PETTING ZOO: Roll, Buy, And Build Your Zoo to Victory!
Petting Zoo is a card drafting game by Little Flower Games. In Petting Zoo you are expanding your own zoo, earning coins, and buying victory point cards to demonstrate your supremacy in the petting zoo business! Are you cut out to build your own petting zoo? Read more to find out!
Petting Zoo is a game for 2-3 players and ages 8+ with light to medium strategy and where die-rolling drives every turn.
This setup appeals to kids and adults and offers plenty of variety of play and complexity with how players can build their own zoos and progress towards potential victory.
Game setup and explaining the rules are quick, only taking about 5-10 minutes for both combined. You perform a repeated sequence of ROLL, MOVE, ACT, each turn until you have no more legal moves within your zoo. As you move, you earn coins which you will use in an optional BUY phase at the end of your turn.
Every turn, you first roll to see if you can get in the zoo entrance. If you ROLL 1 through 4, your pawn MOVES to the Entrance and you ACT by collecting 2 coins, as shown on the card. If you have no other cards to move to you have no more legal moves, so you end your turn and remove your pawn from your zoo.
You can spend any of the coins you earned or already had to BUY one card. The BUY phase is optional, so you can save your coins for a future turn. You must place all purchased cards adjacent to at least one existing card, starting with your Entrance card on the first turn. That new card is available for movement on future turns.
When you BUY at least two cards, the engine-building mechanic becomes clear. Now on every turn, you’ll keep going through the ROLL, MOVE, ACT sequence until you have no moves left before proceeding to the BUY phase. It’s possible to make many moves on a single turn, taking many actions and earning lots of coins. It’s also possible you won’t be able to move to the Entrance based on your first roll so you’ll have to go into the BUY phase with whatever coins you had from last turn.
As you expand your zoo with cards over time turns can get more interesting, but can take longer.
WINNING THE GAME
You win Petting Zoo by purchasing all four victory point cards. Since the victory point cards are progressively more expensive it can take a while to purchase all of them. The victory point cards also have their own powerful functions, so they themselves have value during the game.
CARDS – THE HEART OF THE GAME
The main game strategy focuses on purchasing and placing your cards to earn the coins needed to buy victory point cards. There are 16 different card types in 7 different categories, including many that are interactive with other cards that you or even other players have. Card synergy and placement give you the best chance of success.
A great card example is the Picnic Table, which uses modifiers for both coins earned and rolls allowed based on nearby cards that are in certain categories. The Picnic Table earns up to 5 coins based on the number of production buildings it is diagonal to. It also improves the entry roll for the card depending on the number of adjacent eatery cards. With this you must plan how many of those 8 card spots will help the Picnic Table and which will be for other purposes. These are the type of strategy considerations that occur every turn, making the game as complex as you want it to be, based on your planning.
Coins from others
There are three cards that create conflict by forcing other players to give you coins. There’s even variety in that mechanic: based on the active players layout, based on the other players victory point cards, or just a simple payout.
There is no listed game length from the rules or box, but BoardGameGeek lists play time as 20-60 minutes.
POSSIBLE IMPROVEMENTS AND CLARIFICATIONS
Include player aid sheet
I made my own sheet by using the photo of all the cards laid out, which speeds up the BUY phase, but additional tips on rules could also be included, all to make game play smoother.
Excessive earned coins per turn
It isn’t always an issue, but it’s possible that a single turn will yield high coin earnings, especially with the coin doubling card. A house rule could fix that. With younger players, it could keep things from getting out of hand by putting a limit on income in a turn. This will also shorten turns which will help keep them engaged.
Apple Picking card
Coins are placed on the card in what seems to be a banking-type function, but there is no explanation of when/if you get those coins back.
Petting Zoo is an interesting game that lets you chose your strategy based on what cards are available and other players’ actions. There’s a lot of simple math and inter-relationships to consider, but that can keep players focused on what’s happening each turn. Plenty of variety, complexity, and randomness mean each game is different and full of changes, which is bound to make you want to play again and again.
So, head to your favorite game supplier, or go straight to Amazon, and take a trip to your local Petting Zoo today!
The Family Gamers were provided a complimentary copy of Petting Zoo for review.
Time: 20-60 minutes