Warhammer 40k is already as OTT as those 80s cartoon that were created only to sell toys – but what if it was even more like that? That’s the rationale behind Din-o’-War, an indie wargame about sticking lasers onto toy dinosaurs and making them fight. Tobias Bresch has been working on the game since 2018, but finally posted a downloadable PDF of the rules online in November 2022.
Bresch tells Wargamer that, as a child, he “obsessed over the [Dino-Riders] toys in the local toy shop and toy catalogues”. In case you missed that gem of late 80s capitalism, the Dino-Riders toys and cartoons tracked the battles between the valorous Valorians and the evil Rulons, from the backs of their armoured, laser-firing dinosaurs.
Bresch says he had the idea for a wargame with 80s cartoon energy after playing “several great homebrew wargames, including one with fantastic Masters of the Universe conversions” at a local convention. The cover art for the power metal album ‘Dinosaur Warfare’ by Victorious convinced him “that’s what I want as a miniature wargame.” He adds: “I wanted something kitschy, with lots of scales and teeth, and ridiculous weapons like head mounted lasers or enhanced robotic arms for T. Rex”.
Bresch says a key design goal was to ensure Din-o-War “makes you feel the strengths and weaknesses of your creatures”, without the “frustration of having units on the table that are essentially unbeatable for the opponent.”
Din-o’-war players are able to create their own dinosaurs and weapons, “so that they can put their favourites on the table”. Bresch says he included alternating activations and action points to try and give players freedom around what they do on their turns, while a card-based combat system is intended to minimise feel-bads from exceptionally lucky or unlucky dice rolls.
Bresch has some recommendations for players hoping to create their own dino models: “Reaper miniatures have a few dinosaurs in their range, and Eureka Miniatures make some retro-style World War 2 dinosaurs and pterosaurs” mounted with WW2-era nazis. For his own models, he uses a lot of toys, including Schleich, CollectA, and Wild Safari.
The DnD miniatures range by WizKids includes a fair few dinosaurs, and of course, the Seraphon from Warhammer Age of Sigmar are a faction of dinosaurs who ride larger dinosaurs. It remains a criminal shame that Games Workshop still hasn’t released models for the Eldar Exodites Warhammer 40k faction – dinosaur riding space elves.
You can download the experimental rules for Din-o-war for free, in English or German, from the Din-o-War blog.