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Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar is the board game I'm most excited about in 2022 - here's why

Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar
(Image credit: Funko)

Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar lets you find out what happens if you start treating DNA like pick-and-mix sweets. Want to blend dino and frog genes? Go for it - but prepare for the consequences. That's what makes this Jurassic Park board game so attention-grabbing. Besides being a thoughtful, well-considered take on the series, iconic lines such as "your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should" are baked right into its gameplay.

It also forces you to put your money where your mouth is. After decades spent ribbing the franchise for its characters' rather… lax security measures that led to two mass dino breakouts, we're now being asked to see if we can do any better. The sheer chaos that ensues has put Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar, announced late last December, straight to the top of my most-anticipated list for 2022. Due to hit Kickstarter this May before launching in the Fall, it really could be one of the best board games coming out this year. 

Paved with good intentions

Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar is the biggest board game Prospero Hall (the team behind excellent board games for adults including the original Horrified and Disney Villainous) has ever created. That's true both metaphorically and literally, by the way; this monster weighs in at seven pounds and takes up a very decent chunk of real-estate when laid out on the table.

Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar

(Image credit: Funko)

However, its scale isn't the most impressive thing. Not really. After I was able to see Prospero Hall's prototype via a digital preview at the end of last year, it became clear that this Jurassic Park board game excels because it knows exactly why the original films worked - and capitalises on that sense of being terrified about what might happen next.

That's because you never truly know what's going on across the island. Although using up precious time to scout sectors of the preserve is an option, there are only nine actions per turn for all players. In other words, you're often flying blind; you may move to what you think is a safe location, only to discover that it puts you right in the path of a rampaging carnivore. Sure, a Brachiosaurus herd could be munching on leaves as they majestically amble through the plains. Or you might find that, whoopsie-daisy, the raptors have gotten loose again and are heading right for you.

This is the overarching theme of Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar. You may have the best of intentions, but you never have all the information - and that can wind up being memorably disastrous.

All in one

Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar

(Image credit: Funko Games)

Most board game Kickstarter campaigns include stretch goals with bonus content, but Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar breaks that trend. To be precise, Prospero Hall is adamant that the base product includes everything the team wanted it to feature. Anyone that buys the game or skips its crowdfunding stage in May won't need to worry about missing out on exclusive expansions.

This is the overarching theme of Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar. You may have the best of intentions, but you never have all the information - and that can wind up being memorably disastrous.

DNA splices that change dinosaur behavior are a good example. Want to create more desirable traits for your herbivore? Throw in genes from other animals, represented by empty slots on the dinosaur's stat card. However, don't be surprised if it goes pear-shaped. As per the movies, such meddling can (and probably will) lead to unexpected problems.

It's like developing your own personalized board game

Flexibility is essential as a result. Being able to pivot on the fly (such as dropping everything to put down barriers that'll stop a T-rex from stumbling across your veggie dinos) is the order of the day here. And because this is a 'Legacy' game where your actions have permanent consequences, those changes are here to stay - the next time you play, they'll still be there. That leads to an island that is uniquely yours.

We spared no expense

It also answers the question of how the park was built. Running you through a story that begins with the attraction's construction right through to the modern sequels (though not Jurassic World Dominion, as that was still in production during development and seems to veer away from Isla Nublar anyway), you'll see if you can do any better than the original, disaster-prone dino zoo.

Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar

(Image credit: Funko / Amblin)

This was always the plan, even from the beginning. Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar has been under construction for years, and it was originally dreamt up as a part of Prospero Hall's semi-regular blue-sky forums where staff throw down new ideas that could lead to something cool. However, the team's approach to those Legacy elements is what sets it apart from the likes of Gloomhaven. Rather than creating a game that has a limited shelf life, replayability and fun were the first concerns. With that in mind, you can endlessly re-run the tutorial (pitched as a 'dream sequence' while park founder Nicholas Hammond flies to Isla Nublar) or enjoy a more general sandbox that uses your board's endgame state. Because this will be completely unique to you, it's like developing your own personalized board game over the course of the campaign.

Consequences

Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar

(Image credit: Funko Games)

Wondering how the game works moment to moment? There are multiple color-coded 'sectors' across the board, and each one is home to a randomised set of dinosaur behaviours that tell you what the creatures will do every turn. If you, your dinosaurs, or your guests get into too much trouble, the Consequence tracker goes up. Hit five Consequence points in total and it's game over... for the current session, at least (Think of this like the Pandemic board game Outbreak system.)

Player upgrades have the same benefit. Each character, ranging from Alan Grant to all-new names such as park planner Alejandra Solano (who was created specifically for the game in collaboration with the Jurassic Park film studio), enjoys bonuses that are unlocked over time. However, there are always a few to choose from and, seeing as they're hidden beneath a layer you scratch off like a lottery ticket, there's no way of telling what they are ahead of time beyond a cryptic title. You've just got to go with your gut and hope for the best.

While this may sound counter-intuitive for something that's angling to be one of the best cooperative board games, it should encourage good communication as you try to puzzle out what you should do as a group. Because the game's objectives change from mission to mission, and dinosaur activity on the island is randomised, you'll always have something to discuss. Seeing as certain challenges have you tackling mini-games via a separate board (bringing to mind that scene of Ellie Sattler having to go on a solo mission to switch the park's power back on in the first film), this divide-and-conquer mentality where individuals have to step up makes The Legacy of Isla Nublar 'feel' more like Jurassic Park than expected.

Because this is a 'Legacy' game where your actions have permanent consequences, those changes are here to stay

That richness is matched by the look of the thing. A retro 50s art-style (based on the pulp comic books that the original filmmakers took inspiration from) and the appealing dinosaur tokens help it shine. Rather than being standard dino miniatures, the latter are dioramas inspired by the movies. The game's Velociraptors are busting through a kitchen door, for instance, while the t-rex is stomping its way over the electric fence around its paddock. 

Basically, it's clear that Prospero Hall has spared no expense. My preview simply scratched the surface of what's going on here, and there's an awful lot more to explore when the board game launches later this year. Trust me, Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar should definitely be on your radar in 2022.


For more recommendations, be sure to take a look at these board games for 2 players and the top board games for families. As for the video games that have us hyped this year, don't miss our guide to what's Big in 2022.

Benjamin Abbott

As the site's Tabletop & Merch Editor, you'll find my grubby paws on everything from board game reviews to Lego buying guides. I've been writing about games in one form or another for almost a decade (with bylines ranging from Metro.co.uk to TechRadar) and joined the GamesRadar+ team in 2018. I can normally be found cackling over some evil plan I've cooked up for my group's next Dungeons & Dragons campaign.