Low complexity, low overhead getting started -- 10 minutes out of the box and you’re playing because it is simple, intuitive, and easy to pick up.
Theme and What is it?
As a dodo with a dinosaur pal, you are racing against other dodos and their dinos to escape the impending doom of extinction. Avoid the falling meteors as well as the bananas and eggs being chucked at you in your rush to be the first to make it clear of the destruction. No, you won’t feel bad doing the same to your rivals either as they are crushed, splatted, or fall along the way.
The goal of Dodos Riding Dinos is to get to the end of the track and furthest beyond the finish line.
Place the board, dice, and projectiles out between the players and shuffle the Movement Card deck. Each player chooses a Dodo/Dino pair and receives their associated Racer Cards, and Minis or Meeples and draws six cards. Determine the First Player and decide which side and track on the board you will play. Place your Mini/Meeple behind the Starting Line based upon the initial order of play (1-2 on first space behind line, 3-4 on second space behind line, etc.).
There are two phases of play for each round: Scheming and Running.
During the Scheming Phase, each player places a Normal (blue) or Aggressive (red) card face down in front of them and they turn them over simultaneously. If two or more players play an Aggressive card, they become Enraged and each of the card’s effects are ignored but they can still perform the Movement indicated on the card.
Turn order matters in the Running Phase. In this phase, the First Player, then everyone to the left, first moves their Mini/Meeple based upon the card’s Movement and then performs their card’s effects. After everyone has performed their movement and actions as applicable, the Mini/Meeple in the lead moves ahead one more space and everyone else can draw an extra card.
Pass the First Player token left at the end of the round.
For 1-2 players, there are special rules for play using Challenger racers acting as AI players to race against. The players play as normal but the Challenger racers act differently based upon the type of card drawn randomly from their “hand’.
I had seen this demo’d at GenCon last summer and, from what I saw of those playing it, they had a great time and I was looking forward to trying this out. Everything looks and seems simple, but once you get started, it’s not your typical kid-focused game.
Game Build Quality
This game is a preview and the components are representative of prototype quality. Yet they have held up well to a lot of play, so if they can get at least as good quality for the cards and meeples, the parts will be solid. The game board though will need good production treatment with the wear it will take and given it is double-sided. The game says there are supposed to be minis included but there were no sample minis provided.
The art in the rulebook, the game, and box are consistent and fit well with the theme. Lots of unique art for the cards. My nit is against the standard “hex” side where it could use something a little more thematic, more along the lines of the volcano side.
Young and old liked playing the game. There’s a race, you get to chase the leader, and even drop meteors on your opponents. Certainly fun and silly because you can really get into it.
Age Range & Weight
Age range is 8+ but I think it can come down to even 6 because there isn’t much complexity to the game. Your strategy is based around what cards you have to play at any given time and figuring out which of your opponents you’re going to chuck the bananas at. It’s a typical kids game that isn’t strictly roll-and-move but provides some variety based upon the different cards.
All in all, I like what Dodos Riding Dinos is trying to do. The rules need some cleanup with corner cases to be addressed and their presentation. I think they should re-review a bit the rules for the AI Challenger Racers to provide a little more variety with how they interact. I like that there are variable player powers for each Dodo/Dino. There is hinted at campaign play in the rules as well but are not presented, which I find as intriguing to include in a game meant for kids. Low complexity, low overhead getting started — 10 minutes out of the box and you’re playing because it is simple, intuitive, and easy to pick up.
There’s a lot of reasons not to leave your house right now.......