Imagine putting yourself in John Hammond’s shoes. You’ve purchased Isla Nublar and made a series of questionable decisions. But it’s done. You have made the choice to bring dinosaurs back to the world and build a theme park like no other. Dinosaurs and humans? Nothing can go wrong! Adventure, chaos, and a lot of management await you. But what if all that was a fun, only slightly stressful romp? That’s what Funko Games’ Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar offers. With Jurassic World Legacy you can play in a beautifully designed game that plops you into various roles in the park.
The Prospero Hall-designed board game is a sprawling legacy game with 12 adventures. As players navigate through those adventures, they unlock characters and dinosaurs and permanently change the board and its components. Funko Games sent Nerdist a copy of Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar for review purposes, and because we want to avoid spoilers, we only discuss the tutorial adventure for now.
Jurassic World Legacy Set Up and Design
As you pull out the tutorial items, you’ll notice a bunch of carefully labeled packets that tell you to stop until you receive instructions to proceed. The design makes it very clear what to open when. Tempting as it may be to look at everything at once, I followed the rules.
The pulp adventure art style for Jurassic World Legacy jumps off all the printed components. Character cards, the round cards, items, the guide books—they all fit the theme. The attention to detail is apparent throughout from faux, but convincing, weathering on the sector cards to the carefully applied Ben-Day dots. Even the packaging for the different adventures and additional components catches the eye.
Looking at such lovely art makes setting up rewarding. It doesn’t feel like a task. And at least for the tutorial adventure, set up was straightforward and didn’t take too much time. You will need to clear a fair amount of space for this one, though.
The tutorial features a handful of unlocked characters and dinosaurs. You have the Tyrannosaurus rex, Brachiosaurus, Velociraptor, and Triceratops. Then you can choose to play one of five characters. Playing two tutorial rounds with two players, we tried most of the characters. None of the special actions seemed particularly weighed in favor of any single character. However, I did really like the ability to remove injuries from dinosaurs to help keep them alive.
Jurassic World Legacy has a pile of components but not so many as to be unwieldy. The dino minis are detailed and begging for paint. The characters have cardboard tabs you place in a plastic holder. I would prefer plastic miniatures, though I understand the game has a lot of characters and that may not be practical. Maybe plastic minis for the major characters from the films would have been a good compromise. Similarly I would like if the buildings had miniature options instead of cardboard tokens. That’s just a wish though; the designs as is don’t detract from the game at all. Plus, I know that elements will change since it’s a legacy game. I might place stickers on the board for those locations in future adventures.
I definitely recommend enhancing the mood by playing the scores from the Jurassic films while you set up and play.
Jurassic World Legacy Gameplay and Mechanics
Players can replay this adventure over and over to learn the gameplay; you don’t make any changes to the game just yet. As such, I recommend playing through a couple of times or until you feel confident about the game play. My coplayer and I lost the first time, so a replay was necessary.
As with wrapping your head around any new game, getting the lay of the land takes a minute. The instructions are direct and helpful. The tutorial has five rounds, so you can get into the swing of things. We stumbled through the first couple rounds but remembered the order of events in no time. One of the aspects I found most challenging was the number of actions. With two players, we each had four actions, plus a bonus action for nine total actions. It seems like a luxurious number, but that’s where they get you. At one point I thought, “Is this too easy?” It’s not—aside from perhaps the tutorial’s mini-games inside the Visitor’s Center and the Genetics Lab. I just wasn’t considering all the factors at play. I had to think through my actions more carefully than I assumed given I had so many of them.
Actually juggling the various objectives while remembering to use item cards and special character actions took me until the second playthrough of the tutorial. You lose an adventure if you turn over five or more consequences, so it’s a good idea to have a full understanding of how you can incur those consequences. Obvious? Probably. But I was too excited to jump in and didn’t learn until too late (as in the final round) that dinosaurs getting removed from the board leads to consequences. (I’m sorry I didn’t protect you, little Triceratops.)
Without using item cards and special actions, your character or dinosaurs will die. Bring in all the aspects you can and deploy them wisely. And as it’s a cooperative game, take a few to strategize with your fellow players. You don’t each need to expend all your actions at once and taking turns back and forth is helpful when trying to achieve objectives. Cooperative games are my favorite kinds of board games so I liked plotting each turn and anticipating the dinosaurs’ movements. The more you know about where they’ll go and what they’ll do, the better.
And while Jurassic World Legacy comes with plenty of elements to keep in mind, it didn’t feel overwhelming for too long. It all made sense and clicked the more we played. While moving my character away from a dinosaur on the game’s board wasn’t as intense as watching Jurassic Park for the first time, the threat did have a sense of urgency and intimidation. I took my responsibility of keeping park workers safe and uneaten quite seriously. I felt like part of the team bringing the theme park to life. The objectives put me in the middle of building and operating the park, and I look forward to seeing what future adventures have in store.
One aspect I quite enjoyed throughout play was referring to the rules. Normally I don’t like needing to do that, but Jurassic World Legacy comes with a ring of rules that makes answering a particular question about a dinosaur hunt or herding a snap. Every game should have a ring of rules. It’s not significantly faster than flipping through a rule book, but it is more enjoyable for some reason.
I went into the first Jurassic World Legacy adventure feeling confident. I’d learned a lot from playing the tutorial twice. I knew the game mechanics. But I think I got thrown by placing stickers on the board. Before beginning the adventure, it was time to place stickers for the Visitor’s Center and the Genetics Lab. That answered my question about why the game doesn’t include miniature buildings. We placed additional stickers for barriers and roads. It’s a part of legacy games I am not yet used to. I considered cutting out the stickers instead of permanently putting them on the board, but that is not the point, so I got over myself and affixed stickers.
The adventure added an additional component of gameplay with the field research option too. It made planning your handful of actions each round all the more vital. We struggled a bit to juggle the round goals with the overall adventure goals. A few rough sector card incidents didn’t help. That randomness fits with the Jurassic franchise though. Some days you check every task off your list. Other days the raptor ambushes your unsuspecting triceratops and you have to rescue it repeatedly. Helpfully this adventure also brought in goat tokens—perfect for giving the carnivores something besides people or other dinosaurs to attack.
Clinging to a fear of losing dinosaurs and flipping consequences, we got a little lost in the weeds. We didn’t look closely enough at the Genetics Lab task to account for how many actions we’d need to solve it. So we got all the way to the end of the adventure but couldn’t check it off.
The frustration of losing because of an incomplete objective and not because of consequences was real. We were so close to accomplishing everything and winning the adventure. But the Genetics Lab task did us in. Remember when I thought the mini-games were too simple? Good one, Past Amy.
Adventures after the first one come with some additional preparation and set-up, so build that into your play time. I joked that we played for an hour before we actually started playing. You’ll make some adjustments based on the outcome of your previous adventure. And don’t worry, even if you “lose,” which I felt quite concerned about, you still get new aspects to unlock (we unlocked another herbivore!). You’ll also have a budget for the first time, and though the rules stress this, make sure you spend every point. Leftovers don’t carry over.
We used our budget to build additional barriers around our carnivores, but I wish we would have used some funds to train park employees. This feature enables park employees to help with mini-games in the genetics lab and visitor’s center. The first adventure taught me you can’t have enough assistance in that arena.
The second adventure also introduced weather effects. It’s one more thing to stress about as you play. Sector cards show the weather, and we made it to the fourth round before the tracker moved enough to cause a power outage. However, we didn’t have any electric barriers in place. We didn’t have anything the power affected, thankfully, so we just left it off instead of scrambling in the last round.
In the second adventure, I felt like I really got into the groove. We made time to conduct field research (I encourage this as it unlocks helpful features) at the expense of not searching the sectors/having less item cards. I thought we would lose this adventure. Especially after the first adventure loss. The number of objectives we needed to complete felt impossible. Impossible! While I wondered at times during the tutorial if Jurassic World Legacy would be too simple, I can emphatically say it is not. I find it quite challenging. But with teamwork and strategic planning (and the luck of favorable sector cards), it is doable. Completing tasks and winning the adventure without any consequences was all the more satisfying after feeling overwhelmed.
Keep this post bookmarked, as I’ll return with reviews of the Jurassic World Legacy adventures as I play through them.
Originally published April 7, 2022.