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O Zoo le Mio» Forums » Reviews

Subject: ZooSim as a 2 player game rss

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Sharon Khan
United Kingdom
Shefford
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We got ZooSim when it came out years ago, and played it many times in the first couple of years, sometimes with 2, sometimes with more - since then it only comes out a couple of times a year, but is still fun.

Rules - how are they different in the 2 player game?
There are no rules differences in the 2 player game.

How is the game different with 2?
There are two main differences in the strategy of the game with just 2.

The first is due to the increased number of tiles you get and have to bid for. In the first round in a 4 player game you expect one tile, two if you're lucky, then an income of 1 or 2, then bidding for one or two more tiles. In a 2 player game the 5 tiles are shared out among just 2, so you expect to win 2 or 3 tiles, get an income of 2 or 3, then buy 2 or 3 more. This changes the value of your initial bids, and how much cash you save going into the second round. Similarly later in the game, as incomes are much higher, saving cash between rounds isn't so valuable.

The second major difference is in the value of the different tiles. Tiles that create loops easily are much more valuable in 2 player, as you place more tiles, and can easily get a loop every tile you place later in the game if you buy carefully. By comparison the difference between having the most vaulable exhibit and the second best one is only one person, so it really isn't as valuable to compete for these - unlike in the 3 or 4 player game, where having first place gets you 2 points, 2nd place gets you one, but you can just as easily get nothing from being 3rd or 4th, so do have to work much harder to get larger regions of a couple of colours, and make sure tiles can be placed adjacent to existing ones to enlarge the appropriate regions. The fact that in 2 player you're guaranteed one person in each colour just for buying the appropriate coloured tile makes those sort of decisions easier - and also means that it's often more valuable to place a tile for a loop than to make your coloured region larger.

Play-wise, as long as players are aware that the values of tiles change, and that loops are very valuable, the game plays out very similarly. The problems only come when players used to playing multiplayer neglect loops, as they tend to suffer in the scoring - and late game rapidly find they can't increase their score as quickly as the loop players, as they already have majorities in most of the coloured regions anyway.

Verdict
ZooSim works just as well with 2 as with 3 or 4 . The differences are just in valueing the tiles, not the basic strategy or feel of the game.

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Sharon Khan
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Shefford
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In most bidding games I don't like the auctions with just 2 as it turns the auction into more of a draft, but in this one because it seems to work fine. I think it's partly because most tiles are roughly equal in value to both players and money is so tight - and also because even in a multiplayer game it feels more like a draft than an auction, especially with the in-the-fist bidding, so unlike games like Power Grid or Goa, the auction doesn't change character with just 2. Obviously there are times when you'll get a bargain as your opponent is out of cash, but that can happen with any number of players!
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Gary Pressler
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West Lafayette
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Harv wrote:
Does having only two players affect the bidding process in a big way? I haven't played a bidding game before, but it seems as though it would be a little weak with two players.

The game uses blind bids ("closed fist"), so the process is not any different, but, as Sharon mentions, the greater number of tiles and income affects the bid values during the game.

sa266 wrote:
ZooSim works just as well with 2 as with 3 or 4 . The differences are just in valueing the tiles, not the basic strategy or feel of the game.

I disagree that it "works just as well with 2". Second place in an animal type (color) becomes worthless. The basic strategy does change. As noted in the review, path loops become the primary focus, with color majorities being more opportunistic, since they are much more fleeting. I would still play the game with 2P if asked, but it is not nearly as good. The only benefit with 2P is that you get to build a bigger zoo! =)

I think the game could be excellent with 2P given a few tweaks to temper loop points and increase the value of color zones, but out of the box it just does not have the tension and delight of trying to specialize in 2 or 3 animal types, while also making loops and greenery. But I'll leave that for another thread.
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Andrew MacLeod
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The thing that I like best about 2 player ZooSim is that I actually stand a chance of winning! I find ZooSim always a difficult game to calculate.
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Guy Riessen
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GaryP wrote:


Second place in an animal type (color) becomes worthless.


Well not exactly worthless as ignoring a color can mean you have no animals in that color which is still a 2 point swing. You should be careful to have at least 1 animal in each color, so the points don't swing to much to your opponent. But on the whole I agree that the game is not as much fun with only two as it is with 3 or 4 (and 4 being the almost brutally cutthroat).
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Gary Pressler
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Sprydle wrote:
GaryP wrote:
Second place in an animal type (color) becomes worthless.

Well not exactly worthless as ignoring a color can mean you have no animals in that color which is still a 2 point swing.

Not so. The first player to play a color only gets one figure of that color. It is not until a second player plays that color (beating the first player or not) that the player with the most gets two figures. Thus, the differential for a 2P game is always one per color (including trees).
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Mark Jackson
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Would it work to remove the 2nd place visitor if the 1st place player was ahead by 3 points?
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