Kung Fu Zoo Review
Quick Glance: Kung Fu Zoo (Wizkids)
Game Type: Dexterity
Number of Players: 2-4
Introduction/Overview: Have you ever wondered what goes on inside a zoo once all the guests leave, and the keepers have gone home for the night? If you guessed kung fu fights between the animals, then you are correct! I’m not really sure why that would be your first guess, but we’ll go along with it. Kung Fu Zoo gives you the chance to experience these battles for yourself.
Gameplay: There are two different modes of play in Kung Fu Zoo: cage match and points battle. The method of play is basically the same, but the scoring rules are different. You basically choose one of your animal dice, put it on the center spot on any one of the side rails, and flick it into the arena. The game mode determines what happens next.
In a points battle, once all animal dice have been flicked once, players simply look at which die sides are face up, and count points for each one based on the values shown on their player card. You then collect the dice and start over. Points battles are ok, but there’s not a whole lot of action that goes on.
Cage matches are where Kung Fu Zoo is at its best. Just like in point battles, each animal die has to get flicked on to the board one time. After that, players will choose any die still on the board that’s not lying on its back (with the feet icon showing on top) and picks it up and flicks it from the side again. There are special abilities on some animals that can change this rule. Plus, any animal showing its face up can be flicked from ANYWHERE on the side rail, not just from the center point. It can be tricky to get an accurate flick though...since you are using square dice. There is much more flow to the cage matches. Point battles are just kind of choppy and lack drama.
Rulebook: You almost don’t need the rulebook for this game. It is dead simple to play. The main rules show how to play a 2-player game. Changes for 3-4 player games are on the back of the book. The entire rule book is 4 pages long.
Theme: A very fun theme to be sure. In the cage match variant of the game, the theme holds well as each animal has a unique ability that matches the animal’s personality well. In the points battle mode, the animal chosen really doesn’t matter at all, and therefore neither does the theme.
Set-Up/Takedown: The hardest part of setting the game up is deciding which animal you want to be the game. The game even partially puts itself away, as all the pieces are stored underneath the playing surface in the box. So as your animals get knocked into the corner cages, they are put away!
Components: The animal dice are wonderful. They seem to be about the same size as Quarriors / Dicemasters, but they might be a touch larger. The animal parts on each side are clear and easy to discern. The board and box is sturdy, and will sustain quite a bit of play. Very nice production.
Solo-Play: Kung Fu fighting by yourself wouldn’t be a whole lot of fun.
Final Thoughts: Kung Fu Zoo feels a bit slight for the price. A game is fast as lightning, usually only taking 5-10 minutes. You’ll either play several games in a row, or you’ll stop for a second after the first round, go “Eh” and move on to the next game. I think kids will especially enjoy the dice, and the board size is great for younger and less experienced players. I would have liked to have seem a few more animal types included in the box for some more variety (apparently in the 2016 self-published version, there were 8 animal types included). For more experienced gamers, you’ll want to stick to Crokinole or Flick ‘Em Up. Kung Fu Zoo has a great look, fun components, and is fun for the right group (especially the Cage Battle mode). There’s just not a whole lot of depth to keep interest for long.