Publisher Letiman Games and designer Dan Letzring tempted fate and played god last year by bringing dinosaurs back, then making us manage a ranch full of them in Dino Dude Ranch. Well, they’re at it again with the upcoming Hatchlings expansion – live on Kickstarter now!
Hatchlings – which is a true expansion and will require Dino Dude Ranch, just so you know – adds a few new bits and bobs to the base game. These include eggs (that can hatch into baby dinos), oviraptors, a new Hired Hand, an incubator, and a couple of new goal cards. Of course it all ties back into the eggs, because “hatchlings,” obviously.
Integrating the new components is as easy as shuffling the new cards in with the old, then tossing the oviraptors into the bag with the other regular dinosaur tiles. Playing with the new content is also super easy, as the rules are exactly the same with a single addition: players can take an action to spend food tokens in order to acquire an egg tile on their turn. Simple, right?
The added gameplay wrinkles from Hatchlings are a welcome addition, as they make managing the ranch just a little bit more involved – though you could ignore the eggs entirely and just focus on regular dinosaurs if you really wanted. What’s interesting is how getting your hands on an egg isn’t immediately beneficial, at least not always. But once hatched, the babies are stacked on top of their matching parent (thus effectively having two tiles in a single space) and will give your ranch additional points at the end of the game.
You see, an egg can only hatch if if can be paired with a parent of the same dinosaur species. This means that the eggs you take could end up clogging spaces on your ranch until you wrangle the appropriate adult creature. Conversely, if you have the right parent already (and they aren’t already carrying a kid around) you can hatch the egg immediately. It’s a simple but effective way of sort of doing a risk/reward mechanic that most likely won’t frustrate young players.
The other, less-big-but-still-big addition is oviraptors, which function just like other dinos on the ranch except that you need to feed them an unhatched egg in order to get them (much like how you have to sacrifice a ranched dino to acquire a T-Rex). It’s not a bad mechanic in practice, and it makes sense thematically, though it didn’t seem quite as important as simply stacking hatchlings on top of parent dinos for added points.
The Hatchlings expansion was a fun little addition to our game of Dino Dude Ranch that was really easy to learn and incorporate. While it does add a little bit more complexity, I don’t believe it makes things any less accessible. Dino Dude Ranch stands on its own quite well (we still have a great time with it), but the Hatchlings expansion only makes it better!
(Gameosity received a preview copy of this game, with the option of requesting a final copy. We were not otherwise compensated.