We raced to fill our city zoo plots with enclosures and attractions in New York Zoo, the next game in our A-Z game shelf play-through.
Basic Info: New York Zoo
Time: 30-60 Minutes
Designers: Uwe Rosenberg
Artists: Felix Wermke
Publisher: Feuerland Spiele
In New York Zoo, each player is trying to fill their city zoo as quickly as possible with animal enclosures, attractions, and amenities. Whoever completely fills their zoo plot first wins!
The game is set up with the action strip in the center of the board and the elephant on the spot with the red dot. The animal tokens and attraction tiles are placed near the board. Then the enclosure tiles of each size are randomized and laid out to the corresponding spots and in the corresponding order around the action strip. Each player gets a player board for the appropriate player count and for their place in turn order. They take the animals shown at the top of their board and place them in their barns.
On their turn, the player will move the elephant on the action strip up to a number of spaces based on the player count. If they stop the elephant on a space with an enclosure, they put the top one in their park immediately and move 1-2 animals into it either from your barns or another (different) enclosure. However, when moving an animal from one enclosure to the new one, there must be at least one left in the original enclosure. If they can’t place another animal in the new enclosure, they can’t take this action.
Instead, if they stop the elephant on an animal acquisition space, the player either takes one of each of the animals depicted on the space or takes one animal of their choice from the supply. The newly acquired animals can either go in an enclosure or one of the barns, if there’s room.
After this main action, the player checks to see if any of their animal enclosures are full. If so, they “score” it immediately. This is done by taking all the animals out and returning them to the supply. The player may keep one of the animals and place it in one of their barns, if there is space. Then the player takes an attraction of their choice and places it on their board.
Finally, if the elephant passes a breeding spot, all players add one of that animal in one or two enclosures if those enclosures already have at least two of that animal.
The game ends as soon as one player has completely filled their zoo board with enclosures and attractions
I picked up this game the first chance I had — I love zoo-themed games and polyomino games, so this felt like a natural for our game shelves. Now, in fairness, we’ve only played this a few times, so my feelings may change with more plays. So far, though I’ve been really enjoying this one. I’ve been trying to figure out the puzzle of how to maximize how many animals you get during breeding but also not spreading out your animals into too many enclosures so you can benefit from scoring enclosures earlier to get the larger attractions. There is a bit of fiddliness when scoring the various enclosures, but it’s a small complaint. So far, this one feels like a keeper.
How is it as a 2-player game? The game seems well-balanced for two players. Each player count has different zoo boards, and the player order for each player count also has a slightly different lay-out, further balancing the game.
How about the art and component quality? I love the animal meeples in this game — and that they are animals not often found in other games: penguins, kangaroos, arctic foxes, meerkats, and flamingos.
The components are okay, though the player boards are a bit flimsy. Also, the different sized enclosures are slightly different shades of green, which are a little hard to distinguish, so I often find myself counting the number of squares to make sure I have the right green.
Will this stay in my collection? Yes, certainly for many more plays! We’d also love to try this with more players.