Draftosaurus: It’s the Tricera-tops!
Build your own Jurassic Park and fill it with the best dinosaurs in this short family-friendly game for 2-5 players. Draftosaurus was created by Antoine Bauza, Corentin Lebrat, Ludovic Mauntblanc, and Theo Riviere. Draftosaurus is published by Ankama, with help from Luma Games in the United States. A game lasts about 15 minutes and we’ve played with players as young as 5 years old.
To set up Draftosaurus, remove a certain number of dinosaurs from the drafting bag (depending on the number of players). Then, everyone gets their own game board: this is your park, but it’s empty. Where do the dinosaurs come from?
They hide in the palm of your hand! Each player reaches into the canvas bag and pulls out exactly 6 tiny wooden dinosaurs.
The active player rolls the die, which will restrict where park owners can place a dinosaur this turn. Then, each player picks a dinosaur out, places it on their board, and passes the remaining 5 dinosaurs to the person on their left. Repeat until everyone has placed 6 dinosaurs. Then do it all again! When each park holds 12 dinosaurs, it’s time to score.
Each area of your park scores in a different way. Some areas want all the same species of dinosaur, or pairs of the same species. In other areas, dinosaurs cannot be next to their same species.
On the “Summer” side of the board, place a single dinosaur in the “king” space – if your park has more of that species than anyone else’s, you’ll get points here. Similarly, you may place a single dinosaur in the “loner” space – If it’s the only dinosaur of that species on your board, score points for that, too.
The “Winter” side has slightly more challenging placement rules, including a dino pyramid! There’s also a space that lets you score points for each dinosaur of a chosen species in the dino park to your right!
If you’re out of places you want to put a dinosaur, you can always put them in the River. It’s a last ditch effort, but at least you score one point for each dinosaur there.
Lastly, score a bonus point for each Tyrannosaur anywhere on your board, just because they’re cool.
Draftosaurus is a fantastic drafting game in the mold of the now-legendary Sushi Go. With a hefty amount of “cute” appeal, Draftosaurus is a great game to bring in gamers of all ages. There are many subtle improvements over Sushi Go, however, that make Draftosaurus our new go-to family drafting game.
By moving the scoring from the in-hand elements to the board, the creators and artists for Draftosaurus were able to remove all text from the game in favor of iconography. Though the Summer and Winter sides of the board have different scoring mechanisms in each area, the icons are clear and easy to understand. It’s almost as if the artists did an internship with Ikea or LEGO. The icons provide just enough information to help the player and get out of the way.
The inclusion of the River space on the board also goes a long way towards making this game work better as a family game too. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting stuck with an unusable card like Chopsticks at the end of a round of Sushi Go. In Draftosaurus, you’re always given the single point option with the River. It may be small, but at least you’re getting something, and especially with kids, that can go a long way.
The Action die provides another interesting dynamic to the game, limiting placement depending on how its rolled. Excellent layout design on the boards provides for two different ways of dividing the board. One face for each side of each divide, plus two more depending on dinosaurs, makes for a six-sided die that can put a real wrinkle in your placement plans. It adds just enough complexity to make the game really interesting for more savvy gamers, but can easily be removed to simplify the game. Parents can also house rule the die to handicap the game – forcing adults to abide by it while children have free rein.
Finally, Draftosaurus fits a known space on the table. Many drafting games involve setting down sets of cards, and depending on how the drafting goes, this could become a bit of a table hog. All of the dinosaurs drafted in Draftosaurus end up on the player board, so there’s no space creep as the game reaches its conclusion.
We acknowledge all of these differences are small. It’s also true that card based drafting games are easier to expand later than a game like Draftosaurus. But for sheer simplicity, accessibility for pre-readers, and a nice built in complexity/handicap mechanic in the Action die, we give Draftosaurus the edge in this genre. It’s the next natural evolution, making an already great set of games better.
Priced under $25, it’s difficult to go wrong with Draftosaurus. Our entire family loves it and looks forward to playing it more.
Find Draftosaurus at your friendly local game store, or at Amazon today!
Luma Games provided The Family Gamers with a promotional copy of Draftosaurus for this review.
- Art - 9.5/109.5/10
- Mechanics - 8.5/108.5/10
- Family Fun - 9/109/10
Age Range: 8+ (We say 5+, as long as your kids don’t eat the pieces!)
Play Time: 15-20 minutes