New York Zoo

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“New York Zoo Uwe Rosenburg is back at it mixing elements from his previous games to make something new and engaging. New York Zoo may move away from farming, but sticks with animals and, err, breeding. Add this to polyomino goodness and you have another winner. New York Zoo comes with some lovely components including double sided player boards that balance the game for all pl…
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Category Tag SKU ZBG-CTGFS1002 Availability 3+ in stock
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  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • The animeeples
  • Abstract Puzzle
  • Gentle Racing

Might Not Like

  • Race to the finish line, rather than point scoring
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"New York Zoo Uwe Rosenburg is back at it mixing elements from his previous games to make something new and engaging. New York Zoo may move away from farming, but sticks with animals and, err, breeding. Add this to polyomino goodness and you have another winner. New York Zoo comes with some lovely components including double sided player boards that balance the game for all player counts, wooden animeeples that I’m reliably informed are cute and gorgeous art work through out. Mechanism wise there is drafting, tile laying, efficiency and planning involved. The tiles are laid out around a long board in a semi random fashion with bigger sized tiles being placed below smaller tiles, making them harder to grab. On a turn you will move a shared elephant around the central board from 1-4 spaces depending on player count. During this move you may pass a breeding spot which allows players with at least two of the matching animals to add one new animal to that enclosure. Of course you can’t just breed willy nilly, you can only do this in up to two eligible enclosures. Your landing spot determines whether you add animals or enclosures to your zoo following the placement rules of course. Cleverly this is one of the parts of the game that balances really well for all player counts. To win you must be the first player to completely cover your board with enclosures and attraction tiles. But you can only gain attractions, which handily fill small gaps, by filling out your enclosures with animals. New York Zoo is a easy playing, easy to learn, enjoyable game. The theme is a little loose but works well with the components and art work. It is a game that fits game nights for families and gamers. Player count: 1-5 Time: 30-60 minutes Age rating: 10+"

I first became aware of Uwe Rosenburg’s New York Zoo in an online video highlighting the top upcoming releases to watch out for. Uwe’s design, polyominoes and the most adorable animeeples…Sign. Me. Up.

New York Zoo is an abstract puzzle game in which you’re trying to complete your zoo. Do this by placing animal enclosures and attractions to complete your construction board, before your opponents.

Though gameplay initially seems simple (and it is really easy to grasp) with just two options on your turn, the choices you make need to be strategic and carefully planned, because as well as filling up your zoo with enclosures and attractions, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got enough animals in your various enclosures when it’s breeding time!

Let’s FlaminGO

Set-up is relatively straightforward. All of the adorable meeples need to be placed in their respective piles. You take a game board, dependent on your player count, and take the starting meeples indicated by your board.

The main zoo board is placed in the middle of the play area and the polyomino tiles placed in the little gaps, according to their colour lightest green to darkest green. Take your time with this, as getting any of the shapes in the wrong spots may cause the game to be slightly unbalanced.

The elephant meeple is placed on the red spot on the main zoo board.

The attractions need to be organised according to size and placed within reach of all players.

You’re ready to start!

Let’s Build a Zoo

On your turn, you may move the Elephant meeple up to four squares (you may stop before though). When the Elephant meeple lands on your chosen space you follow the actions of that space. You’re limited to two different types of space. There will either be tiles and so you must place the topmost tile on your personal zoo board OR there will be two animals on the space and you then collect both of those animals (you may place animals inside enclosures if you wish – up to 2 per turn).

If you’re after one animal, in particular, you may also land on an available animal space and instead of taking the two animals shown on that space, take any ONE animal of your choice. This can be handy when you’re getting close to completing an enclosure or the animal you seek is about to breed!

Once you have taken your turn, the other players take their turns moving clockwise.

To place a tile into your zoo board, you must also have an animal to place into that enclosure. This can either be from the three holding enclosures on the top left of your board, or you may relocate an animal from another enclosure, so long as you don’t leave an enclosure empty.

As you progress around the board, breeding will be activated for animal types. If at that point you have two or more of one type of animal in the same enclosure, they breed! You may take one more of that animal and place it in the same enclosure!

Once an enclosure is full, you may empty the entire enclosure in order to take an attraction! Attractions are great because they are either large tiles that take up a decent amount of space on your board, or they’re small 1×1 or 1×2 tiles that you need for those awkward gaps you’ve accidentally left behind. When you empty an enclosure to take an attraction you may keep one animal, to place into your holding enclosures.

In A New York Minute

New York Zoo is a race to the finish line. You’ll want to fill up your construction board as fast as you can, but as you need to place an animal in every enclosure you acquire you’ll want to keep an eye on your animal population too. Plus, as mentioned, filling animal enclosures is the only way to get your hands on the smallest tiles that’ll fill any potential gaps you’ll have!

Penguins and Meerkats and Roo’s, Oh My!

New York Zoo is immediately a very attractive game. The meeples, the tiles and the main zoo board are all of high quality and look and feel good. What I really enjoy is the choice of animal meeples that they went with. I certainly didn’t have any Arctic fox or Red kangaroo meeples before!

I was a little disappointed, however, in the quality of the construction boards which are just made from cardstock. They work, and it’s not a huge deal, but I was expecting something more robust, along the lines of the Calico boards.

Final Thoughts

New York Zoo is a lovely, lightly strategic tile-placement game that is so visually appealing. Its gentle racing gameplay isn’t too stress-inducing, and as such, I find it a calming, enjoyable experience to play.

The components are great and it feels well worth its value.

As the game doesn’t take up a massive chunk of time, roughly 30-45 minutes, it’s easy enough to get to the table. Games are never going to be greatly different from each other, but I still think New York Zoo has good replayability due to the abstract nature of play.

I do wish sometimes there were some point-scoring objectives, to deepen the strategic elements. I’d love to have certain restrictions on where attractions could be placed for scoring points, for example. Or trying to end your game with an enclosure full of Meerkats. I suppose this is always something you could house rule if you were trying to make the game more challenging for yourself.

All in all, the game works. And it’s nice to have some games that don’t feel like the world ended when you lose!

If you enjoyed the drafting, tile placement and puzzley nature of New York Zoo, you might want to try similar games like Barenpark or Patchwork. If you’re looking for something more challenging, with more objectives and complex scoring, you could try to get your hands on the wonderful Isle of Cats.

The New York Zoo, a place where the wild meets civilisation. A gallery of living art where nature is the only subject. Your role is to design the perfect mix of animal enclosures and attractions to ensure you fill your respective plot of land. The first player to do this wins. The rest? They have to make do with half-finished plots, where flamingos can pray on the unwary penguins and the meerkats and kangaroos form gangs to bully the arctic foxes. Well, that’s the fiction in my head, at any rate.

In New York Zoo, a 1-5 player eurogame designed by Uwe Rosenberg and published by Feverland, you take on the role of zoo designers. You are competing to build New York Zoo? Or a part of New York Zoo? Ok, it’s not clear, but you’re building something Zoo like. New York isn’t relevant, it could be called Cromer Zoo or just Zoo Builder. Your goal is to place geometric tiles, representing animal enclosures or attractions, onto your player board until all the spaces are filled. This is how you play it.


To start, each player gets their own player board. The ones you use are determined by player count. Each board has a different sized area in which to build your zoo and a varying amount of houses to store animals. You then choose a starting player, they will take the board marked with a 1, for that player count. Animal meeples are then placed into the carboard tray and each player takes 2 animals of the type marked at the top of the player board. These are placed in two of the houses on the player board.

You then lay out the Action strip. This is used to determine what action each player performs on their turn. You then add enclosure tiles to the spaces on the action strip. The smallest most adaptable pieces on the bottom of each pile with the larger pieces being top. These are differentiated by their respective shades of green. There will be 3 pieces in each slot. You then place the elephant at the start position of the track, marked by a red dot. The attraction tiles are placed off to one side where all the players can access them and you are ready to begin

Have you Seen an Elephant Fly?

Well, you won’t in this game, but the elephant does represent your helper on the action track bringing you certain things during the game. Players take it in turns to move the elephant between 1-4 or 1-3 spaces, dependant on the number of players. You are shown this in the top left of your player board. The space the elephant lands on determines the action that the player performs this turn. This will either be:

P-P-Pick Up a Penguin

Animal acquisition, acquire the identified 2 animals. You can also, if you don’t like the options, take a single animal of your choice. These are placed into an enclosure with the same animal type or one of your free houses. That’s a house with nothing in it rather than a pub. I’m sure zoo keepers frown on taking a penguin to the bar.

We Built This City Zoo

Take an enclosure piece, from the top of that spaces pile, and place it into your zoo. Enclosures can be placed anywhere on your board as long as the piece doesn’t overlap another or hang off the end of your play area. Once placed they cannot be moved. There is a further consideration. You can only play an enclosure onto your board if you can put an animal into it, so you will need one in 1 of your houses. Or you can move an animal from another enclosure, as long as you don’t empty that enclosure.

If a space runs out of enclosure tiles then it ceases to be a space and is not counted as part of further player movement.

Rules of Checking Attraction

Once you have performed either one of the above actions you then check to see if you have filled any of your enclosures. If your enclosure becomes full then you immediately remove all animals from it. You can keep one back to put in one of your houses, and pick up an attraction. Attractions are more regular-sized geometric shapes. These are useful for filling the inevitable gaps you will have in constructing your zoo.

I’ve Got Meerkats, They’re Multiplying

At certain points, on the player track, you have breeding lines. These affect all players that have enclosures with 2 or more of the identified animal type. When animals breed they will birth another of that animal. These are placed in the enclosure with their parents.

You can only breed in up to 2 enclosures within your zoo at a time and breeding happens simultaneously for all players. On successful breeding, you can also add a further animal from one of the houses, if you have one, to that enclosure.

Once the breeding is complete you will perform another check to see if your enclosures have been filled. If so you will immediately remove the animals and gain an attraction, as per the last stage.

Once a player has moved the elephant and performed the action, then checked for breeding play moves to the next player and so on.

Special Rule for 2-3 Player Variant

If there is ever a breeding in one, or more, of your enclosures. You get the opportunity to breed in another enclosure of your choice, regardless of animal type. A spring time bonus if you will. Where love transcends species.

How Do You Win, Wild Thing?

The win condition is simple and only requires you to completely fill your zoo with enclosures and attractions, the first player to do this wins. However, if the game ends after a breeding action there is a chance the game can end as a tie. If so then the player with the most animals in their zoo wins.

Fast Game for 2 Players

There is a faster game mode for 2 players

Remove the top enclosure from each space on the Action Track. Leaving only 2 in each pile. Then randomly allocate these to each of the players. These get placed onto the player board simultaneously using the normal rules for placing enclosures. Except you do not have to place any animals into these enclosures when placed. This game mode should last 20-30 minutes.

Solo Game

Take the 1 player, player board. Use the side of your choice. Set up the action strip like the 2 player fast game. The tiles removed from the top of the enclosure piles are then returned to the box, not placed on the player board. You then take the 5 range markers. These are marked thus 0, 1, 2, 3, 4+.

Taking it a turn at a time you use the range markers to determine how far you move. Once used the range markers are discarded until no more remain. You then receive all 5 back. However, you can also move the elephant to the next animal acquisition space without the use of a range marker.

The same rules apply for the core elements of enclosure placing and breeding as per the main game. This includes the special breeding rule of the 2-3 player variant.

You win if you completely fill your board with attractions and enclosures before the elephant crosses the starting space for the 2nd time. You also score 1 point for each space you are away from the starting space. If the elephant is on this, for the win, then you score zero. If you don’t manage to fill your New York Zoo then you score -1 point for each space that still has tiles in them, on the action track.

Zatu Score


  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • The animeeples
  • Abstract Puzzle
  • Gentle Racing

Might not like

  • Race to the finish line, rather than point scoring