Updated: Jan 7
#Zooloretto has been a firm family favourite in our house for close to a decade and I wanted to breathe more life into by trying out some of the expansions. Last month we played XXL for the first time, which adds a few new choices but nothing that massively changes the game. Tonight though we added in the Boss which ports over one of the uniquely different parts of Zooloretto’s big brother, #Aquaretto, the Co-Workers.
Co-Workers are bought from a new market area for 2 coins or 2 donation tokens (a new currency type add in the Boss to prevent hyperinflation). Once bought they can be used to increase points scored during the game or to earn you more donation tokens. Later in the game they can be moved to other areas to help you score more end game points for stalls or for animals purchased from the market board.
The market board is a new area with a variety of items available for sale, including co-workers, female animals and stalls. Instead of taking an animal and placing it on a truck you can now use a money action to purchase any of these tiles and place them directly into your zoo. With Boss and XXL combined you now have a lot of control over your zoo and the game gives you a lot of meaningful decisions to make. With base zooloretto you were largely deciding between taking a truck or drawing a tile, occasionally taking a money action.
However with XXL and Boss you may donate your animals for points and buy new animals or co-workers from the market. Taking money actions to move or exchange animals between your enclosures is an increasing more common action as you jostle to score more points, coins or donation tokens, which in turn grab you more co-workers or help you score a breeding pair or a missing stall.
With all three expansions (XXL, Exotic and Boss) Zooloretto moves from a family weight set collection game to a more medium weight game with lots of decisions to make and tons of ways to score points beyond just filling the spaces in your zoo.
We also added in the Familiarisation Area which completes the puzzle fit pieces around the main board and adds yet another small but tactical decision point. This little expansion allows you to store an animal that normally would end up in your barn (for negative points) however combining it with XXL adds an interesting dimension to the game.
The animal in the familiarization area can be moved for free to any enclosure, normally this move would cost a coin. This allows you to start a new enclosure easily once you have donated some animals to a new zoo. However it could also be used as the first step in an exchange action. Say you had 3 chimps in your barn and a panda in your familiarisation area and an empty enclosure. Normally to move the chimps would cost 3 coins and three turns. However you could move the Panda for free and on the following turn swap in the chimps for 1 coin, placing the panda back in your barn and then on a future turn return the panda to the familiarisation area again for free. However the Familiarisation Area doesn’t come without a risk as other players can buy your animal in this area for a single coin.
The negative side to the expansions is that they detract from the theme. Previously you were attempting to make the best zoo you could. Now you are moving tiles around to make sets and collect points. You are attempting to complete a set so you can sell it for points and to make space to start working on a new set, so you can sell it to get more points.
However after 100 games of Zooloretto I am happy to swap the cutesy family friendly theme for meatier gameplay and some cool decisions.