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Subject: Reroll: Dinosaur Island rss

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Robb Rouse

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Its time to welcome you tooooooo........your reroll. This time around we are rerolling Dinosaur Island. What are your thoughts on this game? Remember if you leave comments also leave your rating! I imagine lots of people will have thoughts on this one. As usual I will pick a couple to read on air.

Poll
1. Have you played Dinosaur Island?
yes
no, but want to.
no, but would try if someone brought it out to try.
no and no desire to.
2. What is your BPPP rating of Dinosaur Island.
6 - Game Collection Essential.
5
4
3 - Average.
2
1
0 - The Worst.
      163 answers
Poll created by rookenoble

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Kristopher Hickman
United States
St. Joseph
Michigan
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As a backer of the original kickstarter, Dinosaur Island had me drawn in immediately with Kwanchai Moriya's artwork, the incredible theme and the pedigree of designers Jonathan Gilmour and Brian Lewis. My expectations were set incredibly high for this game.

Looking back at this game with 20/20 hindsight, here's my pros and cons of Dinosaur Island.

Pros: From my interpretation, Dinosaur Island appeared to be a medium-heavy worker placement game with rich theme implementation. Instead, what I got was a medium-light game with bunches upon bunches of worker placement. This game was never purchased for use as a gateway game, but I've seen success doing just that because of the bright colors and engaging theme. Dinosaur Island's table presence is undeniable and every time we visit a local brewery while we play this game, people inevitably come up asking questions. Non-gamers and casual gamers alike are able to push through the lengthy explanation and more complex mechanisms because the theme and colors both drive and compel them to learn and play a game that fulfills a dream 20+ years in the making, having your own dinosaur theme park.

Cons: Replayability. Despite variable end game scoring, objectives that change game length, plot twists, dinosaurs, and the chance of the rolled DNA dice, Dinosaur Island can begin to feel very same-y after only a handful of plays. Additionally, one gripe is that this game is not about making a super efficient and profitable dinosaur theme park. Instead, the winner is nearly always determined by who is able to race the quickest to complete as many objectives as they can. This sometimes feels like it sells the whole experience because the narrative and the game-end don't quite match up.

Note: I backed and own the Totally Liquid Expansion. This adds a fifth player (HUGE for my group) in addition to several modular expansions that provide other scoring opportunities. Having played with this expansion 4-5 times, I definitely want to play with everything thrown in as it provides more room for exploration, but I am not convinced that it fixes my concerns with the strategy of the game.

Summary:
Dinosaur Island is one of those games with an attractive enough theme and art that it can help carry less experienced gamers to the table and have a positive experience. It has a moderate play length and looks great on the table. The game is a gift to those players that love worker placement as this game has it in bunches. There are concerns that after many plays, the strategy will have revealed itself and trying to win in alternative ways will not pay off. The expansion adds more content without much in the way of rules, but the game retains its faults.

Base game is a solid 4, a good game with a wide appeal. But throw in the expansion and the 5th player and other modules make it boost up to a low 5. Great game.
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Joe Pilkus
United States
South Riding
Virginia
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Clever mechanics but has a bit too much going-on for my taste. Now, admittedly, it needs all of the phases to truly pull-off this game, given the fact that you need the DNA, Security, Hiring Employees, Building Pens, Creating Dinosaurs, Opening the Gates to the Public, etc. But, for me it's not elegant, though it does get the job done.

It's not a title I would ever recommend but would certainly play if offered. Solid Tier III game for me and a "4" rating as it's doing something quite clever in the game space.

Tier I: Must Own ~ Essential Part of the Professor's Collection (5%)
Tier II: Must Play ~ Will always offer/accept to play this title (10%)
Tier III: Will Play ~ Accept any offer to play this title (15%)
Tier IV: Begrudgingly Play ~ no other title(s) available (20%)
Tier V: Absolutely NO interest in playing this title, even if offered (50%)
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Ben Alvarez
United States
Sellersville
Pennsylvania
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I want this game to be a 5 or 6 because of the theme and quality of the components but can't rate it over a 4. This is despite the investment as an original Kickstarter. It's definitely middle-weight given the length of rules and number of mechanics but it is accessible to most new hobby gamers. What keeps it from being top tier are two disappointments: (1) it's a race to the objectives instead of a focus on building an efficient dinosaur park, and (2) who goes first is easy to manipulate and very important. I understand that the expansion gives an alternative (bidding?) which I still need to research to see if it improves the game. But that said, I'm not going to invest in an expansion if I don't love love love the base game. I just like it a lot and would gladly play it.
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Dave Turner
United States
Glen Allen
Virginia
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I was so excited about this game when it came out. All of those bright colors, fun art, and DINOSAURS!!!!! Awesome, I've always wanted to build a dinosaur park. It's gonna have exhibits, and food stands, and rides. I grew up with the original Jurassic Park. This game looks like it was made for my demographic.

What I got was a race for a bunch of random objectives. Instead of building an awesome roller coaster with dinosaurs, I find myself trying to have 12 DNA in cold storage, or creating 2 dinosaurs in a round. It's a decent game, but not what I was wanting.

I'll give it a 4. I see what they were doing, and I admire it, but in the end it isn't for me. I much preferred Dinogenics.
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Graham Hall
Australia
Croydon
NSW
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I rate a 4. Random thoughts:

It is fun to play, with lots of different and interesting decisions.

The luck of the hooligan bag adds some fun tension but at times feels a bit too random and swingy.

While there are different strategies, it can feel a little samey, so not a game that we pull out all that often.

The art and bright colours really appeal to me and make the game come alive on the table.

Our games often turn into a race for the objectives, with just about everyone being ready to claim them on the same (last) turn.
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Jimmy Smith
United States
Tampa
Florida
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I feel like I already played this game on my computer in the 90's. Dino Park Tycoon??? It has never interested me.
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C&H Schmidt
Germany
Heidelberg
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I haven't played, but I'm not particularly interested either -- based on what I have seen and heard in reviews, the game is not that strong mechanically.
And to me the theme itself -- which I think is maybe why this game has so much appeal to many people -- holds little appeal.

(Although I find Welcome to Dino World, a Roll&Write with a very similar theme, awesome.)
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Camden Yanaga
United States
California
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I played my friend's kickstarter copy, and though I love the graphic design, I was let down by what felt to me like mediocre gameplay. I rated it a 3.

The game felt very linear, and even the minor engine building aspects were unsatisfying given that you're being compared to the other players every round. No matter how much you can see your park develop, you also see yourself falling further and further behind as the game goes on, without possessing the agency to do something about it. I feel it could have benefited from either more catch-up mechanics, or more of a multiplayer solitaire structure, where comparison to the other players is not so integral to the experience.

Ultimately I felt it let down the thematics. I wanted to feel like I was back in elementary school playing DinoPark Tycoon on the computer, but I felt more like I was just doing a bunch of dry euro resource conversions with some cool 90s artwork pasted on. It was a fine game, but I don't feel the desire to ever play it again. I will note that I have also played the 2 player version Duelsaur Island, and while I felt that this game was more refined, it also seemed to suffer from the linear gameplay and runaway leader problem.
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Steven Sites
United States
Fredericksburg
Virginia
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My brother got a copy of the all in version of the game with the most recent expansion and I got a play in with him recently. The theme was what had me really excited to play the game as Jurassic Park was one of my favorite movies as I was growing up. The game play however did not match the hype. The mechanics are easy enough and the game gives you some interesting choices but there are plenty of other worker placement games that do it better and with less randomness. I also feel like the game makes an attempt at adding complexity by just throwing more stuff in the box on top of that there are 100 plus dino meeples and trying to set up the meeples by type when they are all the same color is a bear. The game was decent but I want my Euro's to be more stream lined and less dependent randomness that you are unable to mitigate. I'd play it again but not one I need in my collection. I give it a BPPP rating of a 4.
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Robb Rouse

Virginia
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will be pulling these soon!
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Christopher Hayashida
United States
Los Angeles
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I love this game. The dinomeeples in the Kickstarter version are wonderful, and they make the game.

That being said, the game is kinda clunky. The game itself is simple enough that it can be a gateway or gateway-plus game, but there are so many mechanisms that it takes a while to explain the game. My friends' eyes were as wide as dinner plates when she first saw all the components dumped out on the table.

The endgame goals server to vary the game, but when we've played "short" game with four players, everyone seems to end up getting the same milestones, with little separating the players. I think that hand-picked goals may lead to a better experience, but I don't know which ones to pick yet.

We've only played "short" games, but in those games, the retail booths seem to overpower creating more dinosaurs. It's a little disheartening to have someone win with one or two dinosaurs and a really profitable nacho stand.

I also have the expansion, but have yet to add some of the other modules. So far, we've just used the extra dinomeeples and the updated rules for the mix of endgame goals.

I still love this game, and I want to play it more, but I still have the feeling that it could have used a little more development. It won't leave my collection, but it's also not my first choice to bring to the table when I have two hours to play something.

I rated it 4 pegs.
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Jennifer Stearns
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I really enjoy this game. I like solving the puzzle of how to fulfill the various objectives. I wasn't necessarily looking for a board game version of Roller Coaster or Zoo Tycoon, so the fact that you are more focused on goals than building a park doesn't bother me.

I really like the new expansion options with the Executive Meeples and additional park structures. The hidden end goal VIP cards are a nice touch too. I have not tried Blue Prints yet, but it does look fun.

Solid game, still sees a lot of plays, and my group has fun with it. I give it 5/6 pegs!
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Jose Smith
United States
Pasadena
Maryland
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I really enjoy the puzzle of this game, because you need to look at what you want to accomplish this turn, then work your way back and be prepared to completely shift if each step along the way does not go according to plan.

The down side of the game is that it is a bear to teach. You have to play one round just to get a good idea of how to plan the game. This means that the game teach is going to be an hour.

I give this a solid 5 peg, though the way the expansion distribution and production was handled almost brought this to a 4.
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Tyler Olsen
United States
Portland
Oregon
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I was an original kickstarter backer of this game and had high expectations after receiving my copy due to the praise it received from various reviewers upon release.

My first game was with 2 players using the medium length goals. I was very underwhelmed after the initial play. I tried it with 3 and 4 in the coming months, but each time my experience was marred by what could have been and not what actually was.

My main gripes come down to a few things:

* The dinosaurs need more differentiation and more personality. The most fun part of building a dinosaur park is the cool factor which comes with different species of dinosaurs. They supposedly erred on the side of simplicity to appeal to a wider market upon launch, but I feel that was a missed opportunity.

*The rotating goals are the entire driving force behind the game. In other games, this goal driven gameplay works (Kingdom Builder comes to mind). However, the goals here feel out of place with the larger game. Games end too quickly (in game round timer vs clock timer) because people need to focus on the goals and only the goals. The race aspect of these also bug me because they only score for one person unless finished at the same time. Yokohama does a better job of giving people goals which everyone can score, but the first person gets slightly more.

*The segmented round structure makes everything feel very bland from round to round. Nothing ever seems to flow (Dominant Species does a great job of chopping up gameplay like DI, but the resolution of actions flows much better because you see sepcies ebband flow in power like the natural world.). You end up doing the same thing over and over again. There is no buildup or crescendo. The feeling of saving up a bunch of DNA to build that 1 big carnivore does not translate as it should. Shipyard is a game I love that gives players that feeling of building up for that awesome moment (in this case a test voyage with all your attachment and crew) and then starting over again.

*The hooligans are not just annoying, they are downright dumb from a design perspective. There is no rational reason for their existence, other than to not make the excitement to victory point ratio a guaranteed 1:1. To that I say: Who cares? Why is it so bad that your excitement is so deterministic? I think a better option would have been to have more tiles which helped you do something with visitors besides just get points (tiles along the lines of the restaurants). Wouldn't it be more interesting to assign your visitors to different areas to get benefits to certain things? If the food buildings give you money, the other attractions could have given you something else. The decision just reeks of lazy game design. I've personally seen people lose games because they drew 2 more hooligans in the last round than somebody else and that is a terrible way to lose after a 3 hour game. If they never existed, nobody would have complained to Pandasaurus that the way to fix excitement at the end of each round was to pull random dudes out of a bag. No way.

*The first player problem. Next to Power Grid, this has one of the worst first player meta problems that I can think of. By that, I mean the first player is determined by the person doing the 'worst.' Players are intentionally incentivized to not do as well as they could in order to maintain a better place in the turn order. In turn, turn order plays too big a factor in the game. A player could be knocked out of ever buying that carnivore/herbivore they really want or that overpowered specialist which just came out or that sweet amber die which gives them the perfect advanced DNA all because they were trying to have a cool dinosaur park with lots of excitement. Players constantly need to throttle the awesomeness of their park, so they don't get hosed out of things they need. The designers call it a catch-up mechanic, I call it being counter-intuitive to the entire thrust of the game. In Flamme Rouge, the theme and quick gameplay support this sort of play in which you don't want to be the leader. In Dinosaur Island, it feels out of place and frustrating.

I had too many issues with the gameplay and graphic design (I actually quite enjoyed the throwback, ostentatious art design) to warrant playing it further or keeping it in my collection. There are better medium weight games which don't drag like this one as well as heavy weight games which reward skillful play that lead to great in-game moments.

I rate it a 1.
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Robb Rouse

Virginia
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got them thanks
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