Tag Archives: Zooloretto

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).


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.


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

15th October 2013

We had a change of location for the evening which meant that one of our younger members could join us for the first couple of games of the evening.  So, while we were waiting for people to arrive, we had a couple of quick “warm-up” games of Dobble.  Clearly most of us needed quite a lot of warming up as we seemed to spend a huge amount of time staring blankly at cards, leaving the door open for bit of a white-wash.


The next game was our Feature Game, Zooloretto. This is a cute little game based on the same set collecting mechanic as the card game, Coloretto (which we’ve played a few times before).  The idea is that on their turn, players draw an animal tile from a bag and place it on a truck.  There are the same number of trucks as there are players, and each truck will hold a maximum of three tiles.  When a player sees a truck they like, instead of drawing a tile, they can take that truck and add the animals on it to their zoo.  The snag is, only one sort of animal can go in each pen (to prevent a massacre apparently) and each zoo only has three pens, but there are a lot of different animal types!  Any animals that don’t have a pen, have to go into storage in the barn.  Instead of drawing tiles and adding them to a truck, you can also pay money to expand your zoo, or to move animals about or even buy one off another player.  Players score points for full, or very nearly full pens, and negative points for each different animal type in they have in the barn at the end of the game.  So, the trick is to set up a nice full truck with animals on it that only you want an hope nobody else pinches it.  Apart from Blue who finished a long way behind the rest, the game was really quite close, second, third and fourth finished within a point and the winner was only a few points clear.


We were all quite tired so we decided to go for just one more, familiar game and an early night, so we picked Ticket to Ride.  We’d all played this many times before so we only needed a quick clarification of the specific rules for the Europe version (Only one face up loco? – Yes; Locos can be used anywhere? – Yes!  And don’t forget about stations and tunnels…) and then we were off collecting train cards.  Black was the first person to claim a route and went for the six-card line from Palermo to Smyrna.  Unfortunately, since it was a ferry it needed two locomotive cards so Black had to think again and picked up the train card he needed instead.  Out of fairness, since we hadn’t mentioned ferries in the summary, instead of claiming the route, Green gave Black another chance (which he took).  The rest of us were less sympathetic however and over the next couple of turns, the area around Italy, Greece and the Balkans filled up rapidly and Green, struggled valiantly, but ultimately unsuccessfully to make the connections he needed and ended up resorting to using stations.

Ticket to Ride:  Europe

Meanwhile, Red was trying to get from Erzurum to Købenavn and Blue was trying to get from Edinburgh to Athena via Berlin.  Blue was the first to pick up more tickets, quickly followed by Green and eventually red, however, Black kept on claiming routes and before long was well in the lead with only two trains remaining.  Everyone scrabbled to get as many points as they could from the cards they had in their hand before the final recount and scoring of tickets.  Green (who won Zooloretto) came off worst as not only had he been forced to use stations, he also struggled to complete some of his tickets and was left ruing his kindness early in the game.  Black and Blue tied for the European express bonus given for the longest continuous set of trains and the difference between them came down to tickets which gave Blue the win with 122 points (and made up for her terrible game of Zooloretto!).

Ticket to Ride:  Europe

Learning Outcome:  You can lose spectacularly at one game then win at the next, or vice versa.

5th March 2013

Since people were there nice and early, we started off the evening with a quick game of Turf Horse Racing.  This is a clever little game where players bet on horses, but the return depends not only on the place and the “stake”, but also the number of people who bet on the horse.  Thus, if several people backed the same horse, the return would be a lot lower than one which only one player bet on.  Nobody backed Raven Beauty, but even it did better than Roamin’ Emperor who might as well have had three legs.  Up front however, the race was quite tight with Mosstown Boy making a mad dash for the line only to run out of steam and lose to Lagoon Lady, Red Baron and Silver Blaze.

Turf Horse Racing

Next we played the “Feature Game” which was Nollkoll (aka Speedybag), which is another quick, fun game, but was universally agreed to be the most stressful game any of us had ever played.  Basically, players turn over a card which has a shape on it and players have to feel in their bag and pull out a matching small plastic shape.  The first wins the card, the person with the most cards at the end wins.  It was a tight game, but oh soooo stressful!

Noll Koll

Then it was Queen’s Necklace.  We had one player who was new to it, but the rest of us played it a few weeks ago, so revisiting it was nice as it meant we could use what we had learnt the first time.  It was a much closer game this time with one round really making the difference between first and second place.

Queen's Necklace

Our fourth game of the evening was Coloretto, which strangely was new to most of us, though it is a well known game.  Play is very simple:  you can either draw a card to add to a “truck”, or take one of the “trucks” and add the cards in it to your collection to make sets of different colours. Each “truck” has a maximum of three cards and only the largest three sets score points with any others scoring negatively.  It is a fun little game closely related to Zooloretto, and in many ways much better as you don’t get side-tracked by cute fluffy animals, barns and vending stalls.


Finally we finished off with our old favourite, Bohnanza (known within the group as “The Bean Game”).  Since we all knew this one very well, we just checked the specific details for player numbers and launched straight into a game.  Unfortunately, the deck hadn’t been shuffled very well before it was put away, so the first time through the pack was a little strange, but we sorted that out for the second time through.  It was another tight game, but the “Queen of Cards” won by one card giving her a hat-trick for the evening.


Learning Outcome:  Shuffling is a skill we all need to improve.