Dinosaur Island is a game by designers Jon Gilmour (Dead of Winter, Wasteland Express Delivery Service) and Brian Lewis (Titans of Industry) and published by Pandasaurus Games (Machi Koro, Yedo, Wasteland Express Delivery Service) with amazing technicolor, ridiculously '90s artwork from Kwanchai Moriya and Peter Wocken.
In Dinosaur Island, players will have to collect DNA, research the DNA sequences of extinct dinosaur species, and then combine the ancient DNA in the correct sequence to bring these prehistoric creatures back to life. Dino cooking! All players will compete to build the most thrilling park each season, and then work to attract (and keep alive!) the most visitors each season that the park opens.
Do you go big and create a pack of Velociraptors? They'll definitely excite potential visitors, but you'd better make a large enough enclosure for them. And maybe hire some (read: a lot of) security. Or they WILL break out and start eating your visitors, and we all know how that ends. You could play it safe and grow a bunch of herbivores, but then you aren't going to have the most exciting park in the world (sad face). So maybe buy a roller coaster or two to attract visitors to your park the good old-fashioned way?
- Age 10+
- 1-4 players
- 60-150 minutes playing time
With the help of scientific experts, collect the DNA of ancient creatures on an entrepreneur’s mission of a lifetime. Bring profitable prehistoric beasts back from extinction and into your very own theme park! However, the challenge of cooking up dinosaurs can also create a recipe for disaster! The more dinosaurs you wrangle the riskier your mission becomes. Ignoring the security of your dinosaur park can lead to health and safety issues (trampled and eaten guests confirmed).
Created by Johnathan Gilmour and Brian Lewis, Dinosaur Island is a dream come true for dinosaur fans and park building fanatics alike. The general description of the game’s premise is enough to entice anyone. From Panadsaurus Games, publishers of hit games such as Machi Koro, expect fantastic gameplay and high quality throughout.
An initial disappointment is that Dinosaur Island is only for 1-4 players. I say this as it would be great for larger groups of gamers. However, the Totally Liquid expansion allows for a fifth player to join the fun. It also includes other cool features like marine dinosaurs.
Dinosaur Island - The Game
Dinosaur Island is full of jokes and references to Jurassic Park, which it clearly takes inspiration from. The creators are very aware of the likeness to the iconic Jurassic Park franchise. However, Dinosaur Island focuses on resource collecting, worker placement and building. Jurassic Park: Danger!, on the other hand, focuses on combat between dinosaur and human.
The game comprises of four phases. Phase One entails scientist placement and DNA dice rolling. Scientists are used to obtain DNA, research dinosaurs, and expand your lab. Alternatively, you can kick a scientist out of the lab to become an extra park worker for the day. This allows scientists to help around the park in other ways which will be visited in Phase Three.
Phase Two allows players to spend cash on an array of specialist employees and attractions to enhance their park. These assets provide various abilities and victory points. Perhaps hire the Chef to increase the success of your food attractions. Or employ the Mad Scientist to gain extra perks within your dinosaur lab.
Worker placement and further resource management occurs in Phase Three as you assign park rangers to their jobs. Upgrade security, build enclosures, and most importantly, create dinosaurs!
Finally, Phase Four, open your park! Opening your park to the public entails meeple management. Visitors will earn your park victory points but watch out for pesky hooligans. Hooligans enter your park without paying and push in front of other visitors, impeding victory points. However, security guards can be hired to keep hooligans in check.
The higher the ‘excitement level’ of your park, the more visitors you will attract. But keep in mind the level of your park’s security. If the number of guests exceeds your security level, then guests will be eaten, and victory points lost. With these various levels and resources to manage across your park the overall experience is a unique game of balancing.
The four phases of Dinosaur Island are repeated until all the objective cards are completed. Objectives vary from being the first player to create nine dinosaurs or the first player to attract 15 visitors in one turn. Players have a choice of objective cards from short, medium to long, changing the time length of the game. This added choice of game length is fantastic, as this game can range from 60-150 minutes depending on how much time you have.
Solo play in the board game industry is becoming increasingly popular. Dinosaur Island certainly meets the single player demand with a “beat your best score” route. Solo mode has all the fun mechanics and gameplay as the normal mode. When playing alone, you won’t miss out on too much of the game’s interactive fun.
Dinosaur Island contains solo objective cards, a round tracker card and an AI deck. An automated player simulates the actions of other players, such as dice picking and buying from the market. After the set number of rounds are up and all the objectives are completed or failed, the game is over. Count your victory points, compare scores with the Dinosaur Island online community, and try to beat your personal best!
The dinosaurs are pink! Not to everybody’s personal taste, but it sure makes an amusing and bright looking game. The quality of the cards, player boards, tokens and meeples is great. There are multiple player boards for the different phases of the game which are marked clearly. There is something very satisfying about each player having an individual board for various phases of the game. It elevates the experience running your very own lab and dinosaur park!
Overall, Dinosaur Island is pleasing to the eye and very sturdy. To top it all off, the incredible art style captures the game’s quirky and fun gameplay.
Final Thoughts on Dinosaur Island
There are so many fantastic elements to Dinosaur Island. From dice rolling, worker placement, to resource management and building! Dinosaur Island has something for everyone to enjoy. The game can be surprisingly long and strategic, something that isn’t common for this theme of game. There is no need to play lengthy gritty war games to have a big, multiple hour, strategy game night.
Yet, despite the in-depth strategy that can be used within Dinosaur Island, the game is still suitable for young gamers. Bright colours and dinosaurs will certainly entertain children (of course, mature adults can enjoy pink dinosaurs also). The rules and phases of Dinosaur Island are clear and not overly complicated.
It's safe to say that Dinosaur Island is a board game worth playing for all dinosaur fans, from young to veteran gamers. Dinosaur Island brings a fresh experience to the board gaming industry that we can only hope to see more of.