Matt Smith
United States
Troy
Michigan
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It's a love/hate relationship.
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After reading several comments to the effect that always going first and/or getting an early food vendor means you're practically guaranteed to win, and not experiencing that in my several games, I decided to do an experiment. I ran a 2-player long game playing both players myself. The blue player focused on maximizing park VP each turn and on going for the Objectives. The white player grabbed the first available food vendor and used it for money generation, while letting some visitors get eaten to ensure he remained first in turn order. I tracked some turn-by-turn stats. Here's how it turned out.

TL/DR: Grabbing an early food vendor, and staying first in turn order, led to a crushing defeat for the white player. The blue player beat the white player 135-100. Using the food vendor almost always for money, and having some visitors get eaten in the early rounds to stay first in turn order, caused the white player to fall further and further behind in VPs. The blue player's more efficient park ensured he stayed fairly close in income generation, while far outpacing the white player in VPs.

Below are the round-by-round details.

Objectives (randomly chosen):
1. Earn 10 VPs (with modifiers) from patrons in a single round.
2. Build 3 ride attractions in your park.
3. Build 3 merchandise attractions in your park.

Plot Twists (chosen on purpose, as I wanted to see their effect):
- Add all the VIPs to the bag at the start of the game. Each VIP is worth 2 VPs, and is placed before hooligans.
- Add 1 additional hooligan to the bag at the end of each round.

(The round stats are shown based on turn order for each round)

Round 1
Turn order: Blue, White
End score: 8, 9
End $: 14, 15
# of food spots used for income: 0, 2
Excitement: 3, 2
Patrons/Hooligans/VIPs: 2/1/0, 1/1/0
Summary: Blue built an herbivore and grabbed the Security Guard. White built Dinosaur Fryland and created a starting dino.

Round 2
Turn order: Blue, White
End score: 14, 12
End $: 7, 12
# of food spots used for income: 0, 2
Excitement: 5, 4
Patrons/Hooligans/VIPs: 4/0/1, 3/0/1
Summary: White used his food vendor for income and didn't fully protect his visitors, causing him to gain first in turn order.

Round 3
Turn order: White, Blue
End score: 12, 20
End $: 9, 13
# of food spots used for income: 2, 0
Excitement: 5, 6
Patrons/Hooligans/VIPs: 4/1/0, 6/0/0
Summary: Blue used Security Guard to avoid hooligans. Due to +3 Threat this round, White broke even on VPs. He could have gained 2 VP, but chose to keep the money flowing in from Dinosaur Fryland.

Round 4
Turn order: White, Blue
End score: 16, 26
End $: 17, 14
# of food spots used for income: 2, 0
Excitement: 7, 8
Patrons/Hooligans/VIPs: 6/1/0, 8/0/0
Summary: I think both players had one ride attraction and one merchandise attraction by this point. White used his superior income and turn order position to buy the cheaper ride/merchandise attractions when available, trying to lock out the blue player from achieving the objectives.

Round 5
Turn order: White, Blue
End score: 21, 37
End $: 11, 17
# of food spots used for income: 0, 0
Excitement: 10, 11
Patrons/Hooligans/VIPs: 7/2/1, 10/0/1
Summary: Blue used Security Guard to avoid hooligans. Blue achieved Objective #1. White chose not to get income from his food vendor this round because he felt he was falling too far behind on VPs.

Round 6
Turn order: White, Blue
End score: 27, 49
End $: 15, 16
# of food spots used for income: 2, 0
Excitement: 10, 14
Patrons/Hooligans/VIPs: 6/2/2, 12/0/2
Summary: White purchased DNA to broom an expensive merchandise attraction from the market that he couldn't afford and Blue could. Blue used Security Guard to avoid hooligans. White built up DNA and caught up on security, but held off making a large carnivore until next round.

Round 7
Turn order: White, Blue
End score: 39, 60
End $: 21, 18
# of food spots used for income: 0, 0
Excitement: 15, 17
Patrons/Hooligans/VIPs: 14/1/0, 13/3/1
Summary: White purchased his second ride attraction, and created both a small and large carnivore. Blue used Security Guard to avoid 3 hooligans, but still ended up with 3. White took VPs from Dinosaur Fryland, because he suspected the game was ending soon.

Round 8
Turn order: White, Blue
End score: 55, 80
End $: 16, 29
# of food spots used for income: 0, 0
Excitement: 19, 19
Patrons/Hooligans/VIPs: 12/5/2, 16/0/3
Summary: White purchased his third ride attraction, claiming Objective #2 and triggering the end game. Blue purchased his second ride attraction, then used the "Insider" Specialist to buy his third ride attraction from the draw pile, thus also claiming Objective #2. Blue used Security Guard to avoid 2 hooligans. White took VPs from Dinosaur Fryland to maximize his VPs.

End Game Points
Park (Dinos + Attractions)
- Blue: 34
- White: 34
Objectives
- Blue: 16
- White: 8
Money
- Blue: 5
- White: 3

Final Scores:
- Blue: 135
- White: 100

Conclusion: Getting an early food vendor and using it to get more $ and go first most of the game did NOT lead to an automatic win. In fact, given enough rounds, a park that is attracting more visitors and scoring more VPs per round is going to crush the player who is using a food vendor to lag behind. I found it even more interesting that two of the Objectives required lots of money to buy attractions, but the non-food-vendor player was able to get enough money from visitor income to easily compete for the attraction objectives.

Hopefully this data analysis approach was helpful to you. If you're still reading, go play Dinosaur Island!

Final board pictures

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JonnyRotten
United States
Montpelier
Ohio
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Thank you for taking the time to do this!
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Chris
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I just played a game where my opponent smashed me despite investing nothing in money stalls where I did. How? They bought the free security upgrade twice (I’d missed my opportunity to buy it as I didn’t have the money when it came up again).

Spent 90 mins trying to catch them essentially getting free security for the game, my extra income was worthless.

113-134.

The must frustrating thing is this happened in round 2 and by round 3 it was obvious I would likely lose. Extended long game too (4 objectives for 2 player) 🙁

 
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