Regular readers of Board Game Quest know that I’m no stranger to dexterity games. As I’m always craving a new and unique tabletop experience, dexterity games often fill that void. While I enjoy a worker placement or “dudes on a map” game as much as the next person, I also enjoy trying games that are completely different from the usual fare. Dexterity games are easy to learn, can fit in with almost any group, and come in a variety of formats.
Today we are going to take a look at Zoo Ball, a flicking game published by Osprey Games. Gather your team of animals, head to the pitch, and try and score some points. It’s just that easy.
Zoo Ball can be played with either 2 or 4 players. Regardless of the player count, learning the gameplay is extremely simple. Each player gathers a team of 4 animals (3 blockers and 1 scorer). The teams differ in color/art only.
Once setup on the game mat players will alternate turns flicking discs at their opponent’s goal. On a players turn, they can either flick their scorer, or all three of their blockers. Should a token go off the mat, it’s returned to the edge, unless it goes off on your opponent’s side, in which case it’s returned to your side.
A point is scored when a scorer disc makes it fully inside the goal. First to 3 points wins in a 2p game, first to score wins in a 4p game.
While dexterity games are usually fairly light, Zoo Ball is probably one of the lightest I’ve played. Flick a disc, try and score. Rules explanation should only take you about 30 seconds. This does help make the game very accessible. I’ve played this one with kids as young as 6 and no one has had any issues learning how to play.
However Zoo Ball does suffer from a few issues, most prominent of which is the component quality. While the discs themselves are fine, Osprey Games decide to make one color navy blue and the other black. As the artwork is fairly random, this makes it hard to tell your pieces apart from your opponents. After one game we ended up switching to a different color.
However a bigger issue is with the play mat. It’s made of a felt material that, while it works well for flicking, it doesn’t like being folded very much. As it has to be folded to fit in the box, it never came close to laying flat on the table. This means that there are quite a few ridges and bumps in the play surface, which detracted from the game in my opinion. The bottom of the felt is also fairly slick against our wooden tabletop, which causes the mat to slip around on the table if not held down.
Aside from the component quality, Zoo Ball has its moments of fun. It brings back memories of playing paper football back in high school. I have found I prefer Zoo Ball with 2 players vs 4. While four can be fun, it does turn into a chaotic mess at times. I prefer the tactical nature of the 2 player game.
Zoo Ball is a game that you will probably play a few times and then put back on the shelf. Its fine for what it is, but it’s not going to leave any lasting impressions on you. As far as flicking games go, there just isn’t much here that’s going to wow you, and that’s part of the issue. Zoo Ball is fine, but if I want to play a flicking game, there are probably at least half a dozen other games I’d reach for first (Crokinole, Catacombs, Rampage, Pitch Car). That being said, it is very easy to learn and can play with people young and old. I just wish there were a bit more meat on this one.
Final Score: 2.5 Stars – A flicking game that’s fine for what it is, but could definitely use a bit more depth.
• Terrible play mat
• Needs more depth