2-5 Players; Ages 8+
Each player uses small, large, wild and exotic animals and their young to try and attract as many visitors as possible to their zoo. But be careful - the zoo must be carefully planned. Before you know it, you have too many animals and no more room for them. That brings minus points! Luckily, your zoo can expand.
A zoo of a family game in which less is sometimes more ...
Counter magazine review
2-5 players, 45 minutes
designed by Michael Schacht
reviewed by Alan How
The name gives it away, and if not the designer would. Zooloretto is Coloretto in a zoo. When Coloretto came out a few years ago, it was introduced to our local convention that Spring and was undoubtedly the hit of the convention. Its speed of play, nasty, horrible decisions and push your luck aspects hit the mark for me.
Enter 2007 and the game board version. Zooloretto features the same mechanism of draw a tile and add it to a set, or take a set option. This time, it is animals, and players try to populate sections of a zoo with animals. The areas are different in size but only accept animals of one type. When you accept a set (1 to 3 tiles), you place them in your zoo. A barn holds animals that you can't place. As well as animals, you might draw a money tile or a market stall. Money is in tight supply, so attractive to draw, while market stalls are associated with specific zoo sections. The market stalls score one point per animal in a section, if you have not completed an area (maximum VPs) or nearly completed (one empty square) a zoo section. So the stalls are useful and obtaining a different set of the stalls also adds to your final score.
The nasty, horrible decisions are the great aspect to the game that has been retained from Coloretto. The location placement adds another dimension, while the money helps you reorganise your zoo, an operation which includes buying animals from other players' barns and paying to clear redundant animals from your own.
The game play is quick, downtime is low and the player interaction is good. You can see what you'd like to do, but it doesn't always work out when you draw a tile that screws up the set you are forced to take. Zooloretto plays well with 3 to 5, which is what I have tried it with, and I suspect it is OK with 2. A slightly overproduced area is the wooden platforms designed to hold each set, but that's fine and the game is a really pleasant diversion for 45 minutes or so.