Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

Get in touch by emailing thegameshelfblog@gmail.com

Tuesday 6 November 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- Welcome to DinoWorld

Game: Welcome to DinoWorld

Publisher: Alley Cat Games

Designer: James O'Connor, Nick Shaw, David Turczi

Year: 2019

Gen Can't is an event run each year where people who don't have the opportunity to attend Gen Con (a massive board game convention in the USA) can connect online, enter competitions and share photos and experiences. In recent years there has been  a game design competition associated with the event.

Welcome to DinoWorld, originally designed by James O'Conner, with art from Beth Sobel, won the roll and write game design competition in 2017. Alley Cat games have refreshed the game and are bringing it to Kickstarter during November 2018. It's definitely a slightly more meaty roll and write game with both basic and advance modes in the box. We love the theme and we're still riding the roll and write train, so we've taken a look the print and play in advance of the Kickstarter campaign.


To start the game each player will be given a blank park sheet on which to draw and a set of 3 objectives that can be earned during the game. A pair of structures are randomised too and then play can begin. Each round 3 dice are rolled, each of these dice can be used individually, or combined to create larger numbers (including numbers over 6). In the basic game there are 3 ways to use dice: building structures, building pens and building paths. You can do each of these actions at most once per round.

The 'light' game mode.
 Paths are nice and simple, you can build several in an action but each costs a certain number of pips from your die. Straight lines and corners cost 1, while T-junctions and 4 way paths are more expensive, you can also pay to upgrade a path from one type to a four way, but that will cost your dearly. Buildings either use a 1-3 die to build one type or a 4-6 to build the other, they must have a path going into them and score based on the random rules drawn each game. Finally there are dino pens, these need a path going to them, but also take up several spaces on the map. Different dinos need different amounts of space, and the larger ones need powered fences. Building the generators for this doesn't take an action but they do cost you points at the end of the game.

Welcome to Dino World has a fixed number of rounds and at the end of the game the player with the most points (earned from buildings, dino pens and objectives met) is the winner.

For a more thematic game, there is also the option of a more complex way to play, if you want you can make the dinos dangerous, with a danger tracker that increases as you build more pens (and faster for carnivores). You then have to invest in security as you go or risk the dinos thrashing about, damaging their pens and even breaking free!

Fi’s Final Thoughts

The first thing that attracted me about Welcome to Dino World is the theme. Dinosaurs sell games for me, and it’s still not an overused theme for us. I love that in Welcome to Dino World, the theme really comes through with the different levels of dinosaur, and the space they need in their pen versus the power you need from the generators in order to hold them captive. The danger mode adds even more fun to the theme, with the risk of power outages if you don’t invest in sufficient security. Power outages mean that dinosaurs escape and you won’t be rewarded for the prowess of your dinosaur collection at the end of the game.

'Danger' mode.

I must confess that I’m a little exhausted of roll and write games right now. It was a craze that I really jumped on board with and they’re typically fantastic light games for traveling or introducing to friends, but we’ve played A LOT in the last 6 months. Even with this glut of roll and write games, Welcome to Dino World stands out for me for a couple of reasons. It has the joy of testing your drawing ability, in a similar way to Harvest Dice, where I can draw really bad pictures of dinosaurs. But, on the other end of the scale it has a bit more going on than many roll and writes. I love the spatial aspects, the very distinctive ways that you can use dice, either making pathways or pens, or adding some bonus features. In addition, there’s enough variety in the value of actions available, as well as some luck mitigation, plus you can add dice together, so I also don’t feel completely at the mercy of the dice.

Welcome to Dino World is a gamers' roll and write that gives me all the fun aspects of many good roll and writes as well as a good depth of strategy.  Ultimately it's super satisfying to see the park you have built with all of its carefully planned features and enclosures – the end of each game results in something you can be proud of, or at least a park that tells a story of destruction in the danger mode! I’d highly recommend checking out this great game on Kickstarter!

Amy’s Final Thoughts

Welcome to Dino World does a lot of great things as a roll and write; the amount of drawing needed is just enough to give you some artistic spark, drawing each dinosaur in a pen is fun! The objectives are well tuned since multiple people can grab them in the same round. simple ones were often collected on the same round, but the more complex ones could have heavy competition. Naturally the everyone playing all the time gameplay keeps everyone involved, while the objectives give you a reason to watch what your opponents are doing. However Dino World still felt like a mostly solo game, there isn't much that someone can do to affect your game, bar rolling badly when it's their turn!

I personally preferred playing with the danger mode on, but it did make rounds a touch more clunky as each player had to check for dino attacks at the end of each turn. To me it was worth it to add a greater difference between the mighty T-rex and the timid herbivores. It also adds some nice game balance, you could rely on less power generators, but in return they were more likely to blow out when dinos attack, building more costs points, but is safer.

Overall Welcome to Dino World is a highly enjoyable roll and write, the fixed rounds always left me wanting to do a bit more, while the spacial puzzle of placing pens and paths can get quite complex. I would have liked a little bit more player interaction, but otherwise it's a great game and one I'm sure we'll be playing for a long time!

You Might Like...
  • Connecting up all of your cages and features to the paths through your park provides a cool spatial puzzle.
  • Keeping an eye on your neighbours' progress towards objectives promotes some player interaction in an otherwise quite 'solo' style game.
  • The theme is really well integrated with stronger dinosaurs requiring higher power for their electric fences, thematic features for your park and the danger of dinosaurs escaping!

You Might Not Like...
  • You can get quite heavily punished in 'Danger Mode' for pushing your luck.
  • Many people achieve the common objectives at the same time, meaning that they often don't cause big swings in their affect on end game points.

The Verdict
Building a dinosaur park, Jurassic Park style, has been a theme common to a few games in the last 12 months. Welcome To Dino World brings a lighter game to the category, but it's one that still holds a lot of appeal for gamers. It's a roll and write that we feel has a lot more staying power and plenty of variety to enjoy.

Welcome to DinoWorld was a print and play file kindly provided to us by Alley Cat Games. Check out their Kickstarter campaign, launching on November 6th 2018.

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