- Boardgames are a great way to spend time with friends and/or family
- Dinosaurs are cool
- Jurassic Park was an amazing movie and ahead of its time (watch the Netflix show on it if you do not believe me)
So, regardless of point #3, dinosaur board games should be a slam dunk, right? Apparently, Pandasaurus Games, publisher of Dinosaur World, believes so as this is their fifth dinosaur-themed game. Dinosaur Island, the most similar to Dinosaur World of the bunch, funded on Kickstarter in 2017 and was a success. I was also one of its backers.
How does the recently released Dinosaur World stack up to its cousin? Is it worth getting if you already own Dinosaur Island? Hopefully, my review will help you decide.
Dinosaur World is a worker placement, tile placement dinosaur theme park building game four two to four players. Games can take between 60 to 120 minutes, with higher player counts taking longer until all involved have had experience with the game.
The game lasts five rounds, with each round consisting of five phases:
- Hire Workers – players draft a card representing their available workers for the round
- Public Actions – players take turns using placing workers to select tiles for their park or DNA dice for their dinosaurs. Unused workers are used in the next phase.
- Private Actions – players simultaneously place their workers in their park for actions and resources. Unused workers carry over to the next phase.
- Jeeple Tour – Plan your Jeeple’s route to score the most excitement and/or most potential tourist deaths
- Income/Cleanup – cleanup the round, check to see if anyone dies due to overall lack of security and prepare for the next round
Once all five rounds are completed, final scores are tallied based on points earned during the game plus extra points for money on hand at the end, minus points for the “much more frequently than you would like” deaths at your park. The player with the most points is the winner and grand champion of dinosaur theme parks!
Dinosaur World centers more on the planning and building of a dinosaur theme park. For me, this was a great theme to focus on and added to my enjoyment of the game. But it was not my favorite mechanism (I’ll get back to this…)
My favorite mechanism was the worker placement. There are 5 types of workers—Seasonal Hire, Administrator, Park Ranger, Scientist and Security Worker, the last four of which provide a bonus if assigned to a job related to their specialty. For example, Scientists generate bonus DNA when Gathering DNA. I loved the worker placement for two reasons:
- The workers are drafted from a set of cards each turn. Each card is made up of 9 workers—4 are Seasonal Hires and the other 5 are made up of specialist workers. The challenge is figuring out when you absolutely need a specialist vs. when a season hire will make do, sort of like deciding when you need Hulk Hogan as a security guard vs. me.
- Worker placement occurs over three phases. Public Actions (grabbing dinosaur DNA or constructing attractions for your park) is the most similar to other worker placement games where everyone is competing for spaces; however, every worker utilized in this phase cannot help you during your Private or Jeeple Tour phases. During those phases, you are trying to figure out how to best improve your park and Jeeple Tour. Oh, and you cannot carry over unused workers to future rounds. This balance of when to use your workers is surprisingly stressful (in a fun way).
Another area where the game shines is the construction of your park. There are 20 different types of buildings/attractions to build, not including the dinosaur paddocks. This is where park planning comes into effect. When you do your Jeeple Tour, it can only visit a limited number of tiles. It also cannot skip empty/unmanned tiles. So, do you build your park to immediately start scoring excitement (which leads to more money) on easier, less thrilling dinosaurs (herbivores, obviously)? Or do you save up and start inviting guests in year two to see your more exciting, more (DNA) costly carnivores? This, combined with blending security buildings, casinos and roller coasters amongst the dinosaur paddocks will help round out your Jeeple Tour.
Ahhhh, the Jeeple Tour. It is probably the mechanism that best differentiates Dinosaur World from other games. Unfortunately, it has its plusses and minuses. On the plus side, better park planning will lead to better, more profitable Jeeple Tours, as does investing in your Jeeple (how many times can I say that before it gets annoying?) so that it can visit more tiles and score more bonuses. But herein lies the problem. If you get a REALLY efficient tour (buildings/attractions synergize with high scoring dinosaur paddocks and are efficiently placed on a route), you have little reason to not run that same tour each year, especially near the end of the game. Planning the park is REALLY fun. Running the same tour for the last three turns is not.
On the minus side, there are the boredom markers. See, the designers tried to address this problem by adding boredom tokens which are placed on a tile when a Jeeple Tour passes through it. There are two issues with this: 1) The boredom tokens are tiny. And double-sided. And have to be adjusted every time the Jeeple comes through. This is almost a bigger deterrent than 2) the boredom tiles, especially on dinosaur paddocks, are not very effective. There are workarounds, such as adding more dinosaurs to the paddock or paying excitement. I really wish there was a more efficient way to run the Jeeple Tour as, in concept, it is way more fun than it is in reality, especially when you repeat visit the same tiles for maximum scoring.
My only two other issues, which are both player count specific, is that at three or four players, the game can overstay its welcome, especially if you have AP prone players. In addition, anything beyond two players and the game is really a table hog. I enjoyed the game the most with at players.
I liked Dinosaur World. I definitely prefer it to Dinosaur Island. The randomness of the hooligans has been removed (replaced with the randomness of dice at dinosaur exhibits, but I preferred this mechanic) and the park building aspect was placed center stage, a theme that has more relevance to me. Building the parks is very enjoyable, as are the decisions of when and how to use your workers. I only wish the Jeeple Tour was a bit more robust. Overall, I recommend this game, especially if dinosaurs or theme parks are your thing!
(If you are wondering, Dinogenics is my favorite dinosaur game. While Dinosaur World’s park building is more thematic, I prefer Dinogenics’ gameplay and game length. If you were NOT wondering… well, I guess it is too late. Sorry. 😊 )
Final Score: 3.5 Stars – In my opinion, the second best dinosaur boardgame available
• Those stupid boredom markers!
• Jeeple Tour can get repetitive, especially mid to late game
• Can overstay its welcome at higher player counts
• Table hog beyond two players