$10.00
Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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The Coloretto family is an interesting animal (no pun intended). First there was Coloretto, a simple but tricky card game that is still probably the most perfect game in the family: here you drew colored cards, placed them in columns consisting of max. 3 cards OR took all the cards from a column to put them in your display; but in the end, only 3 colors scored positive numbers and the rest of the cards gave you minus points. Then there was Coloretto Amazonas which had its name and theme probably only because Coloretto was so popular: while this is also a set collection game, it’s so different that it has almost nothing to do with the original.

Then came Zooloretto which justified Coloretto Amazonas as a part of the family: Zooloretto is a game that is based on both card game predecessors. It has the fun card distribution mechanism of Coloretto, also some bonus cards and minus points for animals not fitting in sets but you are collecting sets of given number of animals like in Amazonas, also there are possible actions for a little interaction between the players’ collections just like in Amazonas. Also there is the added aspect of (tight) money, expansion of the zoo and offsprings. And Zooloretto Mini is like a game halfway between Coloretto and Zooloretto, still with a given number of tiles to be placed but without the money and expansion aspect.

So I was curious what the Zooloretto Würfelspiel will be like. I expected it to be a bit like Zooloretto Mini: as it’s supposed to be a short & fun dice game it needed to be simpler than Zooloretto. Production qualities are great: the dice are nice, the board is fine, the quality 100 colored 2-page scoresheets with trademark Zooloretto graphic elements guarantee at least 50 plays (or more when played with less than 4 players).

So how was the game itself?


Game play

Just like in Coloretto and Zooloretto Mini, there aren’t too many options what you can do during your turn, and that’s how it needs to be: you can place animals on the trucks OR you can take all the animals from one truck and place them in your zoo to end the current round for you; that’s it. This is the simple winning approach of Coloretto and it works fine here – still, with some important differences.

First, the placement of animals to trucks. I don’t want to go into detail why dice are different from cards (the basics are, of course, simple: with cards, as the deck starts to run out, it’s easier and easier to know what cards can still come up, while in case of dice it’s always 1 to 6 that a given face of the die will be shown) but they are different and designers know how to handle these differences. There are several ways to do it; one of them can be seen in Reiner Knizia’s Los Banditos, loosely based on his Schotten-Totten/Battle Line card game. This adaptation also changes the hand management of cards to dice – and in Los Banditos you always draw, roll and place two dice (instead of one) when it’s your turn. Schotten-Totten has interesting (but not superficial) similarities to Coloretto so that might be one of the reasons why this Zooloretto dice game also applies this solution: when it’s your turn and you choose to roll the dice, you roll two dice and place both animals rolled to trucks – to the same one or to two different ones (just like in Los Banditos).

It certainly makes your decisions a bit more tricky than they would be if you rolled only one die. At the same time if you were, say, the last player in play in the current round, that would be just too big of a punishment if you had to place two “bad” animals on your truck – or in some cases it would be impossible to place two animals on your truck when you have only 1 free space left. So there’s another little difference from the series here: when the dice are taken from a truck, the emptied truck is once again free for the players remaining in play for the current round.

So the other possible action is taking all the animals (dice) from one truck, ticking off the proper fields next to the given animals, this way “collecting them” in your zoo. Actually, there are 5 different animals and the 6th side of the die shows money – so there will be money actions in this game just like in Zooloretto, right? No, there won’t be, but more about that later. So you are collecting animals, but just like in Zooloretto, or even more like in Coloretto Amazonas, there is only a limited number of spaces available for the animals – 1 for the crocodile, 2 for the ostriches, 3 for the monkeys, 4 for the elephants and 5 for the lions. And if you collect an animal you have no space for, it goes to the barn and will score you 2 negative points in the end.

These are more or less the rules of Zooloretto but there is a rule here that, for dice game lovers, might seem like taken from Roll Through the Ages, but is actually from Coloretto Amazonas: if you are the first player to fill an enclosure (collect the maximum allowed number of one animal type) you get bonus points for this – 1 points for each animal type but the lion (which scores you 2 bouns points). Yes you do get a bonus if you are the first to fill the 6-tile enclosures using any of the 1-tile freebie expansions of Zooloretto but this dice game is the only one where each player (equally) has given numbers of spaces for each animal type on his "board" and there is a bonus that you can get for each animal type like in Coloretto Amazonas.

And what about money? Money only has a role in the end of the game. You have no money-related actions here and money needs no decision-making. In the end, if you collected 3 coins you can “remove” one animal type from the barn. With 5 coins you can remove 2 animal types and with 6 you can remove 3 animal types – or if you don’t have so many animal types in the barn you get 1-1 points instead (e.g. if you have only one animal type in your barn and collected 6 coins you remove the one animal type AND get 2 bonus points instead of removing two more animal types). The rest of the scoring is very simple: 1 points for each animal in their enclosures +the bonuses collected. Most points wins.


So… Is it good?

Of course it is! Otherwise it wouldn’t be published. Does it feel like Coloretto – The Dice Game now? In a way, yes, with its simple and streamlined rules, although I can imagine how Coloretto – The Dice Game would work (see my variant rules for Coloretto Würfelspiel). But of course this game, just like Zooloretto Mini, also tries to bring as many aspects of Zooloretto to the game as possible because it wears the Zooloretto name – the name of the Spiel des Jahres-winning, probably most profitable and possibly most known episode in the franchise. So it has the trademark look of the barn with the usual barn rules, it has green fields with some blue lakes for the look and it even has money, even If there is no decision attached to it.

On the other hand, the scoring of the animals is most like Coloretto Amazonas, possibly the least successful (surely the least praised at BGG) episode of the series (actually I’m sure Coloretto Amazonas would have better ratings, had it been released with a different title and theme, and possibly only for 2 players – while probably it would not have sold half as many copies as with the Coloretto name). This Coloretto Amazonas set collection contributes quite a lot to what makes the game fun. Yes, you can collect only one crocodile and only two oysters before the next animal of these types gets in the barn. So you might want to take them only later in the game – but on the other hand you might want to get them early as then you can get the bonus point for them; also as soon as the animal is ticked off in the barn, you can collect it any time without thinking of further negative points for them. It ensures that the game is interesting from the beginning to the end, however short this game is.

Of course, this game is short. It’s a simple, tactical, light and luck-dependent dice game, so it needs to be short. Just like most other short dice games, it also means that it’s not very deep and the sessions aren’t extremely memorable but these are not qualities you’d really expect from this genre. But as a fun and light dice game version of its big (and small) brother(s), I think Zooloretto Würfelspiel works pretty well.
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E D
United States
wilton
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thank you for your review ... this game is on my radar although i knew very little about it before your post
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Andreas
Germany
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Thanks a lot. I was looking for a review of this game for quite some time as I am pondering a purchase of it. I have Zooloretto - even for the blind - and think its a good game, but with two... better with four or five I think. And I wondered if the dice game is good. I tried Catan dice game and was underwhelmed. Somehow all dice games are like Yahtzee. Maybe You can relieve my reservations a bit?
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Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
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Xeenu wrote:
I tried Catan dice game and was underwhelmed. Somehow all dice games are like Yahtzee. Maybe You can relieve my reservations a bit?

Well, simple dice games are simple dice games and they should be like that. Many simple dice games are Yahtzee-like in a way as you are all trying to make some achievements earlier and/or better than others and Zooloretto Würfelspiel is not different in this aspect. It is different from the rest of the dice games mainly because instead of the usual "roll x dice, reroll them max. 2 times" mechanism it uses the tricky base mechanism of Coloretto/Zooloretto: trying to distribute the dice rolled the best possible way and having a press your luck element there as well. If you like this basic mechanism you will probably like this game as well. If you like Zooloretto for its combinations and extra actions like expanding your zoo or buying animal tiles from others then this dice game will disappoint. To me this game provided just what I expected and that's a good thing.
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Andreas
Germany
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Thx for the quick reply. Maybe I do have too high expectations. I want the Zooloretto gameplay not the Yahtzee one. And the dice game is new so its around 10 Euros, while Zooloretto itself can be bought used quite cheaply, sometimes its on sale new for around the same price. That btw was the problem with Zooloretto Mini - more expensive at actual retail price than Zooloretto basic.
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Matthias Wagner
Germany
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Xeenu wrote:
Thx for the quick reply. Maybe I do have too high expectations. I want the Zooloretto gameplay not the Yahtzee one. And the dice game is new so its around 10 Euros, while Zooloretto itself can be bought used quite cheaply, sometimes its on sale new for around the same price. That btw was the problem with Zooloretto Mini - more expensive at actual retail price than Zooloretto basic.


It is actually not a "problem" if you want the game, is it?
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Derek Thompson
United States
Marion
Indiana
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ABACUSSPIELE wrote:
Xeenu wrote:
Thx for the quick reply. Maybe I do have too high expectations. I want the Zooloretto gameplay not the Yahtzee one. And the dice game is new so its around 10 Euros, while Zooloretto itself can be bought used quite cheaply, sometimes its on sale new for around the same price. That btw was the problem with Zooloretto Mini - more expensive at actual retail price than Zooloretto basic.


It is actually not a "problem" if you want the game, is it?


I have to agree with Xeenu. Abacus has pretty great games, great service, makes me wish I lived in Germany! - but the partnership with Funagain in the U.S. has kept me from buying these other Schacht games because of the ridiculous prices. $30 for Zooloretto Mini when most retailers have regular Zooloretto at that price - I can't justify that. And $60 for Valdora? It is cheaper to import!

Edit: So I very much hope RGG is going to distribute the dice game here.... any news about that?
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Matthias Wagner
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aldaryn wrote:
I have to agree with Xeenu. Abacus has pretty great games, great service, makes me wish I lived in Germany! - but the partnership with Funagain in the U.S. has kept me from buying these other Schacht games because of the ridiculous prices. $30 for Zooloretto Mini when most retailers have regular Zooloretto at that price - I can't justify that. And $60 for Valdora? It is cheaper to import!

Edit: So I very much hope RGG is going to distribute the dice game here.... any news about that?


Thanks for the feedback Derek. I think Funagain or Fred started to distribute the games they got in January so they should also be available in other shops now. I can't comment their prices and don't have enough knowledge about the US market.

Anyway comparing the situation Xeenu described to the US market is comparing apples to oranges. In Germany I heard you can find Zooloretto base game for a third of the MSRP right now. Zooloretto mini and dice game have just normal prices with MSRPs way below the base game and I don't think this should keep customers from buying them if they want them.

No news about anyone picking up the license for the dice game yet, sorry.
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Andreas
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I apologize if I derailed the discussion. I like the dice game and am pondering a purchase for my mother and the 6-year-old boy she does "babysit" on weekday afternoons. It might be a good fit and I am visiting on the weekend so I would purchase it this week. She has a lot of games though and like I said pondering. Must think a bit about it. But chances are I will get it.

Pricing in Germany (mind You, Germany not the U.S.) is a difficult beast and I do not envy the game publishers. Games that win the SDJ tend to be discounted deeply. For the moment Zooloretto (normal Zooloretto) can be had around 10 Euros, maybe a bit higher, including the german VAT of 19 %. Non-SDJ-games seem to have much lower discounts. Then there is the second hand market. Again SDJ-winners are frequently purchased and frequently gifted so a lot of them end up on eBay or sometimes even in thrift stores for low prices - often You are able to get these for 1 to 4 Euros. As a result expansions tend to be much higher priced compared to the base game, the same happens with the "cheap" versions, e.g. dice games of an SDJ winner. And Zooloretto seems to tie with Thurn and Taxis for the "winner" discountwise (meaning street price is much lower than MSRP) since quite some time. Again: U.S. situation is sure different.
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Matthias Wagner
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No need to apologize . I see you know the German market very well.
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David Estall
United Kingdom
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Excellent review Laszlo - just one minor correction; when you say "2 for the oysters" I think this should be ostriches!
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Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
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davidestall wrote:
Excellent review Laszlo - just one minor correction; when you say "2 for the oysters" I think this should be ostriches!

I think the possibility of having oysters in your zoo would definitely add some interesting twist to the theme. (Thanks, corrected)
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Don Eskridge
United States
Edmond
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1. Great review, thank you!

2. You just helped me figure out how to play it on Yucata.de (They've only got rules in German for this so far!)
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Matthias Wagner
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Don E wrote:
1. Great review, thank you!

2. You just helped me figure out how to play it on Yucata.de (They've only got rules in German for this so far!)


They have English rules available now.
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