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What Points Can You Dig Up in Dino Dig: Risky Sites?

Dino Dig Box

Dino Dig: Risky Sites from Zerua Games!

As a kid, I grew up watching The Land Before Time series, Dink, the Little Dinosaur, and the Prehysteria! movies. Triceratopses, Stegasauruses, Ankylosauruses, and Pterodactyls were all some of my favorite dinosaurs growing up. In Zerua Games’ debut board game, Dino Dig: Risky Sites, 2-5 paleontologists go on a desert dig looking for, you guessed it, dinosaur fossils! Once found, many of these fossils need to be carefully pieced together, making this a great theme for use of a set collection mechanic! What types of dinosaurs can be found? Pick up a copy of Dino Dig: Risky Sites to find out!

Zerua Games is a new board game company that specializes in family-friendly games! Dino Dig: Risky Sites was both designed and illustrated by Amelie Le-Roche. If that name sounds familiar to you, it should! Le-Roche has worked on several video game titles including Injustice 2, Resistance: Burning Skies, and several Call of Duty games. In addition to Dino Dig: Risky Sites, Zerua Games is slated to release a game called Color Lab and another titled Monty’s Spectacular Circus Corgis in the near future. As of this review, all artwork and components were prototypes and the quality and components themselves may change with the upcoming Kickstarter campaign.

Dino Dig Set Up

An example set up for Dino Dig: Risky Sites

Dino Dig: Risky Sites requires a very simple set up. Firstly, there are 3 different types of cards: Dirt Cards, Tool Cards, and Empty Site cards. All of the Dirt Tiles are shuffled together and then laid out into a 5×5 grid, with each stack being 3 cards deep (as easy as this is, keeping it neatly stacked with the prototype cards was definitely easier to say than to do). These layers of cards become the “Dig Sites.” Based on the number of players, a set number of Empty Site cards are used per game. These should be placed near the site grid. Each player then chooses which Paleontologist they wish to be (Blue, Orange, Green, Yellow, or Red) and collects the Paleontologist meeple and their set of 5 color corresponding Tool Cards: Gloves, Boots, Scanner, Wheelbarrow, and Dirt Devil. Players then place their Paleontologists on available, unoccupied Dig Site, signaling the start of the game. There is no set way to determine the first player for Dino Dig: Risky Sites, so we have applied various house rules for this including the last person to dig a hole in the dirt, last person to watch a dinosaur movie, best dinosaur noise, etc.

Dino Dig Dinosaurs

Some of my favorite dinosaurs!
(All photos of Zerua Games products were taken and edited by KristaG)

Dino Dig: Risky Sites is a set collection tile game played over multiple rounds made up of individual turns. On each player’s turn they will take 2 actions of their choice from the following: Move, Dig, or Play a Tool Card. These actions can be done in any order, in any combination, and can be repeated on the same turn. When moving, a player moves their Paleontologist 1 space to one that is orthogonally adjacent. If the space already has a Paleontologist in it, it can not be moved into but can be skipped over instead. The same is true if the space contains an Empty Site card. There are 3 different types of Dirt Cards: Flat Dirt, Bony, and Rocky. Each type offers varying rewards and risks. For example, there is a chance to reap better rewards from Rocky soil, but also a much higher risk as Scorpions seem to love hiding among the rocks and they may just cost you few points at the end of the game! If a player chooses to dig as their action, they simply pick up and flip over the top tile underneath their Paleontologist. These tiles are used to collect sets of dinosaur fossils to score points. Some sets consist of only 1 card while others can consist of 2, 3, or 4 cards. In addition to these several different types of fossils, there are a few special rewards on Dirt cards. These are explained in full in the rulebook. If a player empties out a Dig Site, they place an Empty Site tile in that spot. Lastly, a player can also choose to Play a Tool Card. These cards have a 1-time usage, however, so timing can be key as to when to spend them! Once played, the card immediately goes into effect and then gets discarded. After the first player takes their turn, play passes to the left (clockwise) and continues in this fashion until the end game is triggered by placing the last Empty Site tile. Once this occurs, each other player will get a final turn. It is important to note that the use of a Wheelbarrow card can undo the end game trigger by filling in a previously empty site. When each player has their final turn, points are totaled and the player with the highest score wins.

Honestly, there is a lot to love about this game. It comes with a couple of rule variants as well as a fossil guide to make scoring and inventorying components easier. The game can be played very quickly which makes it a good one to play in between longer games, something short before bed, or a game to play with the kids or someone with a short attention span. One of the things I really love about Dino Dig: Risky Sites (other than the obvious: it has dinosaurs!) is that once you understand what your Tool Cards do, the game becomes language independent. The iconography on the cards does a decent job explaining the actions anyways, but it is also nice to have it written out in case someone doesn’t understand what each individual Tool does. This is a game that can be played with anybody at nearly any age and almost anywhere. It’s not really a game that works well for being on the go, however (so many tiles, so many possibilities for accidents to happen!), but that certainly isn’t a strike against it. My group and I found this quick set collection game to be one that we could enjoy with or without the kids so it being able to appeal to both crowds is a huge perk! Dino Dig: Risky Sites can be found on Kickstarter starting May 6th, 2019. How many dinosaurs can you find?

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