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July 12, 2018

Mondo Jurassic Park Board Game Images and Details Revealed (And Why I’m Hesitant About This Game)

jurassic park the chaos gene

As a huge tabletop gamer, it brings me much pleasure that Mondo has been dipping their toes into the board game space. Last year, they teamed up with USAopoly for the hidden traitor game The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31 and this year they are announcing Jurassic Park: The Chaos Gene. Today, Mondo has released our first look at the game’s miniatures and have revealed some of the game’s mechanics. Some of these details have me excited, but others have me feeling a bit…skeptical.

Mondo Reveals Jurassic Park Board Game Details

Described as a traditional dungeon crawl style board game spliced with an asymmetrical approach to the game’s playable characters and factions (i.e., each player will play very differently), Jurassic Park: The Chaos Gene is a 2-4 player adventure of varying strategies, objectives, and perspectives. The scenario-based game involves exploring the park through the eyes of one of the four separate factions with their unique objectives. Here’s how the factions break down:

Whether working in the field of science as the head of InGen to maintain the stability of the park’s infrastructure or running terrified as invited guests of John Hammond, the humans use their abilities, specializations and resources to reach their objectives. The quick, lethal and stealth-like Raptor faction proves that humans are not the only animals that utilize their intellect and communication skills to solve the many movement challenges the park presents. The fast, gigantic and formidable Tyrannosaurus Rex poses a constant threat to all of the players. Driven by her base instincts, her objectives are the most straight forward… EAT!

I already own Dinosaur Island, a great tabletop eurogame which puts players in the John Hammond role of designing your own dinosaur amusement park. But the idea of a game that puts me into the world of Jurassic Park excites me, especially coming from Mondo, a company I trust for creating kick-ass artwork. We’ve been big fans of Mondo since discovering them at the Austin Alamo Drafthouse more than a decade ago, but I’ll be honest: some of the details here make me nervous and skeptical.

jurassic park the chaos gene

Why I’m Skeptical About Jurassic Park: The Chaos Gene

The game artwork is being designed by artist Matthew Woodson, who is a great artist but not really a huge name in the Mondo poster scene. From what I can tell from a quick BoardGameGeek search (basically IMDB for board games), Woodson has not previously designed any board game art. Mondo has a history of discovering and promoting artists to the masses, so this might not be too surprising. Woodson’s artwork is great, but will it translate to a board game? The lack of images of the board itself has me worried, as that’s usually the visual centerpiece of tabletop marketing. It’s also weird that the box itself is so minimalistic, especially since you have a great illustrator attached to this project.

However, do get a hint of the illustrated magic Woodson provides on the side of the slipcase and in the background of the faction art below. And the miniatures look cool, even if they’re not quite on the level of CMON, the best in the biz when it comes to tabletop components.

Making a good board game is not easy and asymmetric games are considered one of the hardest kinds of games to design. Basically, asymmetric gameplay means that all the players are playing different roles with completely different game styles. Balancing and making one game fun is hard enough – this game is trying to do that with four separate games essentially. It’s not like it hasn’t been done before. 2016’s Vast: The Crystal Caverns was critically acclaimed for its asymmetric gameplay and is considered one of the best and most innovative games produced in the past decade.

This game system is designed by Luke Byers, another name that has no credits on Board Game Geek. From what I can tell, this is the first game Byers has ever designed and, quite frankly, that’s insane. This is enough to give tabletop fans some worry. Mondo’s Infection at Outpost 31 looked great, but it paled next to other games in the hidden traitor genre. In my sessions with that game, I found a huge flaw: there was very little ambiguity with the card submissions, so it’s easier for the “infected” player to play the game like one of the heroes with the plan to win by getting into the helicopter at the end, not by sabotaging everything around them. This takes most of the fun out of the game.

I honestly don’t know anything about Byers’ talents as a game designer. Great game designers have come out of nowhere (like Jamey Stegmaier, for instance). But it worries me that a company as great as Mondo isn’t hiring the best talent available to create the games themselves. As someone who was largely disappointed by The Thing, I am nervous that Jurassic Park will suffer the same fate.

And a side-note: it’s weird to me that Mondo is not reaching out to the tabletop community for feedback and to promote their new games. After all, when Mondo first started, they were very active in the print community. The fact that Jurassic Park: The Chaos Gene doesn’t even have an entry on Board Game Geek is strange. And without reaching out and developing relationships with the influencers of that world, tabletop mainstays like The Dice Tower, Watch It Played and The Secret Cabal, Mondo’s board game division won’t gain traction in that world. Even Riot Games reached out to the tabletop world to promote Mechs vs. Minions, and they’re Riot Games – they didn’t need to do that!

But honestly, the tabletop world is very insular, and I understand Mondo is trying to appeal beyond that corner. Still, they should consider trying to appeal to that core group if they want Mondo Games to be considered a serious board game publisher.

Jurassic Park: The Chaos Gene Details

The game will be available online at MondoTees.com and in stores everywhere this Fall. The box top will be on display at Mondo’s booth at San Diego Comic-Con (#435), and attendees will have the opportunity to get a special Jurassic Park patch when visiting the booth (seen above).

Here are some more details released by Mondo, first up is the product description:

“Jurassic Park: The Chaos Gene” is a 2 to 4 player asymmetrical miniatures board game, for age 14 and up. Choose your faction from the following: InGen, Park Visitors, Raptors or the T. rex. Find items needed for your faction, attack or avoid other dinosaurs, gain experience and customize your faction. With several scenarios and modular environment tiles for players to explore, each faction has unique objectives to complete in an effort to win the game!

Next up are descriptions of the different factions playable in the game:

Jurassic Park: The Chaos Gene t-rex

Tyrannosaurus Rex: Instinct Objectives

Quick, methodical, and unstoppable best describe the T. rex faction. One thing she is not, though, is quiet. The T. rex’s unrelenting drive makes her highly focused on satisfying her natural instincts… at all costs. The T. rex can move twice as fast as the other factions and can affect the movement of the other players with her fearsome roar, all while completing her objectives.

Jurassic Park: The Chaos Gene raptors

Raptors: Seek and Destroy Objectives

The Raptors are a cunning, resourceful, and flexible faction. Their stealth allows them to move quickly and quietly. Unique from all other park dinosaurs, their communication abilities enable them to work together in defending areas in their control, triangulate attacks on humans and park animals, and discover weaknesses in the park’s defenses.

Jurassic Park: The Chaos Gene ingen

Park Visitors: Survival Objectives

Park Visitors are both in awe of the park and terrified by its destructive nature. Visitors are able to extract the resources they find and use them to complete objective requirements or activate more powerful faction abilities. Highly skilled in their respective fields, each character brings a unique ability to the group as they make their way through the park and accomplish objectives.

Jurassic Park: The Chaos Gene ingen

Ingen: Park Management Objectives

With systems crashing throughout the park, InGen is desperate to keep it functioning. Somewhat blind to the park’s status, their intimate knowledge of it makes them both helpful and dangerous to dinosaurs and humans alike. A successful InGen player must carefully manage resources and use their unique abilities to help shape the movements of other players.

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