Draftosaurus Review

Welcome to my sweet dinosaur park. Here, the dinosaurs come in a rainbow of colors and none of the tourists turn into “dino dinner”. Just like John Hammond in the Jurassic Park series, you’re goal is to create the greatest dinosaur park. In this universe, you have some competition. In fact you have up to 4 other competing parks in Draftosaurus from Ankama Games.

The super cute dino meeples draw people to the table in this hybrid game that we describe as Sushi Go meets Herbaceous. Up to 5 players start the game by drawing 6 dinosaur meeples from a cloth bag. Each round, players will “draft” a dino meeple from their hand to place on their board. These player boards have 6 different enclosures that have different rules for housing dinosaurs. In “The Woody Trio” enclosure, players can place any 3 dinosaurs, scoring 7 points at the end of the game if they fill the space. In “The Meadow of Differences”, players have to place all different dinosaurs, scoring points for the number of different dinos they place in this area.

Draftosaurus is a simple game that has players making tough decisions as their park fills up with dinosaurs. After placing a dinosaur, players will pass all their dino meeples to the player on their left and receive a new set of dinos from the players to their right. Because players hold these meeples in their closed hand, you’re not sure what kind of dinosaurs you’re going to receive. This keeps players from sticking to a single strategy each game.

I really like how the big wooden die shakes up decision making in Draftosaurus. The die gets passed around the table clockwise with a new player rolling each turn. This die gives a placement restriction to every player at the table except for the person who rolled it. The restrictions include being forced to place a dinosaur in a specific area of the board, having to place the dinosaur in an empty enclosure or keeping the players from placing a dinosaur in the same enclosure as a T-Rex. This chunky die can really mess with your plans so players better be flexible.

Once you play two rounds, each player will have 12 dinosaurs in their park and it’s time to score your points.

Draftosaurus, King of the Fillers?

It’s hard not to enjoy playing Draftosaurus. The game is light on strategy, incredibly easy to teach and plays in around 15 minutes. This is a filler game that just about anyone can play. Players will find that even when their plans get destroyed, it’s still a lot of fun to pass around a handful of colorful wooden dinosaurs.

I enjoy the variety of options that the player boards have. The “Solitary Island” enclosure is designed for the loneliest dinosaur. Placing a dinosaur species that doesn’t appear anywhere else on your board will net you 7 points. During the game if you choose to draft a red T-Rex dino, you’re going to get an additional point for every enclosure this species shows up in.

Probably my favorite option in Draftosaurus is the single point that you get for placing a dinosaur in the river in the center of the board. While the rulebook says “The River is a special zone that is not treated like a Pen”, this is usually where players toss their unwanted dinosaurs. Are these dinosaurs still alive? Why are these the only dinosaurs that are laying on their sides at the bottom of the river? These are answers that you’ll have to explain to your own children. I like to say these are the dinosaurs that are “in a better place”.

A Summer or Winter Park

After 20 or so games of Draftosaurus, you may want to shake things up. Good thing that the player boards also have a Winter side! This side of the board has more difficult scoring rules and the enclosures are a little tougher to fill. This is going to appeal to the players who like a little more challenge with the game.

Draftosaurus was one of the first games we played at Origins this year that made us say “We have to own this game”. Our family is always looking for games that support up to 5 players and it’s a huge bonus that the game is only 15 minutes. It’s easy to play a couple games with co-workers at lunch, bring the game with us to a restaurant or play after dinner with the kids. It’s definitely a gateway game that teaches the drafting mechanic in a fun and memorable way.

You can grab a copy of Draftosaurus today at your local game store or purchase it online on Amazon.

Highs

  • Excellent components and production value
  • Fun for kids and adults to game together
  • Easy to teach and get new gamers involved
  • Double sided boards are great for replay-ability

Lows

  • Don’t lose a dino meeple, the game would become unplayable for 5 players
  • Passing dino meeples may force you to keep hand sanitizer at the game table during flu season