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.

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Wednesday 25 November 2020

Like Angry, Scaly Puppies:- Gods Love Dinosaurs

 Game: Gods Love Dinosaurs

Publisher: Pandasaurus Games

Designer:  Kasper Lapp

Year: 2020


Gods Love Dinosaurs is a game all about making sure your little dinosaur buddies are fed. Being the ferocious carnivores that they are, they will eat anything, but the critters that live around here aren't enough calories to prosper off of. Instead your dinosaur pal will want to be eating the larger carnivores, which in turn need to eat the critters to survive. Before you know it you have a growing ecosystem where you carefully have to manage the population of your rabbits, frogs and rats in order to feed them to predators, so the predators can be eaten by dinosaurs. After all, it's all about the dinosaurs!

In order to do this each turn you'll choose one of the available tiles from the display. Each tiles is a pair of hexagons, typically each pair comes with an animal on it, either prey or predator. There are three main terrain types which can only support the associated critter type, along with one wildcard terrain and mountains, which is where the dinosaurs live. Play continues with each player taking a tile one at a time until a single column of the market has been emptied. Each column is associated to an animal, when that column empties that animal activates.

The three prey species all act the same way. Whenever prey activates every meeple of that type on your board reproduces. The new creature being placed on an empty hex of the correct terrain type next to it's parent. The predators work slightly differently, moving around the map with their unique rules. Each predator will eat one prey to survive, but if they eat two or three prey then they will reproduce. Finally the dinosaur column activated dinosaurs, but this column is special. The dinosaur actually shares a column with one other species, each time that species is activated the dinosaurs activate afterwards and the dinosaur changes which column activate it next. 

Each predator moves differently, and you want to feed them up to make meals for your dinosaurs.

When dinosaurs activate first if you have an empty nest you can spend 1 egg to get a new dinosaur. Then each dinosaur can move up to 5 hexes, ending on a mountain and eating each creature along their way. A dinosaur will survive by eating anything, but for each predator eaten it will lay an egg. After the dinosaurs move all empty columns in the market are filled and the game continues until there aren't enough tiles to refill the market after a dinosaur activation. At which point players will score 1 point for each living dinosaur they have and 1 point for each egg.

With such a cute name I wasn't quite prepared for what Gods Love Dinosaurs brings to the table. As simple as the game's rules are the reality of playing is far more complex. What starts as a small island soon grows into a huge landscape where you only have precious little control over the specie living on it. Each animal will activate at most once per dino activation, so ensuring they have ample food is a must. Plopping down a tile near a dinosaur that comes with a predator is a quick fix of course, but if your opponent forces you to activate that predator then make sure you have food enough nearby to feed them. Better yet enough to make them reproduce. So get some prey there, oh and make sure there's enough land of the right type for those prey to reproduce and in the right places to maximise predator movement. Plus, hope and pray that your opponents won't activate the animals in a way that causes your predators to starve before your bunnies do what bunnies do best.

The animals only activate when their column of tiles empties. Here activating bunnies will also activate the dinosaurs!

Playing Gods Love Dinosaurs soon becomes a huge puzzle which feels great until the very end. Taking tiles isn't just about which terrain and animals you want, but which column you want to take from to activate the animals you need to activate, preferably before your opponents can make good use of them. Perhaps the main flaw is that this puzzle isn't one that changes dramatically between plays. Each terrain and creature type is common enough that you will always have a selection of all six and since there aren't any variants for predator/dinosaur movement you will usually build a similar island. Perhaps an expansion that adds a couple new predators or even new dinosaur types might help with this. Until then Gods love Dinosaurs is a solid game that's certainly worth playing


Gods Love Dinosaurs was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available at your friendly local game store for an RRP of £39.99 or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk

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