‘You know what happened to my previous partner, rookie? He was a loose cannon who was often reprimanded by the commissioner, but he was a damn good cop and a true friend. He was only a few days away from retirement before a bullet hit him. A bullet that was meant for me. We were working on a case we thought would be a small one. It turned out to be a conspiracy that affected the entire city and involved the mafia. Not a small case, but quite a heap of Tiny Epic Crimes.”
Background and goal
Tiny Epic Crimes is part of the Tiny Epic game series. These games are designed by Scott Almes and are published by Gamelyn Games. There are a lot of different Tiny Epic games with different themes in different genres available to purchase. Despite the different themes and genres, there are also a lot of similarities. These games share the same designer and the same design philosophy: a lot of game in a small box.
In Tiny Epic Crimes, players take on the role of detectives in a typical crime noir setting. Players competitively or cooperatively attempt to solve a murder by interrogating criminals, apprehending criminals and gathering information to ultimately unmask the perpetrator. This unmasking is done through deduction, or rather reduction. At the beginning of the game a random culprit is chosen, but players obviously do not know who the culprit is. By collecting information, players can eliminate possible culprits, just like in Clue(do), to determine who the real culprit is.
As with other Tiny Epic games, there is a lot of gameplay and an unexpectedly hefty amount of components that almost burst out of the tiny box! A truly small and epic heap so to say. Players lay out the city by placing a 5-by-5 grid of cards with the police station in the middle. Next to the grid the dice tiles and specific hint tiles are placed. Certain types of hints are also placed on some cards in the city.
Each player receives the relevant components in their color, a player board, two skills to choose from and an action card. Players place their police cars in the city and the remaining components at their fingertips and they are ready to play. Oh yes, of course a random killer must be drawn from the pile of possible offenders. This card is secretly slipped into the correct envelope.
As in real life, actions take time. The game has a time track and the player at the back of the track is on the move. You can drive and the number of cards you move costs time. After driving, you can do another action and each action costs time. After performing your action you move your pawn along the time track and that player who is then at the back of the track is the next player. Depending on their position on the track, players are either in daytime or nighttime. Depending on the part of the day, they may or may not perform certain actions. Over time, event cards are drawn that have an (often negative) effect on the course of the game and that players must solve.
With actions, players can collect hints. When enough hints of a certain type have been collected, the player who collected the last hint receives a piece of evidence. This player may view an element of the culprit through the appropriate envelope. Players can also pick up bad guys and solve events. By performing actions, players move up in rank and earn bonuses. Collecting hints and evidence also gives players alibis that allow them to rule out certain suspects.
Tiny Epic Crimes is a voluminous game and one that may be a little too voluminous in some respects, sometimes making it feel less streamlined. Namely, it sometimes takes a long time for players to gather evidence and information, so you can’t start deducing until later. Deducing is the most fun part about the game, and each piece of information gained is therefore exciting as you can further substantiate your theory.
Due to the day and night cycle, valuable actions are sometimes not available and it can happen that your turn takes quite a bit of time, but may not yield much. In the cooperative variant, this is less of a disadvantage, since you are trying to achieve results together and can help each other more easily, but in the competitive variant, this can cause you to thwart and frustrate each other extra. Like other Tiny Epic games, there is a lot of gameplay to be found in a small box which makes it easy to carry a complex game in a small backpack, bag and/or purse. The theme is ironclad and contains all the elements and stereotypes you can and should expect from a crime thriller.