Kickstarter Tabletop Alert: ‘Dino Dude Ranch: Hatchlings’

Dino Dude Ranch: Hatchlings cover

Your Dino Dude Ranch is growing! Now, you can acquire eggs, pairing dino babies with parents… or maybe use them to attract oviraptors to your ranch.

What Is Dino Dude Ranch: Hatchlings?

Dino Dude Ranch: Hatchlings is an expansion for Dino Dude Ranch. It’s for 2 to 5 players, ages 8 and up, and takes about 20–40 minutes to play. It’s currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, with a pledge level of $16 for a copy of the game or $40 for a copy of the base game and expansion. (There are also pledge levels for deluxe editions, which include wooden resource tokens in addition to the standard cardboard tokens.) Note: the Dino Dude Ranch base game is required to play.

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Dino Dude Ranch: Hatchlings components
Dino Dude Ranch: Hatchlings components. (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Dino Dude Ranch: Hatchlings Components

Note: My review is based on a prototype copy, so it is subject to change and may not reflect final component quality. The photos in this post include a finished version of Dino Dude Ranch with a prototype of Hatchlings.

Hatchlings includes:

  • 20 Egg tiles
  • 6 Oviraptor tiles
  • 8 Hired Hands cards
  • 2 Rancher Bonus cards
  • 1 Incubator tile
Dino Dude Ranch: Hatchlings
Hatchlings come in five types, with varying point values. (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The egg tiles are the same size as the dinosaur tiles, but with a cut-out in one corner. The back shows an egg, and the front shows a baby hatchling. When placed on top of a dinosaur tile, the point value of the tile below shows through the cut-out, with the hatchling’s point value shown lower. The hatchling art is pretty cute, showing a cartoony dinosaur emerging from eggshell pieces.

The oviraptors are a new dinosaur tile that get mixed into the rest of the dinosaur tiles—more on those in the “how to play” section. The new hired hands cards feature Shelley M. Brios (punny, like the hired hands cards in the base game) and have to do with eggs. The hired hands cards are a strange proportion—like half a standard card lengthwise, so they’re long and skinny. I’m not sure why that decision was made for the original game, but the new cards are the same size, of course.

The incubator tile is a small round tile that looks like a nest—it’s simply a place to put the egg tile supply, and has a reminder about the unhatched egg penalty at the end of the game.

The two new rancher bonus cards are “Raptors!” (4 points per pair of raptors) and “Black and Blue” (3 points per pair of Plesiosaurus and Oviraptor).

How to Play Dino Dude Ranch: Hatchlings

Since Hatchlings is an expansion, I’ll just go over the new changes and skip most of the gameplay. For how to play the base game, please see my review of Dino Dude Ranch.

Dino Dude Ranch: Hatchlings setup
Jurassic Hunting Grounds, open for business! Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Setup

During setup, add the oviraptor tiles to the bag, and shuffle the new hired hands cards into the deck. Put the new rancher bonus cards into the deck before dealing one to each player. Put the incubator tile next to the Jurassic Hunting Grounds board. Shuffle the egg tiles and place them (egg side up) on the incubator tile.

Gameplay

Your turns proceed as usual, but now you have a new option: buying eggs. You may buy 1 egg on your turn at the cost of 1 food. The type of food you spend determines how many egg tiles you may look at before choosing one and placing the rest at the bottom of the stack: a leaf lets you look at 1, fish lets you look at 2, and meat lets you look at 3.

Dino Dude Ranch: Hatchlings egg
An egg takes up one space—but if you find a matching parent, it hatches! Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

After buying an egg, you place it face down on your ranch, unhatched. But if at any time you have a matching adult dinosaur (that doesn’t already have a hatchling on it), you flip the egg over and place it on the parent dinosaur. If that parent dinosaur is ever removed for any reason, the hatchling is removed with it.

Dino Dude Ranch: Hatchlings
The “Raptors!” rancher bonus card can be fulfilled with either oviraptors or velociraptors. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Oviraptors are like the other dinosaurs and will appear in the Jurassic Hunting Grounds. To claim one, you must spend one leaf, one fish, and one unhatched egg.

At the end of the game, hatchlings will score points as shown. They do not count toward rancher bonuses. The player with the most unhatched eggs loses 2 points as a penalty, and in case of a tie, all players tied for most lose 2 points.

Dino Dude Ranch: Hatchlings end
I managed to hatch several babies, but also lost points for tar pits and having the most unhatched eggs. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Why You Should Play Dino Dude Ranch: Hatchlings

As I mentioned in my review of Dino Dude Ranch, it’s a fairly light, casual game. It’s easy to pick up and pretty fun, with some choices to make between spending your collected food on dinosaurs or trying to get hired hands cards that may have powerful effects, or between buying just any dinosaur you can afford or saving up to get the ones that will give you a rancher bonus.

The expansion adds just a few more options for risk and reward, which is fun. If you don’t have the right food to attract a dinosaur (or you just don’t want that type of dinosaur), you can now spend your food on eggs instead, which might give you a couple points if you find the right one. Plus, since the hatchlings share a space with the parent dinosaur, you can potentially get a better score for your ranch. If you’re trying to attract an oviraptor, you’ll need some unhatched eggs, too.

Dino Dude Ranch: Hatchlings hired hands
Shelley M. Brio is a new hired hand who’s great with eggs and hatchlings. (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The risk, of course, is that you’ll end up with a bunch of unhatched eggs—not only do they fill up your ranch with non-scoring tiles, but you may also get a penalty if you get stuck with them until the end of the game. Some of the new hired hands cards can assist with that: for instance, you might be able to hatch two eggs without parents available, or swap an egg with another player (even a hatched one!). There’s even a card that lets you take an egg for free, or two eggs if you have an oviraptor.

Now, I do feel like I should point out that “oviraptor” is a bit of a misnomer (as I learned from Science Comics: Dinosaurs): it was first discovered in proximity to a nest of eggs and was presumed to be eating them; later researchers believed that it was in fact brooding and that those may have been its own eggs. But, as I said in the original review, if you’re really concerned about scientific accuracy, then probably a game about raising dinos on a dude ranch isn’t the right theme for you anyway.

I’ve played the Hatchlings expansion both with my kids and adult friends, and it’s gotten positive reactions. It’s not a heavy strategy game and you can end up rolling poorly and getting stuck with a lot of tar pits and food you don’t want, but with the eggs you now have at least a couple ways to spend unwanted food to try to improve your position, which is good.

If you like the original, I think you’ll really enjoy the tweaks that Hatchlings adds to the game. If you haven’t played the original, I would recommend it as a good pick for families and casual gamers, or that friend of yours who’s obsessed with Jurassic Park. (This Kickstarter is also your chance to get a copy of the base game if you missed it the first time around, since it has been sold out.)

For more information or to make a pledge, visit the Dino Dude Ranch: Hatchlings Kickstarter page!

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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.

Jonathan H. Liu is a stay-at-home dad in Portland, Oregon, who loves to read, is always up for a board game, and has a bit of a Kickstarter habit.