Disclaimer: Don’t read if you are easily upset by dinosaur puns or Jurassic Park references!
Why stick with a Tyrannosaurus Rex when you could have an Indominus rex? Superior, faster and more exciting, but can the same be said for Duelosaur Island compared to its ROAR-some ancestor Dinosaur Island.
Does Duelosaur Island (designed by Ian Moss) make Dinosaur Island obsolete, should it be encased in amber and cast aside like a fossil?………. Ok, ok I’m done.
Duelosaur Island Gameplay
If you have already played Dinosaur Island the gameplay of Duelosaur Island will be very familiar to you and easily transferable. As you would expect, Duelosaur includes a lot of the mechanics of the original, as well as a more streamlined turn structure.
Each round consists of four phases; Income, Draft, Build and Visitors. You determine the game length by playing to a set number of points 25(short), 35(medium) or 45(long).
During your income phase, you each take your basic income of three coins. This increases for every gold mark reached on the excitement level track (+2 coins) and then for each food icon that has been built in your park (+1 coin).
Your park is built up with the duel use cards that are acquired mainly through the income phase. In turn order, cards are taken from the lineup or the top of the deck. The first player will roll five dice and place them in any order next to a bonus token, three specialist cards are drawn of which two are put on the board and the third is discarded.
Starting with the second player dice/cards are drafted along with their included bonuses. These resources are taken immediately by adjusting your DNA levels on your player board. The remaning die or card will set the threat level for that round.
Using the accumulated resources, DNA/Coins are used to create dinosaurs or build attractions in your park. Dinosaurs will gain you excitement points, which will increase your park’s threat level, I mean what's a decent dinosaur park if a person doesn't get eaten now and again. Fear not, my Mesozoic mates you can beef up your security, providing you have the coin to do so If not you will lose visitors which you need in order to win the game. Sad Times!
You will gain points on the visitor's track based on your park’s excitement level, whoever is furthest behind on the visitor's track will get first dibs on the PR bonuses. Any bonus can be chosen providing it is to the left of the PR marker. The second player can then take a bonus, it has to be to the left of the previous player's selection, potentially leaving the second player with no bonus.
Cards, temporary threat level, and dice are reset. Players then will discard down to three cards in hand and the PR marker is moved forward one space. First player is then passed in order for another round to begin. The game ends when one player reaches/exceeds the number of points required for the game length being played.
Final Thoughts on Duelosaur Island
At this point there are a few questions people will be asking:
- Which is the better game between Dinosaur Island and Duelosaur Island?
- If you have one do you need the other?
- Which is the best game for me?
Most of these questions boil down to a couple of things, and that is player count. If you only play two-player games, like with a spouse or partner, then I would say Duel is the better game. It’s streamlined, refined and more focused on player interaction. The whole game felt de-cluttered by comparison and less overwhelming, especially for a first-time player or even someone new to gaming, this is something to bear in mind.
If you want a game for more than two players then you've kind of answered your own question, but that's not to say that these two can’t coexist in your game collection.
Dinosaur Island is richer in strategy and choices, but Duelosaur Island is far from lacking in this area, with ample decisions of its own that felt to impact the other player more than those present in the original.
Two elements really stood out for me in Duel;
The cards, not only do they give you a choice between dinosaurs or attractions, but they allow you to convert basic DNA to Advanced DNA or vice versa by way of discarding them. Making the cards a useful commodity in their own right.
The second is the incorporation of the “I split you choose” mechanic in the drafting phase. Deciding which dice to go alongside the bonuses was by far my favourite choice to make. It’s this choice where the majority of the player interaction takes place and the one where it heavily influences how each players strategy unfolds.
I really enjoyed Duelosaur Island. It gave me the theme, gameplay and visual explosion of Dinosaur Island in a much more accessible clean design that doesn’t compromise too much on choice and strategy.