Board & Card Games Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people who like playing board games, designing board games or modifying the rules of existing board games. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Coloretto Aquaretto Zooloretto

What are some of the differences between the three? I've noticed that Coloretto is smaller and doesn't take as long to play (30min vs. 45min for the other 2). Zoo and Aqua can be combined and Coloretto seems to stand alone, but other than that I'm at a loss for which to get.

A few questions:

  • Are there any differences in gameplay between them?
  • Do they have different levels of strategy, player interaction, or replayability?
  • Any other prominent differences between them?
share|improve this question
Could you explain why you are grouping the three games together? I'm not familiar with any of them and could use a little background. – Pat Ludwig Feb 6 '11 at 6:54
@Pat they're all part of the Coloretto series and they use the same mechanics. Aqua and Zoo are extensions of Coloretto. They're related kind of like the different Fluxx games are I believe, but that's the extent of my current knowledge. – Gordon Gustafson Feb 6 '11 at 16:45
FWIW, Aqua and Zoo are not extensions of Coloretto at all. They just happen to share a low-level mechanism. Zooloretto and Aquaretto are closely related and can even be played together (see my answer below), but Coloretto has nothing to do with them. – Matthew Frederick Feb 7 '11 at 18:37
@Pat I know it was a while ago, but here's a great site that you can play Coloretto (free), no Zoo or Aqua yet... – My Turn Yet May 23 '11 at 17:17
up vote 9 down vote accepted

Coloretto is MASSIVELY different to Zooloretto and Aquaretto. To be more specific: Coloretto is the mechanic on which the other two games are based, but to compare them is a bit like comparing, say, addition to mathematics.

In Coloretto, your move is either to play a card onto a pile, or pick up a pile. Once you've done that long enough, you look at everything that all players have picked up, and then score. In Zooloretto and Aquaretto, the piles have become "trucks", and the cards have become animals, or fish. You still have the same basic mechanic - either draw and play an animal onto a truck, or take a truck - but collecting animals is no longer the sole object. Once you take a truck you have to place the animals in various parts of your zoo. There are placement restrictions, bonuses for filling areas, the chance to get extra free animals by placing breeding pairs in the same enclosure. Players can, instead of taking their normal turns, pay to buy animals from each other, swap animals between enclosures, discard excess animals.

As you can see, just because the central idea of Coloretto is present and correct in all three of these Michael Schacht games, comparing them is like comparing milk and cheese! I like all of them, but Coloretto is good when you want a quick, abstract game, and the others for when you want a moderately (but not very) complex game... with cute baby pandas. (I think it's really the cute baby pandas, much more than the mechanic, that made Zooloretto a hit in my gaming group!)

ETA: One final point. You might assume that Zooloretto and Aquaretto are fundamentally the same game but with mammals instead of fish, but they really aren't. They have extremely different enclosure rules, animal behaviour rules, and ways of scoring points off specific animal configurations. Essentially they are the Coloretto mechanic taken away and used in two different boardgames. But they are of a similar complexity level. I felt Aquaretto was a little bit more complicated, but maybe that's just because I've played Zooloretto a lot more. I'm told that it's possible to combine Zooloretto and Aquaretto into one mega-zoo game, which would be intimidating but definitely fun. Our group hasn't tried it yet, but it can only be a matter of time!

share|improve this answer
Is it possible to play basic coloretto with the tile from one of the other two? It would be cool if I could just get zoo or aqua and just play coloretto with those tiles. Is this possible or do I have to buy both? – Gordon Gustafson Feb 5 '11 at 20:33
Coloretto has colour cards, "+2" cards, and chameleonic wild cards. Zooloretto has animal tiles, coin tiles, and concession stand tiles. You could cobble together a Coloretto game out of Zooloretto pieces, but it'd be a bit like making a Tarot deck out of playing cards - it'd feel excessively cheap. The core mechanic is the same, but what's on the cards/tiles are not completely or even fundamentally identical, basically! – thesunneversets Feb 5 '11 at 21:52
Which would you recommend buying? – Gordon Gustafson Feb 7 '11 at 20:24
I would buy Coloretto if you wanted a simple, 5-10 minute card game type game; Zooloretto if you want a more substantial 45 minute to an hour type boardgame, and Aquaretto if you decide you really like Zooloretto! – thesunneversets Feb 7 '11 at 20:53

As thesunneversets answered, Coloretto just uses the same basic mechanic, it's utterly different and incompatible with the other two games, and really shouldn't be associated with them.

I'm adding an answer to note that Zooloretto and Aquaretto can be played together as one larger game, and the combination makes for a really great, much more strategic game that takes about 90 minutes. It's by far my favorite way to play, and I was fortunate enough to be taught it by the designer himself, who did a good job of explaining the greater depth imbued by the pairing.

share|improve this answer
I would love to hear more about this, whether it just be a link to some good rules for combining, or some of your personal thoughts that were imparted on you by the designer. – Gundabad Feb 28 '11 at 14:41
@Gundabad The rules for combining them are included in Aquaretto. Unfortunately it's been a couple of years so I don't remember specific insights from the designer any longer, just the impressions. – Matthew Frederick Apr 18 '11 at 8:33

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.