If I had to choose the favorite game type my kids prefer, then it would be dexterity games. From Terror in Meeple City, Ice Cool, Riff Raff, or PitchCar to name a few, they love playing these games that challenge their reflexes and coordination. What keeps my kids coming back to dexterity games is that they have more success than other game types. And the victory is so much sweeter when it’s over mom and dad.
This brings us to today’s review, Dino Party from Ankama. In this game, players throw dino meeples onto the board to make pairs and increase their number of dinos to their hand. Dino Party is a family friendly dexterity game that plays best with 4 and plays in about 20 minutes.
Each player starts with 5 unique Plodocuses, or dinos meeples. These five dinos are considered in the player’s hand and remaining 5 are the player’s reserve.
The sequence of play is as follow:
1. Throw: Each player can throw one or all of their dinos onto the board, keeping their hand outside the mountain boarder.
2. 1st wave of recovery: After all dinos are thrown, use the following rules:
a. Any dinos in the ocean space go to the player’s reserve.
b. Any dino pairs in the plains or jungle go back to the player’s hand with +1 dino from their reserve.
c. Any dino pairs in the Magical Caves go back to the player’s hand with +2 dinos from their reserve.
d. Any dino pairs in the Swamps go back to the player’s hand.
3. 2nd wave of recovery: All single dinos are returned to the player’s hand unless they are in the Jungle and those dino remain on the game board.
4. End of an Era: Two parts – Geographical Upheaval and Discovery:
The player with the fewest dinos in their hand controls the Geographical Upheaval phase:
a. Two Poisonous Air Cards are drawn (these cards affect player throws). One card is selected for all players and the second for only one player. These cards stack and remain in play until the end of the game.
b. Rising Sea Levels: One of three of the main board section is turned to the backside. Any dinos on that board are placed in that player’s reserve.
c. Natural Catastrophe: One of three of the small board sections is turned to the backside. Any dinos on that board are placed in that player’s reserve.
Discovery: All players gain +2 dinos to their hand.
The sequence repeats until you reach the 4th Era. After the final Discovery step the player with the most dinos in their hand wins and any players who tie share the victory.
I have to admit upfront that I was not a big Dino Party fan, but my kids were sold after the first play so it’s not leaving our game collection anytime soon. Dino Party is a family game, so I polled them for why they enjoyed it so much. I will go with their pros and cons and leave mine for last. My kids came up with two big reasons why they liked it.
First, if you’re the player with the fewest Dino’s you get full control of Geographical Upheaval phases and a sense of control for a round. My kids liked that the person with the fewest dinos was able to do other tasks and be a part of the game. They can possibly foil other players by giving them Poisonous Air cards or flipping the main or small game boards and sending dinos to player reserves. In most games, the player in last place sort of wallows and can feel left out but Dino Party gets that player involved.
The second is that you can be behind the whole game but as long as you have the most dinos at the end of the 4th Era, that’s all that matters. It’s rather ironic that you can lead each Era but if you do poorly in the 4th, all previous Era success does not matter. It baffles me a bit that my kids like this aspect but they told me simply that “all players can win in the end.” In any case, my kids like it for that fact.
The only thing my son really didn’t like was that the rules refer to the dinosaur meeples as Plodocuses. This game rules comes with multiple languages and I wonder if something was lost in translation. As my son stated simply, “why not just call them dinos, the game is called Dino Party?” His logic was sound and so we did.
My major issue with the game, and other adults might agree, is that it was too random and lacks any depth, even with the map flipping or Poisonous Air Cards. You throw and wherever your Dino lands or if it’s moved by another player’s Dino it stays where it is. I know most readers are probably thinking most dexterity games aren’t usually thinkers, but there’s just too much out of your control with this one to put much thought into. Maybe I should be like my kids and save my brain power for something else, have fun, and let the dinos fall where they may.
Dino Party is a family friendly dexterity game that keeps all players involved. The game is easy to learn and will be quick to the table. My kids both love that any player from last to first can win in the end and that there could be multiple winners. The components are excellent and will appeal to gamers of all ages.
While Dino Party might seem random and lack depth for adults, your kids on the other hand will probably get a kick out of it. If you’re looking for a new dexterity game for your family to play jump online and get yourself a copy of Dino Party.
Final Score: 3.0 Stars – A family friendly dexterity game that’s fun for all ages, but adults might tire of the randomness and lack of depth.
• Easy to learn
• Player in last place stays engaged
• Any player can win in the end
• Very random for adults
• Not enough depth for adults