Eric Lai
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Happy Valley
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Introduction

Here is another quick review of this Avalon Hill classic: Dinosaurs of the Lost World, from a solitaire player's perspective. Once again, I will not be rehashing the rules which are relatively simple in this game. Rule book is very short and easy to understand. This is one of my old favorites, it is a meld of a family game with some wargaming elements thrown in. It remains pretty strictly a family game on the most part and very distantly can be considered a wargame since it involves hexes, counters and battles. In this my latest review, I've decided to liven things up with some yeasty photos! Hope you all enjoy it.

Commentary

The game comes in a big monopoly size box and has some very nice art, the components are pretty basic, there is a nice board with washed out colors indicative of the era it was produced, the cards are pretty basic cardboard and there are some cool cardboard dinosaurs that stand up on little plastic stands.


Note there is also a green chase track located near the top of the hex map in the center, this is where you go when you are retreating from an angry dinosaur! Note the outer movement track that is much like monopoly. And finally the center hex map of the lost world.


The game pretty much have you move your colored playing piece around the outer board randomly on a tract and this gives you the "command activation" necessary to do things in the center of the board. In many ways, this method of activating your unit is quite similar to those you find in many of the modern wargames and really highlights the roots of this game in the realms of wargames. The idea is the same, only instead of WWII its an imaginary plateau where dinosaurs still dwell.


Example of the art of the event and experience deck.

There in lies the best part of the game, its theme, it is oozing with it. The main activity that is activated by the outer track is movement on the main center area, which depicts the lost world in hexes, there are hidden hexes that you flip when you land of them and once revealed its event can occur. These range from random events, battles, chases and most interestingly adventures.

The goal of the game is to earn 25 victory point, find certain items that allow you to escape from the lost world and then finally use the item in certain hexes and complete the relevant adventure then escape to win. In the multiplayer version, its pretty much a race against the others to win, in the solitaire version, you are racing against a 40 turn time limit, that simulates a forthcoming volcanic explosion.

The real body of the game is going on "adventures" in certain hexes, these then transfer your character to a separate gaming board, that is pretty much a page out of a comic book, there are frames that you move on the comic strip. You can either move on this comic strip linearly via random rolls of the dice or judicious use of experience cards which pretty much allows you to select the number roll of the dice. These cards are obtained via lucky squares on the movement track on the main board or interestingly via tools that you start the game with (or find during your track through the lost world). Each "comic strip" adventure has a relevant tools associated tools with it and so choosing the right adventures that match the tools you have is helpful to winning.


Example of an adventure board, there are 14 of these to play on! Note: on the top right corner of this board are 2 hard to see at this resolution symbols, they represent the tools that are useful for this adventure, and the number next to the symbol is then number of bonus experience cards you gain because you possess the correct tools.

During these adventures, good and bad things can happen depending on which comic cell that you land on, so having some control over your dice rolls via these experience cards are important.

Then there are the events, some are just random bad things that can happen, like making you lose a turn, needing to battle some bad ass dinosaur, but there are quite a few that give you a hidden mission (hidden if multiplayer), that give you objectives ala combat commander, that only you know of.


Example of an event card.

This game comes with solitaire rules, which are pretty much the basic game with automatic movement of the on-board dinosaurs built in. What happens is when you throw the dice for movement which occurs around the outer track (like that of monopoly), the resultant movement number is looked up on a chart which identifies which dinosaur that moves on the board and you then move it randomly. Its not a particularly good mechanism, because it is rather unlikely that a dinosaur will actually bump into you on the map randomly. So its affect on play is minimal. You may choose to avoid crowded dinosaur spaces on the board but that is all the strategy to it, when it comes to the added solitaire rules.

Under the veneer of a family boardgame are some very decidedly wargaming elements, the random placements of the initial hexes add to a fog of war, the narrative is breaming with theme, I can imagine the stomping of dinosaur feet as it chases you through the jungle back to your camp. Its easy to teach and quite a bit of light hearted fun. Its also a surprisingly good game to introduce others to wargaming.

Summary

Overall a worthwhile purchase for those with younger family members, sure there are many choices now, but not many that are that much better. It will introduce them to many mechanics of wargames early with an easy to comprehend theme. It will also introduce friends to some historic boardgaming as well. The board is so like monopoly on initial cursory glance that many will mistake it for something like that. Whilst the game itself will surprise those that you teach. As a solitaire, its a bit of fun, there is some replayability, that will be hampered by the overall lack of strategic depth though. But in a large collection of solitaire games, where variety is build-in numbers of games owned, this is one title that can be pulled out from time to time for its unique theme and innovative mechanics.

I will give this game a solid 7 out of 10, recommended for those with an interest in some Avalon Hill history and find the theme interesting.

+7 for the unique adventure mechanic, the use of different "gameboards" is so much better done than say "Talisman Expansions", and a good demonstration that linear dice rolling track games don't necessarily mean Snakes and Ladders. The command activation system is ahead of its time and is a precursor to Card Driven Games of today. Also points given for the excellent narrative & theme. And most of all how everything seems to just work so well together.

-3 for the fact that its a light family game, which makes it strategically not too deep, but unlike B-17, despite the randomness of many die rolls, there remains some decision making, which is a redeeming quality of this excellent title, especially when compared to B-17. The theme is a little on the immature side, but anyone growing up watching TV in the 70s & 80s would instantly be familiar with the often used theme. The components aren't up to modern standards, but that is only expected.

If you enjoy this review from a solitaire player's perspective, you can follow my many other solitaire game reviews via this link: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/browse/boardgame/0?usern...

Photos in the review are referenced from the BGG Database, thanks for the contributions!
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Michael Mesich
United States
Minneapolis
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I don't know how many times you've played it, but I've found that after my first couple of plays I finally REMEMBER that you can use the event cards on the outer track to reduce the randomness there in addition to on the adventures and across the landscape itself!

It winds up being at least a bit more strategic of a game when you focus on managing your event cards as well.
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Eric Lai
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I've played this more than fifty times in my time, yes you can use the experience cards on the movement track & the hex map as well. But over the years, I have found it better spent on the comic strip adventures themselves, which gain you a lot more VPs. But occasionally when the need arise, I will use the cards elsewhere. But much more so in the adventures.

Being a die hard wargamer, and self professed grognard, strategic depth is a relative thing, from my perspective its not crazy deep, but from a monopoly player's perspective, there is a lot to be said about this game. Taken the intended audience into account & from a solitaire perspective which my series of reviews is about, I gave this a generous and well deserved 7 out of 10.

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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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This is one of the all time great family games for people with children of primary school age. I recommend reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World to them, then playing the solitaire game together in cooperative fashion, at least for the first several games. If your kids are sufficiently focussed to listen to the book, they will be totally swept up, and the game will be a huge success.
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Eric Lai
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Totally agree, this was the game that I introduced my sister to boardgaming to 20 years ago. Holds a special place in my collection and is one of the most worn out game in my collection.

(I am missing some of them little pawn figures, and have since cannibalize pieces from other games to replace them.)
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Chris Geggus
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A great game indeed. I also have a very worn copy that I will probably never get rid of, even though my sons are well past childhood and I don't think that my club members will ever be willing to give it a try.

A classic game where you never have enough Experience cards - always the sign of a well balanced game.

Really nice to see it being remembered and reviewed once again.
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