Updated: Apr 27
Designed by Pedro Gordalina in conjunction with Lisbon Zoo, Zookeepers is an attractive educational game from CardsLab which encourages environmental awareness and where the animal cards all have QR code links to further information about the species depicted.
The theme of the game is zoo management, where the 2-4 players are hiring zookeepers and competing to save endangered species from extinction. You'll be earning points for saving animals but, as you might expect, the species that score the most points are also the most difficult to save.
You need resource cubes to collect a species and assign it to a zookeeper. You start off with a mix of these but you subsequently draw cubes from a bag, so you may not always have the precise mix of cubes you need to save a species. Cubes tho' can be returned to the bag - drawing one new cube for each two that you discard. Zookeepers uses open drafting from an animal display but tho' you can move animals into temporary 'quarantine zones' on your individual board, you'll need to place it in the care of one of your zookeepers for it to score. Zookeepers need to be managed, however, as each has limited capacity and capabilities. There's also a 'take that' catch-up element in the option to send animals to the quarantine zone of a player that's ahead of you in the number of species saved...
There's an option to play Zookeepers as a 2-versus-2 team game, and there are additional 'advanced' rules introducing 'secret objectives' to further extend the game, adding to its replayability. The rules also suggest that the player count can be increased to six, but that's a little cheeky as it would require two copies of the game.
With attractive art by Amanda Argolla and Alexandre Duarte, Zookeepers makes for a light appealing family game that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike, and thanks to the imaginative but unobtrusive use of QR code links it's a game where you can expect to leave the table knowing a lot more about endangered species than you knew before you opened up the box.