Tournament Rules

Designed by Matthew D. Grau * Development by Steve Jackson
With help from Robert Apthorpe, Steve Bishop, and no doubt the net!
Last updated March 13, 1997 * Copyright © 1997 by SJ Games

Please feel free to use these rules for your tournaments. Send mail to about how many players you had, how it went, and any variants you tried! Thanks!

The tournament game, unlike regular Dino Hunt, lets you custom-build a deck to add more strategy for play. And it allows the option of winning your opponents' cards! Each player will need his own cards, both Specials and dinosaurs.

Deck Building

Each player builds two decks before play starts: a "bid deck" of dinosaur cards, and a Special deck. The design of these decks is the strategy of the game!

The Special Deck

No more than two of any single card may appear in a deck. Remember that Experts are unique (only one of each may be in play).

Each player draws only from his own Special deck . . . and when those cards are gone, he gets no more Specials. No reshuffling!

You keep your own Specials; you cannot steal other players' Specials in any way. (For tournament games, the Trunks card lets you choose one of the top three Specials from your own discard pile and return it to your hand.)

Special Deck size depends on the planned length of the game.

  • Foray – Short jaunts, not much over a half-hour. 15 Specials each.
  • Hunt – Longer trips, of about an hour. 25 Specials each.
  • Safari – Full-scale expeditions, up to 2 hours. 35 Specials each.

The Dinosaur (Bid) Deck

Each player bids a stack of dinosaur cards he wants to play with (and is willing to lose!). The cards bid by each player are all shuffled together to create the dinosaur deck for the game. (The tournament organizers can contribute a few extra cards to the dinosaur deck, as extra prizes for players.)

When you capture a dinosaur card, you keep it, regardless of who brought it!

The tournament judges can choose one of two ways to build bid decks: according to rarity, or just by the number of dinosaur cards. Bidding by number of cards is quicker. Bidding by point value may bring a wider variety of cards into play.

  • Foray – 10 rarity points, or any 8 dinosaur cards, per player
  • Hunt – 15 rarity points, or any 12 dinosaur cards, per player
  • Safari – 25 rarity points, or any 20 dinosaur cards, per player
Point Values by Rarity Levels:

  • Ultra-Rares: 20
  • Uncommons: 2
  • Rares: 4
  • Commons: 1

Optional: Each dinosaur you bid may be initialed for tracking and spoils. The initials show the number of players who have previously owned each card.

Discard and Reshuffle

Some dinosaurs will escape to the discard pile during play. The first time the dinosaur deck is exhausted, the discards are shuffled and become the new dinosaur deck, giving the players one more chance to capture them.

Endgame Draft

After the reshuffle, the game ends when all the dinosaurs have been captured or have escaped again. Points are totaled to determine the winner, second place, etc.

Now all the uncaught dinosaurs are distributed. The winner gets first choice of cards from the discard pile. Then the second place player chooses one, and so on until all cards have been taken. They don't count toward victory, though!

Tournament Themes

You can easily have theme tournaments, such as:

  • Carnivores only (the tournament of Manly Men)
  • The Veggiesaurus League (herbivores only)
  • Big Game (dinosaurs over 1 ton only)

Tips and Strategies

Deck Building

  • Be sure to coordinate your Special deck with your bid deck. For example, a Jet Pack will do you little good if you don't bid several flying dinosaurs yourself.
  • Bidding lots of easy-to-catch, low point value dinosaurs can be a bonus. Many players ignore these creatures to go after bigger and harder to catch game, while you can go in and scoop up the little guys.
  • You can make the game interesting by bidding dangerous creatures, which end the hunter's turn on a bad roll, or those which easily escape to the discard pile. But if everyone does this the game can become frustrating, and the endgame draft becomes very important.

Special Deck Themes

  • The Research Expedition Deck – This deck relies on bonus points cards, such as High Feeding, Mating Battles, and To the Death!. If you can get these cards out, you will be able to gain extra points for many different dinosaurs at the end of the game. Again, you have to make sure your bid enough dinosaurs that you can use your Specials!
  • The Bad Day Deck – This utilizes cards that hinder movement and reduce the rolls of other players, such as Misfire, Rogue Predator, Short Circuit, Timeslip, and Trampled. This sacrifices your chances to draw cards that help you – but it can be fun to frustrate your opponents as each turn something else goes wrong.
  • The Wasteland Deck – This deck utilizes the variety of Extinction cards available. The 1996 Limited Edition has eight different Extinction cards, plus the Minor Extinction card. Since you are allowed two of each card, you could conceivably have 16 Extinction cards, wiping out all of the dinosaurs your opponents might have been able to hunt. Watch with glee as the only dinosaurs available for hunting are those you place on your turn.

Important Cards

  • Chronojacker – At least one Chronojacker is a necessity for almost every deck, since it allows you to steal captured dinosaurs from your opponents any time you have energy left over. If you're never going to hunt dangerous dinos, of course, you will rarely have leftover energy, and this card might be a waste.
  • Follow the Tracks – It allows you to go after discarded dinosaurs, which can be important when hunting for a trophy.
  • Good Luck – At least one, most likely two, Good Luck cards are a necessity for every deck, since they allow you to cancel Specials played by your opponents.
  • Jinx – The Jinx is very important since it is a gadget that causes other gadgets to malfunction. Ms. Fixit does not protect against Jinx.
  • Midnight Snack – Allows you to eat up an opponent's captured dinosaurs, thereby decreasing their point totals. But worthless against a rival who never tries to capture big predators.
  • Ms. Fixit – She protects your gadgets from malfunctions. Unfortunately, she is unique so you have to make sure to get her out into play first.
  • Power Cells – Excellent if you get it out early. They give you free energy at the start of every single turn.
  • Radioactive Deposit – This card can give you a boost of energy when it is critical. It is also an excellent card to play on your last turn.
  • Solar Collector – Another must, the Solar Collector allows you to burn Special cards from your hand for energy – a lifesaver.
  • Super Stunner – A must if you're going to hunt the dangerous creatures. Best when combined with gadgets that give you extra energy, like Power Cells.
  • Sure Shot Sam – He's free, and he gives you bonuses to your die rolls in three of the five time periods. Again, he's unique so make sure to get him out fast.
  • Synchonizer – If you're paranoid about Extinctions, this is for you.

Tournament Format

  1. Randomly assign players in approximately equal numbers to each table. (16 players should break down into four tables of four, 18 into two tables of four and two tables of five, etc.)
  2. At the end of each round, players score 5 tourney points for first, 3 for second, 1 for any other position.
  3. For subsequent rounds, reassign players randomly to new tables.
  4. Play three rounds. If there is no clear winner, the high scorers can go to a quick playoff game.
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