Objective of Happy Little Dinosaurs
The objective of Happy Little Dinosaurs is to either be the last player remaining or the first player to score 50 points.
- Each player chooses a dinosaur. You will take the meeple and board that corresponds to the dinosaur you selected. Place your dinosaur meeple on the start space on your board.
- Separate the cards based on their backs.
- Shuffle the brown/tan cards first. Deal five cards to each player.
- Place the rest of the brown cards facedown on the table. This forms the Main deck. You should leave space next to the deck for discarded cards.
- Shuffle the Disaster (purple) cards. Place the deck facedown in the middle of the table.
Playing Happy Little Dinosaurs
You will play Happy Little Dinosaurs over a number of rounds. In each round you are trying to collect points and avoid disasters.
To start each round you will flip over the top card from the Disaster (purple) deck. Each player will read the card.
Next each player will choose a Point card from their hand to play. Point cards feature numbers in the corners. Once you have chosen a Point card, you will place it face down in front of you.
If a player does not have a Point card in their hand, they will discard their entire hand. They will draw five new cards. If they now have a Point card in their hand, they will choose one to play. If they still don’t have a Point card, they will discard their hand again. This continues until they draw at least one Point card.
After all of the players have played a Point card face down, the players will reveal their cards at the same time. The players will then score their cards to determine who won and lost the round.
Scoring in Happy Little Dinosaurs
Once everyone has revealed the Point card they played, each player will tally their score.
Each player’s base score starts at the number printed on the Point card that they played. A player can change this number in a number of ways.
- Special effects printed on the played Point card (see the Point cards section below for more details)
- Dinosaur traits
- Playing an Instant card (see the Instant Cards section below for more details)
At the beginning of the game each player chooses a dinosaur to play as during the game. Each dinosaur has it owns strength and weakness.
In the bottom left corner of your playing board are two symbols. When you reveal the Disaster card for the current round, you will compare its symbol to these two symbols. If the symbol matches the one next to the +1, you will add one point to your Point card’s value this round. If the symbol matches the one next to the -1, you will subtract one point from your Point card’s value this round.
Determining the Winner and Loser of the Round
The player that scored the most points in the round collects points equal to their score. They will move their dinosaur meeple forward the corresponding number of spaces on their gameboard.
The player that scored the least points, takes the Disaster card revealed at the beginning of the round. They will add this card to their Disaster Area. Since they acquired a Disaster card, they can choose one of the cards from their hand to discard.
To end the round each player moves their dinosaur meeple forward one space for each Disaster card they have in their Disaster Area.
Each player then draws cards from the Main deck until they have five cards in their hand. If the Main deck ever runs out of cards, shuffle the discard pile to form a new Main deck
All Point and Instant cards played during the round and added to the Discard Pile. The next round then begins.
Some cards have the effect of inverting the points from the round. Basically the player(s) that had the lowest points, swap their points with the player(s) that had the most points. For example the highest score was eight and the lowest was four. If there was an inversion of scores, the player who had eight points now has four points and vice versa.
If players play multiple cards with inversion, you will apply inversion for each card. For example if there are two inversions; the points will be inverted and then inverted again. In this example all of the players will have the same points as they did when they first played the cards.
After all cards are played and applied in a round, two or more players may have the same number of points.
If two or more players tie for the highest score, all of the tied players earn points for the round. They will move their dinosaur meeple forward a number of spaces equal to their points.
If two or more players tie for the lowest score, the players will play a Sudden Death. Each tied player chooses another Point card from their hand to play. When all tied players are ready, they will all play a card face up at the same time. During Sudden Death; Dinosaur Traits, Point Card Effects, and Instant cards do not effect the outcome. Inversion effects do not apply to Sudden Death. The player who plays the lowest Point card loses the Sudden Death and adds the Disaster card to their Disaster Area. Players do not score points for the cards they play during Sudden Death.
Players will keep playing Sudden Death rounds until one player loses and takes the Disaster card. If a player does not have a Point card to play during a Sudden Death round, they lose and take the Disaster card. If multiple players in the tie do not have a Point card, return the Disaster card to the bottom of the Disaster deck. No one has to take a Disaster card this round.
If you lose the Sudden Death and have to take a Disaster card, you cannot use a Disaster Insurance or Disaster Redirect card to avoid having to take the Disaster card.
Should all of the players tie, you will return the Disaster card to the bottom of its deck. Discard all played cards and play a new round.
Point Cards in Happy Little Dinosaurs
The main cards in Happy Little Dinosaurs are Point Cards. These cards have numbers printed in the corners. The base value of each Point card is the number in the top left and bottom right corners.
Some Point cards have an additional effect printed on them. When you choose to use one of these cards, you can choose to use this special effect. Unless the card says otherwise, you will use this effect after the card is revealed but before final scoring for the round. For more details on specific Point card effects, see the corresponding section below.
If multiple players play Point cards with an effect in the same round, the player who plays the card with the lowest number gets to use their card’s effect first. If multiple cards of the same value are played in the same round, the player who has scored the least points on their score track (Escape Route) gets to use their effect first. Should there still be a tie, the youngest tied player gets to use their card effect first.
Some Point cards have special rules regarding to when their effect takes place. If the card says “During this round”, you can use the effect before anyone else uses their card’s effect. If the card says “During scoring this round”, you will not apply its effect until the players calculate the points for the round.
When you play the Delicious Smoothie card you may look through your hand for a Point card that has an effect on it. You can choose to discard the card and add its point value to your current score.
The Dino Grabber card lets you look at another player’s hand. You can choose one card from their hand to add to your own hand. You may play the card you take this round if it is an Instant card.
The Fire Spray card lets you discard up to three cards from your hand when you play it.
When you play the Flaming Chainsaw card, you will ignore the effects printed on all other Point cards.
Should you play a Grappling Snake card you can look at the Point card played by the player on your right and left. You can choose to swap your Grappling Snake card for the Point card played by one of these two players. You may not swap for a card that has an effect on it. This swap happens before any other points are added or subtracted from the swapped card.
The Hungry Plant card allows you to swap the Point cards from two other players. The cards are swapped before any additional points are added or subtracted.
While players are determining the scores for the round, you can choose to use the Mouth Trap card’s effect. You can choose to swap the score of the lowest and highest player for the round.
When you play the Pet Rock card, you can choose another Point card from your hand and discard it. Add the value of the card you discard to your points this round.
Special Star Fruit
While players are determining the final scores for the round, you can use the Special Star Fruit’s ability to double the effects of Score Booster (+2 to +4) and Score Sapper cards (-2 to -4). This effect applies to all of the Score Booster and Score Sapper cards including ones played to other players.
When you play the Treenoculars card, you can choose to look at the top two cards from the deck. You will choose one of the two cards to add to your hand. You will discard the other card. If you choose to take an Instant card, you can play it this round.
Instant Cards in Happy Little Dinosaurs
Instant cards are used in addition to Point cards in order to increase or decrease players’ scores.
You may play as many Instant cards as you want on your turn. You will play an Instant card when it says on the card. When you play an Instant card, you will take the corresponding action. Check out the corresponding section below for what each individual Instant card does.
If an Instant card says “Play this card during scoring”, you can only play the card when the players calculate their scores. This will happen after all Point card effects have been applied.
Should an Instant card say “Play this card if you would add a Disaster card to your Disaster Area this round”, you can only play the card after scoring is complete. You can play the card if you would have to take the Disaster card due to your score during the round, or due to another player passing the Disaster card to you.
You can play the Disaster Insurance card if you are about to receive a Disaster card. Instead of taking the Disaster card, you will add it to the bottom of the Disaster card deck.
Should you receive a Disaster card in a round, you can choose to play the Disaster Redirect card. Instead of receiving the Disaster card, you will give it to another player.
When you play the Score Booster card, choose any player. You will add two to the score of the player you chose. You may choose yourself.
Should you play the Score Inversion card during scoring, you will invert the highest and lowest scores. See the Inverting Scores section above for more details.
During scoring you can play a Score Sapper card. You will choose a player. The chosen player reduces their score by two. You may choose yourself.
Disaster Cards in Happy Little Dinosaurs
Happy Little Dinosaurs has three different types of Disaster cards: natural, predatory, and emotional. Each type of Disaster card has its own symbol and color.
When you lose a round you will add a Disaster card to your Disaster Area.
A player is eliminated from the game in two circumstances.
- If you collect three Disaster cards of the same type.
- You collect one (or more) Disaster card of each type.
Meteor cards are unique Disaster cards because they act as each of the three types of Disaster card. Therefore if you collect a Disaster card, you are eliminated whenever you have two other Disaster cards.
Once you are eliminated from the game you immediately discard your hand.
While Disaster cards are mostly bad, at the end of each round you get to move your dinosaur meeple forward one space for each Disaster card in your Disaster Area.
Winning Happy Little Dinosaurs
You can win Happy Little Dinosaurs in one of two ways.
The first way to win the game is to reach 50 points on your Escape Route scoring path. The first player to reach 50 points wins the game. If multiple players do this at the same time, all of the players that reach 50 points win the game.
Otherwise you can win the game by being the last player remaining in the game. A player is eliminated if they acquire three different Disaster card types or three cards of the same type.
Two Player Rules
When you are only playing with two players, you should slightly tweak the normal rules to make the game more enjoyable.
You should remove all Point cards from the deck that have values of 1, 2, or 3.
A player is eliminated when they either collect four Disaster cards of the same type or two Disaster cards of two different types.
Happy Little Dinosaurs FAQ
If you have any questions about how to play Happy Little Dinosaurs, leave a comment below on this post. I will try to answer any questions asked as best and as quickly as possible.
Happy Little Dinosaurs Components
- 4 player boards
- 4 dinosaur meeples
- 53 Point cards
- 16 Instant cards
- 28 Disaster cards
Year: 2021 | Publisher: Unstable Games | Designer: Ramy Badie
Genres: Card, Family, Party
Ages: 8+ | Number of Players: 2-4 | Length of Game: 30-60 minutes
Difficulty: Light | Strategy: Light-Moderate | Luck: Moderate
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