Gods Love Dinosaurs, and I love dinosaurs too, so I was really excited to get Pandasaurus’ new dino-themed game to the table.
And on the Eighth Day, there will be Dinosaurs.
In Gods Love Dinosaurs you, a God, are tasked with creating a well-functioning ecosystem in which your Dinosaurs can thrive, lay eggs and hatch...well, more dinosaurs.
The aim of the game is pretty straightforward: gain the most points by having the most dinosaurs/dinosaur eggs at the end of the game. Simples.
But those fearsome, roaring dino-cuties that you just love? They need feeding. And so does their food. So you better make sure all of the creatures in the hierarchy are surviving and better still, thriving if you want to claw your way to victory.
Let’s Get Creating
Setting up the game first requires you to organise the double hex tiles according to player count. Each tile used for games with more than three players has a small 3+ (or 4+/5+) on the tile. Once you’ve got the correct tiles for your player count, you need to flip them all over and arrange them into their stacks, either A, B, C or D. After that, they need a quick shuffle and then to be placed face down into four stacks, A to D.
The board then needs to be filled, starting with the tiles in stack A. You only use stack B and so on once the previous stack is completely empty.
Pop your meeples within easy reach of everybody, grab your starting hex tiles, nest, a starting dinosaur, 3 of their eggs and one of each Prey meeple and you’re ready to go!
Set-up is a little time-consuming the first go around as organising the tiles is important for balance, but the insert is great for organising the tiles as they return to the box, so future plays should be much easier to get to the table.
Who Runs the World?
There it is, your beautiful, fragile, baby ecosystem. It’s cute and all, but you’re gonna need some Dinos if you want to win. So let’s grow that world!
On your turn, you’ll get to choose a tile from the board to add to your ecosystem. The tiles have 3 main terrain types: Forest, Lake and Field. Each of those terrains is a habitat for one of the three prey animals. It doesn’t matter where you place your terrain tile so long as it connects to the rest of your ecosystem.
If you choose a tile with an animal, you place a meeple of that animal when the tile joins your ecosystem.
Prey are confined to their preferred terrain, but Predators (Tigers and Eagles) can use all terrain types save Mountains which are solely for Dinosaurs.
Once a column of tiles on the main board is empty, the animal on the bottom of that column activates! If it’s a Prey animal, that simply means you gain one additional animal of that type, providing you can place it on adjacent terrain. However, if it’s a Predator, it’s going to need to eat. And it’ll need to eat one of your Prey animals. And if that Predator is also a Dinosaur?! Well, a Dinosaur can eat Prey to survive, but it’ll be better for you if they eat Predators, because once they do they’ll lay an egg which can be used for scoring at the end of the game or to hatch a brand new Dinosaur, for more eating and more hatching and...you get the drift!
What makes Gods Love Dinosaurs such a puzzly, interesting game to play is the way in which the Predators and Dinosaurs must move in order to consume prey.
The Tigers may move up to 2 places in any direction.
The Eagles may move up to 3 places in one single direction.
The Dinosaurs may move up to 5 places in any direction but must land on a Mountain tile.
When the Predators move through tiles, they eat everything in their path, so if you’re not careful they might consume your whole population of Prey, which means starvation might not be far away!
You’ll also need to think ahead for activating animals, you don’t want to activate the Tiger’s if they’re out of reach of their prey!
These restrictions make for dynamic gameplay, and there’s always the chance your opponents may inadvertently (or intentionally) scupper your plans. You need to have an ever-evolving plan to stay on top, but hey, nobody said being a God would be easy!
What a Wonderful World
Opening the box of Gods Love Dinosaurs is a delight. The tiles are beautiful, the various meeples plentiful, and everything has a very high-quality feel. As previously mentioned, the insert is of high quality. I love an insert where everything has its proper place, the tiles can even be organised by higher player count tiles and standard tiles. The only things that don’t have a perfect slot to sit in are the starting hex tiles, but that’s really a tiny flaw that will go unnoticed.
Gods Love Dinosaurs had me hooked the first time I saw it and, on this occasion, the game really lives up to the expectations.
I was expecting an enjoyable, thematic game with strategy at its heart and it certainly didn’t disappoint. In fact, this game plays deeper than you might initially imagine. Due to the whimsical title, the rich colour palette and the hordes of cute meeples, I had thought this game might be a little gimmicky. A case of style over substance. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. The ever-changing decisions you're faced with pose ongoing challenges, which mean you have to think on your feet, adapt quickly and be resourceful.
If you enjoy building/designing a world to work for you using tile placement, then definitely give this a go! If you’re not sure whether abstract strategy and tile placement are quite your thing, why not give Legendary Forests a go? Its drafting options are limited and it plays in a much shorter time. And if tricky puzzles are right up your alley, Calico is another great game that’ll surely scratch that itch!