Board Game Night: Jurassic Park: Danger!

Let’s pretend it’s 1993 all over again, and you just saw Jurassic Park for the first time in theaters. Or perhaps you’re like me, and you weren’t quite old enough to see it in theaters, so instead, you watched the movie for the first time on VHS. Either way, it’s really hard to experience the feeling of watching the movie for the first time. If you’re anything like me, you like to try and cater to that mindset by delving yourself into the narrative in different ways. As a child, I used to love to run from imaginary dinosaurs while fighting off a group of raptors. I bought special editions of the DVD’s when I was older, and I still listen to the soundtrack with awe. I’ve pretty much delved in as far as I can. So to help bring back those old feelings, it was a moment of joy when we came across Jurassic Park: Danger! during a random Target run one day.

Instead of being eight and running from the imaginary dinosaurs, now you get the chance to take on the role of a dinosaur in an attempt to chase down and eat the pesky humans running amok on the island. Or you can still be that eight year old kid, but instead, you’re not just running away. Welcome…to Jurassic Park.

Jurassic Park: Danger! is for 2-5 players, takes approximately 1 hour to play, and is for ages 10 and older.

Setup for Jurassic Park can be quite complicated. Since this is a team versus one player style game, there will be separate setup processes. The general setup, however, is as follows.

Put the board in the middle of the table and then separate the tiles by type: Start, Center, Perimeter. Place the start tile in the center of the board, art side up, and then randomly place the other tiles in the appropriate spots on the board. Find the tiles with the Maintenance Shed, Control Center, and Visitor’s Center labels on them. Place the appropriate tokens, gray side up, on those tiles. Place everything else, game pieces and all, to the side of the board. Now you have to decide who will play the dinosaurs, and the rest of the players will be the characters.

The dinosaur player sets up differently than the characters. Take the dinosaur mat and put it in front of you. Take the 10 dinosaur cards and dinosaur tokens and put them in front of you. Shuffle the cards and draw three cards. Place the remaining cards in the draw pile and put the dinosaur token on the Rest spot. Take your dinosaur movers and put them on their corresponding spaces on the board. This will vary every game as the tiles are randomly placed on the board. The dinosaurs are now ready for play.

The characters follow a different path of setup. The human players randomly pick their characters. Like Forbidden Island and Pandemic, choosing the characters rather than letting it be random can make the game unfair as some characters are easier to play than others. Take the character mat and place it in front of you. Take all of the cards associated with that specific character. At the start of the game, you’ll start with all ten cards in your hand. Place your character’s mover on the Start tile. Read your character’s goal out loud to the other players, the dinosaur player included. If your character has a goal that correlates to a specific tile on the board, add the character token to that tile. The humans are now ready for play.

The object of the game is different for each team. The humans are trying to activate the three locations (Maintenance Shed, Control Center, and Visitor’s Center), accomplish a certain number of goals, and get a certain number of survivors to the helicopter pad.

The dinosaurs, on the other hand, are simply trying to kill three survivors.

Whichever team accomplishes their goal first wins the game!

Sequence of Play

The sequence of play follows the same steps each round.

Step one: The dinosaur player plays a card. The dinosaur player chooses a card and places it face down on the dinosaur mat. Immediately draw a new card to replace the one you played.

Step Two: The human team plays one card each. Each player chooses their card and places it face down on their character mat. If one of the cards says Free Action on it, it can’t be played during this phase. Unlike the dinosaur player, humans do NOT draw cards after playing.

Step Three: The dinosaur player reveals the played card. Then move the dinosaurs based on the action(s) stated on the card. If the dinosaur player wishes, he/she can now take an optional dinosaur option. These actions are listed on the dinosaur mat. There is one skill for each dinosaur. The game started with the token on the Rest spot. If the player wants, he/she can choose any of the open options to play after the card has been revealed and resolved.

Step Four: The human players reveal their cards and resolve the action(s) listed on the card. The humans now have an option to play Free Action cards with various effects. The humans may play as many Free Action cards as they wish after all cards played during step two are resolved. Any played cards go into the discard pile.

Step Five: The human players may replenish their hand by “burning” any of the cards remaining in their hand. They burn the cards by putting them into a burn pile and drawing the number of cards burned from the discard pile. Any burned cards are now out of play and cannot be drawn/used again.

After those steps, you’re ready to move on to the next round. Just repeat the steps in subsequent rounds.

Playing as the Dinosaurs

The dinosaur cards have different actions on them. Each card has more than one action. Each action can only correlate to one of the dinosaurs on the board. One dinosaur cannot use both actions. Those actions are as follows:

If you play a Run action, a dinosaur can run into an adjacent space. However, the dinosaurs may not cross over and cliffs or electric fences. If a dinosaur enters into a tile with a character in it that isn’t sneaking (more on this later), then the dinosaur attacks (more on this later as well). No two dinosaurs can enter the same space at any time unless a specific action says otherwise.

If you play a Climb action, a dinosaur can climb over cliffs or electric fences that haven’t been activated yet onto an adjacent tile.

If you play a Sneak action, a dinosaur can now perform a surprise attack on the characters. During Sneak, your dinosaur can move over cliffs and unactivated electric fences without using a Climb action. To indicate that your dinosaur is sneaking, turn the dinosaur onto its side. On Step Three of the NEXT round, the dinosaur will come out of Sneak by standing up on the it’s on OR on an adjacent tile. Standing up (reappearing) does NOT count as a dinosaur action or move.

Once you have resolved your card, you may now take one of the actions from your dinosaur mat. There is one move for each dinosaur, and you can only take one per turn during this step.

“Move up to two spaces in a straight line. This allows you to cross Cliffs and Deactivated Electric Fences, and even other Dinosaurs!”

Tyrannosaurus Rex
“When you attack, select two Cards instead of one, at random, from the Human Player’s hand.” (Attacking will be discussed after this section)

“Attack one Character in an adjacent space. This attack works through Cliffs and Deactivated Electric Fences, but not through Activated Electric Fences or into Locations with a Lock Token.

Using one of these actions puts it on cooldown for one round. In the following round, you’ll have to use one of the other two. If you don’t want to use any of them, you can move the dinosaur token to the Rest option, and all three will be available on the following turn.

A dinosaur will attack a character under certain circumstances. Those circumstances are if a dinosaur moves into a space with a character in it and that character isn’t sneaking, if a dinosaur stands up from sneaking in a space with a character not sneaking, or a character stands up from sneaking in a space with a dinosaur that isn’t sneaking.

The way an attacks work involves a basic, simple card burn by the dinosaur player. The dinosaur player chooses a card at random from the attacked player’s hand. The human players may see what card it is, but the dinosaur player cannot look at it. The human player immediately burns the card into the burn pile.

If two players are on a tile and a dinosaur attacks, the human players get to choose which character is attacked.

That’s it! That’s the simplicity of attacking the humans.

Playing as the Humans

Playing as the humans requires careful strategy and teamwork. The objective for the humans is far more complex and intensive than the dinosaurs, as it would be if you were actual people stuck inside Jurassic Park.

In order to even escape the island, the humans have to reactivate the three main locations. The locations of these buildings will always be in the same place on the board because they aren’t on tiles, but instead set in place on the board. The pathways to get to those locations might change, but the location itself is always the same.

During Step Two, the human players will play a card from their hand with some of the following actions on them.

The character will run into an adjacent space but cannot cross cliffs or any electric fences. You are not allowed to enter a space with a dinosaur unless the dinosaur is sneaking. Unlike dinosaurs, two players can be on the same tile at any time.

Climb: Roll X+
The character can climb over cliffs or deactivated electric fences. In order to climb, the character rolls the dice and must roll a number equal to or higher than the number shown on the Climb card. If you roll high enough, the character climbs into an adjacent space. If you fail the roll, add the card back to your hand instead of the discard pile.

Sneak: Roll X+
The character will enter into sneak. Just like Climb, you have to roll the dice and get a number equal to or higher than the number shown on the card. A successful roll means you turn your character on their side. During Step Four of the following round, your character must stand up either in the space they’re on or an adjacent space as long as it doesn’t cross an activated electric fence. If a dinosaur enters into your tile while you’re sneaking, you don’t get attacked. Remember, you CANNOT enter a tile with a dinosaur on it unless the dinosaur is sneaking as well.

At any time, if you fail your roll during the Climb or Sneak action, you can try to boost your roll. After you roll the dice, you can choose to boost your roll by burning a card from your hand and adding the number shown on the bottom of the card to the dice roll. When you burn a card during a boosted roll, you must show the card to all players.

Activating Locations
In order to escape the island, you have to activate the three locations previously mentioned. In order to activate the location(s), you have to roll the dice. If you roll a 5 or higher, the location becomes activated. You may choose to boost your roll if you want. Once you succeed, you flip the token on that tile to show that it’s activated. Once activated, the location remains activated for the entire game. You may try to activate a location at any time, once per round, while on the tile with that location. Here is what each location does:

Control Center
Once the Control Center is activated, place lock tokens on the Maintenance Shed, Control Center, Visitors Center, and Helicopter Pad. Dinosaurs are no longer able to enter into those tiles at any time for any reason. If a dinosaur happens to be on one of those locations, simply move the dinosaur to an adjacent location of the human player’s choice.

Visitors Center
Whichever player activates this location may immediately add two cards to their hand from the discard pile.

Maintenance Shed
Once this location is activated, all of the human players decide whether they want the electric fences turned back on. You can either turn them ALL on or leave them ALL off. You can’t pick and choose.

The humans all have goals on their character mats. Some of the characters have to travel to different places on the board and roll the dice to obtain a goal token. Some characters start with their goal token and must keep them.

Once all of the locations have been activated, the humans must make their way to the helicopter pad with their goal tokens.

Winning as the Dinosaurs
In order to win as the dinosaurs, you must kill/eliminate three characters. Humans are killed in the following ways:

A dinosaur attacks a human and he/she has no cards left in hand. The human player doesn’t have any cards and can’t play a card during Step Two of the round sequence. A human player decides to voluntarily eliminate his/her character.

Winning as the Humans
In order to win as the humans, you must activate each location send a certain number of humans with their goal token to the helicopter pad. For 2-3 players, two humans must make it to the helicopter pad with goal tokens. For 4-5 players, three humans must make it.

After all of that, the game will finally be over! I can say, without any hesitation, that the game is fun but doesn’t stand on the same ground as other more well known board games. The idea of playing as an entire team against one player is quite fun, but in our experience, the dinosaurs are extremely overpowered and make the game almost too difficult to win from the human side. We grabbed the game on a whim while at the store one day, and it definitely fulfilled that love of Jurassic Park. The character cards contain photos of the actual characters from the first movie, and even the dinosaur tokens are nicely made. Unfortunately, we would almost rather delve into a game of Betrayal at House on the Hill with the traitor mechanic than play this game with a starting opposite team. It’s a fun little game, but it takes much longer than the game says it will because of how much strategy the humans have to discuss and think about before enacting. If you love Jurassic Park, it’s a fun little game to add to your collection, but this game is more for novelty than it is for hardcore gaming.

Welcome to…a drawn out, less exciting, but still kind of fun version of Jurassic Park!

Board Game Geek: Jurassic Park: Danger!

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