Nov 11, 2017

Zoomaka

Zoomaka is a game I have have been looking forward to playing for a while, but have been delayed due to the business of life.

The game is currently on Kickstarter (here), and as I write this it has 3 days to go.  However, I have had the print-and-play version for a while, and have even had it printed for a while.  Tonight my wife and I finally found some time for games, and this was the first one we tried.

I have to be honest; print-and-play is not normally my thing.  I typically don't like to play games that have low-quality components.  And simply printing a game is about as low budget as it gets.  But with it not shipping until April 2018, there wasn't much choice!  I did splurge and print them at a decent quality and in colour.

One of the print-and-play sheets
Not having played before, we spent about 5 minutes going through the rules, which are pretty well written.  It was a little bit confusing just due to the large variety of card types (e.g. all the different type of actions), but as soon as we started the first round it made sense immediately.

Near the beginning of our first game
The game is a relatively simple "Gotcha!" type game; normally not preferred game type, but something we are willing to play here and there.  The intent of the game is to build your zoo by building 4 sections into your zoo (complete 4 sets of animals).  The number of animals needed to complete the set varies by set, and relates directly to the number of those cards in the deck.  Most animals belong to a certain set, with a few that can be played in a couple of different sets, and a couple true "wild" cards that can be played in any set.

My over-sized (i.e. inefficient) zoo, showing a variety of animals
More than half of the cards are the action cards, and are split into a few different kinds of actions.  Some help with your turn (draw, extra actions, etc.), some steal animals from your opponents, and the entrance cards charge the other players to come to your zoo.  You can sell cards into your bank to fund these trips to other people's zoos, but if you can't pay from there you have to pay by sending them the animals from your zoo.  There are also some cards that can surprise people by swiping their animals outside your turn, or by preventing the effects of the actions they have played.

Although there was some shifting of the game due to the actions with 2 players, I can see it being a lot bigger swings with more players (maximum of 5) as you will have more options of what you need, and some of the cards affect multiple players at a time.  Plus, I think that you will have to be more strategic about when you play your "negate their action" cards.

I enjoyed that the game moves quickly, with little downtime.  In what I find is a rarity with this type of game, there always seemed to be enough different options on my turn to allow there to be some tactical choices and keep it interesting.  The theme is also fun, with a wide range of animals available, more than I can find at my local zoo!  The cards are well designed, making each card clear on what it does or what set it belongs too. I even looked up a new animal - a Kookaburra.

One of my winning zoos
The weaknesses are what you would expect for a game in this genre; being quick and highly interactive between players often makes it less strategic, and therefore just not a game I would play all night.

Overall Zoomaka is a fun, refreshingly straight forward game that I would recommend you check out, and one I am looking forward to receiving.