Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Renovating Your Zoo(loretto)

Now that Zooloretto has spawned enough expansions to make my box roughly the weight of an anvil, it's time for me to chime in again about the quality/usefulness of the various expansions that are available. (The original post like this was written in 2009 - and I've played a good bit of Zooloretto since then.)

I've divided my impressions into three categories: expansions I've played, expansions I own (but haven't played) & expansions I don't own. (When I've played with the expansions, I've noted how many times following the name.)

  • The Petting Zoo(12 plays) - This is probably the best simple expansion out there. The trade-off between cash & victory points is really nice.
  • The Savings Book(7 plays) - an exercise in delayed gratification... makes money less tight later in the game, which is a good thing when using some of the other expansions. (BTW, you should NEVER use this expansion when playing the combined game w/Aquaretto.)
  • Three Extra Enclosures(4 plays) - These are 3 two-space pens specific to the zebra, flamingo & elephant. They are available for purchase from the center of the board for $2. I'd combine 'em w/the Savings Book and/or the Petting Zoo so you have some extra cash to make them easier to buy. We've liked these - though you do need to make sure that the appropriate animals are in play.
  • * Polar Bear/Gorilla/King K(6/5/2 plays)- I like these better now that I have 3 of them and it's not simply a crapshoot to see who gets the special power first. All of these are single tiles which add a special power to your zoo - they are claimed by finishing your 6 space pen. My gut response is to put 3 of them out for five player games, 2 out for three or four player games.
  • Three Additional Buildings(2 plays) - we used these a couple & I wasn't overwhelmed by what they did or didn't do. Had to look up the rules on them a number of times... which meant they slowed the game down without adding anything deeply meaningful to the game.
  • Mission Cards(1 play) - Because of the makeup of the cards, these only work in 4-5 player games... but the one time we used them, they did some interesting things to what people would & wouldn't take from the trucks. I really want to try it again.
  • Zooloretto Exotic(10 plays) - If you're just going to buy one expansion box/set for Zooloretto, it should be this one. It makes the end game dynamics very different as players have more tiles to avoid and scoring considerations to worry about.
  • Zooloretto XXL(4 plays)- The addition of more animals of each type along with the ability to "clear" 2 of your complete pens for lower points (ship them off to another zoo) and refill them. I'm not sure the extra time is worth the trade-off... however, the Aquaretto XXL expansion is very cool (included in the same box).
  • Zooloretto Boss(1 play... so far!)- I think this is going to be a very successful addition to the game... the combination of the Market (buy a single tile for 2 bucks), the sponsors & the workers (similar to the workers in Aquaretto) make for some much more gamer-y decisions.
  • Building Sites - introduces an element of "take that" to the game that I don't like... I probably won't ever use them.

The following are all "completion of the 6 square enclosure" reward tiles with various powers (like the Polar Bear or the Gorilla). Some of them have been printed on postcards and all of them are available at http://www.zooloretto.com. (Yes, I need to print them myself - but I keep hoping that there will be another "official" collection of expansions printed.) The Reindeer, Christmas Tree & Christmas Gift, BTW, all say that they are only to be used while playing the game on Christmas. :-)

There is another print-n-play expansion available that I must find the time to produce:
  • Five Extra Enclosures - this adds the missing two space enclosures for the rest of the Zooloretto animals.
And, yes, I know about the Chameleon (an expansion for Zooloretto Exotic)... but I have real doubts about how well it will work to paste up two blank tiles in a game where drawing from the bag is a central mechanic.


Zooloretto Mini is a smaller portable version of the game and is NOT an expansion to the original Zooloretto... though the pieces are the same size & will allow you to put different types of animals into play.

Also, there is an iPhone app to play Zooloretto - it's not a bad implementation but the AI is VERY weak.


If I was going to rank the expansions in "need to own" order, here's how I'd go:
  1. Zooloretto Exotic
  2. Zooloretto Boss
  3. Zooloretto - Rio Grande Games Expansion Pack #1 (includes the Polar Bear, Petting Zoos, Building Sites, 3 Extra Enclosures & 3 Additional Buildings)
  4. Zooloretto - Rio Grande Games Expansion Pack #2 (includes the Gorilla, Savings Books, Mission Cards & 2 expansions for Aquaretto)
  5. Zooloretto XXL
In fact, you can print-n-play most of the small expansions in the Rio Grande sets from Michael Schlacht's website, zooloretto.com. I just like having the nice professionally printed pieces for my set.


Hipshot said...

do you ever review wargames?
like LocknLoads games? I'd like ot see a review of their new Paris is Burningmodule...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QnJUyaDiug this is from one of their modules.

Mark (aka pastor guy) said...

While I was a pretty serious wargamer a long time ago (the late 1970s), I haven't been playing those kind of games for a long time.

Kathy (mommysreading) said...

This was a wonderful breakdown of the expansions. I have never played this game but I am thinking about getting it. I am interested in the two player game. It will mostly be me and my daughter (10) playing. Do I need any of the expansions with just two players? Will they even work?

I know there is a ton of info out there about this game, but I was unable to find anything about expansions and two players.

Thank you for your help.

Mark (aka pastor guy) said...

Kathy - thanks for the encouraging words - it's actually my 2nd attempt at this post.

Honestly, Zooloretto is not at its best with 2 players... it will work with just the base set but the expansions add enough extra decisions to make up for the loss of tension at the heart of the game - putting animals on the trucks.

The XXL expansion contains extra trucks for 2 player (a single space & a double space truck) but they are not necessary to play w/2 players, just nice to have.

My son & I play 2 player with LOTS of expansions loaded on - but we don't do it that often.

There are better 2 player zoo games, btw:
- Drôles de Zèbres (http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/14781/droles-de-zebres) is just for two players - it's a placement game w/some nifty twists
- O Zoo le Mio (http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/4218/o-zoo-le-mio) is a 2-4 player blind bidding game with Carcassonne-ish tile laying & nice wooden bits... and though the age recommendation says 9+, my 6 yr old can play the game if I help him w/tile placement.