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Board Game Review: Triassic Terror

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Everybody loves dinosaurs! They are massive, mysterious, and downright awe-inspiring. In Triassic Terror, players are able to cultivate their own herds of dinos, fighting for ecological domination in a world on the brink of extinction. Distributed by Eagle Games, a company known for its high production quality, Triassic Terror successfully completed a Kickstarter campaign, and for good reason. The art is beautiful, the gameplay compelling, and the figures reminiscent of a childhood filled with dinosaur models.

The board consists of four environments: the swamp, forest, desert, and mountains. Each environment has three areas, and each area has three habitats, where the dinosaur herds are placed. Players select from one of six breeds of dino and then use wooden herd pieces to represent the color. The environments have their own dangers, so strategy is crucial in the game from initial planning to damage control. The swamp is richest, and thus ground for competition. The T-rex and pterodactyl live in the desert, while raptors haunt the forest and mountains, making players who wish to expand choose what predators to face.

The game is played in nine rounds, three in each of the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous period. At the end of every period, the scores are added, showing who is in the lead and thus at the top of the food chain, and thus perhaps the target for the next round. Every round, players choose from the six action tiles: New Environment (where players place a new herd), Herd Growth (in which players place new dinos in existing herds), Herd Migration (herds move to a nearby area), Hatch (new dinos are born, and the player may attack with the pterodactyl), T-Rex (a player attacks with the Tyrannosaurus), and Raptors (attacking with both raptors). Tiles that are not chosen are given white dinosaurs, which count as bonus herds for the person collecting them in the next round, making unpopular tile choices suddenly tempting. This wide range of actions gives players many possible moves, whether in strategies of growth or attacking opponents. It can be a very intense game, with carefully laid plans being interrupted and many actions performed by the seat of the pants.

In addition to the chosen actions, each player also gains counters that may be played once in the game as a bonus. One counter is a bonus Hatch, which might be played at an opportune time to bolster your herd before migrating to a new area to capture more zones. The other is a Volcano, which results in an area being assaulted by lava and wiping out a number of dinos. If skillfully played, it could be an attack that levels the playing field right before scoring is tabulated.

Triassic Terror is a game for two to six players, ages 14 and up. It takes 90 to 120 minutes to play, so it is designed for those wanting a long game of strategy. The rules have several layers, making the game fairly complex with a 13-page rulebook. Once played through, however, it is a game players will want to populate again and again.

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About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.