Thus far on Worker Wednesdays we have mostly looked at fairly well known worker placement games. Games that most have played or at least heard of. Today we will step off the beaten trail and look at something different; a game less well known. Zoophoria.
Designer: Jim Billingham
EPT: 60-90 minutes
Zoophoria is a game that Sean and I received via GameCrafter, and was later placed on Kickstarter; sadly the game did not reach its funding goal and is currently unavailable on TGC, but with time the game will hopefully resurface; until then you can check out more information on it at the website www.zoophoria.ca
In Zoophoria players are attempting to manage a zoo as the current curator prepares for retirement; and like in all real life professions the best way to determine who takes over is to pit each of the potential hires against each other in a business battle royal.
Zoophoria plays like many worker placement games with the end goal of having the most points at the end of the game; these points are thematically represented by people who visit the exhibit. Players have 7 rounds (days) to get the most people through their exhibit and be declared the new curator of the zoo.
In Zoophoria players use worker placement to allocate their influence in adding new animals to their exhibit, hiring new staff, and building new buildings. Along with adding to their exhibit players can use their workers to remove trash and viruses or gather food. Each of the 7 rounds is composed of 5 phases; restocking the board, determining the trash, food, and viruses for the round, players place their 3 workers, resolve the location players placed upon, and finally resolve their habitat. During this final phase player can remove trash and virus cubes as enabled by their employees and feed their animals. They then score points (visitors) based upon the animals and buildings in their exhibit; after the final round players may earn bonus points based upon their animals collections after which the highest scoring player wins.
Zoophoria relies upon the theme quite well as every move players make revolves around the end goal of scoring the most points; the decoration on the moves, however, keeps the correlation of points equating to visitors alive. This is best seen in the manner of trash removal, fancy attractions, and keeping the animals healthy, all which increasing the appeal and thus visitor count. Was the game unthemed and the rules merely read, ‘remove black cubes’ to score points I personally would have found less enjoyment in the game.
The use of set collection partnered with the theme was equally enjoyable; an exhibit hosting all reptiles may score a bonus if the player has a reptile house; or arctic creatures may score a bonus if the player has an ice house. These bonuses add not only a level of enjoyment but also competition as players attempt to take what best helps them though at times that may mean taking what someone else wants so they can’t have it.
One area that the game struggles is with the visuals. Various cards have different art styles and thus there is no overarching artistic feel that can remove a level of immersion. Each of the art styles we done well, but it would have been nice if there was just one as opposed to three. The iconography, however, was quite well done though there were plenty of icons and frequent use of references was necessary.
Skill and Luck was equally well balanced as there was some luck in the form of die rolls, but the luck was global and had degrees of preparation that could be taken strategically so as to negate the luck if desired. This could add a barrier of entry to new players who have to develop a strategy opposed to the other players, but by the second or third round even the newer players will have a decent grasp on their goals and how to attain them.
Competition is equally well done in the game as players are all taking animals, building, and employes from the same available pool making the indirect conflict common in worker placement games come to the forefront.
With the use of theme and mechanics feeding off of eachother I give Zoophoria a 6.75 out of 10; a good game with great potential that with a degree of polishing and maybe a few minor rule tweaks could be a hit.
Visuals – 1 // 2
Skill/Luck – .75 // 1
Pacing – 1.25 // 2
Theme/Immersion – 1.5 // 2
Mechanics – .75 // 1
Fun Factor 1.5 // 2
Tomorrow on Wild Card Thursday we will take a look at The Resistance; a social deduction game that pits the resistance vs moles hiding within.
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