Last year I got to try Dinosaur Island by Pandasaurus Games and I fell in love. I didn't personally end up getting a copy because I do my best not to get duplicates of games that my friends already own. When Pandasaurus launched their Kickstarter for Duelosaur Island, the 2 player variant of Dinosaur Island, I immediately jumped on the bandwagon.
Designed by Ian Moss
Published by Pandasaurus Games
Each player takes a company board and 10 player cubes in their colour. Cubes are placed on the 0 spaces of the DNA tracks, The 1 spaces of the threat and security indicators, the 1 space of the excitement track and the 5 space of the visitor track.
Each player takes their 3 starter park cards and chooses one card as their starting dinosaur and one card as their starting attraction. The dinosaur is tucked under the top of the company board so that only the dinosaur portion is showing. The starting attraction is tucked under the the bottom of your company board so that only the attraction portion is showing. The remaining starter card becomes your starting hand.
Place the main board and the draft board in the center of the table.
Pour all DNA in the dice bag and give it to the first player.
Shuffle the park cards and place the deck face down on it's slot on the draft board. Flip up the top 3 cards of the deck. Leave room for a discard pile.
Shuffle the specialist cards and place the deck face down next to the draft board.
Shuffle the plot twist tokens and select 4 at random. Place these in the 4 leftmost spaces of the draft board.
Place the PR marker on the starting space of the PR track.
Place the coins and various modifier tokens off to the side as a supply.
Choose your game length: Short, Medium or Long. The longer the game the more visitors it will take to trigger end game.
Each round takes places over 4 phases
Each player gains a base income of 3 coins + 1 coin for each restaurant icon they own + 2 coins for every income space they have reached or passed on the excitement track.
In turn order each player draws 1 park card + 1 card for each merch icon they own. Cards may be drawn from the top of the deck or the face up selection.
The first player draws 3 cards from the specialist deck, chooses 2 to place on the draft board and discards the other.
The first player draws 5 dice from the bag, rolls the dice, and chooses where to place the dice on the draft board (matching each dice up with a plot twist token).
Starting with the second player, players take turns choosing a DNA dice or a specialist. If a DNA dice is chosen that player gains the amount of DNA or security indicated on the dice and the associated plot twist token. If a specialist card is chosen place it to the right of your company board (max of 3) or discard it to activate it's effect.
There will always be 1 leftover specialist or DNA die. The number of pips on that item will be added to each players threat level for the round.
In this phase players can do as many of the following actions as they choose:
Create a dinosaur: Choose a card from your hand, pay the cost in DNA, tuck the card under the top of your board, raise excitement and threat the amount shown on the card.
Build an attraction: Choose a card from your hand, pay the cost in coins, tuck the card under the bottom of your board.
Mix DNA: Discard a card to convert 2 basic DNA into 1 advanced DNA or 1 advanced DNA into 2 basic DNA.
Sell DNA: Sell any 2 basic DNA or 1 advanced DNA for 1 coin.
Increase Security: Move your security marker up one space and pay the amount of coins shown on the new security level.
Each player compares threat vs their security. If your threat + temporary threat level is greater than your security, some of your visitors will be eaten. Multiply the difference by 2 and move your visitor marker back that many spaces.
If you would go below 1 visitor, stay at 1 and take a lawsuit token.
Each player gains visitors equal to their excitement level.
The lowest player on the excitement track chooses a PR bonus to the left of the PR marker. The remaining player chooses a bonus to the left of the bonus chosen by their opponent.
At the end of each round:
Players discard down to their hand limit (3 cards)
Remove all items from the draft board
Move the PR marker one space to the right.
Switch turn order.
At the end of a round if a player has reached or passed the visitor threshold determined by the game length chosen, the game ends immediately.
Players gain additional visitors for the following:
Attraction Sets (sets of 3 different attractions)
Lawsuits (-5 visitors)
I will try to not compare Duelosaur Island to Dinosaur Island because they are two different games but as far as the art goes, they are almost identical. I can't recall all the company options for Dinosaur Island but I did get a chuckle out of Moss Inc in Duelosaur Island because it was clearly a parody of Monsters Inc in both name and logo art.
The set up is quite easy. After a couple of games I was able to set up without referencing the rulebook.
The game is very easy to teach and learn. Remembering the actions in each phase during gameplay was a bit more challenging. In some phases, especially the income and draft phase, it is very important to do the actions in order. Don't be afraid to reference the rulebook for this. I've played several times and I'm still referencing it.
Although competitive there is no “take that” mechanics making for a friendly gaming experience. Some specialists will give you bonus actions if certain conditions are met, like your opponent having more dinosaurs than you, but there are no actions that target an opponent.
One of my favourite things about the game is that you get to choose between a short, medium or long game. Changing the length of the game has no impact on how the game plays but could possibly affect which strategy to choose to go with. In a medium or long game I've found personally that I'm much more likely to sacrifice visitors than I am in a short game because there's a better chance that I'll be able to make up for it later.
On my first play through I didn't feel as though there would be a variety of options when it comes to choosing a strategy but after several more plays I found I was quite wrong. Choosing specialists early in the game can help you to form an engine/strategy that pays off turn after turn. Utilizing plot twist tokens during the draft phase can also assist you with your chosen strategy.
Randomizing specialists and game modifiers has made every game different than the last which is keeping my interest in the long run.
I'm very pleased to add this game to my two player collection and will be pulling it off the shelf for a long time to come. The options on game length make it playable no matter how much time you have and the randomization of Specialists and Plot Twists will change the game every time you play.
As always thank you for reading and feel free to leave your comments, thoughts and questions below.