Originally released back in 2007 Zooloretto was based on the older game with a similar name Coloretto. While Zooloretto was pretty similar to its predecessor the game became a hit pretty quickly. In fact the game won the Spiel Des Jahres in 2007. Due to its success the Coloretto/Zooloretto franchise has had quite a few expansions and spinoff games made for it over the years. Zooloretto is a game that I have wanted to check out for quite some time, but never had the opportunity. Well today I am taking a look at Zooloretto: The Dice Game. Despite never playing the original game I was excited to try out the dice game even if I didn’t think it would be as good as the original game. Zooloretto: The Dice Game may be too simple for some people, but it is a good adaptation of the original game adding some interesting twists to your typical dice game.
How to Play Zooloretto: The Dice Game
- Depending on the number of players you will use the following number of dice:
- 2 players: 6 dice
- 3 players: 8 dice
- 4 players: 10 dice
- The gameboard will be placed in the middle of the table. The side that you will use will depend on the number of players. For two or three player games you will use the side with three delivery trucks. Four player games will use the side with four delivery trucks.
- Each player takes a game sheet and a writing utensil.
- The youngest player will start the game.
Playing the Game
Zooloretto: The Dice Game is played over a number of rounds. Each round consists of each player taking some dice and recording them on their game sheet.
On a player’s turn they can choose one of two actions.
The first action that a player can take is to roll two of the dice that haven’t been rolled yet this round. After rolling the dice the player has to determine where they would like to play them.
Each dice will stay on the side that was rolled. Each of the dice will be placed on a crate on one of the delivery trucks. A player can either add both dice to the same truck or place one dice on two different trucks. The one rule with placing the dice is that no more than three dice can be on a truck at a time.
If there are no available dice this action cannot be taken.
The other action that a player may choose is to take all of the dice from one of the trucks. The player must take all of the dice even if it will lose them points. A player can only choose a truck that has at least one dice on it. All of the dice they take will be placed on their game sheet.
The player will then handle each symbol on the dice they claimed. Each animal on the scoresheet has a number of boxes to the right of their symbol. These boxes are considered their enclosure. For each dice featuring an animal symbol you will cross off one of the boxes in that animal’s enclosure.
If all of the animal symbols in the enclosure of the symbol that was rolled have already been crossed off you will cross off the penalty box along the bottom that corresponds to the animal. If that space has already been crossed off the animal symbol will be disregarded.
The first player to cross off all of the boxes next to an animal will call it out. They will then be able to cross off the box to the left of the symbol which will score the player bonus points at the end of the game. Once this bonus has been claimed no other players for the rest of the game will be able to claim the bonus for that animal.
For each coin symbol the players will cross off the next unchecked box to the right of the coin symbol. Once all of the coin boxes have been crossed off all future coin symbols the player collects will be ignored.
Once a player has handled all of the symbols they claimed their turn is over. Due to claiming dice they must skip the rest of their turns for the rest of the current round. The rest of the players will continue taking their turns until all of them have taken dice. Once dice have been claimed from a truck another player can add dice to that truck.
End of Round
The round will end once all of the players have taken dice from a delivery truck. All dice claimed by players and dice still on the trucks will be returned to the center of the table. The player who was last to take dice in the current round will start the next round.
End of Game
The game will end after a round is completed where at least one of the players has crossed off all of the boxes in the enclosures for all or all but one of the animals. The game will not end though until all of the players have taken their dice in this last round.
Each player will then calculate their own score. Players will score points as follows:
- Each square in an animal enclosure that has been crossed off is worth one point.
- Each bonus square (to the left of the animal enclosures) that is crossed off will score the corresponding number of points.
- The coin spaces are broken into three groups. For each group the player can choose one of two options. First they can score one point for a coin group. Otherwise they can use a coin group to offset one of the animal penalties they acquired during the game.
- The player will lose two points for each penalty space that is crossed off and not offset by a coin bonus.
The player that scores the most points wins the game. If there is a tie the tied player with the most coins wins the game. If there is still a tie the tied players share the victory.
My Thoughts on Zooloretto: The Dice Game
Despite never playing the original Zooloretto I would say that Zooloretto: The Dice Game is pretty much what you would expect it to be. For the most part the game takes the main gameplay from the original game and streamlines it in order to fit as a dice game. This involves cutting out some of the mechanics from the original game and altering others in order to take advantage of the dice. Instead of drawing tiles to load on the trucks you roll dice which determines the different types of animals that will be added to the trucks. Players will then choose which truck to take which determines the animals they will add to their zoos. Instead of placing animals into different enclosures you will just cross off the animals you take and return the dice to the center of the table. For the most part the strategy and scoring is similar to Zooloretto with some smaller tweaks in order to streamline the game.
Having never played the original game I can’t really compare the two games and say which is better. Therefore the rest of this review will be about Zooloretto: The Dice Game as a standalone game.
Generally speaking I have mixed feelings about the dice game genre. The problem with the genre is that while some games are quite good too many games from the genre don’t differentiate themselves. Too many dice games revolve around rolling numbers that create certain combinations that score you points. While fun these get a little repetitive after a while. This is one of the reasons that I was a little cautious about Zooloretto: The Dice Game. Many of these dice game adaptations of other board games don’t fall into the trap of a typical dice games, but you can never be too sure. The good news is that Zooloretto: The Dice Game is a really interesting take on your typical dice game.
While Zooloretto: The Dice Game utilizes dice and that is why it got its name, there is much more to the game than just the dice. As a matter of fact I was honestly a little surprised by how little of a role the dice actually play in the game. Basically players can roll the dice on their turn, but after the dice are rolled they are not treated like dice until the next round. Unlike many dice rolling games Zooloretto: The Dice Game is not really about players rolling the best combinations. In fact players don’t even have direct control over any of the dice they roll. Instead much of the gameplay in Zooloretto: The Dice Game is about trying to control the dice on the delivery trucks to improve the odds of you getting the dice that you want while sticking the other players with penalties.
This is honestly the thing that surprised me the most about Zooloretto: The Dice Game. This mechanic seems similar to the same mechanic from the original game. There is some luck in the game as you want to roll the symbols that you need to cross off on your sheet. Players can also take symbols you want and there is no way of stopping them from doing so. This is minimized quite a bit though as how you place the dice on the trucks is important. Before placing any dice on the trucks you need to analyze which animals you and the other players want and don’t want. Some animals will be in a lot of demand while others none of the players will want as they will incur a penalty. You need to use this information in order to increase the odds that the dice you want are still available on your next turn.
I was a little surprised that there is more strategy to this aspect of the game than you would initially expect. Some players will be looking for different types of animals so they won’t care about the same animals as you. There will likely be at least one player that needs the same animals as you though. When one of these animals comes up you need to be creative in how you place your dice. You could place dice in a way where one truck has several animals that you need. This will allow you to cross off more spaces in your enclosures. This will likely make the truck enticing to other players though so they may take the truck before it gets back to your turn. Placing a lot of needed animals on the same truck is risky as it could pay off big, but it likely won’t make it back to you.
Generally you are better off choosing the alternative strategy. As players will generally be looking for different animals you can use this to your advantage. Some of your opponents may have already finished one of the animals and thus taking another animal of that type will score them negative points. The two point penalty is actually pretty large in the game so this can act as a deterrent in the game. An animal that you still need that will score a penalty for the other players can really help protect other animals that you need. You can place one of these penalty animals on the same truck as another animal(s) you want forcing players to take the penalty if they take the other dice that you want. In this case you either will get to take the animal(s) you want or another player will take the animal which will give them a penalty.
How you place the dice on the trucks can actually have a pretty big impact on the game. You don’t have full control over your fate as you will rely on the other players as well. The other players can take the animals you need or they can add other animals to a truck which will force you to take the penalty if you still choose the animal you need. Good placement of the animals you roll though will definitely help your position in the game. This is much more important to the game than what animals you ultimately end up rolling.
Zooloretto: The Dice Game will never be considered a highly strategic game, but I think there is more to the game than I initially expected. Only being able to choose between two actions each turn might not sound like much and in some ways it isn’t. You can either roll dice and place them or take dice and cross off the corresponding sections of your score card. There is a decent amount of thought that goes into choosing between these two options though. First there is a risk/reward element to the decision. Choosing to take dice ends your turn for the round allowing the other players to make moves without you being able to do anything to stop them. Taking dice earlier will also likely lead to you getting less dice than the other players. Waiting will usually get you more dice, but it also could lead to you missing out on the truck that you really wanted. Choosing the right time to take dice is an important decision in the game.
Just as important is choosing which truck to take dice from. In many instances it is pretty obvious what truck you should take as it has animals you need while also allowing you to avoid penalties. The decision becomes more interesting when you have a couple different useful trucks to choose from or there is a truck that has animals you want but will lead you to incurring a penalty. Which animals you should target early in the game is an interesting decision. You could target the animals that only need one or a couple dice as they are easier to complete making it easier to score the bonus points. Completing these animals though increases the odds of you getting stuck with a penalty later in the game. A two point penalty might not sound like much, but it can actually be pretty big in the game. Sometimes you will get stuck receiving a penalty, but otherwise you need to carefully decide when it is worth taking a penalty. If you can get two other dice that really help you it might be worth taking a penalty die. The benefit of taking a penalty is that you can take those animals for the rest of the game without receiving anymore penalties. This takes away a tool from the other players as they can’t use that animal to dissuade you from taking animals that they want. In some instances it is probably worth taking the penalty just so you have more options throughout the rest of the game.
Zooloretto: The Dice Game has more strategy than I was expecting, and yet the game is still really easy to play. The mechanics in the game are quite straightforward. You just roll dice, determine how you will place them, and cross off boxes based on what dice you chose to take. Due to the game’s straightforward mechanics I think you could teach the game to new players within just a couple minutes. It may take some players a round or two to fully understand the mechanics and strategy, but they should be able to pick up the game pretty quickly. The game has a recommended age of 7+ and that seems about right. The game is simple enough that I really think it could work well with groups that don’t play a lot of board games.
By streamlining the original Zooloretto the game also succeeds at drastically reducing the length of the game. The length of the original Zooloretto is around 45 minutes to an hour. Yet after players get used to it I could see you completing a game of Zooloretto: The Dice Game in around 15-20 minutes. The game generally moves really quickly. I was honestly surprised by how quickly the game played. As the decisions are pretty straightforward players can make decisions quickly which means rounds move pretty fast. The length makes Zooloretto: The Dice Game a great filler game. Zooloretto: The Dice Game will work really well when you don’t have a lot of time or I could even see it working well while waiting or traveling.
I enjoyed Zooloretto: The Dice Game as it is an interesting twist on your typical dice rolling game. I had fun with the game and I think a lot of people will enjoy it as well. As I haven’t played the original game I can’t say if it is better or worse or if there is a reason to own both games. There are a lot of things that I liked about the game. The only real problem that I had with the game is that it just feels like something is missing from it.
I just think Zooloretto: The Dice Game is a little too simple. I like that the game is easy to pick up and play, but I wish that there was more that you could do in the game. While you can somewhat impact what the other players end up doing based on how you place dice, your fate is still going to depend just as much on what the other players do than what you do. I really think the game could have used either one more large mechanic or a few more minor mechanics. At times it just doesn’t feel like you are doing a lot in the game. I think the game could have benefited from either having more ways to impact the dice on the trucks or additional ways of scoring points in the game. This is one of the areas that Zooloretto: The Dice Game removed some things from the original game as it eliminated some of the complexity from the scoring. I think implementing some of these mechanics into the dice game would have helped. This doesn’t ruin the game, but it makes Zooloretto: The Dice Game feel a little hollow at times as it feels like something is missing.
Should You Buy Zooloretto: The Dice Game?
As a dice game whose goal was to streamline a popular board game I think Zooloretto: The Dice Game does a pretty good job. In a lot of ways the game is what you would expect it to be as it takes most of the mechanics from the original game and translates them to dice. Instead of just rolling dice to get different combinations the gameplay in Zooloretto: The Dice Game revolves around trying to arrange the dice in a way that the other players don’t take the animals you need. A lot of the strategy revolves around placing the dice on the trucks in ways that you can dissuade the other players from taking the animals that you want. This can include sticking penalties along with valuable animals or giving them better options. There is some luck to this aspect of the game, but there is quite a bit of strategy as well since how you place dice will make a difference. Like many dice games Zooloretto: The Dice Game plays quickly and is easy to learn making it a great filler game. I liked a lot about the game, but it just feels like it is missing something. Zooloretto: The Dice Game may not be a perfect game, but it is a good game that I enjoyed playing.
If you didn’t really care for the other games in the Zooloretto series or don’t think Zooloretto: The Dice Game’s premise sounds all that interesting I would probably pass on the game. Fans of the original game basically have to decide whether they want a quicker and more streamlined game. For those who have never played Zooloretto I would recommend picking up Zooloretto: The Dice Game if you think the premise sounds interesting and you are looking for a good filler dice game.