Before we begin, we would like to make it clear that both Dom & Andy are huge Jurassic Park fans. We loved the original film, most of the follow-ups have been enjoyable too. The PS1 game was actually the moment we both decided gaming was going to be a big part of our lives.
That said, we have been on the lookout for a brilliant Jurassic Park themed boardgame & Jurassic World: The Boardgame currently sits proudly at the top of our list so far. For our review of Jurassic Park: Danger! see here.
Jurassic World is a cooperative, dice-based worker placement style game for 2–6 players, but we feel works best with 4-5. The game is themed around the first Jurassic World movie (the one where Chris Pratt & Bryce Dallas Howard’s characters are not arrested at the end, despite being responsible for most of the deaths in the movie) and places you in the control room to manage and develop the park.
To win Jurassic World, players must work together to create an entertaining park, filled with a variety of dinosaurs whilst balancing the danger level because if it gets too scary, the team loses the park, and probably some guests…
Control Room Tutorial: How To Manage A Dinosaur Theme Park
Once the board has been set up, Jurassic World begins with each player either choosing a character or being given one at random. Each character has their own strengths & weaknesses, making them better suited to certain roles in the park. The playable characters are:
- The Director: Mr Moneybags has an advantage on all finance-related tasks
- The Researcher: Excellent at turning DNA into Dinosaurs
- The Engineer: They are the go-to for constructing buildings within your park
- The Park Ranger: The person you want in charge when moving or capturing dinosaurs
- The Mascot: When it comes to raising your park’s entertainment level, this is “the guy”
- The Dino Expert: The jack-of-all trades, no stand-out weaknesses makes them a reliable team member
Although each of the characters brings their own speciality, the gameplay mechanics are the same for everyone, making Jurassic World an easy game for the groups to learn. Every player gets one action per turn; they can choose to buy more buildings, dig up fossils, purchase upgrades for themselves, research new dinosaurs or move dinosaurs into paddocks, hopefully, whilst keeping all their fingers.
When measuring if a player is successful in their chosen task, Jurassic World is all about the dice. Rolling is how all actions are completed; the character sheets show the number of dice rolled by each character to attempt a task.
Tasks are divided into 6 different categories: Research, Building, Entertainment, Protection & Finance. All actions follow a set pattern, roll against a predetermined number (shown either on the board or a card) and if you roll equal to or higher than that number, you are successful! Hammond would be proud!
Let’s say The Director’s character wants to set up a new building in the park for their action. They will need to roll “finance” with a result of 6 or more and because The Director can roll 3 dice for finance, they stand a good chance of succeeding.
If they make the roll, they will draw the top card from the building deck and reveal it to the table. The top left corner of the card will show the skill roll required to build this. For this example, let’s say the player finds the T-Rex Kingdom. This building requires the player to roll equal to or above 7 in the Building skill, which could be a problem as Building is the weakness of the director.
This means they only have 1 dice to roll, so normally they cannot get above 6. However, as The Director has the Buildings Craftmanship upgrade card, they have +2 to any Building roll. As The Director rolled a 5, they are able to successfully place the T-Rex Kingdom in the park. And that is the action completed for The Director player this round.
“We Have An Asset Out Of Containment…”
As with all games, Jurassic World does have some stumbling blocks, but nothing close to deal-breaking for us. The biggest of these minor issues is every gamer’s old nemesis, Lady Luck. Jurassic World’s dice system is very easy to learn (quite literally, children can learn it in minutes) but is also 100% reliant on lucky dice rolls.
This draws an unfortunate comparison to Monopoly; in that you can have the best plan in the world and get scuppered by terrible rolls. We have a first hand experience of this when Dom went five whole rounds without achieving a single goal.
“Can I get an upgrade?” “No,” says the dice. “How about a building?” “Absolutely not.” “Perhaps I can stop this Raptor from eating the guests?” “Think again Mister.” This is compounded by the fact that building and upgrade cards require two consecutive dice rolls to achieve.
Because Jurassic World is a team game, whenever one player drops the ball, it affects everyone making the luck aspect a bit frustrating as it can make the game boring for one player and annoying for everyone else.
One Action Per Turn
Each player only gets one action per turn feels a bit restrictive because if you fail your dice roll, that’s it your turn immediately ends. However, turns do come around quite quickly so this is not the end of the world. But one of our favourite games, Dead of Winter, uses a similar but superior system where you roll for a pool of action dice.
So, instead of each player rolling once to achieve an action, they could instead roll X number of dice (depending on their skill level) and every roll above a certain number would give them an action that turns. This would keep the luck element in the game whilst limiting the effects of bad rolls and therefore allowing players to plan their turn more strategically. Also, you are less likely to go five rounds without doing anything, not that we’re salty about that…
Oddly, Jurassic World might be the first cooperative game we have played that doesn’t really rely on direct teamwork. Players cannot intervene or help with other players’ actions, so you can only depend on your own skill to complete an objective. Jurassic World is like getting five people to service a car. One person changes the tyres, another the windscreen, the next gets fuel, the fourth checks the oil and the last person checks the electrics. Although they have made a working car, they have not actually done anything “together” and that is how Jurassic World’s teamwork operates, everyone working towards a common goal but expected to complete their individual assignments singlehandedly.
Compare this to other cooperative games like Pandemic or The Forbidden series where players can actively assist one another by aiding in tasks or even completing activities together. Gun to our heads, which do we prefer? The second option is because it feels more engaging but we also enjoyed the fact that your victories in this game are your own without having the share your glory!
ACU Rookie - Harry
Those familiar with our reviews will know we often like to get a first time player to give their thoughts and this time round it was our good friend Harry’s turn. Harry really appreciated how quickly he was able to understand the rules which meant he could get playing independently within a couple of rounds and start having fun. Harry enjoys the luck aspects of games, so when a dice roll went well for anyone there was always a round of cheers which made each roll feel exciting.
Dom’s final thoughts on Jurassic World: The Boardgame are that it is an excellent cooperative game that relies a bit too much on luck but has way more good points than bad. The buildings could have a secondary effect, at present once built they can only be used to improve entertainment.
But they could have universal effects, for example building the Food Kiosks could improve everyone’s Finance skills by one point. Also, weirdly, there is a QR code hidden on some of the cards, this is just an advert for other Jurassic World merchandise, only available in “Selected US Retailers”, which is odd for a UK copy of the game and just made me laugh!
Andy’s final thoughts are about how much this feels like a dinosaur lover’s game. There are 16 different dinosaur tokens and they range in size & number of teeth which makes the game varied because each beastie requires different approaches.
The variation in playable characters is interesting, but we found you basically have to have certain characters to win. For example, most starting actions are finance based, so you are not going to get far without The Director. Placing & capturing dinosaurs is much, much easier if you bring The Ranger. Even the Mascot, chief entertainment manager, is arguably a critical role.
In summary, if you are in the market for the boardgame equivalent of Jurassic World Evolution (the video game) then we strongly recommend you give Jurassic World: The Boardgame a go, and at half the price with a multiplayer aspect, your wallet will be just as happy as you are! We thoroughly enjoy playing this game and hope you will too!