Designer: Kathi Sjostrom
Artist: Jane Cide
Publisher: Paodle Games
Year Published: 2020
No. of Players: 1-4
Playing Time: 20-40 minutes
Main mechanic / Theme: Dice Rolling, Tile Placement / Dinosaurs and Space (obviously!)
Why are there Dinos in Space? Who cares, it's dinosaurs AND space!!!
From the Publisher: "Boldly going where no dinos had gone before... During their mission to explore strange new worlds, the Space Dinos found a new home after the fall of their kind on Earth. They continued their pursuit of exploration, tracking stardust and building constellations that grace the night sky. Space has become theri final adventure. Join them in theri continuing voyage to build constellations as they explore through space."
In Space Dinos players are laying tiles and placing their dino explorers trying to maximize star points and finish with the highest score. Tiles are laid out in a 6x6 grid and dino explorers score when they have all four orthagonally adjacent tile spots around them filled and when the row or column that they are placed in is completed. Bonus points are awarded if all the colors in the column/row are different and/or if all of the values in the column/row are different. Players also get points for completing a row/colum with their placed tile whether they have a scoring dino in that row/column or not.
Gameplay and mechanics:
On each player's turn, they begin by rolling the dice then choosing 1 of the following actions:
- Place a constellation from the player's hand that is of equal value to the dice roll. Placement must be orthagonally adjacent to a tile already on the board and cannot exceed the boundaries of a 6x6 grid.
- Place a dino token on a tile that is equal to the dice roll.
- Discard constellation tiles and draw equal nimber of new constellaion tiles.
- Purchase a special movement token with 4 stardust tokens and continue your turn with the current dice roll or end your turn.
- Take 2 stardust tokens from the stardust draw pile. (Used to lower or raise your dice roll or purchase special movement tokens.)
Player tiles restock when all four have been used (also earning a stardust token when a restock happens.)
*Dice adjustments with stardust and using special movement tokens happens immediately after the dice roll and before selection of an action.
This is a family weight game and, as such, decisions are not terribly difficult or AP inducing. There are some variants to make things a bit easier for younger players and some Deep Space options to increase the difficulty for those who find the game a bit too simple.
Theme, Artwork and Illustration, Graphic Design and Layout
The artwork is cute and fun and, frankly, without it this game could really have been about anything. The game mechanics are really fairly abstract and could have been just as simple as colored numbers. But the theme does give this game a quirky, enjoyable vibe and really makes it accessible to families and I love that. I especially enjoy the dinos little bubble helmets; they are SO ready for their journeys into space!
I think that everything in this game worked. It's not something that heavy gamers will likely enjoy, but that's definitely not the target audience. It fills the family game niche well and I like that you can play the game at the standard difficulty or use an easier option for the little ones, put them to bed, and then add some of the deep space options for a couple of games with more experienced players before putting it away. It's a pretty solid game that can be played as breezy and light or ramped up a bit for a more competitive session.
Overall, Space Dinos is a cute, fun, family-style game that is a perfect filler or great for the end of a gaming night. The decisions in the game aren't particularly difficult, but strategic enough as to when and where to place your dinos, whether or not to purchase or use a special movement token and how you might be able to block or benefit from your opponent that it does offer something for more experienced gamers. Because of the tile laying, this does feel a bit like Carcassonne and I would think that people who enjoy that game but want something designed more with kids in mind will love it. Who am I kidding, who DOESN'T love dinosaur and space themed games??? And combined together...pure gold!!
Stefan Yates is a professional in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Kansas State University. Finding ways to work gaming into work, he serves on the university’s Alternate Reality Game Committee and is a co-Faculty Advisor for the Board Game Club. He is also a PhD student whose field of research is Gamification in Student Programming. He enjoys playing (and mostly losing) almost any type of game and likes to work in multiple game sessions per week whenever possible. An avid solo gamer with an additional interest in tabletop miniatures games, the stay-at-home orders of the pandemic were not particularly concerning as there was always painting to do and terrain to build. Stefan is also a book and movie collector and a huge football fan (go CHIEFS!)