Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Michael Schacht


No. of Players:
2 - 4



Over the last two years an increasing trend for the creation of dice-based variants of successful boardgames could be experienced, and so the series of dice versions of The Settlers of Catan, Alhambra and Ra now has been continued by ABACUSSPIELE with their new Zoloretto Würfelspiel. Author Michael Schacht also has created the original Zooloretto, and it will be interesting to see whether he succeeded in transferring the spirit of his award-winning boardgame into the restricted confines of a small dice-game.

Indeed, all components needed to play the game come in a tiny gamebox, and this box contains a small 2-sided gameboard showing either three of four trucks with three loading-slots each, a pad of scoring sheets for the players, a pencil and 10 dice. These identical dice show six different faces, and apart from a coin-symbol the other faces show miniature images of a crocodile, an ostrich, a monkey, an elephant and a lion.

During his turn, a player has the option to take and roll two of the dice from the stock (with the size of the stock depending on the number of participating players). After rolling, the player has to load the dice onto one or two of the trucks on the gameboard, but they can only be loaded onto trucks which still have free loading slots. As an alternative to rolling two dice, the active player may opt to choose one of the trucks which already has been loaded with at least one dice, take all dice from the truck and place them on his scoring sheet. This action is obligatory if the stock of "rollable" dice has been depleted, and the choice to take the dice from one of the trucks will end the current round for the player who has made this choice. The round itself comes to an end when all players have chosen a truck, and then all remaining dice will be returned to the stock in order to start a new round.


Apart from the now-following scoring rules this small paragraph already describes the full rules of the game, and seasoned fans of Zooloretto will discover that this dice-game basically is built on the stripped core-mechanism of Zooloretto - the revealing of new animals and the choosing of the trucks.

But let's return to the scoring. Once a player has chosen to take one or more dice from one of the trucks, the player has to note the faces shown on the chosen dice on his scoring sheet. So, boxes for animals must be crossed of in the appropriate cages, whereas boxes for coins must be crossed off at the cash booth. At the end of the game a player will receive one victory point for each animal box which he could tick off, but a player must be careful to avoid taking more dice showing a specific animal than there are boxes to tick in the cage. If a cage is full and an additional animal of that species would be taken, a box must be crossed off at the stables, and this means that the player has to deduct two victory points at the end of the game.

If playing careless or taking too much risk, a player may have such an overflow in more than one cage, and for each group of animals with an overflow two victory points will be lost at the end of the game. This can be partly compensated by coin-results at the end of the game, but apart from the fact that coins may bring a small amount of victory points if they are not used, only a maximum number of three overcrowded cages can be compensated by the use of up to six coins. Finally, the first players who have completely filled a cage of each species will collect a bonus victory point, with the exception of the big lions-cage where the first player to get five lions actually will get two victory points.

Of course, the boardgame-version of Zooloretto offers some more twists and turns, but it is really amazing to see how much this dice-game resembles its bigger brother. As indicated earlier, Michael Schacht has successfully stripped the Zooloretto core-mechanism of all accessory parts, and the result is a well-playable "miniature"-version of the popular boardgame. The question may be asked here whether an already "light" family game really needs and even lighter clone, but the answer here must be that Zooloretto and Zoloretto Würfelspiel should not be seen as direct competitors. A group of friends meeting for a gaming evening usually should prefer the boardgame version, but the dice-game comes quite handy on travels or for a quick gaming-break between other activities. With its interesting balance between speculation and luck this dice-game presents itself as an ideal small present for friends with a liking for dice-games!

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Copyright © 2012 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany