Recommend
25 
 Thumb up
 Hide
6 Posts

Triassic Terror» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A GFBR Review: A meaty game in a short time rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
GeekInsight
United States
Whittier
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Area control is among the most spiteful genres, and it’s also a genre plagued with games that span many hours. Of course, there are some that defy the stereotype (as well as those that greatly overstay their welcome). Triassic Terror, the recently Kickstarted game by Eagle/Gryphon, plays up the spite angle incredibly well. But, it also ensures that players can get a full area control experience in a very reasonable play time.

The Basics. Players represent various herds of dinosaurs staking out claims to habitats within four different environments. The game generally plays over three ages and at the end of each age, the habitats are scored. The better the habitat, the more points it is worth.

To get the best habitat, a player simply needs to have the most dinosaurs in an area. If he does, he immediately takes the primary habitat with the most points. All other dino herds shift down to secondary or tertiary habitats. And, if a dino herd gets pushed out of the tertiary habitat, it can’t find any place to live and goes extinct.

But, it isn’t so simple as all that. There are six potential actions which may be taken. Some of them, like Herd Growth, allow you to increase the size of your dino herds on the board. Others, like T-Rex, allow you to eat up your opponents’ dinosaurs. And still others, like Hatch or Herd Migration, allow you to do a little of both. In turn order, players each select the action they would like to take.

Those actions start each turn randomly placed on the numbers 1-6. If I take T-Rex, and it happens to be on action number 1, then I get to implement my action first. But, if it happens to be on action 6, then I will implement it last. So the various actions become more or less valuable based on where they are located for that turn.

Environment cards, raptor scatters, and migration can all impact the relative size of herds and alter the landscape before the final scoring. The player with the most points at game end gets the W.

The Feel. Aggressive. Aggressive and spite fueled. Fully four of the six possible actions you can take have ways to attack your opponents. And, not only that, they often have more utility. Raptors allow you to eat opposing dinos and scatter them. Meaning that if you have three dinos in an area and your opponent has six, you could eat two (bringing him to four) and scatter two (bringing him to two). Now that you have more, you get the better habitat worth more points. And, if you happened to scatter him to a neighboring area, that might upset the balance there and result in more damage to other opponents.

As a result, the game is just as much about keeping your opponents down as it is about building your own forces up. Plus, Triassic Terror often encourages you to ride the razor’s edge. For example, in most player counts, the bonus scoring after the first era is to have dinos in all four environments. This encourages you to spread yourself thin – but by spreading thin you also open yourself up to attacks from predators.

By late game, the bonus shifts to dominance. Going environment by environment, the player with the most total dinos gets eight points, with second place picking up four. Now you want to concentrate. But, you’ve had time to gather dinos on the board, so it makes sense to migrate out and try to achieve second place in some of the environments. Again, it encourages you to reduce your numbers and makes every decision a risky one.

One of the more interesting aspects of the game is that the theme fills me with nostalgia. I loved dinosaurs as a kid and it even comes with those old hard plastic dinosaur figures that I played with as a kid. The kind where the T-Rex is standing straight up with his tail dragging along the ground. Even though it’s not scientifically correct, it still makes me want to put my arms in my shirt and make “rawr” noises. But, that initial interest would quickly fade if the game wasn’t solid, and it is.

Finding negatives for Triassic Terror is difficult, but if pressed, I’d point to two. First, the game doesn’t have an “epic” feel to it. In my mind, dinosaurs should be incredible and epic. Instead, it feels like a very good, and relatively brief, area control game. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. “Epic” games also tend to be overly long and can drag out. There’s no danger of that with Triassic Terror which fills you with a meaty forty-five minutes to an hour without overstaying its welcome.

Second, the game is so spite-heavy that it is perhaps a little more about damaging the other players’ positions than it is about creating your own defensive holds. As opponents choose raptors and T-rexes, it may be natural for other opponents to insist that it is better to attack you – while you point out why it is better to go after others. If that kind of play turns you off, then Triassic Terror may irk you.

Components: 5 of 5. I try to keep components in perspective. There are a log of solid games out there worthy of a 3 or 4. So 5′s get reserved for the truly great games. And, this one gets a 5 hands down. The board is double sided to support differing player counts and it is incredibly thick and sturdy. The action tiles are on nice stock, and the game comes with raptors and T-rexes that march around eating dinos. Plus, those vintage dinosaur player markers are just plain awesome. Everything about this game’s pieces pays homage to quality.

Strategy/Luck Balance: 4 of 5. There are only two areas of luck in the game. Once each age, players draw an environment card and can place new dinos there. While that helps you spread out, it’s pretty random and mostly banal. Contrast that with the random rearrangement of the action. Untaken actions go to the bottom, taken actions are randomized. This means some actions become more or less valuable turn by turn based on their action order. It’s an interesting mechanism and one that keeps players constantly reevaluating.

Mechanics: 4 of 5. The most brilliant thing about Triassic Terror is how it just cuts away the fluff and what remains is a tense, condensed, and aggressive area control game. There aren’t hundreds of rules and exceptions, no memorizing units and attack charts, nothing that interferes with play. Instead, the game is distilled into quintessential aspects of the genre. This allows players a full and satisfying experience with a relatively short (and therefore repeatable) time commitment. And, it does this while also giving you dinosaurs. So, win win.

Replayability: 3.5 of 5. There are no modular boards and randomized starting locations. No unique starting resources or player powers. And that’s a good thing. Instead, Triassic Terror achieves replayability the old fashioned way – by creating a good game that you want to play more than once, and you can easily do so. Easy to learn, but with surprising depth, it still plays in a convenient time. The only thing hurting replay value is that you may want to let a little time pass to let the wounds from past plays heal before you allow your friends to play that T-Rex on you again.

Spite: 5 of 5. Area control games tend to be high spite since a staple of the genre is to attack opponents’ positions. Triassic Terror takes it to the next level. Two thirds of available actions allow you to directly harm opponents. This means that there will be guaranteed spite every turn with three players or more. This has the effect of making even passive players bloodthirsty for revenge.

Overall: 4 of 5. Triassic Terror is a wonderful area control game that encourages maximum carnage. Playing the game is great fun since you have the freedom to terrorize (and be terrorized) nearly every turn. But, it plays in such a short timeframe that hurt feelings are minimized. No one feels like hours of work are wasted. Instead, you have a bloody, angry cage match and ultimately a true king of dinosaurs. Triassic Terror is worth a play at your next earliest opportunity.

(A special thanks to Eagle/Gryphon for providing a review copy of Triassic Terror)

(Originally posted, with pictures, at the Giant Fire Breathing Robot. Check out and subscribe to my Geeklist for all reviews and updates)
17 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Baker
United States
Ohio
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb

I have been on the fence about this one since discovering it.

Your review has gone far towards pushing me over to the 'Got to Have' side. Thank you kindly.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric O. LEBIGOT
France
Versailles
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thank you for this review!

The BGG pages lists 120 minutes for a game, and you mention 45-60 minutes. Is it because you played with fewer players?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
GeekInsight
United States
Whittier
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
lebigot wrote:
The BGG pages lists 120 minutes for a game, and you mention 45-60 minutes. Is it because you played with fewer players?


I don't think so. I think the 120 minute estimate is probably the longest the game will take. Full six players, probably rules explanation, and a good dose of AP.

Realistically, I see an experienced group playing this in 60 minutes or just over with a full player count.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Danny Stevens
Australia
Brisbane
Queensland
flag msg tools
Games: Design 'em, rewrite 'em, play 'em!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
MyParadox wrote:
lebigot wrote:
The BGG pages lists 120 minutes for a game, and you mention 45-60 minutes. Is it because you played with fewer players?


I don't think so. I think the 120 minute estimate is probably the longest the game will take. Full six players, probably rules explanation, and a good dose of AP.

Realistically, I see an experienced group playing this in 60 minutes or just over with a full player count.

I agree. This game is fast paced. Even analytical mini/maxers can play relatively quickly. My caveat is for the hopelessly undecided.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeffrey Smith
United States
Bel Air
MD - Maryland
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Somehow this one flew under my radar. Maybe I blew it off because of the plastic dinosaurs. But I am now quite interested. A good, aggressive area control game with simple rules, good depth, and comes in at about an hour? Yes please!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.