Mesozooic by Z-Man Games Review

Theme and What is it?

The age of dinosaurs has returned! Now is your chance to see some of the most amazing creatures, that you only dream about, up close and personal. Don’t worry, they are kept safely behind glass. Really though, nothing bad can happen in this situation, right?

Take on the role of the mesozooic zoo keeper who is responsible to make the park as attractive as possible. Move and swap attractions within the zoo to make the park the best it can be.

Gameplay Mechanics

Mesozooic is a card drafting game with a tile laying element. Players begin by using a draft to select the attraction cards they want in their park. The cards are then shuffled and laid out in a 4×3 grid with one corner card missing. When the timer begins, players have forty-five seconds to move their cards around, just like you do with a tile puzzle that has one square of the grid always remaining open. At the end of the forty-five frantic seconds, however you have laid out your park is what visitors will see. Each player has a character card. This card fills the empty space in the grid and then the round is scored. The player with the highest points at the end of three rounds wins.

Initial Impressions

I was very intrigued when I saw Mesozooic, and it did not disappoint. The game is quick to learn and keeps everyone involved. Because there are multiple phases to each round, the game does not feel repetitive, even though you are basically doing the same thing each round. The group I played with, first took a practice round to figure it all out.  Then we played back to back games adding in more advanced cards on the second game. Mesozooic feels like it would be a great gateway game, but may feel repetitive if you play too many games in a row. I would suggest you break it out randomly and space your games out to make the fun last.

Game Build Quality

Mesozooic only has cards and a small sand timer. It may not have many components, but like most ZMan games, the quality is high. The cards are great and should hold up through tons of playing. The sand timer works just fine. We actually used our phones with a 45 second timer on them, so we didn’t have to keep looking up to see if the sand had run out.

Artistic Direction

The art is not my favorite part of the game. I don’t feel like it really captures the theme. I guess I was hoping for a little more Jurassic Park. But so far, it seems like Mesozooic would be a safe place to visit. The aspects of the attractions are repetitive. I wish they would have the attractions still work with each other, but have unique aspects. One thing I really like is their use of color. The dinosaurs are bright and eye catching which makes up for some of the repetitiveness. The dinosaurs come off a little cartoony, but that will work well when playing with younger players. 

Fun Factor

Even though I didn’t really care for the artwork, that doesn’t mean I did not thoroughly enjoy playing Mesozooic. I enjoyed the drafting process. It made it challenging to create a strategy each round. I also really enjoyed the tile moving phase. The 45 seconds would fly by, and you never felt like you were even close to completing the park the way you wanted to. The feeling of have an incomplete park was not a bad thing. It gave me motivation to try and do better on the next round. We played a five-player game and no one ever waited for their next turn. Everything happens simultaneously. The only time it would slow down is when a player was taking extra time on their draft. We would just yell at them, and the pace would pick right back up. Plus, dinosaurs. Who doesn’t love some big cuddly extinct creatures?

Age Range & Weight

The age recommendation for Mesozooic is 8+. I agree with this age recommendation. The younger players may feel a tad overwhelmed or frustrated trying to connect different pieces together while only moving one card at a time. 

Conclusions

Mesozooic is a great little puzzle game. It is boxed like a travel game, but it is not a game that can easily be played out at dinner. If you do travel with it, save it for hotel lobbies in the evening. There is plenty to enjoy about this game that outweighs some of the negatives. It can be a little redundant, but with good company there should not be any boredom while playing Mesozooic. The card drafting allows for multiple strategies depending on what you see coming in the cards that pass by you. Everyone is involved during the timed phase, which makes the game move quickly. I would suggest you give Mesozooic a try and see if it works for you and your gaming group.

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