Tyrannosaurus Wrecks by Glen Frank (1985)


TYRANNOSAURUS WRECKS is a science fiction game for two to four players depicting a hunt for the biggest game imaginable – dinosaurs. Each player controls one Hunter, who has traveled into the past in a time machine to try to win fame and fortune by becoming the most successful dinosaur killer.

My thoughts

Ah, the ‘80s. I was a kid watching Dungeons & Dragons on Saturday morning TV and playing video games on my Atari 2600. But some of my fondest memories were those rare visits to a bookstore in a college town near where I grew up. It kept all the respectable stuff up front, but in the back of the store was a room – a glorious room – stocked with pen-and-paper roleplaying games and other nerd manna. That’s where you would have found Tyrannosaurus Wrecks.

Tyrannosaurus Wrecks calls itself a board game but really it is a microgame – a genre that seems to have died out with the rise the modern video game. Microgames were games published in paperback booklets. They often came with punch-out cardboard pieces that substituted for the plastic pieces found in regular board games. Many were wargames, but in truth they covered a wide variety of genres. Their rules were complex and chaotic, with the authors usually more concerned about creating a roleplaying experience than delivering balanced gameplay.

As advertised, Tyrannosaurus Wrecks puts players in the shoes of time-traveling, big-game hunters out to bag dinosaurs. Scientific accuracy is the first thing to be thrown out the window as the game mixes a dinosaurs from a variety of eras into the same setting. Dinosaurs are placed on the playing board in different locations depending on the scenario. Hunters start at locations randomly determined by a roll of the die. Players have 20 turns to kill as many dinosaurs as they can and return to their time machines or risk being stranded in the past.

At its heart, the game is all about tables. Shoot a dinosaur, roll a die and compare the result to a table to see what happens. Move into a new space, roll a die and look up what happens on an event table. Start a turn, roll a die to see if the volcano erupts. As you can see, there is a lot of dice rolling in Tyrannosaurus Wrecks. In fact, at the start of every turn, you must roll a die for each and every dinosaur to determine what direction it moves. This is not a game for people with short attention spans or who do not like repetitive action.

I enjoy Tyrannosaurus Wrecks for what it is while recognizing that, from a gameplay perspective, it probably isn’t very good. This is a game you play just to see what crazy things will happen rather play to try to win. Maybe it’s just the nostalgia speaking, but if you are in the mood for hunting dinosaurs, you can’t go wrong with Tyrannosaurus Wrecks.


  • While the game is advertised for 2-4 players, it plays perfectly fine as a solitaire game. In fact, it may play best solo as there isn’t a lot of downtime between turns.
  • More information about the game can be found on its BoardGameGeek entry page.
  • As of this writing, the game is available as a print-and-play PDF file from RPGnow.com.


  • None

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