of our game.
It should come as no surprise that the output is more than remarkable. We found custom dice for combat, good card weight, and several larger-than-card-size items for our convenience. Surprisingly, resin miniatures are included with more detail than you might expect for the price, and wooden miniatures for the unique enemies, as well as the four numbered goblins.
In terms of scalability, its cooperative format allows it to adapt to any number of players. Although the break can reduce the dynamism of the experience without adding much in return, it is a game that I will bring to the table when there are not many of us and that has very good solo functionality, even taking several heroes if you prefer. The game itself adapts the duration depending on the number of players without major changes.
In short, Tiny Epic Dungeons not only surprises by containing a wide experience in a small box but also dares with a more than used theme and mechanics and offers a refreshing air through original elements such as dice management and the dynamism proposed by the game. final battle. All this together with a great production that includes custom miniatures and meeples, something that looks great on the table and is surprising for fitting into such a concise volume.