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Subject: 2-player session rss

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Neil
Canada
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I had a great 2-player game of Zooloretto. Karen and I used the expansions for the Petting Zoo and the Building Site (BS) Tiles (we forgot about the niedlich Eisbär ). Following instructions on www.michaelschacht.net we removed two animal types (rather than three), and put the five zoo expansions in the middle of the game so that they were available to whoever has money to buy them.

In the first half of the game, we each filled our petting zoos, and bought two zoo expansions. Karen put a BS tile on one of the two remaining spaces in my 5-animal enclosure. Since the revenue I received from my petting zoo relieved pressure to make money, I let the BS tile sit there until I needed to move it to make points towards the end of the game. In the next few rounds Karen acquired another BS tile and put it on one of the two remaining animal spaces in one of my zoo expansions.

The game heated up as we neared the end. I spent one coin to move the two BS tiles from my enclosures to hers. She could have bounce them back to me if she wanted to. But since there was still some time before game end (about 5 rounds), she decided to use her next turn to pull another tile from the bag. This proved to be a mistake because I took the opportunity to purchase the last remaining zoo enclosure and thereby prevent her from accommodating new trucks (including the one she just loaded). When that round ended, her zoo was virtually full, and there were about 4 more rounds left in the game. Those last four rounds were very enjoyable for me because I had more space than she did and thus I was free to be generous in loading the trucks with animals she had no room for.

Still, Karen found a way to fit animals in her zoo by spending some coin to move her two BS tiles to enclosures on my board, and remodel. She also managed to put a BS tile on my barn. The game was almost over at this point. I spent a coin to return the two BS tiles (barn and enclosure) back to her. This time she did not hesitate to bounce the tiles back to me. I suddenly realized (doh!) that if I tried to bounce them back to her again she would outlast me in this game of hot potato as she had more money than I (recall: I bought one more zoo expansion than she did). Since I was forced to accept the BS tiles, I decided to bow out and take a truck. Luckily, a truck was available that had animal types that matched the ones in my enclosures that didn’t have BS tiles. Karen used her last round to carefully remodel and squeeze in animals from her last truck.

When the game ended, Karen’s barn had no animals, and mine had only a BS tile. My zoo ended up with one of each type of vending stall because I decided early on to make that a priority. This turned out to be wise, as it allowed me to win the game in a squeaker of 78 to 77.

I am very impressed with how this game maintains its tension. It establishes good competition, but it also seems to have internal checks and balances that ensure that the competition is close and undecided until the end. I particularly enjoyed the interesting drama in the endgame of the session I reported. Another good thing about the game is that since the animal zoo theme is disarming, it blankets the action and competition in a rather nice atmosphere. For these reasons I find Zooloretto to be quite an elegant game.
 
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