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Renovating Your Zoo(loretto)

Mark Jackson
United States
Goodlettsville
Tennessee
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Am I a man or am I a muppet? If I'm a muppet then I'm a very manly muppet!
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Now that Zooloretto has spawned enough expansions to make my box roughly the weight of an anvil, it's time for me to chime in again about the quality/usefulness of the various expansions that are available. (The original post like this was written in 2009 - and I've played a good bit of Zooloretto since then.)

I've divided my impressions into three categories: expansions I've played, expansions I own (but haven't played) & expansions I don't own. (When I've played with the expansions, I've noted how many times following the name.)

PLAYED (SMALL EXPANSIONS)

* The Petting Zoo (12 plays) - This is probably the best simple expansion out there. The trade-off between cash & victory points is really nice.
* The Savings Book (7 plays) - an exercise in delayed gratification... makes money less tight later in the game, which is a good thing when using some of the other expansions. (BTW, you should NEVER use this expansion when playing the combined game w/Aquaretto.)
* Three Extra Enclosures (4 plays) - These are 3 two-space pens specific to the zebra, flamingo & elephant. They are available for purchase from the center of the board for $2. I'd combine 'em w/the Savings Book and/or the Petting Zoo so you have some extra cash to make them easier to buy. We've liked these - though you do need to make sure that the appropriate animals are in play.
* Polar Bear/Gorilla/King K (6/5/2 plays)- I like these better now that I have 3 of them and it's not simply a crapshoot to see who gets the special power first. All of these are single tiles which add a special power to your zoo - they are claimed by finishing your 6 space pen. My gut response is to put 3 of them out for five player games, 2 out for three or four player games.
* Three Additional Buildings (2 plays) - we used these a couple & I wasn't overwhelmed by what they did or didn't do. Had to look up the rules on them a number of times... which meant they slowed the game down without adding anything deeply meaningful to the game.
* Mission Cards (1 play) - Because of the makeup of the cards, these only work in 4-5 player games... but the one time we used them, they did some interesting things to what people would & wouldn't take from the trucks. I really want to try it again.

PLAYED (LARGE EXPANSIONS)

* Zooloretto Exotic (10 plays) - If you're just going to buy one expansion box/set for Zooloretto, it should be this one. It makes the end game dynamics very different as players have more tiles to avoid and scoring considerations to worry about.
* Zooloretto XXL (4 plays)- The addition of more animals of each type along with the ability to "clear" 2 of your complete pens for lower points (ship them off to another zoo) and refill them. I'm not sure the extra time is worth the trade-off... however, the Aquaretto XXL expansion is very cool (included in the same box).
* Zooloretto Boss (1 play... so far!)- I think this is going to be a very successful addition to the game... the combination of the Market (buy a single tile for 2 bucks), the sponsors & the workers (similar to the workers in Aquaretto) make for some much more gamer-y decisions.

HAVE NOT PLAYED

* Building Sites - introduces an element of "take that" to the game that I don't like... I probably won't ever use them.

DON'T OWN

The following are all "completion of the 6 square enclosure" reward tiles with various powers (like the Polar Bear or the Gorilla). Some of them have been printed on postcards and all of them are available at http://www.zooloretto.com. (Yes, I need to print them myself - but I keep hoping that there will be another "official" collection of expansions printed.)

* The Reindeer
* The Grizzly
* The Iberian Lynx
* The Christmas Tree
* The Octopus - this can also be used with Aquaretto
* The Christmas Gift

The Reindeer, Christmas Tree & Christmas Gift, BTW, all say that they are only to be used while playing the game on Christmas. :-)

There is another print-n-play expansion available that I must find the time to produce:

* Five Extra Enclosures - this adds the missing two space enclosures for the rest of the Zooloretto animals.

And, yes, I know about the Chameleon (an expansion for Zooloretto Exotic)... but I have real doubts about how well it will work to paste up two blank tiles in a game where drawing from the bag is a central mechanic.

FYI

Zooloretto Mini is a smaller portable version of the game and is NOT an expansion to the original Zooloretto... though the pieces are the same size & will allow you to put different types of animals into play.

RANK 'EM

If I was going to rank the expansions in "need to own" order, here's how I'd go:

1. Zooloretto Exotic
2. Zooloretto Boss
3. Zooloretto: Rio Grande Games Expansion Pack #1 (includes the Polar Bear, Petting Zoos, Building Sites, 3 Extra Enclosures & 3 Additional Buildings)
4. Zooloretto: Rio Grande Games Expansion Pack #2 (includes the Gorilla, Savings Books, Mission Cards & 2 expansions for Aquaretto)
5. Zooloretto XXL

In fact, you can print-n-play most of the small expansions in the Rio Grande sets from Michael Schlacht's website, zooloretto.com. I just like having the nice professionally printed pieces for my set.

An earlier version of this post appeared on my blog on April 30, 2009.
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