I’m behind on posts due to extra work the past couple of weeks. Recently, we played DinoGenics with the expansion (Controlled Chaos) and then Kanban EV.
DinoGenics + Controlled Chaos
I’ve previously reviewed the base game, which, in short, is fun but nothing unique. The theme really helps it stand out. So we were really interested to see what the expansion did to the game. We also now have the metal coins, which are neat, but they’re so specific, it’ll be difficult finding another game to use them with.
First, it adds a new board that includes aquatic dinosaurs. These dinosaurs have some really interesting effects, much better than the stegosaurus or triceratops from the base game. There are now also facilities that take up 2 spaces instead of 1, all of which have some pretty strong abilities on them. But one you can always buy is the aquatic habitat. Then there are the specialists which you buy with Manipulation Cards. These have abilities and/or endgame scoring. There is also wild DNA you can buy that helps complete dinosaurs. There are also new facilities and cards for all decks, including new land dinosaurs. All of which, thus far, have been more interesting and inventive than most of the base game ones. I want to play it again before doing a review, but it’ll probably change my score for the game to at least an 8.
In our game, I was the first to—dive—into the aquatic dinosaurs. The Mammoth facility (with its own mammoth meeple) and animatronic rex also helped bump me into first in reputation, so I held first-player for most of the game. But my brother grabbed the private runway so he could always go to one space (for free) even if it was filled. We were all a bit slower to take specialists. It can be hard losing those Manipulation Cards since they’re really powerful. You tend to have extras later in the game.
I was tempted to risk a rampage to get one of the big aquatic dinosaurs, but things just didn’t quite line up for it. I wasn’t able to get the wild DNA or a card to complete the set, and instead, I had the cards to complete a different dinosaur which then took up the habitat I had bought. Ah well. My big project was the skytrain which I put into the center of my park. It scores bonus points for dinosaurs in adjacent (viable) habitats. On top of that, one of the rare dinosaurs (from the expansion) gave me another point per unique dinosaur. So, for end-game, I was basically scoring double for all of my dinosaurs who were each unique and in habitats that were adjacent to the skytrain.
This was only our second game of Kanban, but we had previously played with the original Stronghold version. Right away, I’m not really a fan of the new look. The muted colors and extremely busy details hurt usability. It’s much harder finding things on the new board, and we had some issues with the layout. We’ll probably get used to it, but we definitely didn’t have usability issues with the original version. There were also rules and iconography issues. It’s very unusual for a Vital Lacerda game as well as for Ian O’Toole’s graphic design. None of his other games have had this issue, but we had multiple problems with this one.
We had some interesting challenges in this game. One of the cards used to fill in the warehouse only added 2, and the warehouse was left nearly empty most of the game. We took what was good as soon as we refilled, so nothing was really allowed to build. This also meant that recycling never moved because we rarely had parts to trade. Our bonus goals were also on the tougher end. We needed 4 and 5 upgrades for two of them and 5 cars for another, and the certification track rewarded the last two levels. And for some reason, for most of the game, we kept pushing cars that weren’t in demand. So we got our speech bubbles from other sources, mostly. Somehow, we actually had plenty of speech bubbles for the meetings.
I had hoped to get all 3 of the bonus end game scoring, but my brother stole a red car from me on the track, and I was worried it would take too long to push two out for the 7 points. I instead just focused on the other cars. Upgrades were also a huge score for me, which I had done last time we played. In the last round, I did some upgrading with parts vouchers (Amazon boxes, as I called them) and filled up on high-scoring parts.
I do enjoy Kanban, though there were some annoying usability problems with the new version. EV also comes with a couple of modules to play with, so we’ll probably try out the supercharger one next time.