SOS Dino: The Family Board Game for Dinosaur Lovers
Dinosaurs have long been near the very top of the list for popular kid obsessions. And for good reason too. They were giant monsters that actually existed - what’s not to like about that? So, if your goal during family game night is to engage the little ones, going back to a time that dinosaurs ruled the earth makes a lot of sense.
Disclosure: SOS Dino was provided to us by the publisher in exchange for our honest opinion - with no expectation of this featured article. We only write about things we love and all thoughts and opinions are our own.
The secret to a really great board game is finding the right combination of theme and mechanics. Obviously the game has to be fun to play, but you can’t afford to ignore the story and the presentation either - particularly when we’re talking about trying to appeal to imaginative little ones. For many kids, including our 6-year-old and our 3-year-old, the creative role playing is sometimes even more important than the nuts and bolts of the game itself.
LOKI is an exciting new publisher for kids games that really seems to embrace the importance of presentation in their games. A single glance at their current lineup of family games is enough to notice their eye for design. The bright, colorful illustrations on the boxes and game boards are definitely very eye-catching - which makes them very popular choices for the kids to grab when they are looking for a game.
And speaking of grabbing games based on their looks - the very first thing that jumps out at you about SOS Dino is definitely the amazing dinosaur figures. They are a huge part of the game’s charm - and that’s certainly not by accident. In fact, LOKI’s stated mission is all about “creating unforgettable experiences” - using “engaging components, and the most beautiful illustrations.” So far, I have to say mission accomplished on both counts.
SOS Dino is the perfect example of this mission statement coming to life. It’s a fantastic looking game. These figurines are just about the most adorable little dinosaurs I’ve ever seen. If you tend to really get into the story of games like we do, being in charge of their safety can actually be pretty nerve-wracking.
And if you’re looking for something to appeal to the little dinosaur fanatic in your house, SOS Dino truly hits a lot of the right notes for us. Before this game, our favorite family dinosaur game was Peaceable Kingdom’s Dinosaur Escape - another fantastic dino game for a slightly younger audience. But SOS Dino really ups the ante for dinosaur fans.
It has turned out to be the perfect progression for our family in the world of dinosaur gaming. Not only do you need to save the dinosaurs before the volcano explodes, but this time there are winding rivers of molten lava to avoid - and meteorites crashing to the ground all over the place.
SOS Dino is also a cooperative game - still one of our very favorite ways to play board games - so it was a natural fit for our family. The very first night we got it, my 6-year-old son and I stayed up way past our bedtime to try it out. We played it on easy mode and we had a blast together. We actually rescued all of the dinosaurs and all of the eggs in our very first game - and my son decided to start a record book to keep track of our high scores.
The point of the game is to rescue as many eggs and dinosaurs as possible before the game ends. During your turn you draw a tile and place it on the board. Most of the tiles are lava tiles that need to flow from one of the volcanoes on the board - while some of the tiles are meteorites that strike the ground in specific places. And, in the meantime, everyone has to work together to plot out a course for both the lava flow and the dinosaurs.
There are a few different ways the game can end - such as running out of tiles or losing all of your dinosaurs. However it ends, you get two points for each dinosaur rescued and one point for each egg. Afterwards you can refer to the reference sheet to see how your performance stacks up.
To make the game harder, there are optional environmental obstacles you can add to the game. I always appreciate that kind of flexibility that lets you grow with the game. And now that we’ve added these extra thorny bushes to the map, I’m not sure when we’re ever going to have a perfect game again. The last time we played was pure chaos - with two volcanoes exploding within the first 5 turns. The paths of the dinosaurs were quickly cut off by rivers of molten lava, and we ended up losing 1 egg and 1 dinosaur.
And, speaking of losing eggs and dinosaurs, I have to admit there’s a twinge of tragedy in it. The dinosaur minis are so adorable and endearing - it’s sad to see the little guys struck by a meteorite or cut off on the wrong side of a river of lava. Both my son and I can be visibly disappointed in such a fate. Ultimately I think that speaks highly of the engagement of the game - and it raises the stakes of being in charge of their rescue.
The recommended age from LOKI for SOS Dino is 7+, but our 6-year-old certainly has no issues at all. Our 3-year-old, on the other hand, is definitely more interested in playing with the dinos and the landscape as a play set. However, I think that 4 or 5-year-olds could possibly play along, especially since it’s a team-oriented cooperative game.
And I don’t see us growing out of this game anytime soon either. The challenge and unpredictability of this game - not to mention its charm - has me thinking that we’ll be playing this one for years to come. And we’ll definitely be keeping a close eye on what LOKI has in store to capture our imaginations next.