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Tiniest Epics, vol. 1: It's good to be the king

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30 Mar 2020 00:01 #308688 by Jackwraith
Gamelyn's Tiny Epic series is kind of a marvel in...

Beginning a new series of deep dives, we start at the top with the first of the TE series: Tiny Epic Kingdoms.

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30 Mar 2020 13:01 #308689 by drewcula
This is a nice write-up for an under appreciated game.
I Kickstarted it.
I received it.
I played it.
I enjoyed.
I sold it.

Why? Despite the merits, it had one colossal fail that I could not over-look. The character illustrations. The maps and meeples were fine. The characters however, were not. Ineptly drawn and colored, I was unable to see past them.

I've done it since with other games, but TEK was a first. I sold it because it was ugly.
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30 Mar 2020 14:20 #308690 by Jackwraith
Huh. I've had that reaction to some games where I didn't like the look of something and that contributed to my overall disenchantment (It's like food presentation. Part of what makes it appealing is how nice it looks when it's put in front of you.) But I've never dumped something off that I really liked because I thought the art was poor. I'm not a huge fan of FFG's Wiz-War art style, but I'm OK with it because the game is excellent.

I thought Gamelyn's approach was a little OTT in terms of its manga style (i.e. most of the humanoids seem to have oversized eyes) but nothing seriously put me off. In fact, part of the reason I added that pic of the backs of some of the player cards was to display the art that I thought was pretty nice. It's toony and highly fantasized, but I'm OK with that.

But, you like what you like.

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30 Mar 2020 16:43 #308693 by boothwah
I always think of Castles of Burgundy when we get to talking aesthetics. The game couldn't be more visually drab. Matches the subject matter. But, I like the game, despite how visually milquetoast it is.
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30 Mar 2020 16:56 #308697 by Jackwraith
Someone made a similar comment in a blog post on BGG about games that they knew were good games, but they simply didn't enjoy playing. One of them was Agricola, which is completely dreary in both theme (subsistence farming), mechanics (no deviation except for occupation cards), and artwork (subsistence farming!)

One of the criticisms that can be leveled against Kingdoms is that it's too abstract for what people normally expect out of a DoaM and part of that is visual presentation. Other than the repetitive scenery on the territory cards, the faction cards are pretty much it. Otherwise, it's wooden meeples and some d12s. But I always felt that the variation in faction abilities and the real tension of region acquisition made up for what it may lack in visual appeal. Has to be said that Gamelyn really upped their, uh, game in visuals with their later releases, though.

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30 Mar 2020 17:01 #308700 by WadeMonnig
Great article Marc! In regards to the art, I always felt it was "Draw an easily identifiable version of these standard trope fantasy characters." Everyone sees it, everyone instantly recognizes it, it has cross over potential for non-fantasy addicts. "Oh, look, Polar Bears in armor like that one movie that I can't recall it's name" (Golden Compass for the rest of us lol).
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30 Mar 2020 17:33 #308702 by Jackwraith
Thanks! Standard (identifiable) tropes is a good point, too. In that respect, I kind of enjoyed the fact that they drifted away from the D&D perspective on Dark Elves living under the ground and went for a more "Mirkwood" approach, too.

I've actually never seen The Golden Compass, so I kind of shrugged at the Polar Kin as just another arctic race alongside the Arctic Elementals and the Frost Giants. They mostly reminded me of the Coke commercials from some years back.
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