Am I a man or am I a muppet? If I'm a muppet then I'm a very manly muppet!
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.
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.
Zooloretto Junior 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.
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.