When I think back to my time as a child I think of my love of dinosaurs. This has lead to my enjoyment of the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World movies as an adult. Well, Pandasaurus Games has returned to this world with one of their newest titles. Manage your dinosaur amusement park in Dinosaur World.
Yes, that’s right. In this game you will manage DNA, create dinosaurs, build attractions, and have visitors go on tours. Oh, and don’t worry about those occasional mishaps along the way. It’s all in the name of progress right?
One might ask why Pandasaurus Games chose to do another game with this theme. They already have a very popular and quite good dinosaur theme park management game with Dinosaur Island after all. Not to mention, Dinosaur Island Rawr and Write that released at the same time as Dinosaur World. Don’t worry, this game is quite different. Let’s take a look in more detail as to why in this review of Dinosaur World.
- Players: 1-4
- Playtime (with Setup): we find it around 90-150 minutes
- Publisher: Pandasaurus Games
- Designer: Kwanchai Moriya, Joe Shawcross, and Andrew Thompson
Do You Want To Sponsor an Attraction?
In Dinosaur World it’s all about the attractions. Some of those are going to be exhibits where you show case the dinosaurs you create. Others are going to be food, amusement rides, hotels, and even security facilities. All of these components help you drive up excitement for your park, thus driving up attendance, and ultimately increasing your profits.
The game adopts its theme into a highly immersive experience where, while I was focused on winning, I was very satisfied with the park I built at the end of the game. This game really stands on it’s theme and then translates that into an immersive and enjoyable gaming experience. Adding the additional attraction tiles to your park, seeing it grow with dinosaurs in your pens, and your jeeple ferrying tourists to attractions…all of this builds to a very satisfying gaming experience.
Assets Out of Containment
There are quite a few components to Dinosaur World. The predominant components in this game are the tiles that represent the various exhibits and attractions at your park. These have great iconography, nice card material, and attractive art.
The island boards where the tiles lay that you can purchase have interesting art. I don’t understand why these weren’t a bit more condensed, perhaps as one island on a folding gameboard. Because of the way the boards are laid out, they cover a large area on the table. They do have useful information regarding, with the correct iconography, the various public actions on the board. The art is great and consistent with the feel of the game.
The game has a number of cardboard tokens, some are exceptionally tiny tokens with numbers 1 through 5. These number counters are tiny and all of the players at the table have to handle them each round. This is a fail in components. The function of the tiles would have been better suited to dials or dice. In fact, for future plays, we will replace these number tokens with six sided dice!
The meeples are all color and shape coded so you know what they are. The Jeeple (Jeep shaped meeple) has sticker art that is unique for each player (super cool!!!).
One of the highlights for me are the dinosaur meeples. If you purchase the base game you receive three types of dinosaur meeples. A herbivore meeple that is a Triceratops, a small predator meeple that looks like a Raptor, and a big predator meeple that looks like a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
They are all made of hard plastic, not standard wooden meeples. This makes them really durable. While cool, these were a bit disappointing. There are so many cool dinosaurs in the game that don’t have proper representation in meeple form. For me, that’s a really important piece that helps with the immersion of the game.
That’s where the one expansion I absolutely feel is a must to have for this game comes in, the Add On Pack. We cracked that open after looking at the box and realizing that it had special dinosaur meeples for all of the dinosaurs in the game. The dinosaur meeples have stickers on them with art depicting various dinosaur species. This helps you get into the dinosaurs you are creating.
The ultimate goal, like many board games, is to score the most points. To do this, you are going to complete actions during a game round which thematically allow you to create a dinosaur based theme park. The game plays over 5 rounds. each round consisting of 5 phases.
Phase 1: Hire Workers
Much like Dinosaur Island, each phase in a round utilizes different mechanics. This made Dinosaur Island pretty complex. However, Dinosaur World really streamlines it. In Phase 1 you will draft worker cards. These cards will give you different colored worker meeples. The worker meeples allow you to take actions in the later phases of the round.
Phase 2: Public Actions
In turn order, players place worker meeples on the central game boards. This allows players to draft DNA dice, purchase additional attractions, claim dinosaur paddocks, and expand their park. Players need to be careful that they don’t expend all of their worker meeples as they will need some for later phases.
Phase 3: Private Actions
This phase is played simultaneously. In this phase, players place workers on actions on their own player boards. You can increase your park’s security, raise funds, refine DNA, make dinosaurs, and increase the capabilities of your Jeeples! You may want to hang onto a worker meeple or two for the next phase, but that really depends on where you plan to have your visitors explore during their Jeeple tour.
Phase 4: Jeeple Tour
Now it’s time to take those visitors on an exciting tour of your park. You will activate your Jeeple and move to various locations in your park. As it moves through each location you activate the tile. Some tiles will give you an option to place a worker meeple to complete additional actions. Other tiles will generate funds or victory points. You will need to choose the timing on when you are activating these tiles. As they are activated, they will lose some of their excitement value. You have to be able to pay some excitement (or gain) in order to travel to tiles, so track your path carefully and plan for the future.
Phase 5: Income and Clean Up
This is really a clean up phase. However, you do need to check how much threat your dinosaurs make vs. your park’s security capabilities. In addition, your park will collect income. You will need cash on hand to pay for all of those future expansions in the next round. There are then some procedural advancements on the main island board, advancing of the turn marker, and resetting the player order. Nothing too exciting, but necessary steps to set up the next round.
A Wild Ride
What you take away from Dinosaur World is a very immersive game that balances the creation of dinosaurs with the need to build attractions and facilities in your theme park. Once you set these up, the painful decisions of which attractions your are going to feature on your tours really let’s you feel like you are administering an amusement park. Placing new tiles into your park, adding dinosaurs to paddocks, rolling threat dice, and managing DNA supplies to create dinosaurs creates a deeply immersive experience.
Overall, Dinosaur World is a very entertaining and immersive game. There are a number of tough decisions, and like so many great games, just when you think you have it all worked, out the game is over. Head to head against Pandasaurus Games Dinosaur Island it’s quite a bit easier to pick up and learn. There’s still plenty of complexity to this game though. Be prepared to give this game a significant amount of table space. Your park, ideally, is going to grow significantly over the course of the game.