Tiny Token Empires

AI:Yes, different opponents with differing skills
Universal App:No
Purchase for iPhone:

Price: Free
Purchase for iPad:

Price: Free
User rating:
GD Star Rating
Tiny Token Empires, 7.0 out of 10 based on 9 ratings

Tiny Token Empires is a puzzle game disguised as a board game. For all it’s show as a lush three-dimensional board game, with believable tokens, you’ll spend most of your time playing bejewelled match up mini games. Though the game promises a lot and sells itself as a board game, I feel that any gamer who is actively looking for a board game will find themselves disappointed with this.


If there was no bejewelled mini game, I would call Tiny Token Empires a strategy board game with variable campaign set ups. You can play as one of five ancient empires, being Roman, Egyptian, Greek, Carthagian, and Persian. In each campaign set up you will have a number of objectives that you need to complete to achieve victory. The other empires are there to foil those plans without any discernable objectives of their own.

Tiny Token Empires has a pretty decent tutorial. In fact the Roman campaign is effectively a series of increasingly harder challenges designed to make sure you’ve got your head around all the important elements of game play. Alternatively you can have single shot battles.

If we were to look purely at the strategy elements, you have a mediterranian map reminiscent of roman times, and various land and sea territories marked out like any basic strategy war game. There are battles, because you can have stacks of units that will fight each other. You can also build settlements upon various regions, which will generate you more money each turn (which in turn will fund the raising of your armies and other ventures). Unit building occurs in cities, each of which have to be upgraded with specific buildings for specific different units.

So where do the bejewelled games come in? Every single fracking combat. Technically you have an option to have a fast resolution to combat and skip right passed, but I’ve found that unless you actually do the bejewelled games your combat will be sub-par and you can easily lose more units than you can afford. I would only ever quick resolve where the outcome was certain through overwhelming odds. Additionally, if you don’t quick resolve you can always retreat before you lose too many soldiers.


I’m going to deal with the biggest issue first. The bejewelled games are an impediment to the game, not an enhancement. I can perhaps understand the rationale of wanting to appeal to the casual gamer by including a fairly familiar resolution mechanic, but if you step back from that you have to realise that Tiny Token Empires is a very complex strategy game with a vast array of variables. The two being juxtaposed make for a very jarring experience. It’s one thing to have contrast, but when the contrast is so arbitrary it just makes for a strongly disjointed feel.

The most frustrating thing for me trying to play this game is that I can see the elements of a decent game underneath. The rules of engagement aren’t so overly complex that I couldn’t wrap my head around it. There is also a certain comical whimsy in the artwork and the monologues the various side characters provide to make it not feel like a turgid war game. The three dimensional depiction means you are looking at an actual board with actual pieces, which makes it certainly feel like a board game – that is until you start playing in earnest.

However, if you take it at face value for what it is then it is very clear that a lot of good programming went into this game, along with a decent sized art budget. Best of all, they have a tutorial that expertly familiarises you with the game.


6/10: I am one of the first to champion the idea that board games and video games converging around devices like the iPad will open up new and exotic opportunities, I just don’t think that this is what’s happened here. I think a really good game has been ruined by trying to suture an incompatible element to its overall structure, which is a shame.

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  1. James Bruce

    2 questions to the developer: Why the lack of multiplayer; and why the disparate pricing between iPhone and iPad version. $8.99 is a lot of money to spend on something unknown.

  2. TheDukester

    FYI, there’s really no difference in the price.

    The iPhone version is purposefully crippled and basically forces the player to go the IAP route. Add up all the purchases, and it basically comes to $8.99.

    I’m giving this game (and this developer) a BIG miss. Nine bucks for a shaky mash-up of different genres? Yeah, no thanks.

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