Idle Remorse

Review: Dinosaurs of the Lost World

Review: Dinosaurs of the Lost World
Publisher: Avalon Hill
Year: 1987
Tagline: An Adventure Game for Ages 8 and Up

The cover has adventurers looking on some dinosaurs, with a large T-rex in the forefront

how we met

I bought Dinosaurs of the Lost World on the Geekmarket! Bill had played the game years and years ago. After he described it I was eager to give it a whirl. I actually found a sealed copy for a very fair price. When it arrived I ripped that plastic off and away we went!

I think I paid $40 for this copy, and I was very happy with that price. I still have never seen it in the wild, but my friend Melissa got a copy at a swap meet. Miracles do happen.

how it plays

The first thing to do in Dinosaurs of the Lost World is to set up for play. Place hexes face-down throughout the game board to represent unexplored sites. Mix up the tool markers and place them face down in a stack on the TOOL space. Shuffle the EXPERIENCE and EVENT decks and place them nearby.

The hexes say combos of Nothing Here, Items, and Locations for Adventures
Here are some of the Hexes. A LOT of them say Nothing Here
Experience cards
All the EXPERIENCE cards are similar to these

Finally, each adventurer gets to choose any eight tools to bring with them on their trip, and no more than two of each. These are secretly written down on a scrap of paper by each adventurer (you will not get markers for these). I think guns are a good choice, but generally this is a crap shoot so just go with your gut and call it good. The back of the rules will tell you the options and where they may come in handy. Once gameplay begins your choices are no longer secret.

Tool markers
During gameplay you will get Tools randomly, and here are some of them!

Your turn involves three things:
1) Roll two dice and move your EXPEDITION along the board. Note: your EXPEDITION is shaped like an arrow, and this is helpful so make sure it points the way that you should be moving. You will bounce back and forth since you can’t turn corners without enough Victory Points, so movement is not always clockwise.

The EXPEDITION pawns
The EXPEDITION pawns that move on the outer track of the board. The pawn here that is not shaped like an arrow has the awful job of representing you on the CHASE TRACK

2) Perform the action of the space you landed on.
3) Move your regular pawn on the Lost World Map up to the number of spaces indicated by the space your EXPEDITION landed on. Regular pawns always start in camp and can move outward in their exploration. They are often sent back to camp.

Plain pawns like from any roll and move game
These plain Janes move you around to explore the middle of the board

The entire time you play, you will gain and possibly lose Victory Points. They need to be tracked on your scrap of paper because they are key to your escape.

There are times when you will need to go into battle, either with a competing EXPEDITION or with a creature such as a dinosaur.
VS EXPEDITION, if you win the battle you get to take one experience card, or a non-weapon tool, or an event card of your choice (event cards and escape items can’t be lost, although BGG has some interesting takes on that) from the loser. If you lose, you return to camp and lose your next turn.
VS creature, if you win the battle then you get to stand your ground and remain where you are. If you lose, you are getting chased on the super fun CHASE TRACK.

Dinosaur pawns
The higher the number, the more difficult these creatures are to battle against

Oh the CHASE TRACK, my old friend. This is you running for your life while a creature chases you. Roll one die and move forward. One of the other players will roll for the creature chasing you. Creatures never move past you, but if they hit your square then you lose one tool or experience card each time. It really sucks, so run fast! When you get to the end you move back to camp.

Certain hex locations on the map have red stars on them. If you begin your turn on one of the hexes with a red star then you can choose to HAVE AN ADVENTURE instead of rolling the dice. This involves going through the comic sheet for that particular adventure until completed. It’s kind of like a choose-your-own-adventure except the die and any EXPERIENCE cards make all your decisions for you. If you have any of the recommended Tools for that adventure, shown in the upper right corner of the sheet, then draw an EXPERIENCE card for each tool you have before you begin.

Adventure M Tree Fern Grove
This is Adventure M Tree Fern Grove that recommends having 1 Shovel and 1 Machete for best play. In these Adventures, EXPERIENCE cards are everything

Once a player has received 25 Victory Points then they may attempt to escape the island! There are three ways to do this:

1) Landing on the last frame of the Indian Caves adventure and having either the Lost Map tile or event card 22.
2) Landing on the last frame of the Pinnacle adventure and having either the Role tile or event card 21.
3) Landing on the last frame of the Geyser adventure and having either the Tarpaulin or event card 23.

Then you win!

Note: most adventures may not be repeated once you complete them. However the three above (Indian Caves, Pinnacle, Geyser) may be completed again since they are your means of escape.

how it went

Dinosaurs of the Lost World is probably one of the more complex games I covered on the blog here, at least so far. But it’s honestly really easy once you get started. Don’t be intimidated by the long (Avalon Hill) rulebook. It’s really a game on the outer track of the board, a game on the inner portion of the board, and occasionally a comic adventure.

our play
A shot of our play late in the game

I have played Dinosaurs of the Lost World a number of times, with anywhere from 2 to 4 players. I found the gameplay to be enjoyable at all of those levels, but with a few nuances to be aware of along the way.

With 4 players gameplay takes a bit longer because you potentially have more people going through adventures, getting chased, etc. But it also helps to explore the board quickly, and it brings all of the juicy items to the table for getting plundered.

My cards and items during play
I was pretty stacked for this game

With 2 players gameplay can go more swiftly, but you have to be careful about being on the offense with attacking your fellow player. All of the weapons and allies they had pointing at creatures can quickly become pointed at you and really ruin your game. I guess it feels like imbalance can happen more quickly in the smaller player numbers.

I love a bunch of things about this game, most of which are very thematic. I love choosing my initial tools even though I don’t know what I might encounter. I love making friends and enemies in my adventures. I love collecting random items that might help me escape in the future.

Example event cards
Here are 3 randomly chosen EVENT cards to show you variety (red is bad)

The CHASE TRACK can definitely become a bummer if you visit it too many times. It always sets you back at camp and that can be a very long way from where you intended to be. Your movement can give away your immediate goals, especially when you get set back.

The board showing chase track
Not a great picture of the board, but after I mentioned the CHASE TRACK 18 times I thought a photo was due. It is that thing running along the top. Also it’s hard to see but CAMP is in the bottom hex row, 3 from the right, black text on dark green background

The comic adventures are such silly fun. If you have enough EXPERIENCE cards then your adventure can be a cakewalk, but those cards don’t grow on trees so make sure you aren’t using them when your alternative is acceptable.

We only played once with our regular Idle Remorse game group of four players, and luck was really on my side for that game. I was unintentionally, gleefully hoarding all of the items that are required for escape. It was my game to lose, but instead I blew that popsicle stand, left my terrible friends behind, and won Dinosaurs of the Lost World!

One of the adventures The Geyser
I escaped on a Geyser!

We played the first Choose Your Own Adventure game House of Danger when it came out. So much reading, so little replayability, but so unique. Dinosaurs of the Lost World is kind of like that. I mean it has replayability, but one of its strengths is that it is pretty unique.

play or pass

Super play! The gameplay is more simplistic than the long rules would lead you to believe. There are certainly more sophisticated games out there, but not quite like this one. And the theme is strong, which I always appreciate.

I’d be surprised if a lot of people became addicted to Dinosaurs of the Lost World or brought it to the table constantly. But I’d also be surprised if a lot of people decided to get rid of their copy after play. It’s a fun, approachable game and it has dinosaurs!

Guest Review: Lost: The Game

Today’s guest review is by Melissa! Melissa is a Milwaukee-area thrifting minion with a lifelong love for gaming. She is one half of the group The Tester Sisters, who are print ’n’ play enthusiasts providing playtesting for games not yet published, rulebook reviews and general honest gameplay feedback. Melissa can usually be found at GenCon and Wisconsin-area Protospiels. You can reach out to The Tester Sisters online or find their impressive resume on Board Game Geek

Review: Lost: The Game
Publisher: Cardinal
Year: 2006
Tagline: (none, sadly)

This cover photo is courtesy of Flip the Table’s blog post

how we met

I’m pretty sure that I heard that the Flip the Table crew had done an episode with this game, but I don’t remember actually listening to the episode. Either way, I was a fan of Lost when it was on more than a decade ago. The show was filled with mystery and exploration, which I found really interesting. The ending wasn’t really what I was hoping for, but it was ok.  So, when I found the game at my favorite thrift store for $1.99 I knew that it had to come home with me.

how it plays

The object of the game is to be the last one standing on the island. Yup, it is a game of player elimination. So, that’s promising.

Each player gets to choose between 2 randomly dealt characters with power values ranging from 1 to 5. If you get two characters with powers of 2 or less, you get to keep both. 

Then you set up the island using “Shore” and “Inner Island” tiles. There are about twice as many tiles as you will use in each game, so there is a lot of randomness or replayablilty depending on how you look at it. The tiles are placed face down and will be explored during the game. Some have a red camp triangle and when explored (flipped over) will introduce a new unplayed character onto the map who players can try to get to join them.

Each player starts next to one of the shore tiles and at the beginning of their turn must move each character they control one space (unless they have an ability or FATE card that allows them to move further). After each character moves, if they are on a face down tile, the tile is flipped over and they must do whatever the tile directs them to do. Most often, the player will draw one or two FATE cards. The FATE cards will be one of three types: an encounter with something bad that the character has to roll a die against, an item which may be useful, or an event card (which can be saved for later, though you can only have 4 in hand at the end of your turn).

The game ends when there is either only one player left or a player has reached one of their character’s alternative win conditions. It is important to note that 12 of the 17 characters have an alternative win condition.

how it went

I played this twice, on the same day with two different groups. The first game was with my husband and older preteen son. I gave us each one of the characters with power of 4 or 5 just to even that playing field. My son and I landed on tiles that gave us cards that were items or events, my husband landed on a tile that only did something for another character and then a tile that gave him a FATE card that was an impossible encounter. Then on his third turn, I used my character to try and “lead” his character. I won the die roll and his was eliminated from the game. Two turns later I eliminated my son from the game.

The second play was with six players. Two players were eliminated very quickly by failing die rolls against other players. A third player was then eliminated by a tile that called for a coin flip, which he failed and then was eliminated from the game. Of the three remaining players, one was much more powerful and had gathered a hoard of six characters. The other two players just ran around avoiding the powerful player until we decided to just call the game and be done.

play or pass

Hard Pass. I’m not a fan of player elimination and I’m really not a fan of player elimination when it is based on a die roll. Everything about this game is random: the character you get to start out, the tiles that make up the island, the cards that you may or may not be able to draw, and the die rolls. In both games I played, players were eliminated due to die rolls (just one roll and you’re out of the game) and one player was eliminated by a coin flip due to landing on a tile. That’s not fun for anyone. And if you aren’t eliminated early on, you either start gathering an unstoppable hoard of followers or you run for your life.

My husband did suggest that the way to improve this game would be to introduce the marble race element from The Magnificent Race to replace the die rolls. One marble per power on your characters, and one black marble for the Smoke Monster. Winner of the race gets all the characters. It would be short, but much more fun.

Miscellaneous: a love letter to Gloomhaven

[this post contains no spoilers]

My Dearest Gloomhaven,

Over two years ago you arrived on my doorstep, and you were ambition itself. I didn’t know much about you, but I adored you. I placed you on a shelf of prominence. And I thought about you, read about you. I heard about you.

I thought our story was epic. Spanning years and organizers. Cards torn and blood shed.

Life went on. My eyes found you less frequently. And life went on. You became part of the background. And life continued to go on until I didn’t really see you anymore. When I did think of you, I debated selling you since I just wasn’t going to get around to giving you the attention you deserved. No, demanded. And then I met a stranger, someone who claimed to know you. Someone who introduced me to how you think, your quirks, your subtlety, your maddening logic.

It has been over two years since I met you and over one year since we started getting to know each other. And oh boy.

We aren’t perfect, are we? I wasn’t happy with you out of the box, and I bought Plano organizers to make you just a little bit better for me. You bring out the nasty pedant in me. You make me fight with my friends. And honestly, you are kind of heavy. You take up a lot of space, both on my table and in my head.

Yet I take bath time quizzes about monster movement because of you. When looked at closely, all of the rules make sense. Could be no other way. But you make me work for it. Ambition itself.

And just when I think I know you, think I know just what you might do, you show me something new. Sometimes I might catch your move a little early, or more often a bit late, but just when I think I understand you thoroughly you tease more depth and different (but strangely similar) gameplay. I didn’t even realize I was on an upward trajectory until I looked down. And I need a whole new strategy to ride this wave.

Then you introduce me to new characters, new ambitions. And then you take them away. What kind of cruelty is this? Would I know how to love you without this hate? You push me when I don’t feel ready. But I rally.

And my friends love you too, in ways I don’t even catch all the time. Our characters have ridiculous names at first glance, but if you take a closer look they are deeply tied to us. We are bringing ourselves to you in these small ways. We are showing up for you. I parade games from all decades in front of my friends, but they still ask for you.

Gloomhaven, you keep me guessing. You keep me gold-poor. You keep me cursing. You keep me blessing. You keep me occupied. You keep me in the high-highs and the low-lows, often in the same night. You exhaust me. You make me want to paint. You make me want to go back in time and appreciate punching you, all those months ago.

I will send a midnight group text about you. I will marshal my google skills to find an obscure ruling. I will lovingly organize you for hours, and I will protect myself from your secrets. I will be your champion.

I thought our story was epic. Spanning years and organizers. Cards torn and blood shed. And here we are. You are my only 10.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Gloomhaven.

Review: Harassment

Review: Harassment
Publisher: TDC Games, Inc.
Year: 1992
Tagline: THE GAME THAT LETS YOU BE THE JUDGE

The cover shows the word Harassment in large bold type, with the "ment" looking like it is torn away

how we met

Harassment is a game I found during that silly exercise when I looked at games by year on BGG. Thank goodness I only got through like 2-2.5 years or my wishlist would be even more ridiculous. But a game from 1992 about Harassment? I’m interested.

I eventually ended up purchasing Harassment on eBay, something I rarely do. But this copy was sealed and cost scarcely more than I could expect to pay at a thrift shop, shipping included. So I should not have been surprised when I received a cash-on-delivery slip from my local USPS because the sender had shipped as media mail (a cheaper form of shipment which games do not qualify for). I mildly harassed the seller until we struck a deal, I agreed to cover a small portion of the fee, and the game was mine.

FUN FACT: I’m not sure about your post office but mine seems to always check media mail. Just this past week I got a kickstarted RPG book in the mail that was opened and examined. And it was rather book-shaped.

Within a year of my purchase I would find another copy of Harassment in shrink for $1 at a local thrift shop. I believe eventually I will find anything, and this is one game that helped solidify that theory.

how it plays

The goal of Harassment is to be the first to the end (or have the most points after however many cases you decide) by correctly guessing how your fellow players will judge specific cases of possible harassment. Players can split into individuals or, if you have a lot of people, into teams.

One single person will play the JUDGE each turn. The JUDGE begins the turn by reading out one of the cases from The Case Booklet. The rules do not specify or suggest how to choose a given case, so you can go in order, pick at random, or read a couple of lines to find one that strikes your fancy.

The three booklets: The Cases, Yes and No

After the JUDGE reads their chosen case, the player to their right reads the YES argument out of the Yes Booklet. Then the player to the JUDGE’s left reads the NO argument out of the No Booklet. After both arguments have been read, all players except the JUDGE may discuss if they want to. After the discussion is over, the JUDGE votes on how they feel about the case by playing one of their voting cards face down: YES if it was harassment at either 5 or 10 points, or NO if it was not harassment at either 5 or 10 points.

Then the other players bet on how they think the JUDGE ruled by placing their own vote cards face down. They too can bet 5 or 10 points on their decision, depending on how sure they are.

The voting cards are black and red
The backs of the cards all match, but you can secretly wager more on your guess by playing 10s instead of 5s

Then everyone reveals their cards, points are assigned and the JUDGE position passes to the left.

If players guessed correctly (meaning a correct yes/no regardless of points) they receive the points they bet. If they are incorrect they lose the points they bet. The JUDGE receives the points on their card only if a majority of other players correctly guessed their judgment. They do not lose points (so always play 10 point cards as the JUDGE, guys).

Scoring tracks have numbers 0 through 9 on the left and 0 and 5 on the right
The scoring track is a little wonky but not difficult to use, particularly since you are betting 5 or 10 each time

Play continues until each player has been JUDGE twice or until some other ending point that you determine. The player with the most points wins!

how it went

This was an interesting game. It was not as ridiculous as I expected, and I kind of like games that force people to argue viewpoints that they don’t necessarily agree with (I’m looking at you, Loudmouth). There were a few cases that were so obvious that even our snarky group did not have to think or argue or wonder about their bet. But we always started our Yes / No readings with a very decided, “Yes!” or a very resolute, “No!”

And some of the cases aren’t all that obvious. Some of the issues are petty while some are perfectly insidious. It’s pretty interesting.

The cases in Harassment range from things like a boss able to watch you work constantly from where their office is, or a shopper yelling at someone that has 12 items in the ten items or less line, to truly vile things like a person that likes to give hugs.

This case is about a boss that asks a man to stay for meetings often around 4:55pm when he has a train to catch
We’ve all been there amiright? Lots of open questions here though.
The yes/no arguments around the boss harassing the employee
When does being a jerk make you guilty of harassment? This is why we have professionals for these types of things.

I like, too, that the game allows for some nuance in the wagering of points. That’s not a whole lot of wiggle room, but it allows you to kind of say, “I think you will say this but I’m not 100% sure.” Because maybe a reasonable person could go either way on some of these. Or argue specifics beyond what is presented to the group.

You also might decide to judge a case a certain way based on the grace of the person involved (spoiler: usually not much grace) versus determining whether or not someone was harassed. For example, we can argue the ethics of a person standing with 12 items in the ten items or less line, but the game is really asking whether the person that loudly called them out and shamed that shopper was harassing them. The offended shopper yelled, “I can count! Can’t you?” And I mean, maybe they can’t. Or maybe they just don’t care. Or maybe they are in a hurry. Or maybe they are distracted by extremely distressful personal issues. Or maybe they think they are better than you. And why did the other shopper yell at them, maybe the same reasons? We really don’t know. There’s something to be said for giving the benefit of the doubt. Although I wouldn’t always bet 10 points on it!

And that’s because Harassment scenarios, like real-life, are full of assholes. And sometimes the assholes are harassing people, and sometimes the assholes are getting harassed by people. And if you are harassing an asshole, you are a harasshole. It feels like the game is often trying to trick you into voting against the jerk regardless of who is being harassed, which just goes to show that Harassment is hanging its hat on what was probably a less discussed and understood word in 1992, harassment.

We all played decently, but Bill was ahead for most of our gameplay. And Bill won Harassment!

play or pass

Mmmmm, pass. Not a big, booming pass recommendation because I think Harassment has the potential to point out biases and assumptions that we have. The judgment is not as straightforward as one might assume. The game forces you to constantly reshape your definition of harassment, but many of the scenarios rely on confusion or righteous irritation to create the nuance that exists in real harassment stories. And maybe that’s the point.

But it’s still a party game, and we had a good time.

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