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Space Dinos

Designer: Kathi Sjostrom
Publisher: Paodle Games
Year Published: 2020
No. of Players: 1-4
Ages: 7+
Playing Time: 20-40
Main mechanic / Theme: A dinosaur-themed dice rolling and tile-laying game

People who enjoy abstract strategy games that involve some strategy, some luck, a little “take that”, and a lot of dinosaurs will love Space Dinos.

Find out more on Kickstarter! - Bonus: Mention this review in the comments section on Kickstarter and get a free cowkitties sticker from Paodle Games with your Space Dinos pledge!

Find out more on Board Game Geek!

Overview:

Space Dinos is a dice rolling, tile-laying game about sending dinosaurs into space to build constellations.  The game is designed for 2-4 players with a solo mode stretch goal available in the Space Dinos Kickstarter. Players compete to score the most points by placing their dinosaurs on constellation tiles and scoring points for the fanciest constellation combinations.

   

Gameplay and mechanics:

To get started with playing Space Dinos, place the constellation tiles face down, mix them up and give 4 to each player.   Each player also grabs 4 stardust tiles and their 6 dinosaur tiles.  Lay out the score tracker cards, turn one constellation tile face up and you are ready to go.

On their turns, players will work to build and fill in a 6x6 grid of constellation tiles and place dinosaurs to score points.  The game ends when either the grid is full or every player can no longer place a constellation tile.  Constellation tiles are placed on the board throughout the game to create the grid.  No constellation tile may be placed next to a tile of the same color or number.

Players roll the die and the person with the highest number goes first.  On their turns players will roll the die and then take one of the following actions:

As dinosaurs are placed and more constellation tiles are added to the board, dinosaurs will score points for things like having tiles on all four sides of them, being in a completed column, or being in a completed row.  Dinos will earn extra points for having no repeating colors or numbers surrounding them, or in their row/column being scored.

As special movement tokens sometimes allow you to move tiles around the board, it is possible to score points more than once per dino or to mess up a plan your opponent has been working toward. Other special movement tokens allow you to place two pieces, remove two tiles from the board, or ask for a specific tile from your opponents. 

In addition to being used to buy special movement tokens, stardust can also be used to adjust your die roll.  Each stardust spent allows a player to increase or decrease the die roll by one.

Once the end game condition has been met, remaining stardust and special movement tiles are converted to star points (1 point each) and the player who traversed farthest throughout the galaxy (has the most points) wins!

Theme, Artwork and Illustration, Graphic Design, and Layout:

The theme of space dinos was integrated well into the game as players worked to create the best constellations by placing their dinosaurs in the night sky.  The dinos themselves are adorable and the score tracker does a wonderful job featuring them as constellations.  

The one challenge we had with the illustration was that some of the colors for the constellation tiles were very similar, such as the light blue and the white.  For people who are colorblind, this may make differentiating tiles difficult.  

The dinos also tended to cover the stars when we were originally placing them; having a number in the corner of each tile with the total number of stars on it would have been helpful, so we would not have had to remove the dinos to check the star totals so often.

What worked:

Space dinos is a simple to learn, abstract strategy game.  The main concepts for the game are easy to grasp (place a tile or place a dino), but we like that there is quite a bit of strategy that can go into Space Dinos if you are serious about scoring points.  Several of our testers were extremely strategic about where the tiles and dinos went in order to score the most points possible.  Those players would work to optimize their chances of scoring the bonus points for different colors and numbers by their dinos, and they would work to hinder other players' ability to be successful at this.

It is also fun to be able to make mini-alliances throughout the game with others who have a dino in the same row or column as you.  If you work together you can both score more points!

Being able to manipulate the board is also a fun feature of Space Dinos.  You can use it to help score yourself more points by removing unwanted tiles or moving your dino to a better space.  Or you can move others out of the way and decrease the number of points they can score. 

Space Dinos also comes with alternative play modes for young players or players looking for a challenge.  

Lastly, one little detail we really enjoyed from Space Dinos was the glow-in-the-dark die.  It was super thematic and added just a little extra to the game.

Final thoughts:

People who enjoy abstract strategy games that involve some strategy, some luck, a little “take that”, and a lot of dinosaurs will love Space Dinos. Fans of games like Qwirkle and Blokus will also enjoy Space Dinos.