Spiel 2013 Preview: Triassic Terror

Posted by James (admin) on October 20th, 2013

Triassic terror game

Triassic Terror is by the designer of Francis Drake as well as the very good War of the Roses.  It is an area control game with some interesting game mechanics.

During the game, players place dinosaurs (meeple) of their colour in different areas on the board.  A group of dinos of one colour is called a ‘herd’.  Players with the largest (and second largest) herds in each of the 12 areas during the 2 or 3 scoring rounds score points, and the player with the most points at the end of a fixed number of rounds wins.

Each area contains 3 spaces called ‘habitats’.  The biggest herd in an area occupies the primary habitat (scoring the most points), the next largest herd occupies the secondary habitat (scoring fewer points than the primary), and the next largest herd occupies the tertiary habitat (which scores no points but, hey, it’s better than being any smaller as herds not in the 3 largest instantly die).  Whenever herds grow or shrink, the habitats are re-assessed; for example, if there’s a herd of 3 blue dinosaurs in the primary habitat and a herd of 2 red in the secondary habitat grows to 4, then the red herd would move into the primary habitat and the blue herd would move down to the secondary.

So, Triassic Terror has some great potential for ‘humourous screwage’  as players take out other players’ dinosaurs.  For example, the migrate action lets you move one of your herds into neighbouring areas (and you can split it up too); however, migrating confuses other herds and one of each other herd joins your herd (changes to your colour) as you leave.As you would expect, some of the different actions allow players to grow some of their herds, or start new herds.  However, some actions are a bit more unusual.  For example one lets the player take temporary ownserhip of the T-Rex on the board.  It counts as 3 dinosaurs but, more importantly, it gets to move and eat other player’s dinosaurs.  Another action moves the raptors who eat a few dinosaurs but also scatter some dinosaurs into neighbouring areas.

Triassic terror cover

There’s more to think about too as each of the areas is one of the 4 different environment types.  When any herd moves into a different environment, the shock is so great that one of their herd dies.

Triassic Terror is an area control game which sounds like it contains a lot of tactical decisions and potentially brutal outcomes.  Turn order is interesting because the turn order positions associated with each action tile change a lot each round.  At the end of each round, unused actions move down to later turn order places (with a bonus added to each), and the used action tiles are randomly placed in the remaining spaces.

It sounds like a very interesting game.  The designer sites the excellent, classic, area-control, game of El Grande as his favourite area control game and you see the good influence of this.  Also, the game was just awarded ‘Best New Strategy Game of the Year’ in the US too.  Plus, hey, dino-meeple!

You can read the rules and see some details of the game on the game’s website using this link: bga.me/triassic


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