Stats at a glance
Publisher: Pandasaurus Games
Dinosaur World follows the well-known premise of recreating dinosaurs from DNA and housing them in entertainment parks. While these parks offer a whole new level of entertainment and awe to their visitors, should one of these behemoths cut loose, the results would be catastrophic.
Players will be in charge of managing their parks, with tasks of expanding the containment zones, maintaining security, and researching DNA to introduce new species. This turns out to be a very interesting gameplay loop and an excellent premise for a board game!
Brief Overview of Dinosaur World
Thematically, Dinosaur World couldn’t be more similar to the famous Spielberg franchise, but this works in its favor, rather than against it.
While the Jurassic Park: Danger! board game focuses on the survival narrative of the movie, Dinosaur World is all about the park/zoo development, and the theme is much stronger and pronounced because of it.
The gameplay is centered around placing workers and spending resources to expand your park, add new dinosaurs, and perform research… the classic worker-placement Euro game.
It’s a medium-weight game and can take up to two hours to complete while being playable by two to four players (solo mode is available with the Add On Pack expansion).
One more thing you should know before we dive into details is that Dinosaur World takes a lot of room on the table, so just keep that in mind. If you’re not sure whether you have room for it, there are plenty of images that show its scale on the table.
Versions & Expansions
Dinosaur World: Add-On Pack
The Add-On Pack adds 6 special building tiles, 68 dinosaur meeples with heat-transfer artwork, and most notably — cards for solo mode!
Dinosaur World: Hybrid Pack
The hybrids are new dinosaur species with spliced DNA of existing dinosaurs, like the Triceratops and T-Rex forming Tyrannaceratops. There are also new enclosures for the hybrid types, but be warned — these hybrids are valuable, but they’re also a lot more dangerous! The contents of the expansion include 6 dinosaurs with 18 color meeples, 6 park tiles, and 1 dice. Find the Hybrid Pack at Pandasaurus Games.
Dinosaur World: Ice Age Pack
The Ice Age Pack brings with it mammals from this period, which can be placed in new enclosures around your park. The pack includes 6 animals with 24 meeples, 6 park tiles, and a special ice dice.
Dinosaur World: Water Pack
With the focus often being on T-Rex and other land-faring dinosaurs, people often forget that the aquatic world was just as interesting! The Water Pack introduces 6 new dinosaurs with 18 meeples, 6 park tiles, 1 algae dice, and 24 algae tokens, which add a challenge to maintaining water enclosures.
Other Versions: Dinosaur Island
Dinosaur Island: Rawr ‘N Write
Unboxing Dinosaur World
Dinosaur World comes with the following components:
- 3 Central Island Boards
- 1 First Player Marker
- 1 Round Marker
- 1 Public Notice Board
- 4 Lab Boards
- 4 Park Boards
- 67 Park Tiles
- 3 Danger Dice
- 9 DNA Dice
- 1 DNA Dice Bag
- 30 Herbivore Meeples
- 22 Small Carnivore Meeples
- 22 Large Carnivore Meeples
- 72 Worker Meeples
- 4 Jeeples
- 10 Worker Database Cards
- 18 Objective Cards
- 54 Coin Tokens
- 40 Death Tokens
- 95 Boredom Tokens
- 52 Miscellaneous Tokens
- 40 Resource Markers
- 12 Objective Markers
My first impression of the Dinosaur World components was very positive and I’ve retained the same opinion even after playing some games.
Unless the game’s theme or story dictates it, I don’t like it when games use a brown, homogenous color palette, but Dino is as colorful as it gets! Bright and contrasting colors cover almost every component of the game, capturing the essence of an amusement part while making the info easy to follow.
The DNA boards have the double-ply/3D cardboard that prevents trackers from slipping around — a design I’d love to see in every game. The points tracker doesn’t have the 3D design, but I don’t think it’s necessary for that board.
I’ve tried to remember another example, but apart from Twilight Imperium, I don’t recall ever seeing hex tiles as big as these. The attraction, special building, dino paddock, and park entrance tiles are massive because they’re used for more than just a set piece.
During the game, you’ll be placing plastic dinosaurs, jeeps, and tokens on the tiles. Herbivores, small & large carnivores, workers, and jeeples — 150 meeples in total, all with specific shapes and color codes! Even though I prefer wood over plastic, I don’t mind these at all.
The custom dice are yet another nice touch, especially the DNA dice. There is no artwork on the cards as the game relies on tiles and meeples to convey the theme, but still, they’re sturdy and feature readable information.
How to Play Dinosaur World
I’m sure you already have a vague idea of how this game is going to work, but let’s get into a bit more detail and see what makes it work as a Dyno-park game.
Before you can start the game, you’ll need to set up the game boards and arrange the attraction, special building, and dino paddock tiles in their designated places. Three random objective cards are chosen for the game, with the rest returned to the box.
Every player gets a lab board where they’ll keep track of DNA research, as well as a park board with one welcome center tile to place in the middle spot. Next up, players either draft or receive one special building and one dino paddock tile to place adjacent to the welcome center tile for free.
With a variety of markers and trackers set in their starting positions, the game can finally begin!
The Game Flow
The goal of the game is to score the most points by developing your park in a variety of ways, while avoiding visitor deaths – or at least having fewer than your opponents!
Every round consists of 5 phases that are played in order:
1. Hire Workers – Get a set of 9 workers that is based on the worker database card. Workers come in different colors (roles) and can be used for specific tasks.
2. Public Actions – Roll DNA dice to determine what kind of DNA will be available during the round. In order, players can gather DNA or add new tiles for as long as they have workers and resources. Remember that you don’t need to spend them all in this phase!
3. Private Actions are taken simultaneously, as they don’t affect other players. With workers you’ve saved from the previous phase, you can now refine DNA to get new strands, earn coins, increase security, upgrade your jeeple, and make dinosaurs.
Making dinosaurs is the most exciting part — you get to spend the stored DNA to add a dinosaur to the appropriate paddock. Making them will grant you victory points, but also increase the threat level.
4. Jeeple Tour is like a safari, where you spend the available route tokens to drive around the park. You can activate special buildings and attractions along the way to trigger excitement which grants you some benefits. If you activate a dino paddock, you must roll a danger roll against your security to see if anyone gets hurt!
5. Income & Cleanup – Now that you’ve completed all the actions, you can remove the spent route tokens, gain coins, reset excitement, and return workers to the general supply.
Scoring & Game End
Dinosaur World is played over a series of 5 rounds, and once the 5th cleanup phase is finished, it’s time to score points!
For every 5 coins left in reserve, each player will score an additional victory point. Determine which player has the fewest death tokens. They get to discard all their tokens, while everyone else discards an equal number of tokens. Players that still have death tokens will lose VP based on a predefined scale.
With the coins and death tokens addressed, you can now tally the final scores and declare the winner! In case of a tie, leftover DNA will be used as a tiebreaker.
Your First Game of Dinosaur World
Dinosaur World takes some time to get used to, so giving you any concrete tips right now won’t do much more than add confusion. Instead, I’ll just give you a few guidelines to keep an eye on and mention some of the often-overlooked rules.
The key takeaway here is that you don’t need to spend all your workers and resources during the public actions phase — and you probably shouldn’t. Workers are needed in other phases as well, so unless you have an all-in plan, you should divide your resources to generate maximum benefits.
Having some “accidents” in your park isn’t the worst thing in the world, but you don’t want it to get out of hand. Also, you don’t want to visit the same dino paddocks multiple times in a row as that decreases the returns. Combine these two facts together to maximize the risk-reward of your visits.
When you’re doing jeeple tours, each tile can only be crossed once per round, including the park entrance. Tiles can be activated or skipped depending on your choice, but paddocks without dinos in them cannot be activated.
Pros & Cons
- Great Park-Management Experience
- Production Quality
I’ll finally say the word you’ve likely been waiting to hear throughout this review: Dinosaur World is an excellent park tycoon game. It checks almost all the boxes, from park development to visitors, upgrades, and even tours.
The intentionally large park tiles are impressive not only visually, but also as a gameplay piece as each has its own thing going on that contributes to the success of the whole park.
While we’re on the subject of components, I must mention how good the overall quality is. Apart from the boredom tokens, none of the components feels annoying or flimsy, and the inclusion of 3D boards is a really nice touch.
- Takes Up a Lot of Room
- Slow & Confusing at First
For a 2-4 player game, Dinosaur Park takes up a lot of table room, so much so that this is the primary con of the game. If you have a 4-person dining table, I doubt you’ll be able to lay out a 3-player game, and there’s definitely no room for a 4-player setup.
The other con relates to the barrier of entry, mainly the time it’ll take to become sufficiently good and fast at playing Dinosaur World.
The more options a game gives you, the harder it is to pick the right one, and that’s definitely the case here, especially with worker management. Not only are you figuring out which move is the most optimal, but you’re also supposed to think ahead and save workers for future phases, which adds another layer of complexity.
Dinosaur World Review (TL;DR)
Dinosaur World is a proper park/zoo management game with a ton of depth and theme-appropriate mechanics. If you’ve got the table room for it, it’s an excellent experience that stands out from other zoo games not only with its theme but the way it handles the management part of the game as well!
Having recently played Ark Nova and Cascadia, I still have a decent baseline for games that have to do with animals and tile placement. Upon opening the box of Dinosaur World, I could immediately tell that it was not going to be the same game as the ones I mentioned.
Looking back at Cascadia, the lack of complexity among tiles didn’t bother me, as it was a more casual game. However, in Ark Nova, it felt like a mixed bag, with a small habitat hex map and cards around it but there are also tokens… it was a bit messy.
Dinosaur World has these massive tiles that have weight to them (both figuratively and literally) and when you place one you know you’ve started something major. Populating the paddocks with multiple dinos, balancing excitement, and knowing when to visit a tile all feel like important decisions.
Even though I’m not crazy about Jurassic Park or dinos in general, this game felt interesting to play. The problem I faced is that I barely had room for the whole 4-player setup, but we managed to improvise a bit and get the game going. Still, I’d like to end the review on a positive note and say that Dinosaur World is absolutely worth your time as long as you’re a fan of tycoon games!
We hope you enjoyed our Dinosaur World review! Have you tried this Jurassic classic? Drop a comment below and let us know what you think of the game! We’d love to hear from you.
When I first got into the hobby some 10 years ago, my friend circles didn’t know that board games went further than Monopoly and Risk. Now everyone I’m close with is into board gaming and my collection really has something for everyone.
My favorite games are Terraforming Mars and Lords of Waterdeep and I’m a fan of Euro, strategy, and engine-building games in general. I also enjoy the Warhammer 40,000 universe, which pulled me into the miniature painting hobby.