FTW Staff Picks - Zooloretto

For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new. 

Zooloretto

Genre: Set Collection

Designer: Jack Dire

Player Size: 2 to 5 Players

Game Length: 45 minutes

For fans of: Bohnanza, Alhambra, Coloretto

Back in the day Tycoon games were all the rage on PC. There’s the obvious Roller Coaster Tycoon which started it all, but another one of the big hits of the time was Zoo Tycoon. And while it’s not the same game, Zooloretto is reminiscent of building your own zoo - if there were other zookeepers looking to ruin your zoo for their own benefit.

In Zooloretto, players compete to fill their zoos with matching species. Each player begins the game with a Zoo Board, an expansion board and 2 coins. All square tiles are shuffled and placed in face-down stacks. Delivery trucks equal to the number of players are placed in the center of the table. On the active player’s turn they may choose one of the following actions: add a tile to an unclaimed delivery truck, take a delivery truck and pass, or perform one money action. The following actions can be performed if the player pays money: Remodel, Purchase/Discard, or Expand. Each enclosure in a player’s zoo may only hold one species. Players may place animal tiles in their barn to use for later. The last round commences when the final stack of 15 tiles is drawn from. Players score their zoos based on how full each enclosure is in their zoo. The player with the highest score is declared the winner!

If you’ve played Coloretto, or even any other set-collecting game the mechanics will feel familiar here. There’s a bit of added depth and player interaction which allow for some fun hijinks. Being able to purchase a tile from another player’s barn is a great mechanic and its cost feels balanced. Coins being sparse allows for each action to be meaningful. And the delivery truck mechanic will always mean sub-optimal play which keeps the playing field level.

Zooloretto is one of those games that has a very inviting name and box art. It naturally attracts a lot of interest and while it may not be the most basic game, it has a very friendly learning curve. Zooloretto teaches one of the most fundamental mechanics in tabletop gaming, and revolves its entire premise around it. It’s an excellent gateway game, especially for younger audiences. It’s one of our top choices for families and it gets a lot of play at FTW. And funny enough, the ones who seem to enjoy it most are young adults. It speaks to how wide the audience is for a game like Zooloretto.