Monday, April 20, 2015

Another look at Pirates vs. Dinosaurs

In my original review for Pirates vs. Dinosaurs, I summed up the game as being "solid and entertaining" and "A perfectly good pirate game, but not a very good dinosaur one." Having had a chance to play it a few more times since then, I feel the need to revise my opinion a bit. It's still not a very good dinosaur game, and additionally, I'm finding that the pirate part of it is just too random and lacking in strategy to be interesting over repeated plays.

What can I say? I was distracted by the game's great artwork and graphic design.

The first part of the game involves each player taking their chosen crew and equipment and searching the island for randomly placed landmark tiles that match the map tiles they have been randomly given. This is done via a random dice roll. compared against an arbitrary number based on what part of the island the player is currently searching. There aren't really any clues as to where to search, so you're really just guessing until you find all your tiles.

During this part of the game, complications arise in the form of the other players playing dinosaur attacks and other obstacle cards on you, forcing you to roll dice based on the number of crew you currently have, and the weapons you chose at the start of the game. This gives the game a "take that!" style of play similar to Munchkin, a game I have never cared for.

The only strategic decision a player really gets to make is at the very start of the game, when choosing what weapons and equipment to use, and even that is only really a question of whether you want to be better at fighting off dinosaur attacks, or finding your location tiles quickly.

Once a player has found all their location tiles, they move on to the second part of the game, which is a very simple "press your luck" game mechanic, drawing a number random tiles out of a bag based on the amount of remaining crew. Most of these tiles are worth random amounts of treasure, but some can be dinosaur attacks, ghost encounters, or volcano eruptions. Ghosts and dinosaur attacks cause the player to lose their hard-earned treasure, or worse, their remaining crew, who are needed to drag the treasure back to the boat. The volcano has escalating effects based on the number of times the volcano tile has been drawn, eventually sinking the island and spelling doom for any player who hasn't retreated to their ship. So the endgame is really about guessing when you think you have more treasure than your opponents will get, and then withdrawing from the island.

The majority of the game revolves around guesswork and random chance, with very few strategic decisions to make. Pirates vs. Dinosaurs is really about the experience of manipulating the game's components and looking at the nifty artwork, which wears thin after a few plays.

Read the original review.
Original rating: 3 (out of 5)
New rating (pass or fail): FAIL

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