11 May 2022
Surprising depth for a smallish box.
Running a dinosaur theme park can be thrilling, but fraught with challenges. Each new dinosaur raises the excitement but also increases the threat. Hire specialists, build attractions and introduce new species without losing too many visitors!
There’s a lot going on in Dinosaur Island: Rawr ‘n Write but it all gels together delightfully. You gain dinosaur DNA, coins, roads, attractions and security by rolling and drafting unique custom dice. But all players are forced to take the threat level shown on the undrafted dice and unmanaged threat means death! So the dice drafting has a strong undercurrent as players not only take what they want, but consider what is left and wonder whether anyone will ‘take one for the team’. After drafting, players use their dice as workers to select actions on the central board. Here again a die’s threat level is relevant as any future player wishing to take the same action must also take the threat of the die placed there.
Your park will be open to visitors three times during the game. Timing your actions in the run up to each opening is tricky but crucial as you’re trying to maximise the excitement (and points) and minimise the threat generated each time. This is an efficiency and opportunity puzzle that requires players to think several turns ahead. As enclosures and attractions are built they must be drawn in your park and connected with roads, ideally in an easy-to-tour path that leads to a high scoring exit.
It’s the inclusion of the three ‘run park’ phases that really makes this game special. One of your two scoresheets leads you through the process - getting bonuses from attractions and specialists, running your tour to increase your excitement level, then using the excitement to your advantage and finally counting the bodies. With delicious chaining and an influx of rewards, but all under the threat of a rising death toll, these are moments of brilliant tension and glee.
I keep pulling Rawr ‘n Write off the shelf and onto the table; it’s well worth the bargain price and works well at all player counts (including solo). Surprising depth for a smallish box.
PLAY IT? YES
Designer: Brian Lewis, David McGregor, Marissa Misura
Publisher: Pandasaurus Games
Time: 30-45 minutes
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