Sunday, February 28, 2021
Dinosaurs of the Lost World
“For it is only when a man goes out into the world with the thought that there are heroisms all round him, and with the desire all alive in his heart to follow any which may come within sight of him, that he breaks away as I did from the life he knows, and ventures forth into the wonderful mystic twilight land where lie the great adventures and the great rewards.” - Arthur Conan Doyle, quote from The Lost World.
No big surprise that we have been playing a lot of board games lately, and recently I played one of my old time favorites from Avalon Hill, Dinosaurs of the Lost World based on the novel The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. We had not played it in years so I was pleasantly reminded of the game when Honorable Son #5 (The skirmisher) suggested we play.
Cover art of the boxed game.
Dinosaurs of the Lost World is inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic work of fiction: The Lost World. And just as that famous book was the prototype for a whole genre of “Lost World” literature, Dinosaurs of the Lost World broke new ground in the field of innovative game design. We purchased the game in 1998 and there was not any other "interactive" game like it that we see so commonly today. Players explore this Lost World, ever aware of its horrible inhabitants, in search of sites where they can embark on adventures yielding great scientific discoveries and means of escape.
When you "discover an adventure site" you move through it comic book style, hoping to gain Victory Points and materials to escape from the plateau.
Each adventure site leads players through an illustrated trek of great peril and reward. Comic book style story lines give vent to the player’s imagination as his adventures are visually pictured before him in an ongoing narration as he proceeds from frame to frame. Front and back full-color views of the dinosaurs actually stand erect and loom ominously across the plateau.
How we visualize exploring and trying to escape "The Lost World".
At the time Dinosaurs of the Lost World was different from anything you played before and changes with every game you play. Although simple in concept, the game comes in two versions — a basic game suitable for 8-year-olds, and the full game which will challenge even the most erudite game player while allowing his children to be competitive in the same contest. With a playing time of approximately 90 minutes per game, it is great family fun. Actually three games in one, Dinosaurs of the Lost World also contains a really great and challenging solitaire version for those wishing to play alone – pitting themselves against the forces of prehistoric nature in a race against the clock.
In the solitaire game, you must escape before the volcano blows!
The game board itself is rather busy with three main areas. The first is an outer movement track. On your turn, you roll two dice and move the same number of spaces as the result. The space you land on tells you:
1. Which action you perform – such as draw an event card or move a creature – and
2. The number of hexes you can move on the central map, the second main area on the board.
The map is covered with counters depicting various locations in the lost world where you can have adventures. These counters are face down, so you don’t know which location is which until you reach it and flip the counter.
Whoops. It caught me and I lose a tool. Fortunately after that I was faster, escaped to camp and lost a turn.
The third area is a chase track running along one side of the central map. This only comes into play if you lose a battle against a dinosaur or other inhabitant of the lost world: The creature chases you back to your camp, and every time it catches up to you, you lose one tool or a victory point.
You roll one die to determine how many panels you move along the adventure track, or you can use an experience card to move a predetermined number of spaces, as indicated by the card. The trick is to balance your die rolls with your experience cards to avoid the hazards and land on the discoveries.
But it is worth noting that quite often players are instructed to draw event cards, which can either be helpful or very, very bad. Also, players start the game by equipping their expeditions with eight tools, which is easier than it sounds. (Hint: You usually want to equip two rifles and a camera.)
An Event Card. If the lettering is in red, you have to play it right away.
This game is dripping with theme and atmosphere: you really feel like you’re exploring a prehistoric wilderness. A lot of little touches, like the chase track, make the theme come to life, as does the game’s excellent black and white comic book art.
As far as game mechanics, I really enjoy the simplicity of the design, but at the same time realize they may be the biggest drawback for serious gamers. Dinosaurs of the Lost World is not a game of deep strategy. If you are a gamer who enjoys outsmarting your opponents or challenging gameplay, this is not a game for you. But if you like an atmospheric, pulp adventure that is different every time - this is the game.
I'm a retired Colonel of Infantry (Regulars by God!) and Military Historian who likes to play with toy soldiers. I've been married to the love of my life since 1986, I have 5 honorable sons (my geeks in training), 3 daughters-in-law, 2 dogs, and a gazillion miniatures. Hobbies include . . . wait for it . . . Toy Soldiers, Reading, Wargaming, Reading about Toy Soldiers, History, Reading about Wargaming, Gardening, Reading about History and Reading.