Tag Archives: Zooloretto: The Dice Game

8th September 2015

We were late starting and, since we were expecting more, we decided to split into two groups and play something quick and light to start.  By coincidence, both groups began with cooperative card games.  Green, Grey and Cerise started with Hanabi – winner of the Spiel des Jahres a few years ago.  At the time we played it quite a bit, but Grey and Cerise had never been involved.  The idea of the game is very simple:  collectively, the players have to lay five cards in each of five colour-suits in numerical order.  The catch is that players are unable to see their own cards and instead turn their hand round so everyone else can see it.  As a group they then have to use deduction to work out which cards to play and in what order.

Hanabi
– Image used with permission of BGG reviewer EndersGame

On their turn, a player can do one of three things, play a card, give a clue or discard a card.  The number of clues is finite, though discarding cards buys extras.  When a card is played, the player doesn’t have to know what it is they are playing, so long as it can be added to one of the suits.  If it can’t, the group lose one of their three lives.  We have never been able to successfully complete the challenge of laying all twenty-five cards, so the group score is the sum of the highest card placed in each suit, or current maximum being twenty.   As a group we gelled well and through judicious use of efficient clues we were able to get lay all five cards for three colours and three cards for the other two.  This gave a total score of twenty-one, a new club record – definitely deserving of a “Very good! The audience is enthusiastic!”.

Hanabi
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor bovbossi

Meanwhile, Red, Blue, Cyan and Burgundy were playing the altogether less stressful, but equally puzzling, strangely eponymous, The Game.  Similarly, everyone has a hand of cards and they have to be played in numerical order, but in this case every card as to be played on one of four piles, two ascending and two descending.  There are two additional rules:  Players can say anything they want so long as they don’t give specific number information, and if they have a card exactly ten more or less than the top card of the pile they are playing it on, they can ignore the ascending/descending rule.  On their turn, players must play at least two cards before replenishing their hand, but can play as many as they want.

The Game
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor henk.rolleman

This was nominated for Spiel des Jahres this year and we’ve played it a few times since then.  Our best result was in a two player game a couple of months ago, when we had one solitary remaining card, however, we felt at the time that it might have been slightly easier with just two as you can plan better.  This time, it seemed were were doomed from the start with first Red, then Blue having nothing but really, really low cards and no-where to play them.  We managed to survive that though, and with a couple of really effective uses of the “Backwards Rule”, we managed to exhaust the draw deck.  Blue checked out first, quickly followed by Cyan and Burgundy leaving Red to play her last few cards and close out our first victory.  Next time we will have to play with one less card in hand…

The Game
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor joeincolorado

The games finished pretty much simultaneously and then a great debate began as to what to play next and how to split the group given that there were people who didn’t want to stay late.  Green proposed Eketorp, but this is one of Blue’s least favourite games, so she was looking for an alternative when Grey asked whether we had anything that would play everyone.  Blue mentioned Bohnanza, but although Red’s eyes lit up and Cerise looked interested, this time Green was not keen.  Grey wanted to play something with “fighting” and eventually, Green and Grey got fed up with the discussion and decided to play a head-to-head game of Carcassonne.

Carcassonne
– Image by BGG contributor ldaponte

Carcassonne is probably one of the best known of the modern, Euro-games, and is often considered to be “nice” – this is not true when it is played with just two however.  The idea of the game is that players take it in turns to draw and place tiles on an ever-growing map.  They can then add a meeple to any features on that tile before scoring any features that have been completed as a result of placing it.  Players have a finite number of meeples and, with two players, muscling in on someone else’s city is just as effective as building one yourself, making it very definitely, “nasty”.  And so it proved.  Playing with the first expansion, Inns & Cathedrals, Grey started with a few meeples on roads while Green placed a couple of early farmers. Green then took an early lead by completing a city with a cathedral, but then seemed to stutter. Grey continued to plug away eventually catching and passing Green nearly lapping him.  Green was hoping to reap the rewards of the early farmers, but with his last two tiles Grey placed a cheeky farmer and then joined it to the big field.  This cancelled out the huge farm bonus and put the game beyond doubt by sharing Green’s massive thirty-three point farm, finishing forty-one points ahead.

Carcassonne
– Image by BGG contributor Hayzuss

On the other table, discussion had finally ceased an everyone had settled down to one of our current favourite filler games, 6 Nimmt!, another “laying cards in the right order” game.  Somehow, this is a really confusing game, but it is this feeling that you sometimes have control but not being sure why that makes it so compelling.  The game is played with a deck of cards numbered from two to one hundred and four, each of which features a number of “Bulls Heads” (mostly just one, but some have as many as seven).  The idea is that everyone then simultaneously chooses and reveals a card from their hand.  Then, starting with the player who played the lowest card, players add their cards to the four rows on the table.

6 Nimmt
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor punkin312

Each card must be added to the row which has the highest card that is lower than the one to be played, i.e. if rows end with ten, twenty, thirty and forty, then card thirty-five should be added to the row containing number thirty.  If the card played would be the sixth card in that row, then the player “wins” all the cards and the played card becomes the first card in the new row.  The winner is the player with the fewest “Bulls Heads” or “Nimmts” at the end of the game.  We generally play the game in two rounds with half the cards dealt out at the start of the first round and the rest for the second.

6 Nimmt
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor punkin312

With two players new to the game, chaos was inevitable, however, it was Blue who ended most out of synch, collecting twenty-four Nimmts in the first round, and Burgundy who managed to keep it together and escape without picking up a single card.  Roles were reversed in the second round with Blue winning with just six Nimmts while Burgundy picked up thirty-two!  Overall though, it was consistency that won through for Red who finished with a total of nineteen, five ahead of Cyan in second place.

Coloretto
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor punkin312

Carcassonne was still going on the next table, so Cerise mugged Grey for the house keys and headed off with Red and Cyan, leaving Burgundy and Blue to play a quick game of Coloretto.  This push-your-luck set-collecting game has had a few outings recently, and although three or four are much better numbers, we feel it plays surprisingly well with just two.  The idea is very simple, either you draw a coloured chameleon card and add it to a truck, or take a truck.  Players score positively for three sets and negatively for the rest, so the idea is to try to load trucks with coloured cards you want.  This time Blue started badly and from there it just got worse, finishing with Burgundy giving her a comprehensive thrashing, winning by more than twenty points.

Port Royal
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor jsper

Carcassonne and Coloretto finished together and Burgundy, Green and Blue decided there was time to give Port Royal another go.  We played it about a month ago, when it took a surprisingly long time for a quick filler, everyone said they’d like to try it again, and Green worked out a strategy based on Expedition cards that he was keen to try.  In summary, the game is played in turns with the active player turning over cards.  They can keep turning over cards until either they choose to stop or they draw a second ship card that they cannot repel.  Assuming they choose to stop, they can then take a ship card or buy a character card before the remaining cards are offered round the table with players paying the active player one doubloon if they choose to buy/take a card.

Port Royal
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor punkin312

Last time we had found some issues with the rules which we had not really been able to resolve.  The question was, since the Admiral allows a player to take two cards, does that mean they apply the Jester/Governor special powers twice?  On reflection, after the last game we had felt that the way we played (by a strict reading of the rules) was incorrect as it meant the combination was exceptionally powerful.  So for our second try we didn’t allow this and subsequent checking online appears to suggest that we played the way the designer intended this time.

Port Royal
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor punkin312

Another question we’d had was, could a player repel a card if it was the first of a colour to be drawn, or is it only the second card that can be repelled?  Strict reading of the rules appeared to allow this, so this time we played this way.  Blue was the main beneficiary of this rules “change”, as she quickly added not one, but two Admiral cards to her earlier Sailor.  The ability to repel cards before it was essential makes it much more likely that a player is going to be able to draw five cards without going bust.  Since this gave Blue four doubloons every time, it meant she was never short of cash to buy the high value cards. Meanwhile, Green struggled to get his strategy to work with three (partly due to the lack of Expeditions) and Burgundy, who had wiped the floor with everyone else last time round, couldn’t get the cards he needed to get going quickly (not helped by the fact that he initially didn’t use the full power of his Jester).

Port Royal
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor punkin312

This time with just three it was a much, much quicker game and it played quite differently.  In the first couple of hands almost all the tax cards came out giving everyone extra money and it wasn’t until near the end that any of the mission cards were drawn.  It quickly seemed like Blue had the game in the bag although in the event, it wasn’t quite that cut and dried.  Blue brought the game to an end, but Green and Burgundy couldn’t quite get the cards they needed.  The game finished with Blue winning by five points and Burgundy taking second place on a tie-break.

Port Royal
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor msaari

Since Port Royal had played so quickly, we decided to give Zooloretto: The Dice Game a quick go.  This is a game that we’ve got out a couple of times, but then decided not to play because other people have arrived.  It was a while since we’d actually played it so we had to have a quick read through of the rules.  Each player rolls two dice, and like Coloretto or Zooloretto, they then place these on the trucks.  Alternatively, players can take a truck and tick off animals on their score sheet.  Bonuses are awarded for being the first player to complete an animal collection, but if the maximum is exceeded, then players lose points.  The game ends when one player has completed four of their animal collections and have only one space left in the last enclosure.

Zooloretto: The Dice Game
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor kilroy_locke

Burgundy started off well, with Blue and Green struggling to get any really helpful dice.  Burgundy both completed most sets first and also brought the game to a close, so the writing was on the wall:  he finished six points clear.  It was only when we were scoring, however, that we realised that Green hadn’t quite understood – he’d been going for lions assuming the bonus was lots more as you needed more of them to get the set.  Oops; blame the person explaining the rules…

Zooloretto: The Dice Game
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor henk.rolleman

Learning Outcome:  We like deep games, but little games can be a lot of fun too.

28th January 2014

This week was memorable for a number of reasons.  Firstly, the non-playing member of the group, had been to the vet for the first time in about fifteen years and she didn’t like what they did to her (in fairness, she started it by taking a chunk out of the vet, but it is certain both she and the vet won’t forget the day quickly).  Secondly, nearly every current member turned up, the first time this had happened since the fire at the Jockey, and with the added bonus of a new member, we were just a bit pushed for space.  It is a very nice problem to have though, especially since this time last year we were really struggling.

Zooloretto: The Dice Game

People arrived gradually, so we started with our “Feature Game”, the filler Zooloretto:  The Dice Game.  This is closely related to the tile laying game, Zooloretto, which we’ve played before.  Both use the “Coloretto mechanism” which is a variant of the “I divide, you choose” mechanism that children sometimes use when sharing a cake.  Basically, the idea is that players take it in turns to roll dice (or draw tiles or cards depending on the game) and choose which “truck” to place them in.  When they see a truck they like, they can choose to take the contents instead of rolling (then they sit out of the rest of the round).  In the case of the dice version, players are collecting custom animal dice;  the idea is to have as many as possible up to a given limit and exceeding the maximum incurs a penalty.  The first two people to arrive were about half way through when two more turned up and joined in for a second game.

Zooloretto:  The Dice Game

After the second game we had a quick game of “extend the table, rearrange the furniture and hunt for extra chairs” and were just finishing as the last group arrived.  After some discussion, we decided to split the group into two and the first group played Montego Bay.  This is a game that we played last year and all felt that it was quite enjoyable, so we decided to give it another outing.  In summary, players control two figures, a large docker and a small docker who are travelling round the warehouses collecting barrels of rum to place on ships before they sail.  There are two aspects to the game, the first is the priority given to filling boats because, when a boat sails, the player with the largest number of barrels on board scores the most points.  Secondly, everyone chooses how far to move their dockers simultaneously at the start of the round, however, players take their turns in a prearranged order which leads to an interesting juxtaposition of chaos and “double-think”.  In this game, Orange came back from the dead with optimal use of “Lazy Jack” to win by four points.

Montego Bay

Meanwhile, the second group played 7 Wonders, which we played at New Year.  Played in three rounds, this is a card drafting game where players take one card from their hand and then pass the rest on, then repeatedly do the same with the cards they receive until there are none left.  The idea of the game is to build an civilisation and complete their “wonder”.  For the last game there were seven of us and it was over-long and completely disorganised chaos.  This time there was a much more manageable number and it worked much, much better.  One player had played it many times before and it showed in the score with him winning with fifty-two points, five ahead of second place.  The other group were only about halfway through their game though, so that gave an opportunity for a rematch.  Revenge was duly served as the game finished with the winner of the second game fifteen points clear of a tight pack which included the winner of the first game.

7 Wonders

For the last game we got back together as a large group and finished with a game of SaboteurWe played this nearly a year ago, but again didn’t have an optimal number of players.  This time, with more than twice as many, the game played much, much better.  The idea is that players are digging for gold by laying cards to form tunnels.  Everyone is either a “Dwarf” or a “Saboteur” and at the end of the game, points are given to the Dwarves if they extend the tunnel to find the gold, and Saboteurs if they succeed in stalling the Dwarves so much that they fail.  In addition to extending tunnel network, players can also play cards that inhibit the digging ability of others, or alternatively remove an impediment someone else has played.  The first game everyone was watching our “Habitual Saboteur” and waiting for him to do something suspicious, meanwhile, another player moaned about the nature of his hand, and kept discarding cards and everyone else seemed to get on with digging.  The Dwarves were about halfway there when one player declared she was a Saboteur and played a very obstructive card and immediately received a hail-storm of broken tool cards.  It was only after the Dwarves had run out of cards that the “discarder” showed his true colours as a Saboteur and the Habitual Saboteur wasn’t (this time).

Saboteur

In the second round, our Habitual Saboteur made up for his good behaviour in the first round and teamed up with the Saboteur Queen.  It looked like the dwarves might just make it when another Saboteur jumped out of the shadows throwing broken tools at all the Dwarves and putting the gold definitively beyond their reach.  Going into the final round, the Saboteur Queen (who ended up obstructing in all three rounds) had what was thought to be an unassailable lead with six points to a maximum of three elsewhere and a third failure for the Dwarves would have given her a landslide victory.  However, this time she only had the one team-mate which made it much more difficult for her to obstruct the tunnellers and, in due course, it was the Habitual Saboteur (who once again, surprisingly, wasn’t) who laid the final card and found the gold.  He managed to take a total of four points from the last round and just pipped the Saboteur Queen to the win.

Saboteur

Learning Outcome:  Don’t believe anyone when you know there is a Saboteur in your midst!