Zoomaka (Board Game Preview)

They say that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and yet you can build a complete zoo in Zoomaka in about 20 minutes. Zoomaka from designers Tove and Pablo Jomer, being published by Worldshapers, is a card game that lets you live out that childhood dream of opening up your very own zoo. With the Kickstarter going live on the September 10, I was able to get my hands on a print and play version for a preview of what is to come.

Zoomaka is a 2-5 player game from publishers Worldshapers, with a suggested player count of at least 3 so that the other players know it is personal when you keep targeting them. Even though the intended audience is 9+ years, I believe that younger players could still get a kick out of playing this. With easy to pick up rules and short play time, Zoomaka is a light card game with lots to offer. Each player takes turns until one player has 4 complete, but different habitats or enclosures.

There are 3 labor points per turn per player. You can spend your labor points by: placing an animal into your zoo; moving a multicoloured animal from one habitat to another in which it can reside; by playing an action card’ or by selling (banking) the value of a card. Once you have labored 3 times, it is then the next player’s turn.

Each card has a Zooma value at the top left. Zoomas come into play when charging fees on enclosures. There are 2 different card types: animals and actions. Each animal belongs to a specific enclosure type, signified by the symbols in the top right (as well as the background of the card being colour coded). Some animals can belong to more than one enclosure, with most of them being dual except the Chameleon which can reside in any habitat. The symbols being the most important part of the animal cards in play, it is unfortunate, at least in the print and play version, that some of the symbols are hard to discern. For example, the water symbol and the leaf symbol are fairly similar and on such small cards can be harder to see the difference at a glance. However, with animals such as sharks, seals, and sea turtles for the water habitat and bears being for the leaf habitat, it becomes more obvious which animals go where.

Action cards are cards that affect the game in a number of ways, as there are 4 action card sub-types they have obvious different general effects. Direct cards are actions you take during your turn and take one labor point to use. These will usually benefit the current player, but can be stopped by their opponent playing a response card (if the direct card affected them). Response cards are played usually as a block to a direct card at any time during the game. They cost no labor and can therefor be played immediately after a player has played or placed a card. Add ons, give park sections more Zooma value for when the player wants to charge an entrance fee on their turn. With the more damaging ones not being the value they add, but the extra cards they allow you to draw when you charge a fee. Settings cards are the final action card type, these are game constants and there can only be one active at a time. Similarly to Fluxx, this means that when you play a new settings card, it replaces the current one (if there is already one).

Banking cards give you a stockpile of money, with which you can pay fees imposed on you by other players. This will also save you from selling animals from within your enclosures, so banking early enough, with enough money, can stop your opponent from making the most of your near full enclosures.

Enclosures are full when there are the corresponding amount of animals as there are symbols of a habitat type. Once an enclosure is full you can no longer put animals into that enclosure, so it is best to bank any other corresponding cards as you will not move closer to your goal starting a new enclosure of the same habitat.

Zoomaka is full of laughs, backstabbing, and endless strategising and is definitely one to look out for on Kickstarter. I would recommend Zoomaka for getting younger or new players into tabletop games, but also for getting any games night started off well with some light hearted treachery.

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