Zoo Sim aka"O Zoo Le Mio!"
by Corne van Moorsel
I enjoy this straightforward melding of auction, influence and tile-laying. There are better games in each individual category, but Zoo Sim nicely combines them while maintaining a reasonably light feel. The Zoch re-issue as "O Zoo Le Mio!" did a good job (they changed almost nothing) and made some seemingly minor component improvements that substantially clean up game play. Overall, a fun and simple game which has the reasonably rare quality of successfully straddling the fence between light games and more medium weight games. Recommended, especially with the variant below.
Zoo Sim does have one minor problem; the rich get richer. Specifically, the income rules say you get one income per zoo tile. I've heard many people assert that this is not unbalancing and played with people familiar with the game, it works fine. This has not been my experience, including a game played at the Gathering with 3 other players who knew the game. I got a second tile in the first round and used that money advantage well and won by a substantial margin. Given the frequency with which I've seen this occur, I've also played a few times with a simple variant: Each player receives 3 income each round. While this is slightly athematic, it is easy to use and I think returns a little bit of balance, especially when played with new players.
ZooSim info on boardgamegeek