Today’s market for board games in which you design and build your own version of Jurassic park has rather been flooded in the last twelve months. I have had the opportunity to play a good selection of them and am here to share my thoughts on all three. First of which was dinosaur island. This is the game I am saving till very last for review as to be honest it is my favourite all in all HOWEVER does this newest version have any stand out features? Dinogenics is on the table for review.
Each player is the head of their own corporation with access to their own private island resort. Each season, players assign agents to the mainland to compete over DNA and other limited resources. Once collected, players can build fences, various park facilities and populate their parks with dinosaurs. Parks with the most prestigious dinosaurs will attract the most visitors. But beware; if dinosaurs are neglected or improperly penned, they will attempt to escape and spread havoc through the entire park.
The rules for this game are very straightforward and easy to learn in as short space of time, but… the rulebook for me was not as clear as it could be meaning lesser “veteran gamers” may confuse some rules and teach themselves to play incorrectly. All that being said there are very little things they could do to improve it. A possible way to improve the flow of the game would be to ensure all rules are easily found when needing to do quick reference, such as a quick ref guide or an index to the rule book itself.
Rules book aside the setup of the game is very straight forward and the board itself is very well played out, making play very clear to all players no matter their location on the table. Due to the game going for a more traditional board as opposed to multiple tiles (DI) the space required for a game is kept to a respectful and manageable size.
This is a worker placement, pure and simple. There is an element of management and even luck with the live market of DNA which adds a nice mechanic to the game. You build your own park by performing actions on the main board and then applying them to your own park. This means building facilities, getting goats to feed to your dinosaurs (I love this mech), building fences, buying DNA from the market, playing manipulation cards & creating dinosaurs from DNA etc.
There are two major sources of luck in the game, both of which can be mitigated to some degree. The main one is the DNA deck. As you never know when and where the dino’s you may want will appear it is hard to really plan your park early on. You may have thoughts of building a T-Rex in your park, but the cold fact is you may never get that DNA.
To grow your dinosaurs you must gain the correct amount of DNA cards and build a suitable paddock as stated on the cards. To be honest this was the first down from me, I did not feel I was really immersed in the game of building dinosaurs just by playing some cards, the mechanic was quick and definitely speeds the game up but is just not as in depth as I personally would really like.
In the game I played it was very easy to avoid my dinosaurs from rampaging so is this a sign it is too easy? A few more games will answer that.
This is where this game shines brighter than the northern lights. The artwork used is as serious as u could ever wish for when it comes to images of dinosaurs without being in breach of any copyright from the makers of the Jurassic films. To steal a famous quote to describe the artwork of the dinosaurs the makers “have spared no expense” The game feels like Jurassic park in its artistic style. The individual player boards are a nice thick and durable material with indented slots for the interchangeable fences and buildings. The cardboard tokens are thick heavy duty quality. The coins are serviceable and appear like they will stand the test of time. The playing/DNA cards are very nice quality as well. With this game you are given meeples. Each dinosaur has its own type and they are truly fantastic meeples. The colouration works great because it just takes a glance around a park to see what people have in their parks and how prevalent carnivores are.
Ok so the comparisons? I have played three different dino building games, and to be clear right from the off, I like all of them. My review for Dinosaur Island will be up soon, my review for Jurassic world the board game is available on this site too. but to put it quite bluntly- I like dinosaur island more.
Perhaps the most important thing to know about the comparison between the three games is that while they all share the same theme and came out around the same time and have similar ideas throughout the entire game, they are mechanically very very different.
Dinosaur Island is far flashier on the table. I prefer the artwork of dinogenics but that is a matter up for debate. The dinosaurs in dinogenics actually feel different from each other, whilst the dino island meeples you could spend forever searching for the one that suits but ultimately it’s a pink dinosaur.
Dinosaur Island in my opinion has a greater potential for long-term Playability, but it does this at the expense of streamlining. There are just all these little things you are moving and doing in Dinosaur Island that don’t really add much more fun to the game but add just a tiny bit more emersion to the world by storing DNA in cold storage. All of these phases with all of these moving parts do make the game feel more complicated than it needs to be. But it isn’t a complicated game. Dinogenics doesn’t have that problem. It follows a quick streamlined rule set, and doesn’t try to create something for the sake of creating something.
I’m a real fan of dinogenics. It really captures the feel of building a dinosaur park, plays very quickly, and is easy to learn and pick up. The rulebook definitely needs some editing but overall I can honestly say for anyone looking to buy this game it will be money well spent. Would I buy this over Dino Island? NO, I WILL PURCHASE BOTH. They both have a place, if I have a longer time to play, I would go Dino Island, if I’m low on time or with newer player’s id be all over this game like a rash.