Draftosaurus Review - Box Feature

Draftosaurus Review (2022): Build Your Dino Zoo

Play Time: 15 Min / Players: 2-5 / Complexity: Low / Age: 8+ we think 6+ / Publisher: Ankama Games / Designer: Anotoine Bauza, Corentin Lebrat, Ludovic Maublanc & Théo Rivière

Draftosaurus Ratings and Summary

BoardgamingParent.com

Kids Rating
Teen Rating
Parent Rating

Summary

Kids rating from our daughters (7 &10).
Teen rating from our son (14).

Draftosaurus is a light, fun, quick family game that is perfect for when your short on time. The dino theme is likely to appeal to younger kids and with two boards to choose from, you are likely to get good replay value.

3.7

Pros

  • You can play a fun game in under 15 minutes
  • Very cool dino meeples and theme are likely to appeal to kids
  • Simple and light gameplay make it a breeze to teach
  • Some good replay value with two board options to choose from
  • Two player rule variations work really well.

Cons

  • Not a lot of depth here so older kids may find it a little too simplistic.

Big thanks to BoardGameRentals.co.nz for providing a copy of this game for review. As always, we provide our own unbiased perspectives on games we review.


What You Will Find in Our Draftosaurus Review


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I can still remember when the first Jurassic Park movie came out. A theme park full of dinosaurs brought back from extinction made it a must see for me. Decades later publisher Ankama games has crafted a 15-minute family friendly game around a similar concept. This time the focus is the cute factor instead of scare factor though. With cute wooden dinosaur meeples, super simple rules and fun dino drafting gameplay they have created a game that’s likely to appeal to families and younger kids especially. While there isn’t a lot of depth here, they have packed a lot of fun into this short filler game. We’ll explain why in our review.

How to Play Draftosaurus

If you have ever seen a Jurassic Park movie and thought you could build a better Dino theme park than they could, you’re in luck. Scientists have now finally cloned dinosaurs! Dino zoos are sprouting up all over the world. Your job is to build the coolest, trendiest dinosaur zoo with the perfect mix of dinosaurs. Make sure you don’t go stingy on the fences, you don’t want a repeat of what happened in the movie.

Objective

The goal in Draftosaurus is to place your dinosaur meeples in your very own zoo as effectively as you can to gain the most points by the end of the game. The dino’s here are very precious and have very particular requirements about who their neighbours are. My advice is not to get them cranky!

Set Up 

Draftosaurus Review - Game in Play
Every player will receive a board to populate with cute colourful dinosaurs. Each Pen has its own special restrictions and scoring rules.

To play, give each player a zoo board and decide which side you will use for the game (summer or winter). There are 6 unique dinosaur types each in a different colour and they look very cute. Remove a certain number of dinosaur meeples according to the player count and then place the remainder in the bag.

If your kids are anything like my daughter, you may need to wait until they have finished playing with the colourful dinos before you get them in the bag. You are now all set to build your dino zoo.

Turns

If you have played Sushi Go! before you will be familiar with closed drafting which is the main element of Draftosaurus. If not, don’t worry it’s all very simple. Each player will grab 6 random dino’s from the bag and keep them hidden in their hand. Then they will select a dinosaur to place in their zoo. The catch is that every turn the active player will roll the placement die which will create additional restrictions on all other players. The die restrictions include:

  • Woodlands: Dinosaurs can only be placed in a Pen in the woodlands section of the zoo
  • Grasslands: Dinosaurs can only be placed in a Pen in the grasslands section of your zoo
  • Restrooms: Dinosaurs can only be placed in a Pen on the restroom side of your zoo
  • Food Court: Dinosaurs can only be placed in a Pen on the food court side of your zoo
  • Empty Pen: Dinosaurs can only be placed in an empty Pen
  • Watch out for T-Rex: Dinosaurs cannot be placed in the same Pen as a T-Rex.

The added restrictions provide a little excitement each turn as you have to adjust your plan to accommodate restrictions. My kids always enjoy being the active player and watching the die roll interfere with other people’s plans.

Draftosaurus Review - Winter Side of Board
There are two board sides to choose from, summer or winter. Each has different scoring conditions for each Pen. This provides some nice variation.

Each Pen also has its own unique scoring conditions which must be met. This requires players to think ahead when placing dino’s to maximise their scoring potential. You will only place 12 colourful dinosaurs in the game so you want to make the most of them. Each Pen has its own placement restrictions and rewards, the Pens for the summer zoo board are outlined below:

  • The Forest of Sameness: You can only place dinosaurs of the same colour here
  • The Meadow of Difference: Each dinosaur here must be of a different species, no double ups. My daughters favour this Pen and seems to make a lot of points from it
  • The Prairie of Love: Dinosaurs here must be placed in pairs to score points. Each pair is worth 5 points
  • The Woody Trio: This Pen can hold any dinosaur and will give you 7 points if you have exactly 3 dinosaur meeples here
  • King of the Jungle: This Pen can only hold one dinosaur. If you place a dino here and you have the most of that type on your board out of all players you gain 7 points
  • Solitary Island: This Pen can only hold one dinosaur and grants 7 victory points if you do not use that dino colour anywhere else in your zoo.

What if I don’t have any good options? Does that mean I waste my turn? I hear you say. Not quite. There is a river in the middle of your zoo, which very helpfully can accommodate any dino for 1 victory point. It’s a meagre reward but better than nothing. Besides, dinosaurs bathing majestically in a river could be good for business, right?

Play will continue with each player selecting a dino, placing it and then passing their remaining dinosaurs to their left without revealing them. The round ends when all dinosaurs have been placed. The game runs for 2 rounds resulting in 12 dinosaurs in total being placed in your dino zoo. Once the second round ends, players count up their points to determine the winner. All of this is packed into roughly 15 minutes.

Two Player Rules

Draftosaurus Review - Dinosaur Meeples one of each type
There are six different dinosaur types each with a different colour and shape. The key is keeping track of what has been played so far and what’s left to help inform your decisions.

The two-player game is worth covering as it has some really neat rules to keep things interesting. Drafting at 2 players wouldn’t really be that fun as you would have perfect knowledge of all dinos in play after the second turn. Draftosaurus has a very cool rule tweak that keeps it interesting.

48 dinos are used for two players and the game plays almost exactly as we have explained. The key difference is that every turn, players will place one dino and then discard another removing it from the game. The game runs for four rounds total instead of two, but still results in 12 dinosaurs populating your zoo by the end of the game.

My youngest daughter and I have played two player mode a lot and really enjoy it. The added layer of ditching a dino each turn can be used to deny your opponent’s key dinosaur colours to mess with their plans.

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Gameplay Experience  

Draftosaurus is a light, accessible drafting game that is family friendly and in particular should appeal to younger kids. There isn’t a lot of depth here but there are still some meaningful and enjoyable choices to keep things interesting.

Drafting in general is an easy concept to pick up and Draftosaurus is possibly the simplest drafting game I have played. Pick a dino, place it in your zoo and pass to the left. Easy. The great thing is that there isn’t really any text here to worry about, so younger kids can get fully involved without any issues. My 7-year-old was confident playing after a couple of turns and very competitive.

While this is a simple game, that doesn’t mean that it lacks strategy. Each game you know exactly how many cute colourful dinos of each type are in the bag. As the game progresses and more dinosaurs are placed it provides you with more information to inform your strategy. My daughters are constantly scanning other players’ boards to figure out how many of each dino colour are yet to be placed.

Draftosaurus Review - Game in Play winter side of board
The winter side of the board presents some new challenges. We really enjoy spicing things up by alternating between summer and winter boards every few games.

Even my youngest daughter is quite cunning at knowing just what to pick to sabotage me and maximise her points. ‘Hmmm, so you don’t want any green dinos, right dad? How about I pick this purple one for me. By the way that means you’re getting my last green. No 7 points for you.”

The addition of placement dice also adds some spice to the game and keeps you on your toes. It’s just another layer to consider that forces you to adapt your plans if the die roll isn’t favourable. It can throw a spanner in the works but rarely does it leave you without options. The River space means that you always have a fall back, although it will only provide a meagre 1 point reward.

For the cost of 15 minutes of your time there is a lot of fun to be had here. The fact there are two board sides to choose from with unique Pen requirements also adds some replay value to keep things fresh. We enjoy both and the winter side seems a little more challenging to us.

My youngest daughter is just mad about this game. After her first game she insisted on teaching it to the rest of the family. It was so cool watching her confidently take the lead and introduce a game to her siblings. The next morning the moment she got up she asked me to play a game before breakfast. The great thing is that because it is so quick to set up and play, I can say yes more often than not.

We aren’t all fans of this game though. It is likely to have a greater appeal to younger players given its simplicity. My teen son just doesn’t really enjoy it, he will play but wouldn’t choose it. For him it just doesn’t have enough depth, and the luck of the placement dice frustrates him.

Components

Draftosaurus Review - Dinosaur Meeples and Dice
The wooden dinosaur meeples are cute and colourful. A big draw card for younger kids.

For your hard-earned cash, you will get 5 double sided player boards, a wooden placement dice and 60 cute coloured wooden dinosaur meeples. The highlight will be the dinos. My daughters really love these, and I think they will be a big draw card for most kids.

The double-sided boards are a good size and the iconography makes it easy to be able to understand restrictions and scoring for each Pen. The bonus here is that it all fits in a smallish box which is great if you have limited shelf space.

Theme

The theme isn’t particularly deep here, you could be placing anything on the boards really to trigger points. The clever thing here though is that dinosaurs are a big draw card for lots of kids and bottom line the theme doesn’t really need to be that deep in a filler game for it to be enjoyable. I think a lot of kids will be enticed by the box art with the cool T-Rex roaring at visitors.

Final Thoughts

Draftosaurus is a light, fun and quick playing filler game that will likely have high appeal to kids and families. The rules are simple but still offer some satisfying choices to make things interesting. My daughters just love this game, but my teen son finds it a little too simple and I think that might be the case for a lot of teens. Overall, there is a lot of fun packed into this simple 15-minute game.

Is Draftosaurus easy to learn?  Incredibly easy to learn. One of the simplest drafting games I have played.

What will Draftosaurus teach my kids?   This game will teach kids to be more aware of what other players are doing and the total numbers of dinos played. This also adds considerations of basic probability to figure out chances of getting certain dino types in future rounds.

What age is appropriate for Draftosaurus?  We think 6+ would work for Draftosaurus, it is a very simple game and has minimal text.

Does Draftosaurus have good replay value?  Yes, as a light filler game we think the replay value is good. The fact there is a winter and summer board to choose from will keep things interesting.

We hope you enjoyed our Draftosaurus review. If you have any more questions or just want to share your thoughts on this game please leave a comment below, or get in touch through our contact page. You can also check out the Draftosaurus BGG page for more info.

About the Authors

We are parents who love board gaming. We have three children and have been enjoying board games as a family ever since we had our first child. We share our real unbiased experiences and opinions on board games so you can decide if they are right for your family. We also write guides and articles to help you get the most out of your family game time. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Draftosaurus Good at 2 Players?

Drafting games can be a bit hit and miss at low player counts. Draftosaurus has a good rule variation which keeps things interesting. Every time you draft a dinosaur meeple you also remove one from the game which adds a layer of strategy. I think it’s a great 2 player game.

Do I score points for each dinosaur in the pyramid or for each row completed?

Each dinosaur will score points. So for example if you have 3 dinosaurs in the bottom part of the pyramid in the winter board you would score a total of 6 points (2 points x 3 dinos).

Do dinosaurs in your River count for the Solitary Island Pen?

Yes, all dinosaur meeples regardless of where they are placed on your board count. So if for example you had a green dino in the Solitary Island Pen and a green dino in the River, you would not be eligible for the 7 point reward.

Which order do you perform actions in a 2-player game?

Both players must first select and place a dinosaur on their boards. Once that is completed, they must select a dinosaur to remove from play. This allows you to see which dinosaurs have been played before deciding what to remove from the game.

Do you still get a point for each T-Rex in Pens that don’t score?

You get one point for each T-Rex placed in your zoo regardless of whether the Pen they are in scored or not. So, for example if you have a single T-Rex in the Prairie of Love Pen you would get 1 point for the T-Rex even though you did not meet the criteria to score 5 points for the Pen.

Strategy Tips

  • Keep Track of Dinos: When you start the game all the info you have is knowing the total number of dinosaur meeples that are in the bag and what’s in your hand. As dinos are placed each turn this gives you more information to base your decisions. Keep track of what’s been placed and keep counting. If for example you know your opponents have placed blue dinos in the Solitary Island Pen, it’s a good bet you could easily get a bonus for collecting the most blue dinosaur meeples, for the King of the Jungle Pen.
  • Use the Solitary Island Cautiously: It is a risky move placing a dinosaur meeple in the Solitary Island early in the game. Clever players next to you can take the opportunity to force you to take that colour near the end of a round. It’s best to use that Pen when you are confident most of that colour dino has been played and the risk for you is low.
  • Mess with Your Opponents Plans: There will be opportunities where you can minimise your opponent’s points by drafting a dino that is useful to you and leaving a dino your opponent doesn’t want. For example, take the scenario above but in reverse, you know your opponent has a purple dino in their Solitary Island and you have one in hand, don’t pick it so they are lumped with it.
  • T-Rex’s can be Good and Bad: T-Rex’s can give you a great points boost because of the extra point they provide just for being a cool T-Rex. However, they can also cause you grief due to placement die rolls that can prevent you from placing a dino in a Pen with a T-Rex. Therefore try not to spread T-Rex’s in lots of Pens, try to concentrate them in one or two Pens if possible so you don’t get stuck due to an unlucky die roll.
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