Paul DeStefano
United States
Long Island
New York
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It's a Zendrum.
I got this in one of those random "Bunch of leftover junk for Boys" things at Tanga.

It immediately went to The Slushpile. The Slushpile is a craftily hidden stash of toys and things for the kids which I buy on sale or such that may or may not be appropriate at the time, but they'll grow into it, or they just deserve a treat or something.

Anyway, I decided to put it under the Christmas tree. The kid likes dinos, so this should go OK.

On Christmas day, it was met with mild enthusiasm, but it was an unknown, so there was no great excitement.

A few weeks later, its opened up and played.

What you have here is something akin to a trivia game of early mammal life or almost an attmept to make kids obsession with the fairy worlds of Pokemon and Neopets and see if you can graft that hunger for minutia of creatures from another world onto something actually fact based.

Its a roll and move with some minor choices, ala Trivial pursuit.

Things happen on the spaces. Like moving to other spaces and junk. It doesn't really matter. You know the type.

Now, some spaces yield a Question or Event. You get a very multipurpose card drawn by an opponent, and they see what you rolled on your move, and read that line (1-6), which is a nice way to put in some variety without a ton of cards, keeping costs down. The things on the card are anything from lose a turn to answer a question. If you do the thing properly (although it seems implied you can't choose to NOT lose a turn) or answer the question, you get to add the card to your herd.

Your herd is 4 cards. See, the backs have these questions and things, the front have (GRAPHIC) pictures of various early mammals. Also on the back is a strength rating for that animal. Sometimes, you have to fight other players, which means roll a die, add the strength of your card. High total wins, and gets the other players card. As the game goes on, your herd is only 4 cards, but they get better as you answer questions and upgrade your herd with stronger animals and steal cards and such.

Eventually, your herd is strong enough to get to the middle of the board (evolving) to win. This and the fighting and the board layout and the cards really feel strangely influenced by Talisman. It might be coincidence, but I wonder...

Overall, what you have is a game that feels like a really well produced 6th grade project, where someone chose to make a game for extra credit.

It isn't bad. The questions are usually interesting, and if you know your word etymology, you can often guess a few answers. A little logic and thought allows educated guesses, and if not, you learn some interesting facts about how big some of these things were, where they lived and what they ate.

Its not a great game. It really feels like a school project. If your kid is learning about this stuff in school, its a great side thing.

My son went to a bookstore and found the big hardcover Walking With Prehistoric Beasts book on clearance and asked for it. I bought it on the spot for him. Any game that encourages actual research and interest like that must be doing what it should, so thumbs up for actually educating my son on something that is neither a Pokemon nor a Jedi.
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