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

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

Podcast Details

Description
Join Josh and Al as they talk about what games they just played, going beyond mere reviews and into mechanics, genres and where games fit in the hobby itself.
Topics
Lifeform, Tiny Epic Zombies

Game Information

There Will Be Games

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.

Intro and outro by Minibosses!

There Will Be Games

Josh Look (He/Him)
Staff Podcaster

One night during the summer of 1997, Josh Look's cool uncle who owned a comic shop taught him how to play Magic the Gathering. The game set off his imagination in a way that he could not sleep that night, and he's been fascinated by games ever since. He spent many afternoons during his high school years skipping homework to play Dungeons & Dragons and paint Warhammer minatures, going on to discover hobby board games in his early 20s. He's been a writer for Fortress Ameritrash and is the creator and co-host of the geek culture podcast, The Wolfman's Lounge. He enjoys games that encourage a heavy amount of table talk and those that explore their themes beyond just their settings.

Articles and Podcasts by Josh

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Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #302270 08 Oct 2019 11:05
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.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #302271 08 Oct 2019 11:11
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.
Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #302272 08 Oct 2019 11:33
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.
WadeMonnig's Avatar
WadeMonnig replied the topic: #302273 08 Oct 2019 11:41
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.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #302276 08 Oct 2019 13:16

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

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.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #302286 08 Oct 2019 22:26

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.
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #302289 08 Oct 2019 23:19
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).
Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #302290 08 Oct 2019 23:54

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.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #302295 09 Oct 2019 10:08
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.