Ever fancied starting up your own Zoo? Do you have what it takes to achieve success in the apparently cutthroat world of Zoos? In Zoomaka players are completing to be the first to open up their own Zoo. The game is heavy on the "take that" element as players can steal animals from other players Zoo.
Zoomaka is a 2-5 player, quick playing card game by first-time designers Pablo Jomer and Tove Jomer. It consists of a simple deck of 110 cards containing animals, add-on, setting, direct, response and entrance cards.
To start the game all the cards are shuffled and each player is dealt a hand of six cards. The remainder of the cards form the draw pile. In Zoomaka players need to complete four different types of completed Park Sections. The first to do so wins the game.
A player may do up to three actions on their turn:
- Place an animal in their Zoo.
- Sell a card from their hand..
- Move animals and add-ons already placed in their Zoo
- Play a Direct, Add-on or Entrance card.
Players can take the same action multiple times during a turn. Players can also play a response or setting card without it costing an action (more on these cards below). Once a player has had their turn they draw two cards, unless their hand is empty and then they draw six cards.
All the animal cards belong to one or two types indicated by the colour of the card boarder and the animal symbol in the top right hand corner of the card. When a player places a new type of animal in their Zoo it becomes a Park Section. To complete a Park Section the player must place the number of animals of the same type as indicated by the symbols on the animal card. If an animal is played that matches one already in their Zoo it must be played with the same animal type.
There are also multi-coloured animals which act as wild cards and can be played on any animal type.
Selling a Card
A card can be placed from a player's hand face-down on the table to form a player's bank. Some cards, such as Entrance cards, require the other player to pay a cost, this is paid from a player's bank.
For one action, animals and add-ons can be moved freely around a player's Zoo keeping with the placement rules of animal types grouped together.
There are five different type of actions cards : Direct, Response, Add-On, Setting and Entrance:
- Direct - Cost one action to play and is resolved immediately. Direct cards usually effect the other players by stealing their animals or cards from their hand. There are other Direct cards that give a player extra cards or more actions.
- Response - These cards don't cost an action to play and can be used to counteract the Direct cards.
- Add-Ons - Cost one action to play and is installed on one of your Park Sections. These add bonuses at various times during the game such as protecting a Park Section from capture.
- Setting - Can be played without using an action and are placed in a separate Settings pile. These affect all players until another Setting card is placed. These cards affect all players and include things like having to imitate the animal when playing an animal card or at the end of a players turn all players pass an animal from their Zoo to the left.
- Entrance - Cost an action to play. When played the affected players must pay the Entrance fee equal to the value displayed on the selected Park Section that the Entrance card was played on. The value of each card is displayed in the top left corner. When a player has to pay a fee they pay it from their bank or animals/add-ons from their Zoo. Cards from the bank go in to the other players bank and animals/add-ons from the Zoo must be placed in the other player's Zoo.
The game ends when the a player has completed four Park Sections.
Zoo Much or Just Enough
Zoomaka is a fun and quick portable card game. The artwork is neat and crisp with the animals displayed in nice silhouettes. The symbols are easy to understand and differentiate between the different animal types and the action cards are easy to understand. The whole game packs in to a small box that can easily be transported.
Make no mistake though, this game can be mean and you have to be prepared for that. You can be chugging along nicely and then your opponent places a couple of Direct Actions cards on you and you end up giving away all your money in the bank and all your animals. This can swing the game from a player almost winning to losing everything.
I don't mind a bit of "take that" in games but what I don't like is games where you are 1-2 hours in and you are doing well to be totally decimated by your opponent. This game is not like that, because the games are quick it doesn't feel so bad that you have just lost most of your Zoo, because next game you can come back fighting and hit your opponents just as hard.
There is a lot of game in a small box, it has a quick play time and I have had a blast playing it. Pablo and Tove have put together a lovely, fun and highly interactive game with Zoomaka and I will be looking forward to seeing what they come up with in the future.