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from 4 customer reviews
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Zooloretto Mini is the little brother to the 2007 "Spiel des Jahres" (Game of the Year). As in Zooloretto, each player is the zoo director of a small zoo. They must bring new animals into their zoos and arrange landscape tiles on the grounds. Points are awarded at the end of the game for both.
A stand-alone game with simpler rules, shorter game length and fewer components – ideal as an introductory game or when traveling.
Average Rating: 3.5 in 4 reviews
I own the game. I have played with 2, 3, 4 and 5 players.
I have never played it with kids, only adults, and most of the time everybody on their turns is scratching his/her scalp or rubbing his/her chin. I have played with people that never grasped the strategy of the game and that blatantly pick tiles up, put them on whatever "truck", pick whatever "truck" and just put the tiles however they can in the zoo, earning almost no points in the end off course.
The game is simple, yes. But the sole decision of where on the 'trucks' to put the tiles you uncover is a hell of strategy. Maybe one of the trucks has the tile you need, but picking up just one tile is a poor way to finish your turns for the round. But if you wait, somebody could get your tile, or put garbage on your truck and gift you an animal that will cost you points in the end.
And just by picking up a tile, you give up the chance of getting that truck this turn; that could be gone before your next turn. Even if you are the last one taking turns, would it really be convenient to pick another tile and risk spoiling the truck with the 2 tiles you just need?
You find yourself struggling with what to do: Let the turn pass by making a money action, pick up the tile you need, or risk yourself to uncover a tile that could be useful to you or simply make the truck attractive to others? Would you put 2 coins in one truck to try to bribe your opponent out of the round, or if they refuse then bribe yourself and take the money truck?
Would you pick up a truck that is of no use for you, but has that fertile animal your opponent needs, thus forcing him to buy it from you and giving you money? Are you an aggressive player, who always try to put garbage on the trucks that your opponents need; and will always pick up, not the truck that most benefit you (with the animals you need) but instead picking up the truck that would benefit your opponent and so causing harm? Would you get to the point of aggressiveness as to buy that poor fertile animal from an opponent barn, only to sacrifice it in the next turn, so that other opponent will not be able purchase it from you?
Or are you a conservative player, that would pick up a truck with a single tile as long as it benefits you; And thus protecting yourself from harm but also renouncing to better chances of picking up better animals or more money? Are you able to decide when would be better to expand the zoo, instead of saving the money for moving your animals in a way that would produce even more money?
All the people I have played the game with, agree that there is a lot of strategy going on. Most of us think it would be a really frustrating experience for a kid to play against an adult with all the possible combinations and consequences triggered. OFF COURSE there are some pretty smart kids out there, as well as not so smart adults.
For us, the game is actually a very strategic game with an astonishing simple mechanics that is disguised as a "kids game". All the persons I have played with find themselves addicted... Indeed a feature expected of a 'game of the year'. And I have not even started speaking about the expansions for the game...
I already bought the Aquaretto sequel, but I have not played it yet. The mechanics are the same, but the game has some different rules that makes it truly be a sequel and not just and expansion. But if you happen to have both, there are rules to play them together as one big game.
Bottom line: Zooloreto is a game I highly recommend to anybody who enjoys playing boardgames. I don't know about playing it with kids, but it would probably be good also. Maybe I would have to refrain from being too aggressive in a game with kids...
I had a chance to play Zooloretto over the July 4th holiday with 3 other people and we enjoyed the game quite a bit. I have read the comparisons to Coloretto and having played Coloretto, I can see the similarities in basic gameplay (collect the stuff you want, avoid things you don't want).
But in this case, I believe theme makes all the difference. Theming around animals removes the abstract feeling that Coloretto had. Tweaking the game play around this theme makes a difference as well. Now you can have "baby" animals and your "zoo" can expand. This makes the experience much more family and party friendly with banter about unwanted animals, too many babies, etc.
In terms of mechanics, Zooloretto keeps it pretty simple. There are only 3 basic choices of what to do - flip a tile, take tile(s) or spend coins. This not Caylus! That said, our group tended to grab trucks with animals right away, which I suspect may have distorted our play experience (fewer unwanted animals means fewer coin plays). Even so, the net result was that we had fun and played several times.
Zooloretto is simple enough that kids should be able to play (particularly if players focus on their own zoos rather than messing up someone else's zoo). The theme works for kids and the game play is simple enough that most kids who've played boardgames before should have no problem with it.
NOTE: This review was first published in Knucklebones magazine
It is not uncommon for a popular board game to eventually spawn a card game version, especially if the game is an award winning design. It is far less common for a card game to be the inspiration for a board game. It is even rarer for this spin-off game to capture the most coveted board game award in Germany, the prestigious Spiel des Jahre (Game of the Year). Zooloretto, by designer Michael Schacht, has accomplished this feat.
Zooloretto is a derivative of Schacht’s popular card game Coloretto. Players collect animals and assign them to various enclosures in their zoo. The challenge is to collect only the animals desired, and properly position them in enclosures in order to attract the most spectators. This is not an easy task, as the delivery trucks often contain an assortment of animals, some of which may not be the species you desire to exhibit.
Each player receives a board depicting their zoo, which has three separate enclosures and a barn. An additional enclosure is available for purchase during the course of the game. An assortment of animal, coin and vending stall tiles are mixed face down, ready to be loaded onto the five delivery trucks, each with a capacity to hold three animals.
Each turn, a player may either reveal a tile and place it onto a truck, take possession of one of the trucks, or spend coins for one of several purposes. When taking a truck, the player must immediately place the animals into his zoo. Each enclosure can only house one type of animal, with no mixing allowed. For example, once a player begins an enclosure with a camel, no other type of animal may be placed into that enclosure. If an animal is taken that cannot be placed into one of the enclosures, it must be placed into the player’s barn. This can cost the player points at game’s end, but there are ways to move those animals to more suitable accommodations.
Players may spend coins to move an animal from one location to another, exchange the location of two groups of animals, discard an animal, or even purchase an animal from an opponent’s barn. Additionally, a player may also purchase an additional enclosure in order to accommodate more animals, but at the cost of three coins. Coins can be difficult to acquire, with some being available in the tile mix. One or two additional coins are earned if a player completely fills an enclosure.
A cute aspect of the game is the “mating” aspect. Four animals of each type are marked as either male or female. If a player collects a male and female animal of the same type in an enclosure, they immediately produce a baby of the same type, which must be placed into the enclosure. This “free” animal is usually beneficial, unless the enclosure is already filled, in which case the offspring must be placed into the barn.
The game has a strong “push-your-luck” element, as players must decide how long to hold out before selecting a truck. Often a player is tempted to wait, hoping to have a truck filled with items that he can use. However, wise and malicious players will often place undesired animals onto trucks in order to spoil them for their opponents. So, the tough choice that must be made over and over again is whether to take a partially filled truck that primarily contains useful animals or tiles, or to wait another round and hope to be able to claim a truck that contains even more useful items. It can be a decision filled with angst.
The game ends at the end of the round when tiles are taken from the final stack of fifteen tiles. Players receive points for filled enclosures, and fewer points for enclosures that are just one animal short of being filled. If an enclosure is more than one animal shy of being filled, points will only be earned if a player has a vending stall by that pen, in which case one point per animal is earned. A player also earns two points for each different type of vending stall they have placed in their zoo, which is a further incentive to collect those stalls.
Players will also lose points for animals and vending stalls located in their barns. For each different type of animal and vending stall in their barn, a player will lose two points. The wise zookeeper will attempt to keep this number to a minimum.
Zooloretto is perfectly suited for families and gamers of all experience levels. The animal theme is certainly appealing, especially to children, but the choices to be made are significant enough to engage adults. It is exactly the type of game that is deserving of the Game of the Year award.
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