I love when games provide a unique theme. I’ve mentioned it before, and this won’t be the last time, I’m sure. One of the reasons I love playing board games so much is that I get to explore so many different times and worlds. I grew up watching and loving the Indiana Jones films, and wanted to be an archaeologist for a while because of them. When I saw this game on Kickstarter, I knew I had to back it.
The Great Dinosaur Rush
Designer: Scott Almes
Player Count: 2-5 Players
Play Time: 60 minutes
The Great Dinosaur Rush is an action selection, set collection style game published by APE Games. In The Great Dinosaur Rush, you take on the role of a paleontologist during the “Bone Wars,” a period in history where paleontologists were trying to uncover fossils and sell them to the most prestigious museums. The game is divided into 3 rounds, and in each round, there are 3 phases.
The first thing you do each round is draw “bones” from the bag and place them around the board. You then go into the first phase of the round. During the first phase, you take all your actions. You first move around the board to collect bones. Then you publicize, which means you get to affect which attributes of the dinosaurs will be worth more or less points. You then get an additional action which can either be a standard action or a notorious action. Standard actions include publicizing a second time, donating bones back to the bag to get rid of a notoriety token (more on those in a second), or drawing a special attribute card. You can also perform a notorious action. These include placing a notoriety token on a space on the board, using dynamite to discard all the bones on your space and drawing 3 new bones, or stealing a bone from an adjacent space. When you perform a notorious action, you have to draw a notoriety token from the draw bag. These have a value of 1, 2, and 3. At the end of the game, the player with the most notoriety loses their total value from their score, and everybody else gets to add their total to their score. Everyone performs this series of tasks 3 times, and then you progress to the second phase.
The second phase is called the build phase. You take all the bones you collected and place them behind your player shield. You then get to construct a dinosaur out of the bones. Each dino must have a head, neck, spine, tail, ribs, and 2 limbs. The color of the bones you collect determines what piece of the skeleton they must be. After everyone creates their dinosaur, the game progresses to the third phase, the exhibit phase. This is the scoring part. You score based on the publicity values of your dinosaur’s traits. For example, if you have the longest length, which is the combination of bones in your tail and spine, you score the value that length was given through publicizing. You score each trait and then you do it all over again 2 more times, with the difference that less bones are placed on the board each round. Whoever has the highest score at the end is the winner.
Things I like:
- Theme. Like I mentioned above, this is such a unique theme for a game. It felt new and fresh which is getting harder and harder to do in an industry that is expanding.
- Building Dinosaurs. This is probably my favorite part of the game, and I’m terrible at it. When you get to create your dinosaur, you can put as much creativity as you want. You can give it extra legs, horns, wings, or whatever else you want, as long as you meet the minimum requirements. In our last play, I even made sure to take a bunch of pictures to show off the different things you can do with you dino. I don’t do well with creativity, as I’m very much the typical “left-brained” personality, but it’s still really fun.
- Bonus Cards. You start the game with bonus cards which are for certain attributes, for example 3 horns from the triceratops. These give you some specific things to work towards, but also allows you to build parts from your favorite childhood dinosaurs.
- Notoriety Tokens. The notoriety tokens add a fun amount of press-your-luck to the game. You can always do something notorious which may be better for your score, but could end up losing you points at the end of the game if you have too many. You also keep the value on each token hidden, so everyone knows how many tokens you have, but only you know the values. You may have 5 tokens, but they each might be value 1, while your opponent could only have 2 tokens that value 5. It adds some suspense to the game.
- Player Powers. Each of the paleontologists gives you a special ability and they all seem awesome. After the draw, I was worried that my ability might be too powerful, but then I saw everybody else’s ability and wanted to try all of them. In additional to that, each card has an actual paleontologist from history that gives you a little fact about them in real life. I really like touches like that.
Things I don’t like:
- Unique Bones. One of the categories of bones (the blue bones) are unique bones. I love what they add to the game, but they are also a scoring category where the player with the most unique bones will earn the available points. Because you know what bones people have, you can already know who is going to win that category. This isn’t a huge deal, but all of the other categories are a competition to win, but this is essentially free points.
- Teaching. This game is a bear to teach. It’s tough, because each of the different colors of bones has a few different things they can be used for, and the minimum requirements can be confusing to teach. By the end of the game, everyone gets it, but trying to clearly explain these intricate points before trying it is tough. You’ll probably have at least 1 or 2 dinos that don’t have all the requirements the first time, and as long as no one is too picky, you can help correct them. I might even suggest giving a pile of bones to each player before the game and having them try to build a practice dino to get all the concepts.
- Player Shields. The only component problem I have with the game is how huge the player screens are. Towards the end of the game they are necessary as you have more bones to work with, but early on they take up a lot of space.
This game is a big hit for me. Not only does it provide a unique theme, but it provides unique gameplay as well. Sure, the collecting bones and other actions you can take feel familiar, but creating the dinosaurs feels so new. A side note worth mentioning, is that this game comes with a family version that takes the noteriety tokens out of the game if you prefer a little easier game or less “take that” options. It’s a really fun game, and all the components are great. I think it’s definitely worth your time to check out.
GLG Rating: 7.5/10
Visit APE Games Great Dinosaur Rush Website Here: