Variant Rules

These are alternate rules for playing Dino Hunt. If you have more suggestions for different ways to play the game, please let us know!

New Ways to End the Game

If you want a short game, the standard way is to use just a few dozen dinosaurs and play until they're all gone. But you can also use your whole stack of cards and play to a time limit or a point total.

Time Limit (The Bedtime Rule)

Decide in advance when the game will end. Remember who was the first player. When the time limit comes, continue playing until everyone has had the same number of turns. Then the highest point total is the winner.

Playing to a Point Total

Pick a total number of points that you will play to. 50 points is a good short game, unless you've got a lot of BIG guys in the deck.

Again, keep track of who played first. You should also watch how many points each player has showing – that is, the point value of the dinosaurs they have captured. All your dinosaurs must be out where everyone can see them. But if you have Specials in your hand that give you extra points, that's a secret!

When one player's zoo reaches 50 points (or whatever total you chose), keep going until everyone has finished the same number of turns. Then show your Specials. The highest point total is the winner.

Extinctions Galore!

You can also make the game faster (and crazier) if you have extra cards from booster packs. Just put a LOT of Extinction cards in the Special deck . . . If you do this, the player who has a Synchronizer has an advantage, since that is the Gadget that lets you avoid Extinctions.

Playing With Just the Cards

When it comes right down to it, the game cards and the 6-sided die are the only thing you really need to play. Once you know the rules, you can get along without the Energy Tracks, Time Track and so on. So, on a trip, you can just take a pocket full of cards, and keep right on hunting . . .

Instead of the Time Track, just lay the cards out in the order of their time periods – Triassic, Early Jurassic, Late Jurassic, Early Cretaceous, Late Cretaceous. Once you've played the game once or twice, you'll remember the order they're in!

Instead of the dinosaur markers, just pick up whatever is handy and use it to mark your place in time. (D'oh!)

Instead of Energy Tracks and energy markers, give each player ten coins. Whenever you spend a point of energy, move a coin from left to right in front of you. When you get new Energy, move your coins back.


These are ways to make the game more even if – for instance – parents or older children are playing with young ones.

Face-Up Specials

All Specials are played face up as soon as they are drawn. This will let the older players advise the younger ones on strategy.

More or Less Energy

Older players can start with less energy – 8 or 9 points per turn, rather than 10. Or you can let the younger ones start with 11 or even 12 points per turn. Or do both!

Experts and Gadgets

Separate the Expert and Gadget cards from the other Specials. Let each player choose one before the game starts, with the younger players choosing first. Or you may just let children start the game with a Gadget or Expert, while adults do without.

If you use this system, remember that the Experts are very powerful cards – encourage the younger players to take them.

Good Luck!

If you have extra cards from Booster Packs, you can also let younger players start the game with one or two Good Luck cards, to cancel the effect of Specials that the other players use against them. Or you can just let the young ones declare "Good Luck" once or twice during a game, without a card!

Adding Extra Players

The Dino Hunt boxed set allows for four players. The game works perfectly well with five or six – or maybe more, if they all know how to play. (On the other hand, a six-player game will be very slow if most of the players are new, or very young.)

So how do you get extra players into the game? No problem. You can always combine two game sets. Or (until we run out) we have an "expansion set" for sale on the Web, that lets you add two more players.

But you don't have to spend any money if you don't want to! You only need two things to add a player: an extra dinosaur for the Time Track (everybody has toy dinosaurs around) and another Energy Track and a marker (and we don't mind if you copy the Energy Track in the set, if it lets more kids play the game). Have fun!

Team Play

Divide the players into teams of two. You and your partner take separate turns; you move, then a rival moves, then another rival in a 6-player game, then your partner . . . Each team shares its zoo and score – you win or lose as a team. You can hand an unplayed special to your partner at any time, as long as they play it immediately. (If you draw an Expert or Gadget, you may hand it to your partner, who plays it immediately, instead of putting it down yourself).

A useful strategy is for partners to work opposite ends of the timeline, thus saving on movement energy. However, if you are in the same period as your partner, either of you can give energy to the other one. So if a bad die roll ends your turn early, your partner can come get your unused energy! You can also, if you like, allow partners to trade Gadgets and Experts back and forth when they are in the same period.

Thanks to Mark Biggar ( and Aron Wall for this variant!

Using Extra Cards

The Booster Packs contain 240 different cards, of which only 109 are in the boxed set. So Booster Packs mean more than just "I've got a huge stack of cards." You can increase the variety of dinosaurs and Specials you own, and customize your game to suit yourself!

Pick Your Specials

You can use your extra cards to "stack" your Special deck with the ones you like best. If you like a friendly game, put in helpful Specials like Good Luck, Trunks, and Sole Survivor. If you'd rather pick on the other players, stack it with annoying things like Timeslip, Short Circuit, Puny Humans!, and, of course, lots of Extinctions. And for a more strategic game, use cards like High Feeding, Mated Pair and Feeding the Babies (which encourage players to go after certain dinosaurs) and Fossil, Chronolocator, Sole Survivor and Relict Species (which allow for very clever moves, adding and removing dinosaurs from play, when used at the right time).

Theme Decks

Since you can play with any set of cards you want, you can design customized Dino Hunt decks, just for fun. Try making a deck with a theme! For instance, you could build a deck with LOTS of pterosaurs in it, and a couple of Jet Packs.

Or a gift deck for a child could feature lots of his very favorite dinosaurs!

Or, for a harder game, you could create a deck with lots of the most dangerous dinosaurs, the kind that end your turn and break your Gadgets.

Dinosaur Families

This works best in decks with lots of multiple dinosaur cards.

At the end of the game, award 2 additional points for each group of 3 or more cards of the same creature, plus 2 extra points for each additional card. This reflects the player's success in bringing back a viable population of a certain "dinosaur" suitable for breeding. "Baby" cards count as part of a group, if they are of the appropriate family. (And if you have the Mated Pair card, that also adds its regular bonus.)

Example: 3 Pteranodon = 2 bonus points
4 Ichthyosaurus = 4 bonus points
5 Corythosaurus = 6 bonus points
4 Corythosaurus + 1 Baby Hadrosaur = 6 bonus points
3 Corythosaurus + 2 Baby Hadrosaur = 6 bonus points
3 Deinonychus = 2 bonus points
2 Deinonychus + (1 Baby Raptor or 1 Baby Theropod) = 2 bonus points

This encourages players to capture whole prehistoric families, adding strategy by making some small creatures worth more! Opposing players quickly recognize this and try very hard to prevent others from developing these "family groupings."

Thanks for this one go to John Schneiderman (

Two By Two

The goal of this hunt is to capture two creatures from each time period.

Start the game normally, but keep track of who went first. When one player has reached the goal, finish the round, so everyone gets the same number of turns. When the game is over, if more than one player reached the goal, check the point value of the cards – high score wins! (If someone captured more than two creatures from any period, they may only count the two with the highest value.)

If a creature can be found in more then one time period, you can count them for any of those periods . . . or, for a stricter game, only the period they were captured in.

This has the advantage of forcing players to move through time, not just sit in one period. It also makes extinction cards much more vicious . . . a hunter can visit a period, get the creatures he needs, and then play an extinction to wipe out the rest!


You can require, not just two creatures from each period, but one carnivore and one herbivore. An omnivore can count as either one (but not both). Or, for a longer game, two carnivores and two herbivores from each period.

Thanks to John and Fran Ickes ( for this variation.

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