Welcome to Dino World is a great little roll-and-write, but don’t be fooled by the small box and cutesy artwork – this game is quite a bit heavier than you might expect!
Jeremiah & Kara Clark
Publisher: Alley Cat Games
Designer: James O’Connor
Designer: David Turczi
Designer: Nick Shaw
Artist: Beth Sobel
Artist: Sabrina Miramon
Game Type: Roll and Write
Game Type: Action Selection
Initial Year of Release: 2017
Age Range: 12+
Expected Playtime: 40-70 minutes
Number of Players:1-75
Theme and What is it?
It’s a beautiful day at Dino World. You’re walking along a shady path, sipping a soda, when suddenly a Stegosaurus exhibit materializes right in front of you! The impact knocks you backward and you land hard, spilling your drink.
Where in the world did it come from? You’ve barely had enough time to recover when the entire exhibit disappears into thin air.
Seconds later a velociraptor habitat springs up from the empty plot on your left. You clamber to your feet, awestruck, and slightly afraid. What is going on here?
Welcome to Dino World.
In Welcome to Dino World, players are put in charge of drawing up their very own dinosaur parks. The player with the most successful Dino park at the end of the game wins! So build exhibits, lay paths, construct cool facilities – and don’t neglect your security!
Welcome to Dino World is a “Roll-and-Write” game. This means that everything a player can do is based on dice rolls, and those rolls let them write or draw things on their own player sheets.
The game comes with two levels of difficulty: a basic mode great for new players and kids and a danger mode, which is more suitable for those looking for a challenge.
In Welcome to Dino World, one player will roll 3 dice which will determine the actions available to all players during the round. There are actions that require dice, and actions that don’t. Since there are 3 dice, you could take 3 dice-actions on your turn, or you could combine 2 or even all 3 of the dice into one mega-value to help you get what you need.
There are facilities you can choose to build for bonus points, as well as visitors who you can lure away from your opponents and into your own park.
The mechanics in this game are incredibly streamlined—it isn’t padded up with fluffy, meaningless stuff. Everything you can do is important, but you must decide which actions are the most important each turn.
I was so excited about this game because I love dinosaurs, and drawing, and cute things, and I wasn’t disappointed! It’s a lot more strategic than I expected, but it’s the kind of strategy that leaves you feeling satisfied at the end of the game.
I love that there are two different difficulty levels because it makes the game suitable for all players regardless of their age or experience. There are even suggestions in the rules about how to handicap experienced players playing against newbies, to ensure that everyone has a fun experience.
There’s a good number of visitor and facility cards that ensure replayability, but I worry that the game might start to feel too familiar after a while. Luckily, there is an expansion available that introduces aviaries and aquatic dinosaurs, which would help breathe some fresh life into the game if it ever starts to feel dull.
Game Build Quality
The components in Welcome to Dino World are pretty standard for most Roll and Write games. You have pads of player sheets, pencils, and dice. Dino World comes with a nice eraser too, which I thought was really nice since you’ll absolutely need it!
The cards are a bit thin, and there’s no insert to hold everything in place, but that’s okay because there’s not a lot in the box, anyway.
I do have one major issue with this game, and here it is. Welcome to Dino World advertises itself as a 1-75 player game, and there is a lovely section in the rulebook for the solo rules. However, the basic game, (which is advertised as 1-75 players) doesn’t come with the necessary components to play the solo variant according to the rules. The cards and die required for the solo game are only available in the deluxe edition. At first I thought I was just missing some components, but after doing some research I found that even though the solo and expansion components are listed in the front of my rulebook, they’re not actually included in the box. I suppose you could still play by yourself and just try to get a high score, but this was still extremely disappointing to me because I had been looking forward to some solo play.
The artwork in Welcome to Dino World is super simplistic, and I love it. Each player sheet depicts everything a player would need to know about the game: how many points everything is worth, which dice are required for which actions, which actions are free, etc.
The background of each park is done with a watercolor style green, which helps hide erase marks really well. Each player sheet also has suggested illustrations for each dinosaur type, and I really appreciate that the suggestions are very simple. The rules even say you can just write the first letter of the dinosaur’s species in the paddock if you don’t want to draw. This relieves any pressure artistically-challenged individuals may have about drawing in front of their friends.
At the end of the game you have a fully-fledged Dino Park that you designed and drew yourself.
In Welcome to Dino World, everyone starts with the same park layout, and uses the same dice to determine their actions. It’s utilizing your space and your dice best that will put you over your opponents as you compete for visitors and achievements.
The tension after each die roll is tangible. Nothing but the sound of pencils scratching paper as players try to figure out what to build this turn, where to build it, if they should beef up their security this turn, or risk the danger in order to complete a visitor card and snatch it away from their neighbor before their neighbor gains it for themselves.
The only downside to gameplay is that there can be quite a bit of downtime between turns. Especially if someone who is more familiar with the game is playing against new players. Since turns are taken simultaneously once you’ve finished taking your actions you have to wait patiently while everyone else finishes theirs.
Age Range & Weight
Welcome to Dino World is a great little roll-and-write, but don’t be fooled by the small box and cutesy artwork—this game is quite a bit heavier than you might expect!
You only get 3 dice to use each turn, and what you decide to do with them is critically important. There’s a reason they included an eraser in the box. It’s because you’re going to draw something and erase it, and then draw something else and erase that, because you can’t decide what would be the absolute best choice for your park.
These choices can be cause the minds of players who struggle with analytical paralysis, to grind to a contemplative halt.
The manufacturer recommended age is 12+, and even though it can be quite the brain-crusher, I think people that young would still enjoy Welcome to Dino World simply because they get to draw their own dinosaurs. Who doesn’t love that?
There’s nothing like creating your own Dino World from scratch—literally! Welcome to Dino World is a charmingly strategic game that will leave your brain smoking when you’ve finished.
The gameplay is tight; the decisions are crucial, and the art is adorable. This Jurassic roll-and-write would be great for anyone looking for a simple, yet deeply strategic dino-themed game.
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