If your kids (or really any kids that you’ve been entrusted to look after) have a passing interest in dinosaurs, then you simply must introduce them to Jurassic Snack. This gorgeous small box game is a two-player feast that is suitable for kids of around six years and upwards, offering fifteen to twenty minutes of bite-sized fun.
Inside the box for Jurassic Snack, I was pleasantly surprised to find ten surprisingly large and very well made diplodocus miniatures in blue and yellow, each with a cute little face and some lovely detail showing off their tales, legs and eyes. These diplos (as the game calls them) are accompanied by two very detailed T-Rex miniatures, complete with open mouths filled with cartoonish but nonetheless menacing teeth.
Four small boards and just under thirty tokens round out the contents, with each token showing greenery on one side and one of several bonuses on the other. The four boards each show nine spaces, two of which will have eggs on them (a blue one and a yellow one.) These four boards can be placed any way you like as long as they connect, and then a diplo model is placed onto every egg of matching colour, making four of each on the combined board and one each in reserve.
The greenery tokens are then shuffled face down and placed onto all remaining spaces, whilst the two T-Rex models will sit beside the board, awaiting a specific summons to join the game. The only other component aside from the box itself is a brief instruction manual, which explains the actions available to the players and the structure of play, but will mainly be used as a handy reminder for what each of the greenery tokens does once it is collected.
On that note, when the game begins, the players will spend a lot of their time collecting those tokens. The first player takes one action, which will always be to move one of the diplo’s in their colour onto one of the orthogonally adjacent spaces. This allows them to flip the greenery token there and to receive the bonus shown on it in turn. All greenery tokens are retained since — in addition to frequent bonuses — each token is worth one to three points during end game scoring.
The bonuses shown include introducing a T-Rex to the board (which will scare away the diplo causing them to return to the player who controls them), looking at surrounding tiles, destroying two tiles of your choice or perhaps even having a diplo egg hatch (allowing a diplo to return to the board.) There are quite a few different bonuses, and whilst simple enough for an adult to remember, young children might need help to interpret each of the possible bonuses.
On the second player’s turn, the game begins properly and players can now take two actions per turn each. Aside from moving a diplo any number of spaces orthogonally until it meets another diplo, a greenery tile, a T-Rex or the edge of the board, players can also use their turn to move a T-Rex, if there is one on the board. When this happens, a T-Rex will also move any number of spaces orthogonally, but if it meets a diplo, that diplo will be scared away and forced to leave the board.
A game of Jurassic Snack ends when either the last greenery tile is token, or one player has no more diplos on the board. In honesty, about half my games seem to end either one way or the other, but that might be because my children are particularly bloodthirsty. I’m quite surprised that a game for children of this age group is so take-that heavy and we’ve had many tears and tantrums following the last diplo being chased away — and again, that might be because both my kids believe that they are actually being eaten… Perhaps you can concoct a more compelling narrative to the contrary than I can?
Regardless of the relatively cut-throat nature of the gameplay, young children (of about five and upwards) seem to love Jurassic Snack. What is even more impressive about it is that I look forward to playing it almost as much as the kids do. The game is simple to learn and play but certainly not lacking in strategic interest, and the hidden bonuses are interesting and varied enough to keep the gameplay fresh and tense with each turn.
Thanks to superb, engaging components and very simple gameplay that appeals to a broad range of players, I’m really happy to say that Jurassic Snack is a firm favourite in my family game collection. It’s the perfect way to get younger players interested in making the slightly more complex decisions required by bigger and heavier games, whilst in itself, Jurassic Snack is very accessible whether you play it seriously or not. It’s certainly a game that I highly recommend and will enjoy for a few years to come.
You can find Jurassic Snack on Amazon.