Mary Dimercurio Prasad: Review of Zooloretto Würfelspiel

Zooloretto WürfelspielImage
Designer: Michael Schacht
Publisher: AbacusSpiele
Players: 2-4
Ages: 7+
Play Time: 15 minutes


Zooloretto Würfelspiel is a lighter, faster, compact version of Zooloretto. It gives you the same feel as Zooloretto but without all the calories!

The game comes with 10 custom animal dice, a small square two-sided game board, a pad of specialized score sheets, and a pencil. Each die shows 5 types of animals and one coin. The number of dice used depends on the number of players: use 6 dice for two players, use 8 for three, and all 10 for four. One side of the game board shows 3 trucks – it will be used in games with two or three players. The other side shows 4 trucks – it will be used in games with four players. Each truck has 3 crates for animals. Each player takes a score sheet, representing his zoo (explained in more detail below).

The game is played in rounds by rolling dice and filling in checkboxes on the score sheets, according to what dice were claimed during the round. The goal of the game is to score the most points.

On a turn, a player may either roll two dice (from the supply) and place them in empty crates on the trucks, or claim all the dice in a truck by moving them to his zoo and ending his turn for this round. Players continue to do this until each player has claimed dice, thus ending the round. One big difference from Zooloretto is that after dice have been claimed from a truck, that truck immediately becomes available for new dice.

Each score sheet shows enclosures for 5 animals, in rows. The top enclosure (alligator) will only hold one animal, the next enclosure (ostrich) will hold two animals, and so on up to the fifth enclosure (lion) that will hold five animals. As dice are claimed, players will mark off the appropriate checkboxes. Next to each enclosure is a bonus checkbox to be checked by the first person to completely fill the associated enclosure. Once a bonus has been claimed, no other player may claim it. Each bonus is worth one point except the last one (lion), which is worth two points.Below the enclosures is a vending cart row. It has three groups of checkboxes that must be filled from left to right whenever a coin is claimed. The first group has 3 checkboxes, the second has 2, and the third has 1. Once they have been filled, coins will be ignored. Finally, the last row of the score sheet is the barn. If a player claims an animal die and its associated enclosure has already been filled, the barn checkbox of that animal must be checked. These are worth minus two points each. The good news is that this is a one time deal – further claims of this same animal can be ignored and no further penalty will be incurred.As in Zooloretto, players still should look around to see what others are collecting and e.g. try to force them to take more animals than they need of a particular type. Usually this involves alligators or ostriches since they have the fewest available checkboxes on the score sheets.The game ends after the round where one player, after claiming dice, has either filled all of his enclosures or all but one. Each checkbox in an animal enclosure is worth one point. Add bonus points if applicable. If a player has filled any coin grouping completely (starting of course with the grouping of three), he may either get a point for the grouping or ignore one barn of his choice. For each barn filled (and not ignored using coins), the player deducts two points. The points are tallied; the player with the most points wins. In the case of a tie, the player with the most coins wins, otherwise the victory is shared.I only played Zooloretto Würfelspiel a couple of times so far but I really enjoyed each game. It lasts maybe 15-20 minutes with a full complement. As I said in the intro, it has the same feel as its bigger brother, Zooloretto, but plays in a fraction of the time and is much more portable. This is a fun filler and one of the best adaptations as a dice game. I plan to get a copy!

Opinions from the Other Opinionated Gamers

Mark Jackson: It is not the full Zooloretto experience… but there are a number of nice decision points built into the game: do I add more dice or take what’s available now? when I place my dice, how do I do so in a way that benefits me & hurts others? is there a way to “force” another player to take a decent truck in order to leave my better truck alone?

Erik Arneson: Just like the original Zooloretto, this is a very family-friendly gaming experience with a few evil moments thrown in. It’s often possible — and desirable — to hose your opponents by forcing them to choose between two distasteful options, but by doing so you just as often risk messing up your own fortune. I like the structure of the game (e.g., the coin mechanism, and the way alligators and lions show up equally, on average, but you have just one alligator box vs. five lion boxes), the speed of the game, and the theme of the game.

Dan Blum: It doesn’t have all the nuances of the parent game, but it does capture much of the feel, and as Mary notes it takes a lot less time. So I might actually prefer this. I haven’t played Zooloretto Mini, so I can’t compare that to the dice game. Regardless of exactly how one would rank the three games (four if one includes Coloretto, five if one includes Aquaretto), this is a very good translation of the game.

Dale Yu: This would be in the top half of the new dice games I played this month.  I do like the fast play time, and I agree that this gives you a lot of the feel of the full Zooloretto.  It’s a bit different because players can use an just emptied truck to load new dice into – but for me, this adds a new dimension to the decision making process as it makes it harder to know when is the right time to take dice or when you should roll instead.

Ratings Summary from the Opinionated Gamers

I love it!… Mary Prasad, Erik Arneson
I like it… Mark Jackson, Dale Yu, Dan Blum
Neutral… John Palagyi
Not for me…

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