Hello Board game fans! Today I will be reviewing one of my favorite games of 2017, a game fast moving to the top of the rotation in our household. Have you ever watched a movie and wanted to live that theme? Maybe a Superhero movie, or an Action Adventure? Something scary? Something suspenseful? How about all of those combined? Well Pandasaurus Games has done that in the game “Dinosaur Island”!
Check out our unboxing video HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nwAGk8jxMw
Dinosaur Island is designed by Jon Gilmour (Dead of Winter, Wasteland Express Delivery Service) and Brian Lewis (Titans of Industry) from Pandasaurus Games (Machi Koro, Yedo, Wasteland Express Delivery Service) with artwork from Kwanchai Moriya and Peter Wocken.
The game is designed to be played with 1-4 players with special rules and cards that are separate for solo play. Today I will review the Kickstarter edition of the game, which includes extras that the retail copy did not include. Those extras include:
-UV and Metallic printing on the box
-Extra dino types
-Dinosaur Island Bag
-Meeples for the Scientists and Workers
-1 extra custom die
-1st player slap bracelet
I have seen both and own the Deluxe edition. I have to be honest, the Deluxe edition was more than worth the upgrade. The metal coins are amazing-they are incredibly thick and work so well for the game. They have to be half the weight of the game alone! The meeples and extra variety of dinosaurs are so cool also-they make up that extra bit of theme and unique extra that really help the game to shine.
In a simple breakdown, the goal of this game is to acquire the right Dino DNA to build dinosaurs and buy attractions for your theme park. You need to attract more visitors with more exciting dinos, but by doing so you raise your threat level and need to balance it with the right security to match it and keep your patrons safe. If you don’t, they might be lunch for your dinos!
The gameplay for Dinosaur Island takes place over 5 stages and continues on through the game. There are initial “End-Game” cards that you can select to change the game from either a short, medium or long game. I would recommend short games for new players or games to play less than 60 mins, medium for 60-120 mins and long games for 120 mins+. The medium games seem to be the sweet spot, it allows you to track the steps along well in the stages and grow your park.
Gameplay follows five phases, progressing you through the acquisition of dino DNA and dino recipes, the Marketplace allowing you to upgrade your lab or park, the lab phase where you will build dinos, add security and make park adjustments and the final phase where you open the doors for meeples to come in and spend their hard earned dollars. The gameplay allows for both worker placement and building to occur-your goals shift game to game, so it is important to find the best strategy for the current game you are in.
I have been able to get this to the table a number of times with 2, 3 and 4 players of a variety of gaming experience and ages. It has been widely popular across all players-as young as 11 have done well and enjoyed the theme and gameplay. These are the impressions we got playing with the people we love:
Less than optimal:
-Definitely a learning curve for new players
-Those unfamiliar with worker placement style game play may struggle with this type of game
-Experience is a big advantage in this game (but often is in most games)
What we like:
-The game is beautiful. Like, ridiculously so. The deluxe edition makes it even more so, but the retail copy is no slouch either
-The theme is so spot on. The art, style and design is exactly what fits the movie it is a loving tribute to and it shows in many ways
-The repetitive style of phases 1-5 allows for a new player to grasp the game quicker than they might if it was more open ended
-The rulebook and direction for the game works well, allowing you to jump right in
-The variety of “End-Game” cards and the fact that they ramp up and down in length of game is great, giving variety along with the ability to manage the time of the game
-The “Plot Twist” cards give another extra twist, making the variety of games you play almost limitless with the goals that vary as well
I cannot say enough good things about this game. It is one of my favorites of 2017 and one I will continue to get to the table to teach new players every chance I get. I highly recommend this to everyone who loves strategic boardgames with great theme and variety, everyone who loves dinos and everyone who wants to jump into the control seat of their very own Dinosaur Island!