Basic details: 2-5 players; 15 minutes; competitive
Dates played: August 15 and September 26, 2020
Gist of the game: You are designing a dinosaur zoo of sorts, and want to place your dinos as advantageously as possible, taking advantage of pairs, one-of-a-kind attractions, and paddocks that have as many similar or dissimilar dinos as possible. The game occurs across 3 rounds (4 rounds in a 2-player game). Players draw a batch of 6 dinos from a blind bag. The current player rolls a die to determine the placement condition for the other players (e.g., on a particular section of the board, in an empty paddock, in a paddock without a T-Rex), and everyone places the dino of their choice on the board and then passes their remaining dinos to the next player (in a 2-player game, each player selects an additional dino to discard before passing them. In a 2-player game, each player plays from some variation of their starting hand twice – on the first and last turns of the round). At the end of the game, the player with the highest score wins.
Color commentary: This is a quick (filler, as the gaming parlance seems to be), fun game, and the differently-shaped dino meeples are a cute touch. (M here: filler games get a bad wrap. The point of a game is to be fun, not long.) Playing a 2-player game may open up more strategies for attempted thwarting than a mutliplayer game would because of the discard choices each player gets to make. I like the limitations placed by the die, but also that putting a dino in the stream on the board is an option so that you do get to place a dino on the board every turn even if you can’t meet any of the placement conditions and earn at least one point for that dino (usually a dinosaur can be strategically placed to earn significantly more than a single point). There is also an alternative board that we haven’t played with yet, but this opens up more potential variability beyond the vagaries of the dinos you end up with in hand each round. Because it’s such a short game, you can also play several rounds in a fairly short period of time and feel like you got your time’s worth — it doesn’t really slog at any point unless someone takes a long time to make a placement decision. This would be a good game if you don’t have a lot of time or if you need something fun but not especially deep or tactical to satisfy an itch to play.
Thoughts from M: This is a really fun game. As with so many we play, I think a good memory would be helpful so you could keep track of what dinos remain as options at any given time to help you plan a longer-term strategy for placement (counterthought from Petra: it is becoming increasingly clear we can never got to Vegas). Also, although having a pen of all the same dinosaur is more valuable than having a pen of only different dinosaurs, it’s always been the case for me that it’s easier to accrue more different dinosaurs than the same dinosaur (possibly because of Petra’s conniving thwarting can only discard so many dinosaurs, usually leaving me with more options than she limited). And the meeples are great!