Review Written by Justin Bird
A Split Decision
It’s a rocky path to victory, but a Paleontologist’s job was never reported to be easy. With over a dozen dinosaur fossils buried within a huge slab, you’re not alone in wanting to claim the best for yourself. To chisel away the top prize, you need to control how the slab splits to be able to pick out the best bones.
At it’s marrow Jurassic Parts is an area control game fossilized within a set collection score system. Players will take on the roles of Paleontologists that have discovered a huge slab of mixed up fossils that need to be carefully chiseled off in order to claim, sets of which earn you points. Slabs of fossils will break off along fault lines that players will create by placing their chisels between tiles, using extra chisels as needed to break apart harder rocks. Once a line of 1 or more chisels extends from across 2 outer points of the grid or creates a closed loop with the slab, the smallest portion of the slab will break away. Players who contributed chisels to the break will then get a chance to select a number of tiles that broke away in rank order. Starting with the player who had the most chisels along the break, they receive half of the tiles. Second place receives half of the remaining and so on until all tiles are gone or all contributing players get their share.
Fossil tiles have a variety of sets to be discovered, from delicate plants, to the intricate assemblies of a full Brachiosaurus. The smaller sets are easy to find and complete but are worth less. The larger sets are few because the value of a completely intact dinosaur has extreme value. Extra pieces can be sold to the Field Leader for Amber that can be held onto for points or spent for special actions. Resource cards can be added into the game for advanced players who want additional abilities.
To be honest, my first time playing was online at a full player count and I was split on how much I liked it. All of us were learning it and dealing with the unique challenges a digital implementation holds. Trying to place the chisels at the various angles between the hexagon tiles and break away the tile sets from the slab was a bit distracting from the unique play style this game has to offer. The art is fantastic, the scoring well balanced, and the different way to implement area control was a nice experience. Keeping this in mind, I opted to hold judgement until I could play a physical copy. Months later, at the first chance of having an in person game night I was able to truly judge the game.
The amber gems gleaned with an invitational shine enticing players to grab them and feel the crisp asymmetrical edges. The fossil tiles had clear icons to indicate the sets they belonged to along with each dinosaur’s bone structure different enough to identify without the icon. The paleontologist cards had clear turn order instructions and reference to extra actions making them functional in addition to looking great on the table. While playing I could feel the strategic depth the game offered while also being simple enough to be enjoyed by families. As players started searching for particular tiles, other players would swoop in to overtake control of a chiseled fault. While some players vied for the larger sets, others collected larger quantities of the plants and single tile dinosaurs that added up for a surprise win.
Getting to play the physical copy of the game tipped the sands of time towards my better enjoyment of the game, so much so I decided to pick up my own copy to own. 25th Century Games has published a solid game that sits above a fast filler and under a slogging expedition with a nice play time that hits the sweet spot. If discovering fossils with your own set of chisels sounds like it would bring you joy, I recommend you try out Jurassic Parts.