If you haven’t heard of this yet – check out my review of Dinosaur Island (straight from the second Kickstarter). However, if you are looking for advise on those pesky objectives, well then here’s my thoughts:
During the Game:
Money; Money looks like a problem out of the gate in this game, with a lot to spend in turns one and two. However, be prepared for later turns to be funded by visitors to the park and very little need for additional cash. For me, I would be an early merchandise stand to prop up income, but don’t overspend here as you will be leaving it vacant in only a few turns – or at least just getting points from it.
Hooligans; These guys are problems – they take up slots and they don’t pay you. Top it off, they are better at running away from loose dinosaurs than your guests. If you can take the security guard or other advisers that get rid of these guys and get you victory points – it’s worth it at the end, and will protect your engine throughout.
Security; I don’t mean to sound flippant but people in your park know what they got into. When a big dinosaur brings you three guests, it’s still net positive if it eats one or two. Sometimes you will have to let your security catch up with you next turn – better that than missing out on the points / income during the turns developing the security.
Big Dinos!; Big dinosaurs create big crowds and big crowds need secondary sites. Once you have the big dinosaurs and the security to protect people, you will need secondary rides to score points. Keep that in mind when it comes to the purchase phase if you know you are going to have a safe park with a top quality dinosaur – buying early could be an extra 2 VP!
Extra Workers; As with all worker placement – early workers have more impact. However, make sure they have somewhere to go. I like to get workers early in the game even if they just go on the space that earns income, but don’t keep chasing workers throughout the game as ultimately too many workers can become inefficient in a race to the finish.
Buying DNA; In the purchase phase you can buy DNA. This is often overlooked and can be the best way to get the right dinosaur into your park. Sometimes buying DNA is the only viable solution, so embrace it and buy it when you need it. However, but the other items first because this is always available!
Free Upgrades; Sometimes in the game you will be offered free upgrades. Watch out for the marginal cost of various items – security increases in cost while paddocks stay the same. Early game this means a free paddock is better than security, but later the security will be worthwhile. Make sure you spend the hard earned money wisely…
Dino Swarm; You can upgrade one of your worker locations to build more dinosaurs. In the medium and long games you should always do this, as there will be turns when you want to expand more rapidly. This purchase is always available, so don’t rush for it.
Race; This is a race game and just like Viticulture and other games of this style, players can get tricked into building a better engine that crosses the finishing line behind the rust bucket that was about to explode! Make sure you are efficiently hitting the objectives, and not just building the best park.
Unclaimed Objective; Be careful as one objective will remain unclaimed at the end of the game (probably) which means that this is a race where the finish line moves. You could take your first objective and end the game by accident if the other players went for different objectives first. This can be challenging at first, but also leaves the winning player seeking to close out the available objectives (rather than just earning as many points as possible).
Engine vs End Game; There’s always a battle between end game points and the engine in the game. In Dinosaur Island, however, Dinosaurs do both and hence became central to every player. Don’t get left behind on developing dinosaurs as they attract income and victory points in game as well as a bonus at the end of the game.