O Zoo le Mio
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All players are zoo directors and try to attract the most visitors to their zoos. Success comes to the player who creates the largest attractions. Players will want to build spacious areas for the various kinds of animals and also attractive pathways for their visitors with park benches and lots of trees and bushes to appeal to botanical senses.
I purchased this game because the box looked neat. And I'd have to say, it's the best one in my collection right now.
The rules are easy to learn. The replay value is high. The game is light-weight so you won't spend forever playing it. The dynamics change dramatically when you have 2, 3 or 4 players. It's mostly skill but there is certainly some luck involved.
If you dig Carcassone and bidding games, you'll be happy with O Zoo le Mio.
My wife, in-laws, friends and enemies all enjoy the game. I mean, what could be better than building a zoo called 'Porky Park' with nothing but aquatic and bird exhibits!
My only problem with the game is you fold some of the cardboard pieces to build your zoo and some of my pieces are already wearing out. I guess I'll have to buy another copy someday!
Get Your Zoo On
I love this game. Just got it myself and really like the mechanics of it. WHich really reminds me of Kardinal and Konig (web of power). The animal theme is nice I think and I like the auction part as well. It gives it a little tension and depth on how much you are willin to spend to help yourself or screw your neighbor.
After burning out a bit on war and money games, I'd been on a search for a less-dry strategy game and this was a great find. The pieces are beautiful and the rules are fairly simple - your goal is to build the most beautiful zoo. Great with 2-players, as you have a bigger zoo to maintain and develop. The blind auction is a great twist and after a couple of plays, you realize how much long-range strategy you have to apply to win. Overall, a fun game with easy mechanics and beautiful design. I've introduced it to both gamers and non-gamers and the response has always been good.
My favorite computer games have always been simulations, such as Roller coaster Tycoon and Zoo Tycoon. I love having total control over something, and building it from the ground level up. Therefore, when I heard that a game called ZooSim (Cwali, 2002 - Corne van Moorsel) was available, I gladly picked it up -wondering how a computer simulation was translated to a board game.
Apparently I was slightly misinformed, as the game really didnt have anything to with a computer simulation, but was instead an auction game with some domino-like mechanics. Yet despite being one of the tightest auction games I have ever played, the beautiful components and very competitive game play have made ZooSim one of my favorite games. One of my biggest complaints about the game was a component problem, but the latest edition of the game, O Zoo Le Mio, fixed this problem, making the game a definite must-buy. The bidding in the game is extremely interesting, and combined with one of the variants, makes it one of the most strategic bidding games Ive ever played, but still with a light feel.
Each player (2-4) gets a zoo entrance that is folded up to become a player shield, as well as a starting tile for each player. Twenty-five zoo tiles (rectangular in shape) are shuffled, and placed in a face-down pile. Thirty-five coins and thirty-five visitors (meeples) are placed in the middle of the table, with each player taking eight coins and placing them behind their shield. A flagpole tile is placed on the table, and a flag for each player is randomly placed in order on the flagpole. There are five rounds for the game, and each round follows the exact same pattern.
First, the top five tiles are flipped over. Each tile has two different attractions on it, with a picture of the animal in that attraction, and a number of stars. The stars are color-coded to animal type (blue = sea animal, red = birds, orange = apes, yellow = other mammals, and gray = reptiles), and the amount of stars equals how popular the attraction is (from one to three). There are paths that cross each tile, and exit the tile at different points (out of eight possible). Finally, the tile may have a number of trees on it (from 1 to 3). The first tile in the row of face-up tiles is then auctioned off.
In an auction, players simultaneously put forth a number of coins in their fist, secretly - and the highest bidder wins the tile. In case of a tie, the player in the tie whose flag is higher gets the tile, with their flag subsequently removed to the lowest position. The winning player then places the tile in their zoo. Tiles are placed next to each other, in domino style, but the paths on them must connect - so if one tile has no path at an end, and the other does, they cannot connect. After the tiles are connected, the player checks to see if their zoo attracts any visitors. If they currently have the most or second most stars of a certain color, they get visitors. Only stars in adjacent tiles are counted, however, and only the largest group. The player who has the most places gets two visitors on that attraction (unless they are the only one with that type of animal, in which case they place only one), with the second most player getting one visitor. Also, if the player has the most trees (total) they put two visitors there, with the second most trees getting one visitor. Finally, if the player forms a complete loop with paths, they place a visitor in the center of this loop. Unlike the other guests (who can be lost if someone builds a bigger attraction), these guests cannot be lost.
After all five tiles have been auctioned off, each player gets more coins - one for each tile in their zoo. Points are also totaled (on a separate score sheet). After the first season, each player gets one point per visitor in their zoo. After the second season - two points, third season - three points, etc. After the fifth season, whichever player has the most points is the winner!
Some comments on the game...
1.) Components: The Cwali version of the game is in a round tubular container - and while this is pretty cool looking, its a pain to fit on my shelf, and Im kind of glad that I only have one such game. (Dont get me wrong, if someone offered me another, Id take it!) However, when I saw the components for O Zoo le Mio, I was slightly annoyed, as not only was the box better for the shelf, but the components were better. One of the biggest problems we had with the game was remembering who had the most stars of each color, and we were often counting them up again. The reason for this was that all the visitors were black, making it sometimes hard to distinguish what they stood for. I fixed this problem by painting three meeples in each color (green for trees), and the game works pretty well now. But the new version already has them colored, and even has little wooden trees for the trees, and park benches for the loops. Ah, well. But the tiles for both games are absolutely gorgeous. If someone told me that a game was going to be a mix of dominoes and auctions, I wouldnt really be interested. Throw down these beautiful tiles, though, and impressions will change. The flagpole and flags are also a nice addition, as are the wooden coins - which are far superior to cardboard chits. Even with the colored meeple problem, I really love the components for this game - they really lend well to the theme.
2.) Rules: The rules are simple and short, with a page that shows a game halfway through, explaining how scoring works, and how the game should be set up. This was extremely helpful, and better than a FAQ would have been. I found that the game was very easy to teach to people, but that it usually took a turn or two before some people realized the value of the tiles.
3.) Auctions: The auctions in this game are very tight. It is almost imperative that a player win at least one auction per turn, and they must know which tile to do it with. Its very disheartening to wait until the last tile of a round, bid a large amount, and then only tie - and lose to someone whos higher on the flagpole. And the rich get slightly richer in this game, since people with no tiles will get no additional income. Seeing how the tile best fits your zoo is also important. Sometimes the path layout fits your zoo perfectly, but the colors wont help you. Other times the colors are exactly what you want, but the paths are in the most unhelpful of places. The amount of trees is nothing to be scoffed at, either - so every tile is important, and this weighs heavily on the minds of the players as they go to auction each time. Blind bidding is always a risky thing, because if a player bids too much, they can pay too much for a worthless tile (and no one else pays anything). However, after a few rounds, players get more experience, and the blind bidding becomes a cagey match.
4.) Theme and Fun Factor: The game fits the zoo theme perfectly. Now, you certainly dont control a zoo in the same way as the Zoo Tycoon computer game, but it does look like you have a zoo by the time the game is over. The bidding and tiles really help contribute to this idea, and the game is more fun because of this, I think. I really like blind bidding, so this game was naturally fun for me. I can imagine that people who hate blind bidding wouldnt like this game, but I think this is perhaps the best in its genre. I find Fist of Dragonstones a little more fun, but ZooSim is perhaps the better game.
5.) Variants: There are several variants in the rules, and even more proposed on the internet. One that I tried was to give each player a set amount of coins each turn, rather than one per tile. This worked okay, but changed the dynamics of the game in a way that didnt really improve it. Showing every tile face up at the beginning of the game - allowing players a chance for long-term strategy - was, on the other hand, a variant that was fascinating and fun. I enjoyed all the variants I tried, but still found myself coming back to the basic game.
So is ZooSim worth your time? The answer is a resounding yes! Its an excellent, quick bidding game, but one where the bidding can be very tense and fun. If the game was longer, it could get monotonous, but the bright theme and the quick game play help expedite things; and there is really no downtime for the players. People who like blind bidding, dominoes, or zoos should probably get a kick out of this game. Those who like all three will be in Heaven! I was very impressed with the game play, and have come to respect Corne van Moorsel as a great designer. Try this game out - I doubt youll be disappointed.
A light, blind bidding game with attractive pieces, Zoosim works well with 3-4 and plays quickly, thus acting as a good filler. I recommend following one Spielfriek's advice: get multi-sided dice in order to keep track of who has the most stars in each animal type. In our first couple of games scoring was confusing as people failed to keep track of who had earned a majority.
Zoosim is a good game with a pleasing theme. How many of us haven't wanted to build and design our own zoo at one time! The goal is to earn points by attracting the most visitors to your zoo. The games moves fairly quickly. There are 5 rounds. During each round, 5 zoo tiles are bid on by players. The tiles have various paths and animal types on theme the more stars by the animals the more attractive the exhibit. There are also trees on the tiles which invite visitors to rest in the shade at your zoo. Bid is simultaneous (closed fist style) so it moves quickly. Ties in bidding are decided by the 'flagpole.' The highest flag wins the tie but then goes to the bottom of the pole. Tiles are placed and attractions tallied and then visitors distributed. Vistors are worth x1 in the first round, x2 in the 2nd and so on. There is a first and 2nd place with visitors. Visitors may also get stuck in 'pathloops' at your zoo (I guess they just keep going around in a circle and can't find the exit to visit your opponent's zoo). You earn income by the size (number of tiles) in your zoo. this goes for 5 rounds and the game is over. Simple yet challenging.
Looking at the rather garish cover art to O Zoo le Mio will either attract you to this game or repel you, but upon cracking open the box, you find a much more pleasant production from those fine Dutch folks at Cwali Games. They've had a couple small hits, and this seems to be a bit of a home run for them, which I am very happy to hear.
The game, in a way, is like dominoes, Carcassonne, and a bidding game, all wrapped together in a Zoo Tycoon theme. Players are all opening up new zoos trying to add attractions in such a way as to impress the zoo-going populace, scoring points for the number of visitors and for well landscaped parks.
The game is made up of five rounds in which players will be bidding on domino-like tiles which they then add (Carcassonne style) to their existing zoos. Each tile is rectangular, containing half one type of attraction, half another type of attraction, plus paths, and sometimes trees. The attraction types are ostensibly different types of animals, but they are color coded which makes the game relatively easily to follow. Like dominoes, matching halves are a good thing. So if you can put a domino with a blue attraction against another domino with the same, in such a way so that the two blue attractions touch, they are considered one large attraction. If you can get more blue attractions to touch, like a large chain (or like a large City in Carcassonne) then that attraction becomes increasingly attractive to guests. If two separated blue attractions exist within the same park, they are considered separate, and only one may score. Players attract visitors to their parks by having the best or second best attraction of each type. For example, best Blue attraction gets 2 Blue visitors, second best Blue attraction gets one Blue visitor. The same applies for the other attraction types (orange, grey, red, yellow). If a player expands an attracion and takes the lead from another player, he immediately takes the corresponding visitors.
Several twists make this game more entertaining. Firstly, each attraction is rated with between 1 and 4 stars. That means that having two Red 4 stars attractions (for a total of 8 stars) side by side is more valuable that a well planned chain of 5 adjacent Red attractions worth 1 star each (5 stars total). This makes bidding very tricky. Not only are you weighing which colors you need, but you all need to consider how many stars the two attractions have.
You also need to consider two more things when bidding for tiles: trees and roads.
Like Carcassonne, there are roads on the tiles. Unlike Carcassonne, all roads must be connected somehow (which fits the theme -- you can't have part of a path in a corner of your park unconnected to any other paths!) Anytime you lay tiles in such a way as to create a 'loop', you receive a park bench. Park benches count for points the same way visitors do, and the best part is that you can never lose a park bench to another player. So a good zoo owner is going to work hard to make a lot of loops in his park.
Lastly trees. Trees are depicted in some of the tiles. They don't count as an attraction, rather they are just depicted around other attractions. People love greenery, and the parks with the most and second most trees get 2 trees and 1 tree respectively, which score like park benches and visitors. So otherwise useless tiles can become a lot more valuable if they have a big clump of trees on them.
All I have described so far makes for a great game of careful planning and placement. Now to some of the things I don't like about the game.
Money is tight. Real tight. Bids are chosen secretly then revealed simultaneously. Since money is so tight, and all the tiles have some value, ties happen all the time. There is a neqat resolution for that ensureing everyone gets tie breakers nearly evenly, but the frustration of watching tile after tile get away from you ina tie is frustrating. And if you bid too high you don't have money for anything else.
And money is tight. Players receive income based on how many tiles they have. If you ahve 5 tiles, you get 5 income; 2 tiles, 2 income. And that ends up leading, in more than half the playings I have had, to a rich get richer problem. Since there are so many ties, one player often gets left in the dust as inr rounds 1 and 2 he gets 1 tiles while everyone else has 3 or 4. And that gets ugly, because it allows them to get even more tiles and more income. And so on. Thbbt.
And scoring is 1 point per tree/visitor/park bench. At least, it is until the second round where they are worth 2 each; 3rd round 3 each, etc. to 5th round. Which magnifies the rich get richer problem. Not only will rich players buy more tiles, but the sheer size of their zoos usually means they gets trees and park benches and squeeze out poorer players.
I know, I know, that is part of the strategy. But I, an experienced player, who have won more than my shares of O Zoo le Mio, by bad luck of too many ties, still sometimes end up getting poor. It happens, even to experienced player.
The game can often end up being all about trying to make your zoo work, somehow, some way, to the exclusion of direct player competition. There can be defensive play, trying to deny good tiles to your opponents, but then you end up spending valuable income and (to you) less valuable tiles.
One last thing: this game is all about visual planning, which gives some people headaches. When you are bidding for a tile, it would be nice to pick it up and try and figure out where it could be useful for you. But you are not permitted to do that, so you have to visualize in your mind where you would be able to do that. I like those types of games (Streetcar and Metro come to mind) but not everyone does, so be forewarned.
This is a great idea for a game, and the theme is integrated very well. I just thing that the points and income need some tweaking. As it is, once the new game novelty has worn of, replayability is not nearly as high as I would have thought for a bidding game with tile placement. The ties get frustrating, and the income can flatten players (also very fitting with the theme, but not fun in a game.) Well worth trying out though. You may discover these things don't bother you quite as much as me. As for me, I still like the game, I've just found my enthusiasm for it tempered with additional playings. Maybe a tiny bit too much planning for a family game, but all in all a nice production, and worthy of purchase consideration
Well, right now my wife and I earn enough such that we could pretty much afford any toy our son would want. As a result, he doesn't always have to think about saving money or spending wisely. So how do you teach being careful with money, when you have enough?
One way is Zoosim, and after a few games our 5-year-old is already learning that just because he wants a certain tile, it doesn't mean he should bid everything he has for it, because then he can't afford anything else (plus, the prices for subsequent tiles gets much cheaper once everyone starts running out of cash). The rules are simple enough that he can see that certain tiles have a lot of value, certain have little, and most are in between.
I'd give this game 4 stars, but for most gamers there are some flaws that probably prevent it from being a favorite for a long time. For instance, it can get very confusing keeping up with who has the most (or second place) of whatever. Second, in some games one player might get lucky and pretty much runaway with the game after that (though the special scoring mechanism alleviates some of this problem).
In brief it's a fun enough game that can teach the value of saving and spending under the right circumstances.
After a careful look at the O Zoo Le Mio back cover, I see trees, park benches, and that the visitors are in 5 colors, apparently 3 per color.
So it would seem that O Zoo le Mio fixes one of the major problems with ZooSim (ie, how to tell who's got what visitors and for what reason). If I ever play that game, and if this happens to be as I suspect, then I'd give it 4 stars. Too bad I bought ZooSim before the 'fixed' version came out.
The pages of rules to read always attract gamers. Cwali again scored a winner with short rules and ease of play.
After playing Titicaca several months ago, I knew Cwali is cementing a reputation for playable games. ZooSim proved a possible winner. Our group of four all liked the little houses for hiding your gray coins. Such names as Zoo World, Zoo Grande, Zoo Life, and so forth certainly added to the entertainment of the game.
Our group had to immediately distinguish the colors of the zoo: orange for Apes, Red (more pinkish)for Birds, Yellow for mammals, and Gray for reptiles. The idea was achieving adjacency.
Adjacency meant thinking like a game of dominoes. You had to play gray against gray, for example, in adjacent tiles. Adjacent tiles as we interpreted the rules did not mean adjacent road tiles. The colors had to match against each other.
One soon found that having eight gray coins at the beginning did not ensure you would have the highest bid. The flag idea caught on immediately for the ties in the bids. Each player had a colored flag that was placed randomly at the game's beginning. That flag was moved to the bottom of the flag stack once had a bid had been tied. The most prominent flag at the top of the pole won the oustanding bid for that player.
The zoo building started slowly. It was important to connect one of two roads from the initial zoo entrance or building. Then, the problem of matching colors for subsequent bids became apparent. I tended to bid too low and only achieved maybe one or two tiles for the five tiles up for bid each round.
The visitor part of the game certainly interested the players. When you achieve a loop--even a small one--you immediately receive a permanent visitor or black-blocked figure. Other visitors are acquired by the most stars on birds, reptiles, mammals, apes, and so forth. Then, your multipliers are calculated at the end of each round. For example, if you have the most black-blocked visitors at the end of the second round, you multiply that number times two for your count.
Soon one player started running away with the game. He was smart enough to match adjacencies and tile stars for the most points in certain animal categories. Others struggled along to match particular road tiles to achieve some kind of points with sea animals, for example. I still don't think I recognized many of the reptile grays, except for the red cobra.
It became evident that the bidding for final rounds was going to be extremely spirited. One receives replacement coins for the number of tiles down on your particular zoo. The far-ahead player bid seven gray coins for the last tile of the game, and I bid five. Naturally, the far-ahead player completed his zoo with the most birds, most mammals, most other mammals, and most reptiles. The final scores were: 138, 81, 68, and 50.
We discovered certain points resulted from an analysis of the game. The tiles for the different animal tiles are not completely balanced. It pays to go for broke on the final five-tile bidding. One has to be extremely careful to match the colors and remember the domino theory of adjacency. One zoo's visitors can change every turn, and it is important to save the coins for the later rounds.
Would I play the game and recommend to others? It is good beer-and-pretzel gaming with the flavor of Carcassonne and Wooly Bully thinking thrown in.
You start with eight coins and a random place on the list. Five parkland tiles, illustrating pathways and zoo animals valued from 1 to 3, are revealed and auctioned in order each round. Highest place on the list wins ties, and moves to last place.
Add tiles to your array, with adjacent pathways connected. Put a Spectator on an animal whose species is higher in value in your zoo than in competitors' zoos. Your species' value is that of its highest individual animal, unless you can add the values of adjacent animals not separated by pathways. Spectators float around the zoos; their placement constantly changes the status quo. At round's end, earn one coin for each tile, plus points equal to the round's number for each Spectator. Enclosing an area with pathways earns you a permanent Spectator. Highest score wins after five rounds.
Challenge your spatial and financial abilities as you enjoy this worthy contribution to gaming from Cwali, a tiny Dutch company.
There comes a point when a company can no longer hide behind the epithet "independent", which somehow implies small and occasionally tawdry. In Cwali's case, that time is now. It should have come last year when the perplexing Titicaca was born. Whilst I love this game, I simply haven't got a clue as to what is going on.
But no such problem with Zoo Sim, which shares the outstanding component production with its predecessor, but has an entirely intelligible set of rules and an orthodox procedure.
Participants in this game are owners of a small zoo and must stock their compound with a variety of wildlife. This is achieved by bidding for land tiles which will abut previous construction and provide a visual feast of the five groups -- fish, apes, reptiles, birds and assorted mammals -- available.
Having constructed your entrance (a screen to conceal coins -- eight each to commence), the 25 zoo tiles are shuffled, and five drawn to form the first Season. The contest concludes when all 25 tiles have been distributed.
Each colour-coded tile features a pathway, plus visual reference to one or more attractions. Additionally, the animals (the term used in the rulebook to facilitate all types) are rated by a star system. What you are hoping to achieve is a grouping of like animals, with a higher concentration of stars than your opponent. Eight usually does it, but this requires dexterity, solid spatial technique and a well-judged commitment when bidding. So, count me out.
Having exposed five tiles, the first is bid for, using the simple "in the fist" method, ie select concealed coins from your stock, simultaneously reveal, with the highest total winning. Ties are resolved using a unique "flagpole mechanism", onto which your company motif is placed (random to start). The highest flag on the pole wins ties, and is then demoted to the base. This is crucial towards the end of a Season when the dosh is running low.
So, what to bid for, and for what benefit?
Apart from the intrinsic financial value of the tile, players earn "visitor" tokens for their respective animal pens. Additionally, these tokens are awarded for completed walkways (loops) and the most trees (as depicted on the tiles).
Constructing settlements looks straightforward, but only provide value when adjacent. And because the tiles feature multiple groups (eg fish and apes), the options can prove confusing (not unlike Carcassone).
Let's assume you've won the first auction (at a cost of four coins) and have placed a three star aviary (birds, you fool!) and two-star ape house. The next tile you really fancy (and the last in sequence) is two-star bird and reptile combination. You'll be strong in the feather department, whilst making a foothold with our slimy brethren. And it's vital to grab tiles, because they are your only source of additional funding (added to that you have retained).
In an ideal world, you will seek to win at least two of the auctions, thus providing a solid base for future income, but will almost certainly have come close to exhausting your initial capital in doing so.
When visitors (the scoring mechanic) are initially placed, consider their loyalty tenuous. They will switch from site to site in this competitive marketplace, only likely to stay when a player builds an overwhelming pound.
Upon the inauguration of a specific animal house, the player shows control with a single token. Once two or more entrepreneurs are competing, additional visitors join the jamboree. This boils down to two points for the most stars, and one for second place. Trees are scored in an identical manner, whilst completed walkways provide permanent victory points. A generously illustrated leaflet provides clear examples of all likely scenarios.
At the end of each season (five auctioned tiles or "game rounds"), currency is distributed (one coin per tile) and visitors counted. From the second season onwards, multipliers are introduced, starting with 2x, then 3x, etc. For example, in season two, 8 visitors would equate to 16 points.
I had a certain unease about the possibility of a player striking out and establishing an unassailable lead. This has happened, but not consistently, so should not be considered a faultline.
Although I am probably the last person in the world to proffer advice, you will need strength in at least two animal groups, and because they cannot be challenged, walkways are effective.
Oddities? None really, although empty spaces are allowed, because tiles can be placed "half on half" as long as pathways connect. Frustrations? Plenty, as you try to assimilate your new purchase to maximise established holdings. Enjoyment? Undeniably. Zoo Sim could have easily come from the Kosmos or Hans im Glck factories, and Corn van Moorsel (in the guise of Cwali) is now on the frontline.