I may be new to this hobby, but it didn’t take me long to figure out that I LOVE roll and write games. Something about the randomness of the dice mixed with the strategy of figuring out how to best use the results – it just makes all the parts of my gamer brain happy. There is also the perk that many roll and writes also lend themselves to solo gaming and a lot of times, which means I can take them with me to work for lunch breaks or teach myself before my friends come over.
The newest edition to my collection is Dinosaur Island: Rawr ‘N Write. I’ve never played Dinosaur Island proper, but I’ve seen a play-through and know it is a chonky box filled with dinosaur meeples and park visitors that love them. It can fill your entire dining room table with park pieces. This game distills that experience down to a roll and write, making it a great introduction to some of the mechanics and the mindset for that game.
In this game, you’re essentially designing your very own dinosaur theme park. You know, similar to that movie that was based on that book – both from the early 90s. To build your park, you need tour guides, merch buildings, scientists and – most importantly – DINO DNA!
Each roll helps you collect the supplies, DNA and money you need to build your park. There are some basic buildings you can create to earn bonuses, or you can save up for an exciting attraction that will pull in more money and more visitors. You can also hire regular staff or more qualified personnel to handle the science, security, or PR to help boost your excitement.
When you have enough DNA, you get to draw your dinosaur pen onto the map. Each dinosaur has an excitement level and the carnivores also have a danger level. Be careful, you can get extra security for your park but if your danger is more than your security, accidents can happen! If too many visitors are eaten or other disasters occur, it can hurt your score in the end…but really, you just have to have one less person eaten than the park next door to win LOL.
The game plays over the course of three “weeks” for you to get your park up and running. For each week, you have two stages of prep – rolling dice, collecting resources, and building. The third phase is your park tour. Hopefully you’ve had a chance to build some roads during the week, connecting your attractions around the park and, for a bonus, actually connecting to an exit! The first time you drive by, you earn excitement points…but your visitors won’t be as impressed next week so you have to work to create a new route that passes by new attractions or at least a higher scoring exit.
The game comes with a LARGE pad of paper game pads, though I wish it had a reusable, erasable option like many of my other R&W games but maybe that will come later. It also has a lovely bag for the dice, some little golf pencils and dinosaur shaped erasers!
There are several cards to choose from for bonus employees/buildings, making each game very different. There is even a set for “advanced” players and a few solo mode only challenges.
Dinosaur Island: Rawr ‘N Write is the most complex roll and write I have played yet! There is a lot to think about, and after the first play-through, I was already thinking about strategy for my next game. Playing it safe doesn’t always pay off – sometimes a few visitors are going to get eaten but that excitement will be through the roof!