Published as a collaboration between Draco Studios and Detestable Games, Dodos Riding Dinos is a light-hearted 'take that' race game with a dexterity element quite literally thrown in. This makes for an unusual yet entertaining combination of mechanics: Wacky Races with dinosaurs! The game is at its best with 3-6 players but the rules incorporate automata that can be introduced when playing with two and even to facilitate solo play.
Players each choose or are dealt a character card that identifies their dinosaur and dodo rider in cartoon artwork by Ivan Escalante. The card sets out those characters' unique special ability. And, commendably, the designer, Rubén Hernandez Santillan, has graded each of the character cards for difficulty - so you can choose to give one marked 'easy' to a child and keep one marked 'hard' for a competing adult player - or maybe vice versa! Players each have avatars representing their dodo and dinosaur. At Board's Eye View, we've been playing a preview prototype with temporary standees but the finished version on Kickstarter and later at retail will include plastic minis as well as wooden meeples. The suggestion is that players will use the wooden meeples for the dexterity/demolition derby aspects of the game. This will be particularly welcome by those who like to paint their minis.
The race is around a board. Our preview prototype came with a double-sided board, providing two alternative tracks - each with the choice of short or long route, allowing players to vary game length to suit their preference. Players each have a starting hand of cards and it is these that determine movement and other actions. At the start of each turn, players choose a card to play and place it face down in front of them. This allows for simultaneous reveals: important because some of the more aggressive (red) cards have their effects cancelled if more than one player plays that card colour. Cards will specify the number of moves your avatar can make, but the text then specifies a further action. This may be an additional further move determined by position in the race or a die roll, or it can mean 'damage' to an opponent.
Among the game's components are special wooden meeples representing bananas, eggs and meteorites. Where specified by a card, you'll deploy these to try to hit opponents' dinosaurs in order to dish out 'damage' to them (make them lose cards from their hand). The banana is thrown, the egg is flicked and the meterorite is dropped from a height above the table. This can contribute joyous mayhem to what might otherwise be a relatively routine race game. 'Damage' isn't fatal, however; if and when you run out of cards, you can draw back up to a complete hand for a simple penalty of being forced back three spaces.
Dodos Riding Dinos is a fun family game. The different card types (including green cards that can be played out of turn as interrupts) introduce scope for strategy, and you'll enjoy the dare-or-bluff element in choosing when to play a red card in the hope that no-one else is playing one this round. Players draw a card at the end of each round but the player in the lead on the track doesn't get a card draw; so there can be tactics too in hanging back from seizing the lead. Tho' Dodos Riding Dinos is undeniably a 'take that' game, it's all good-natured fun: your kids are unlikely to come to blows over this. The one aspect that can become a bit of a scramble is the method for choosing 'first player' (ie: pole position on the starting grid). This is done by placing the 'first player' card on the board and awarding it to the player who is first to grab it. We suggest passing on this one aspect of the game in order to avoid scratched fingers and damaged cards.
Dodos Riding Dinos is live now on Kickstarter. Click here to check out the campaign.