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Collection Building: Animal Games

David Montgomery
United States
Modesto
California
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This is a departure from the other Collection Building articles. Today the focus is on the theme of animals rather than a game mechanic or a situation in which a game can be used. Animals tend to fascinate many children. There is so much to learn about the fellow inhabitants of planet earth. There is a wide variety of animal games, and many more games that I don't know about than I do know about. As such, this is not a comprehensive list, but a guide to my experiences with animal games, and hopefully it will guide your journey into the animal kingdom.

Zooloretto
The 2007 German Game of the Year (SDJ) winner for good reason. Zooloretto allows players to take control of their own zoo. This means that they must acquire animals and kiosks for their zoo while balancing limited funds and restricted space. Animals include Elephants, Monkeys, Cheetahs, and Zebras. The game plays in around an hour and works for 3-5 players. I wouldn't play with kids much younger than 8 since there is some strategy to learn.

Aquaretto
The sequel to Zooloretto, except now players are in charge of a marine park. Animals include Dolphins, Whales, Sea Lions, Polar Bears, and Sea Turtles. This was a great game for my sister since she loves dolphins. The scoring rules are a little more complicated than Zooloretto, since the performing animals act differently than normal ones, but it isn't too much more to learn. Acquaretto plays in around an hour and works for 3-5 players.

Fauna
A fun and educational game all about animal trivia. Wait, it's not that boring. Sure, the game does require thought, but it's not that hard. Here's how the game works. The top half of a card is displayed with a picture of an animal, the genus and species name, as well as how many areas the animal is found in. Players then take turns placing marker cubes on the board in areas they think the animal is in, as well as ranges for weight, height/length, and tail length. After all players place their cubes or pass, then the card is pulled and the right answers are awarded points. If you're wrong, but you happen to be adjacent to a right answer, you get some points. The game goes until a certain point level is reached, or for a certain number of rounds, depends on how you want to play it. I was able to play this on Thanksgiving night with one of my uncles, a cousin, my dad and my sister. My uncle, who does not play games, really enjoyed it. It helps that he's a HS science teacher, but he asked to play it again for Christmas, which is a really good sign. Fauna plays in around 30-45 minutes with 2-6 players, though I find it best with 4-5.

Botswana
This is a card game with an animal theme. There are some really cool animal figures, but the theme doesn't shine through. Still, kids will have fun with a simple card game, especially since there are animals around. There is some strategy, but also a good amount of luck. Botswana plays in around 30 minutes with 2-5 players, best with 3-4.

Price Wars
Zooloretto ~ $30
Aquaretto ~ $40
Fauna ~ $35
Botswana ~ $22

Botswana is really the best bang for your buck. I can't speak to the replayability, but it seems high to me. If you want a more immersive experience, go with Zooloretto or Aquaretto. If you have kids that just love everything animal, go with Fauna.

My overall pick, Botswana. It likely appeals to the most people, and has a lower price point.
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