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Subject: Bringing 'em back once more. rss

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Paul Reinerfelt
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Dino Hunt is Steve Jackson Games' game of dinosaur hunting. The players are the leaders of hunting parties traveling in time to capture and send forward dinosaurs for some future Jurassic Park. The teme is well executed with both the Special Cards and the Dinosaurs. A minor point might be that you use tiny dinosaurs to mark your place on the timeline instead of hunters but, as SJG says in their FAQ, toy dinosaurs are so much neater than little toy hunters.

The basic set contains over one hundred dinosaur cards and about forty Specials, more than enough to play. For those who can't get enough of dinosaurs, there were booster packs released that adds even more dinosaurs and Specials. The cards themselves are excellent, well illustrated and SJG took the effort to fill the back side of the dinosaur cards with reference information instead of just using a uniform back.

However, other components are not as good. The Energy Track with its little cardboard rings to mark current energy is next to useless. The small rings are not just sneeze-sensitive, they fly away if you talk excitedly! I would suggest using a d10 or similar to keep track of your energy instead. Because of this I can only rate the quality as ok.

The rules are simple to learn and does not involve much brain work. It is clearly made to be playable for children.
Mechanics wise, you hunt dinosaurs by rolling a d6. Generally, a roll of six means capture and a roll of one is bad. The exact outcome depends on the card though. Small dinosaurs are easy to hunt, usually only failing on a one and perhaps a two with no dangers involved. Such dinosaurs are not worth much points but they are cheap in terms of energy, making hoarding small dinosaurs a viable tactic. As the dinosaurs grow in size they are generally worth more points and cost more energy to capture. However, bigger targets can also cause you problems if you are unlucky.

For instance, Triceratops can charge and destroy one of your Gadgets in the ensuing chaos. Many of the bigger dinosaurs at least causes the end of your turn on an unlucky roll.
Special cards gives you bonuses (either openly as with Gadgets and Specialists or secretly like those giving you bonus points for certain kinds of dinosaurs) or allow you to interfer with your opponent. The turns are fairly quick so the other players are not bored while waiting. The length of the game depends on how many dinosaurs you put in the draw-pile. With all of the dinosaurs in the base game plus a bunch of boosters it can easily drag on for an hour. this is far too long though, no matter how much of a dinosaur-nut you are. the game itself is simply not that stimulating. A good size for the deck is about 40-50 dinosaurs which gives a playing time of about 15-20 min depending on the number of players. This also leavs the players with a taste for more instead of boring them to tears.

As mentioned, the dinosaur cards have lots of interesting information on their backs (including pronunciation guides) which will be picked up almost without effort because it is fun. The game also includes many more species than the "famous" ones which is good. Some non-dinosaurs like Pterosaurs and sea-reptiles are included but that's ok. Except for Archaeopteryx and the birds, dinosaurs were notorious land-dwellers.
Every species also belong to a certain period of the timeline, further educating the players that not all dinosaurs lived at the same time.
Some information have aged somewhat, we now know that Dromeosaurs had feathers for instance, but this is not a big problem.

Overall, I highly recommend this game for anyone with even a slight fascination with dinosaurs. It is also a very good, light-weight, game for children. Anyone with more than a slight fascination with dinosaurs might even want to locate a copy just for the cards! laugh

Theme: nuclearnuclearnuclearnuclearnuclear
Quality: goldencamelgoldencamel (the cards are goldencamelgoldencamelgoldencamelgoldencamel )
Artwork: buildingbuildingbuilding
Learning the rules: indigoindigoindigoindigoindigo
Luck: d10-7d10-7d10-7d10-7
Waiting: snore
Length: clove
Replayability: 5vp5vp5vp
Extra: Educational
Overall: thumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsup
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