This last week I tried out a new game, Zooligans from 800steps. This is a children’s card game which plays in around 20 minutes. In Zooligans, players of all ages bid to fill their zoos with special animals from around the world. This game was sent to me by the creator, while the kickstarter is still active.
What did I think? strong bones, if not a little rough around the edges.
Hippo animal (Photo credit: @Doug88888)
Theme 7/10: Oh yes, these animals have real pictures. I love the credit for the Flickr ones. I feel a little bad for
‘capturing’ endangered species. I think this was more educational than ignorant though.
Components 5/10: The tuck box provided was a little flimsy, but i liked the color scheme. It did not allow for card sleeves. The cards themselves were slick and pretty, but easy bent during normal play with children.
Length 10/10: I can see why this would be a fun exercise during snack time. 20 minutes to your own personal zoo!
Mechanics 7/10: Whelp, i wish that 800steps would have waited through a little more playtesting before pulling the trigger. The auction round, as I will detail later, is unbalanced and underwhelming. The goal cards are fun and the exhibits are possible. I feel this game could be teachable to all your little ones.
Animal – Moose – Alaska (Photo credit: blmiers2)
So, how does it play? A couple of end-game goals are revealed. Three zoo exhibits are dealt into the center of the table. Each round, a player is dealt a number of animal cards in hand, with values from 2-10 gold each. One special animal is dealt facing up from the auction deck.
Players may all use cards from their hands to bid on the animal to obtain them for their exhibits; upping eachother to a higher valued animal as they go.
As an adult, i wish that cards in hand could be combined to bid on the auction. To teach children, i feel this basic arithmetic would not be unwelcome. Also, with ranges in value from 2-10, i would have preferred five cards in hand, as opposed to three.
What’s so special?
Zoo-keeping is fun. It makes our imaginations work in overtime examining our love for exotic creatures and birds.
What’s the rub?
This game could have used slightly nicer components and a more sophisticated bidding system. With so few cards in hand, the player with 7-10 gold to spend has all the power.
A small aside as well, some of the ‘fun facts’ about the animals were lazy and unimaginative. This may seem nit-picky. I
About 200 Snow leopards, an endangered species, are believed to live in Ladakh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
accept that. Facts are easy to look up, and there was already room on the cards.
I support 800 steps in their efforts. They have a great sense of what kind of games kids are looking for. I very much wish they had refined a little bit.