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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Saturday 28 November 2020

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Gods Love Dinosaurs

Game: Gods Love Dinosaurs

Publisher: Pandasaurus Games

Designer:  Kasper Lapp

Year: 2020

If there was an award for the most strange name for a board game released in 2020, then Gods Love Dinosaurs might well win it! I just don't understand it - do all of the Greek gods collectively love dinosaurs? I wouldn't blame them, because, heck, dinosaurs are awesome! Perhaps each player in the game is playing god? Each player will be building a habitat, filling it with creatures and then nature takes its course. 

Gods Love Dinosaurs is all about the food chain. The T-Rex is top of the food chain, able to eat anything and everything, but most interested in tasty predators, like tigers and eagles. Tigers and eagles are looking for more tasty little morsels - the rabbits, frogs and rats. How well you create your habitat will determine how many dinosaurs it can support and you can let as many dinosaurs as you can hatch romp around your island.

On your turn, you will pick a tile to add to your personal island. Each tile is a pair of conjoined hexagons representing different terrain types. Some tiles will spawn an animal, whilst others are just blank, serving to expand your available land. Every time a player empties a column it causes an activation for everyone at the table. If you empty a prey column, then that type of prey will multiply - each of that animal on your board will replicate if there is matching territory available adjacent to it. If you empty a predator column, then the predators move in a particular pattern, allowing them to eat prey animals along the way. If you activate the column containing the dinosaur meeple (who advances one column per activation) then your dinosaurs activate - moving and eating all predators and prey in their path to advance onto a mountain spot somewhere on your terrain.

Your goal is to make eggs, and you make one of these very time a dinosaur eats a predator animal. Prey animals eaten are simply wasted, but every dinosaur has to eat on every dinosaur activation. Whilst eggs are points, they can also be used to multiply the number of dinosaurs you have, so long as the nest is empty when a dinosaur activation starts. You'll almost certainly need more than one dinosaur to win the game, but you'll want a network of mountains that allow you to keep the nest vacant to allow you to hatch new dinosaurs. The game will end when tiles run out and the player with the most combined eggs and dinosaurs will win!

Whilst dinosaurs no longer roam The Earth, the food chain theme feels like it could give Gods Love Dinosaurs some educational value, however, I'm not sure the mechanisms lend themselves so well to the audience who will get that educational value. Playing Gods Love Dinosaurs is easy, but playing it well is definitely something that a slightly more experienced gamer will have a greater chance of doing. There are two more tricky aspects of the game that I've found to be key to edging ahead. The first is to ensure that your dinosaur isn't too greedy - leaving yourself with no predators can really hold you back next round. The second is to try and activate an animal when your opponent(s) doesn't get much benefit, which might well be soon after they have eaten all of their predators! These are definitely slightly more advance concepts that may not work so well with a younger audience.

With that said, if you're on a level playing field with your opponent, then this a tight game with a good element of fairness to it. Each player starts with the same animals and all activations trigger for everyone, so long as you're able to make use of the activation. It's your draft and your tile placement that will differentiate you, as well as how you move your dinosaurs and choose to replicate them. I really enjoy that there are a few layers to the puzzle too. I'm not sure I've played a game that has the same combination of tile placement that then feeds a secondary puzzle where you need to setup each animal to be able to eat and multiply in the most effective way. It's almost like you're building the components of an engine in your habitat, only to trigger it with each predator or dinosaur activation, and I do love to engine build!

Gods Love Dinosaurs is a lovely puzzle, but for me it felt quite similar every time we played. It's a family weight game with quite a lot of meat on the bone and you definitely need to think ahead to play well, so it's probably older families who will enjoy this most. I'm really glad we got a chance to play it a few times, but it won't be staying in our collection. For the Yellow Meeple, Gods Love Dinosaurs is a 6/10.

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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