Gods Love Dinosaurs (A Preview)
Over the weekend, I had an opportunity to play this tile-laying, ecosystem-building game from Pandasaurus Games. It has created quite a buzz since it's release less than a week ago, being virtually impossible to find anywhere. Game stores don't have it in stock. Amazon is strangely without product. Even Pandasaurus Games' own website is back-ordered. So, it was most certainly a privilege to sit down with this game.
In Gods Love Dinosaurs, players act as an overseer of an ecosystem, beginning the game with identical tiles. The center space has a nest on a mountain where your mama tyrannosaurus rex has already laid three eggs. The tile also contains different land types more suitable for the prey animals, which are: rats, frogs, and rabbits. Players begin with one of each of those as well.
Over the course of the game, players draft tiles from a shared resource board divided into five columns- one column for each of the prey (mentioned above) and two for the predators (tigers and eagles). Once all the tiles in a column have been taken, the animal that matches that column activates. If it is a prey item, each animal may reproduce if there is an empty space of its preferred habitat adjacent. If the animal that activates is a predator, that predator moves and must eat prey. Tigers move up to two spaces in any direction, while eagles may move up to three, but only in a straight line. Predators that do not eat die. However, a predator spawns a new predator for every prey item eaten.
While making sure your board has loads of prey for predators to eat, that is not how you score points in Gods Love Dinosaurs. Players get points for the number of dinosaurs on their board and how many dinosaur eggs are in the nest.
Dinosaurs activate differently than the other animals. There is no dinosaur column on the board. Instead, the dinosaur begins in first column. Once a column activates, the tyrant king will move to the next column. If the column that activates contains the mighty lizard, all dinosaurs will move as well. Dinosaurs MUST eat and end their movement on a mountain. You also get a chance to hatch a new dinosaur, but only if the mountain with the nest is already dino free. For every predator the dinosaurs eat you gain an egg in your nest.
This will continue until a column has been activated and there are no tiles to fill that column back up. Once this happens, the game is over. Each dinosaur is worth one point, as is each egg (gold eggs are worth five points, but are only here to represent five eggs- they don't give bonus points).
This is certainly a puzzle of a game, but it is accessible enough for the whole family. The animal "meeples" are cute and well designed, which will definitely provide some interest from those who are drawn to anything adorable. There is little take-that in this game, but "hate-drafting" (taking something you don't need just because you know it will help your opponent) is entirely possible.
But is it fun? Absolutely! My son and I immediately played it a second time. He later took his fiancee to Boards and Bites in Tyler, Texas to try it out with her as well. There is a reason why this game is currently out of stock- it's a keeper.
I will be picking up a copy of Gods Love Dinosaurs as soon as I can! You should do the same.