ZOOLORETTO - the DICE GAME (Würfenspiel) AbacusSpiele
This is yet another excellent game from the brilliant designer Michael Schacht and published by one of the friendliest
and better known German games producers - AbacusSpiel. Most games companies search for the game that can go on
and on - Hans im Glück found Carcassonne, Mayfair Games have their Rails & Catan games, Kosmos also have Catan
and AbacusSpiele have Zooloretto etc etc. This is a superb range of family strategy games that continue regularly with
expansions and updates and new editions, each one propagating their games to the next level.
The components are 10 very good quality dice, each with the same 6 faces: Reptile, Emu (or Ostrich), Monkey, Elephant,
Lion and Coin. There is a game board that has either 3 or 4 safari trucks - depending which side you are using, which itself
depends on how many players there are (2, 3 or 4). Players have their own Yahtzee style score sheet which has the 5 animals
and the coin in a single column with one to six tick boxes alongside them; the Reptile having one box and the Coin having 6.
On their turn the player has only two options, often only one, which are either roll 2 dice and place them as they land on 1 or 2
of the zoo/safari trucks (each truck can carry 3 animals) or take ALL the animals from ONE truck - no picking or choosing, it
is all or nothing. If there are no animals on the trucks then 2 dice must be rolled; if all trucks are filled then taking animals is
the only choice.
The strategies are pretty obvious but this makes it all the more enjoyable. If you take the dice option then everyone can see what
the dice roll result is, but it is where you place them gives the game its bite. For example, if you go first you have to roll two dice
you have no option. This may seem a mite unfair as the next player now has the choice of rolling 2 more dice or collecting animals.
Of course if you have thought about it you will have put the two animals (or coins) onto different trucks so the choice is limited.
On the left side of each animal (not the Coin) on the score sheet is a tick box. If you are the first player to complete all the boxes for
an animal you get to place a tick in here - it is worth 1 or 2 Bonus VPs at the games end (the Lion is the only animal with a 2 Bonus).
If you aren't first to complete you get to put a 0 in the box.
The lower part of the Player's score card has another tick box for each animal. You put a tick in here if you get more animals of the
type as required - eg. you only need 1 reptile. Get 1 and you tick the box. If you get the first reptile you also tick the Bonus box. If you
get a second or third reptile etc then you tick the lower box and that will get you 2 negative points.
The COINS are set out in groups of 3 boxes, 2 boxes and 1 box. You have to start ticking from the left (3 boxes) with one tick for each
Coin you get. The coins are only counted if their group is completed so complete the first three, then the second two and finally the one.
Coin groups can either add 1VP to your score or cancel the negative score (-2) of an animal, your choice which, but if you fill all 3 box
groups you will have 3 Coin Actions.
ZOOLORETTO: The Dice Game is a good game for children to play and is also a fun way to learn about strategy play. It has a very simple
mechanism but is not just a luck game - although luck does play its part. I understand about box presentation and gaining space on game store
shelves but I really would have preferred to see it in a pocket-size box to make it more portable.