What: Scientists vs dinosaurs in a simple to play game with hidden depth
Players: 2
Time: 20-30 minutes
People: For a couple or parent and child. Dinosaur love isn’t a necessity but recommended.
Available: On Amazon here

The Gist

Why we recommend it

Like many born in the 80s, an early childhood memory of mine is going to see Jurassic Park. The cinema was HUGE and so were the dinos. It’s a film in which the good guys are humans, the bad guys are humans and the dinosaurs are just cool.

Years later I would return to this cinema as an adult to see that it was merely a small house with 6 screens. Perhaps those dinosaurs weren’t so big?

Well, in Raptor they’re certainly not. They’re these tiny little buggers, and a slightly bigger mummy bugger.

And just like Jurassic Park, there are also some scientists. Are they the good guys trying to sedate the raptors for everyone’s protection? Or are they the villains who want to put their creation back into a cage?

Well I guess it depends on your perspective, as Raptor is a 2 player game in which one of you plays the humans and the other plays as the mummy raptor and her 5 babies.

In many ways it’s a very simple game. The scientists win by capturing 3 baby raptors or sedating the mother. The raptors win by having 3 babies escape or killing all the scientists. Only one side is doing the killing, so who are the bad guys now?

At Best Play we try to avoid getting too far into the detail of rules. We’re here to tell the stories and emotions a game inspires, but sometimes explaining how a game works lets it really shine.

First off, both players have a deck of cards numbered 1 to 9, with a special ability on each card. You both draw 3, play 1 in secret and flip ’em over.

This is where the game gets interesting. Whoever has the lowest-value card gets to perform the unique ability it details. For the scientists, this could be spreading fire to block the raptors, zooming around in a jeep or sedating multiple babies. For the raptors it can mean the mother calling her babies to her side or disappearing into the jungle only to pop up where the scientists least expect.

The player with the higher value card doesn’t get to use the card’s ability, but instead takes a number of basic actions equal to the difference in values. For example, if you play a 5 to their 2, you get 3 actions. These are very simple, generally slower, abilities like moving a space or sedating/killing something.

It means the game isn’t just about the strategy of how you move around and attack each other, but also one of reading your opponent to try and figure our what they’re planning on doing. If you think they’re going to play a low number, maybe play the highest number you have to maximise your actions. If you know they would really like to use a certain ability, play 1 lower than them to minimise their plan and maximise yours.

I often get overexcited about this. After figuring out what cards my opponent is likely to have in their hand and what their best play (see where we got the name from) is, I counter it. The raptor plays the 8 hoping to frighten some of my scientists into submission, but I trump them with the 7 meaning they only get one feeble action. I bask in my smugness for a moment and then go to use my ability… oh. I can make a small fire barricade. This is of no use to me. I should have been trying to capture another baby Raptor. Damn.

In sabotaging their turn I have also set fire to my own, literally. Other times I’ve completely misread the situation, accidentally giving the raptor 7 moves so it dashes around the board slashing and biting all of my scientists to death. Maybe I could have used that fire barricade.

With each turn and each play through you start to peel back the layers of the game, finding new tactics and counter plays that were completely hidden from you when you started. Just like a raptor.

Clever girl.

You to can be a clever girl and buy this game for yourself here. You’ll also be supporting Best Play at no additional cost to yourself! Thank you.