A ripple in a glass of water. The poorly-timed activation of an electric fence. A Tyrannosaurus wreaking havoc in San Diego. A motorcycle ride alongside a pack of Velociraptors. These images (and many more!) have cemented themselves in the public consciousness through the Jurassic Park franchise, and now you can unfold these dino-adventures at home on your tabletop. Created by the pop-culture obsessives over at Funko Games and Prospero Hall, Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar - currently up for crowdfunding on Kickstarter - brings all the thrills of the Jurassic Park franchise to the world of board games in this sprawling, approachable legacy-style game. At TechRaptor, we were lucky enough to receive an advance copy from Funko Games, and after playing through the tutorial and the first two missions, we're thrilled with what's on display. Read on for our full First Impressions!
How Do You Play Jurassic World: Legacy Of Isla Nublar?
Jurassic World: Legacy of Isla Nublar is a cooperative legacy board game for two to four players. The game itself is made up of a massive game board and tons of components (which we'll cover in more detail later), and sees players take on the role of various characters central to the history of the Jurassic Park franchise (as well as a few newly created characters) through a series of 12 linked adventures. But what is a "legacy" game? If you're unfamiliar with the term, a legacy game is a board game where the outcomes of, and decisions made, in one session of the game carry over and affect the next game you play.
A game of Jurassic World: Legacy of Isla Nublar is called an "Adventure," and in it players will have to work together to complete specific goals while navigating around the island of Isla Nublar. Each game is comprised of five rounds, and each round players have 9 total actions (split between all players) they can use to achieve their goals. Players can run around the island (though running into a space with a Carnivore is considered a "risky run"), they can do actions specific to buildings they enter (the tutorial adventure includes the Visitor's Center and the Genetics Lab), they can herd dinosaurs to keep them from going too wild, lead followers around the island, and more. Each character also has their own special benefit, like entering any room in a building, or moving other players around the board on your turn.
At the end of the players' turn, it's time to activate the dinosaurs. The map of Isla Nublar is divided into a series of sectors, which in turn is further divided into a series of zones. You'll flip a card for each sector, and that says what any dinosaurs in that sector do. Herbivores always wander in one of the four cardinal directions, but Carnivores hunt! To do so, they'll attack a character, follower, or another dinosaur in their space, attack adjacent characters, followers, or dinosaurs, or attack barriers that have been put up in their way. If there's nothing nearby for the Carnivore to attack, you don't just get a free turn! Instead, you've essentially lost track of that dinosaur, and roll a d20. The dinosaur immediately moves to the corresponding space on the die, and attacks whoever's nearby.
This creates a delightfully stressful situation, where you never quite know how a dinosaur will react. Will my triceratops wander right into the path of a hungry T-Rex? Will my Velociraptor stalk me through the rooms of the Visitor's Center? Each round, one thing is for certain: chaos rules all.
How Do The Legacy Components Of Jurassic World: Legacy Of Isla Nublar Play Out?
While the game mechanics I've just described make for a fun, thrilling play session, where Jurassic World: Legacy of Isla Nublar really shines is in that game to game legacy aspect. Without really spoiling anything, I'll just say that the start and end of each adventure are truly some of the highlights of any game session. Whether you win or lose - losing a previous adventure doesn't mean you're ruined on your next adventure - you'll gain useful resources to help you level up your characters, the dinosaurs in your park, and the infrastructure of the park itself. As you grow your park, you'll place stickers directly on the game board, forever changing the physical look and feel of your own personal board.
And each character available for play also has sections that can be scratched off (using a fun plastic raptor claw, included in the game), revealing new abilities and boons for your character. There are also nine hidden dinosaurs in the box that you can unlock as you progress through the game. Three of which are carnivores, three of which are herbivores, and three of which are "Wu Creations," - genetically modified dinos fashioned by the ambitious Dr. Henry Wu.
Also, as you progress through the game, you'll unlock sets of item cards, which will be added to your general supply of available cards. At the start you have only the basics: binoculars, a road flare, a veterinary kit, and the like. But unlocking items through genetic research or completing missions at the Visitor's Center will soon see you kitted out with incredible items to help you reach your goals.
What Is The Production Quality Like In Jurassic World: Legacy Of Isla Nublar?
If there's one thing Funko Games and Prospero Hall are best at, it's turning beloved pop-culture IP's into very satisfying tabletop games. If there's another thing they're best at, it's production quality. And that truly shows here in Jurassic World: Legacy Of Isla Nublar. The game is absolutely beautiful to behold, and attention has been paid to each and every detail. The quality of the dinosaur miniatures are outstanding. The stickers are clear and easy to use. The cardstock and cardboard included are all top of the line. And most impressive is the graphic design and visual layout of the game. The big board of Isla Nublar is colorful and bright, and the item cards, building tiles, and more add to the overall look and feel of the game.
But what really blows us away is the way the adventure books are illustrated. Designed to look like pulp comics from the 1950s, these adventure books (each of the 12 adventures get one, plus one for the tutorial, pictured above) not only explain the specific setup and rules of the adventure, but they also continue the story of your own Jurassic Park with a ton of personality and style.
What Are Our Thoughts (So Far) On Jurassic World: Legacy Of Isla Nublar?
We're only two adventures into Jurassic World: Legacy of Isla Nublar, but it might just be the best legacy game we've ever played. The hype is truly real on this one, as it just fires on all cylinders. From perfectly recreating the feel of the Jurassic Park IP with its adventures, characters, and iconography, to a simple-to-understand ruleset that slowly evolves in complexity as you move from adventure to adventure, Jurassic World: Legacy of Isla Nublar brings us all the thrills of the films like we've never seen in tabletop before. What I think is perhaps most revolutionary about this game is that you don't need the same gaming group to play with each and every time you sit down for a game of Jurassic World: Legacy of Isla Nublar. You're really all playing as employees of Jurassic Park interested in seeing it succeed, and the game system is flexible enough to allow new players to come and go throughout your adventure, either picking up characters that others have already played, or grabbing a new one.
We'll save the specific spoilers for our full review, but for now we can confidently say that if you're a fan of Jurassic Park, and want to dive into a big, audacious, thrilling adventure, Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar is absolutely worth your time.
To learn more about the game and get in on the adventure, check out Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar live now on Kickstarter.
The copy of Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar used in this review was provided by Funko Games.