It Came From the Tabletop! - Lifeform and Tiny Epic Zombies

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08 Oct 2019 09:30 #302269 by Josh Look
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The Halloween season is upon us and Josh and Al are already celebrating with a night of spooky games.  Up first is Lifeform, a great big love letter to Alien and certainly one of the best games of 2019.  Rounding out the night is Tiny Epic Zombies, a very small game that's not only one of the best zombie games we've seen in ages, it packs a ton of gameplay, variety and fun.

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08 Oct 2019 11:05 #302270 by Jackwraith
Good reviews, guys. I'm not in the market for more games at the moment, but Lifeform is tempting, since I'm a huge Alien/Ridley-Scott-when-he-could-direct fan, too.

Glad you liked TEZ. As noted on the forum, I'm a pretty serious fan of the TE series. I think what makes TEZ was Gamelyn's willingness to fully engage the themes (and memes) of zombie films: The nine different goals are all standard zombie film fare; the player characters are archetypes from those films; the setting is a mall like Night of the Comet; etc. When you take those thematics and marry them to Almes' typically tight designs (as you mentioned, the cool interplay between ammo and health determining your survival with two tokens on your player mat is a highlight), it hits all the right notes. Adding the visuals of meeples carrying around chainsaws and golf clubs is just the icing.

The other games in the TE series are the same way, in my experience. Al is right that Galaxies is an abstraction, but I think there's good gameplay there, despite that. Similarly, I wouldn't recommend Western if you go in expecting that it's going to be like Western Legends, because it's an abstraction like Galaxies. But, again, there's a lot of game there and a lot of depth. And, like TEZ, all the different player characters have different abilities to provide variety and differing combinations each time. The 'bullet dice' are also a nice touch.

Their next release is Tiny Epic Tactics, which looks brilliant and appears to have both a lot of game and that more visceral stuff that Al appreciates.
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08 Oct 2019 11:11 - 08 Oct 2019 11:16 #302271 by Josh Look
I’ve got Quest coming in as part of a trade. Mechs might be my next pick.

And I agree, Galaxies has some really great gameplay. I love so many of the mechanisms in play there that I can completely overlook the abstraction. Al likes Roll for the Galaxy, so I’m calling bullshit.
Last edit: 08 Oct 2019 11:16 by Josh Look.
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08 Oct 2019 11:33 #302272 by Jackwraith
I think you'll like both of those if you approach them with Almes' intent in mind. Quest is a serious abstraction. You look at it and you think "fantasy questing" but there's not a lot that's particularly crunchy/Talisman about it. It's more of a "press your luck and gamble on other people pressing their luck" arrangement. In the same way that Kingdoms has multiple ways to win, none of which can be wholly ignored, Quest does, too. Part of the depth is figuring out which way is most viable for you at any given moment, how to hedge the odds on the dice, and which artifacts will work best for the path that you've chosen AND are efficiently attainable inside the five rounds that you have.

Mechs is similar. You can't go into it like Vasel did, expecting explosions and Robotech screams. It's not a wargame. It's an arena combat game, which means you have to measure your attacks and try to anticipate where other people will go, which weapons will serve you best, and how best to exploit the three scoring rounds when they occur. I was a little hesitant on it at first, too, because I was looking at it like Vasel was. But once I figured out what time of game it actually is, I've come to really enjoy it.
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08 Oct 2019 11:41 #302273 by WadeMonnig
Haven't gotten to listen yet but is Burke's Gambit brought up in regards to Alien. I have a vague recollection of enjoying it when I played it once.

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08 Oct 2019 13:16 #302276 by Josh Look

WadeMonnig wrote: Haven't gotten to listen yet but is Burke's Gambit brought up in regards to Alien. I have a vague recollection of enjoying it when I played it once.


No, I’ve never played it.

I’m really kicking myself for not bring up Mark Chaplin’s web-published Aliens: This Time It’s War.

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08 Oct 2019 17:10 - 08 Oct 2019 17:10 #302281 by UniversalHead
I've got an unboxing video of Lifeform and the expansions coming early next week BTW.
Last edit: 08 Oct 2019 17:10 by UniversalHead.
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08 Oct 2019 20:40 #302285 by engineer Al

Josh Look wrote: I’ve got Quest coming in as part of a trade. Mechs might be my next pick.

And I agree, Galaxies has some really great gameplay. I love so many of the mechanisms in play there that I can completely overlook the abstraction. Al likes Roll for the Galaxy, so I’m calling bullshit.


Mechs looks really cool. Meeples wearing exosuits, how can that be bad? I have heard a few people say it's not what it looks like and the fighting is minimal, but knowing that going in it might not be a disappointment.

I think not living up to expectations was part of my problem with TEG. Cool little spaceship pieces that draw you in and then NEVER fly around and fight each other. Of course it just might have been the people I was playing with.

RftG is a completely different story. It never looks like anything but exactly what it is, a silly abstract with a cool space theme. Building up your dice is fun, but I especially love the part where you are trying to guess what the other players are doing so you can build on their choice of action. Player interaction in TEG is much less interesting. Also RftG plays in about half the time, while Galaxies goes on for too long.
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08 Oct 2019 22:26 - 08 Oct 2019 22:27 #302286 by Josh Look

engineer Al wrote:

Josh Look wrote: I’ve got Quest coming in as part of a trade. Mechs might be my next pick.

And I agree, Galaxies has some really great gameplay. I love so many of the mechanisms in play there that I can completely overlook the abstraction. Al likes Roll for the Galaxy, so I’m calling bullshit.


Mechs looks really cool. Meeples wearing exosuits, how can that be bad? I have heard a few people say it's not what it looks like and the fighting is minimal, but knowing that going in it might not be a disappointment.

I think not living up to expectations was part of my problem with TEG. Cool little spaceship pieces that draw you in and then NEVER fly around and fight each other. Of course it just might have been the people I was playing with.

RftG is a completely different story. It never looks like anything but exactly what it is, a silly abstract with a cool space theme. Building up your dice is fun, but I especially love the part where you are trying to guess what the other players are doing so you can build on their choice of action. Player interaction in TEG is much less interesting. Also RftG plays in about half the time, while Galaxies goes on for too long.


Yeah, it’s definitely who you played with - the game you’re describing is not at all my experience with TEG. Aside from not flying around and fighting, that’s true, but I also know you know the whole “time and place for everything” rule of game design.
Last edit: 08 Oct 2019 22:27 by Josh Look.

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08 Oct 2019 23:19 - 08 Oct 2019 23:20 #302289 by Gary Sax
It's fun to listen to your podcast juxtaposed with So Very Wrong About Games, who really dislike the tiny epic series (they've played most but not all).
Last edit: 08 Oct 2019 23:20 by Gary Sax.

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08 Oct 2019 23:54 #302290 by Jackwraith

Gary Sax wrote: It's fun to listen to your podcast juxtaposed with So Very Wrong About Games, who really dislike the tiny epic series (they've played most but not all).


Guess their name is right, then.

As I've mentioned before, I think all of the TE games require multiple plays to really understand the depth of them, but I haven't played a single one that I didn't enjoy as a single session, either.

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09 Oct 2019 10:08 - 09 Oct 2019 10:09 #302295 by Josh Look
I think that working under limitations in any medium generates more creative and often times more effective results when in the right hands. You go in with only these few small things to work with, but you really have to squeeze every last drop from what you’ve got that you know is good so that nobody pays attention to what you’re missing. We know this is true with movies, for example, the first Evil Dead. Essentially zero budget but those guys brought such a ferocious creativity to their work and because of it, it towers above other horror movies that had studio backing. The same is true of game design. I miss those early days of VPG, when designers worked with knowing they could have a sheet of counters, X amount of cards and a board. Make it work. The Tiny Epic series does have the luxury of a Kickstarter budget, but there’s still only so much you can fit into one of those boxes, especially when you consider the typical size of the games in the genres they’re emulating. Almes clearly knows how to pack a game with as many interesting ideas as he can fit into them.
Last edit: 09 Oct 2019 10:09 by Josh Look.
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