Don’t go into the long grass!
Already, many of you are singing the famous bars of music from Speilberg’s classic; Jurassic Park. And let me ask you, how many of you don’t wish that you could really run and own your own dinosaur filled park? Wait, you’ve seen the films, all five? You’ve read the books? It didn’t go well… well, don’t worry, in true InGen style, dinosaurs have been recreated, but beware, BioSyn have done their work, and the secret is out, between one and four competing dinosaur parks are now in action (assuming that you already have Dinosaur Island) - you get to refine DNA, research and create dinosaurs, introduce rides and other attractions and organise the huge crowds of guests coming to your park and the money that they provide.
What could possibly improve upon that experience?
Totally Liquid. That is what. This review is written based on the components found in the Xtreme Edition, though these are simply physical additions rather than actual changes to the gameplay (though as a John Hammond wannabe, I definitely recommend you get the Xtreme Edition if you can stretch to it, more later!).
Ways to improve the turn-based, dinosaur park building experience of Dinosaur Island?
- Add in components for a fifth player, more competition! Including park and lab boards, new purple workers, scientists and marker cubes as well as four extra dice.
- Nine new specialists to hire for your park, including the Lawyer who lets you turn your first eaten customer into money with that counter-suit!
- Seven new plot twists to add more variety to your game, including VIP visitors.
- A new lab improvement letting you enhance your tool bench.
- New dinosaur recipes to add to your existing stock.
- Module selectors, allowing you to select from the additional game components to add to your game, choose from any or all of:
- Executives and facilities expanding your options as well as giving each park a unique way to play, from a Goat Pen to a Hotel.
- Blueprints - offering extra victory points for building your park in a certain way.
- PR Events that offer extra Victory Points at certain moments of the story.
- Marine Creatures- what is better than a park with dinosaurs? One with dinosaurs, plesiosaurs and mosasaurs of course!
- Rules clarifications and streamlinings enhancing the original experience.
If you pick up the Xtreme Edition of the Game, you will find yourself with a plethora of upgrades that barely fit in the box:
- Two more plot twists.
- A new ‘dinosaur’ (Pandasaurus, the manufacturer’s mascot).
- Temporary Security and Threat Markers.
- An enhanced board for both Marine Creature research.
- A five-player marketplace.
- Customary plastic upgrades to cardboard components - a Mega Rex model, 96 new dinosaur models in 12 varieties, baby dinos and dino eggs, upgraded executives and fifth player scientists. None are vital to the game, but they do enhance the experience in a visceral way.
Dinosaur Island plays in a similar way to most worker placement games; players begin by making hard choices about where to assign their three scientists, gain recipes, gain DNA, improve DNA storage or even consign your scientists to worker drudgery. This is then followed by a purchasing phase, where again, in player order, players purchase up to two lab upgrades, attractions, specialists or even DNA.
Once these two turn-based steps have been performed, as in many of these games, there is a free-for-all moment when players are able to allocate their workers (and unlucky scientists) to a whole host of activities, from enhancing security in the park, to building larger enclosures and creating dinosaurs, or simply heading out and attracting more funds. Once everyone is done, phase four returns once again to turn-based play.
Visitors are attracted based on the excitement level of your park, raised by having dinosaurs and then assigning these to attraction spaces. Each visitor earns you one money, whilst each surviving attraction visitor earns a victory point. Sadly, not all will make it if the threat level is above your security level; too many dinos, not enough fences? People will be eaten! Finally, the game resets for the next turn, visitors leave (unless staying in the Executive Hotel), workers return to your pool and the turn order resets, giving privilege to the last-place player.
Final Thoughts on Totally Liquid
Totally Liquid does not change the aforementioned gameplay, it only enhances it with extra options and choices to make. Do you want to make Safety Park® with huge hand-rails, safety glass and docile herbivores or truly rake it in with three huge carnivores that may, or may not, eat at least one visitor every season? Both are viable options in the game.
Though not a necessary expansion to your Dinosaur Island experience, can you really call it a Dinosaur Island if it doesn’t have an Elasmosaurus and the Clever Grill? No, exactly, go Liquid forthwith!