Zooscape by Tasty Minstrel Games Review


Publisher: Tasty Minstrel Games

Game Type: Card Game, Set Collection

Designer: Hisashi Hayashi

Initial Year of Release: 2015

Artists: Katy Lipscomb, Michael Menzel and Ryo Nyamo

Theme and What is it?

Tasty Minstrel Games never disappoints with their board games and they never fall short with their card games either. Imagine that all animals have escaped the zoo and it is up to you as a zookeeper to round them all up and back into their cages. But, be careful, your cages have limits and you don’t want to overfill!

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Gameplay Mechanics

To setup, one player becomes the zoo manager and takes the clipboard and zoo gate card. All of the fish cards are separated and the rest of the zoo cards are shuffled and then dealt out into five facedown decks. The cards per deck vary by player count.

Each round, the manager takes the first deck and lines them up face up preserving the order they are added from the deck. The manager then splits the lineup with the zoo gate card leaving at least one card in each section. Lastly, the zoo manage places the clipboard card on one card in a section (I will go into more detail on the clipboard later).

Now, players have cards for each side and secretly choose one. All players reveal their chosen side at the same time. If one player has chosen a side that no other player has chosen, they obtain all cards on that side. If multiple players choose the same side, then the zoo manager card is passed to the left and that side is then split again and those players choose secretly again. This goes on until all players obtain at least one card. If it goes down to one card, then that card is placed underneath the clipboard and then all players that have not gotten a card, get a fish card. This fish card is worth 5 points, but fish have a cage limit of 2 so more than 2 can hurt during the end game. If a player happens to collect cards from a side containing the clipboard, then at the end of a round, that player gets to collect all cards underneath the clipboard. Cards collect underneath the clipboard in multiple ways. If no one picks a side, etc.

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There are five rounds of the above and then everyone counts up their points. The zoo animals have various point values. For example, the lions are 6 points but their cage limit is 2. If you have more than 2 at the end, they are -1 a piece instead of their value of 6. Ouch! Birds do not have a cage limit. There are also some other various cards like the Hunter that is -4 points. The veterinarian card makes you discard two animals. So, there are ways to help if you are over your cage limit.

The player with the most points wins! Ties are broken by the player with the most cards.

Initial Impressions

I love TMG and I was very anxious to try this one. I was attracted to the artwork and easy to follow rules. The last card game I tried from TMG, Okey Dokey, was great!

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Game Build Quality

The only component is the cards. They are the nice quality carbon fiber cards so are easy to shuffle. The rulebook is not complicated to grasp. No complaints on the components or rules.

Artistic Direction

We all enjoyed the artwork. I would describe it as watercolors. It is very light and attractive. The artists did a splendid job with the artwork.

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Fun Factor

This game is crazy fun. It has unique mechanics that I have not seen in other card games. Certain decisions can lead to insane outcomes. We laughed a lot while playing which was good for a filler game. I recommend this to families. Younger audiences would enjoy as well.

Age Range & Weight

The age suggestion is 8+. I agree with this. The difficulty level is mainly choosing a side which can easily be done by players that age.

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We had a great time playing this game. The decision making is simple but could potential lead down a rabbit hole for more decisions. These decisions could lead to a great payoff or absolutely nothing but a fish!

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I thoroughly enjoyed contemplating my decisions in this one and trying to out think my opponents. I did end up winning the game so that always helps but everyone enjoyed it and this will be a filler we play from time to time in between games.


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